I know there will be some zillion mistakes in this story, the flow may not be correct, the portraying of emotions could be better, something or the other might be missing. Please, note that this is my first ever attempt in writing anything.
She was sitting at a corner table, observing people; there was a lot of hustle and bustle around. They all looked so happy. There was this couple sitting some two tables away, she thought, “They look so much in love. I wonder how will they be after a few years?”
She looked towards the entrance and thought, “He might be here any minute. I will be seeing him after a year.” She re-arranged the glasses on the table and looked up; there he was. “He looks so fresh and there is so much colour on his face.” She thought. He was always so conscious of his appearance, as if he was some film star or something.
A smile came to her face, thinking of the good old days. The time when we first met in college about 8 years ago. “Gosh, we have been together for so long.” She thought of the all the fun and laughter, the pranks they played on teachers, the hard-pressed days during exams, when she would be running after him to make him study. He was least interested in studies, still runs away from books.
“He is so successful now. Working in a big company in London, managing a team, working well” She smiled to herself, full of pride. “What more can I ask for? Everything is so right for us.”
He was coming towards her, but, he wasn’t smiling.
She knew, something was wrong.
Hi, Anu !
Hi, Ashish !
He sat on the chair.
“How have you been? You look so fresh. London has had a good effect on you, it seems.” She smiled.
“Anu, I have some news for you.”
“Wait ! Let’s order something and then we can talk. I would love to hear all your stories.” She was grinning.
He ordered orange juice for himself and tea for her. “He still likes orange juice. He hasn’t changed a bit” She thought.
“Okay, go ahead. What’s the news?”
He looked down towards the table, and started fumbling with the paper napkins.
She still has the same twinkling eyes. There is this aura of calmness around her. I am so much at peace, when I am with her. She is still the same. But, how shall I break the news? He thought.
“What is it, Ash?” She called him Ash lovingly.
“Anu, I got engaged.” He couldn’t look up. He knew he cannot see the expression on her face.
“What?!” She stared at him. She couldn’t believe what she just heard; tears swelled up in her eyes.
She tried to control herself and regain composure.
He stole a glance at her and thought “Such dignified demeanour she has always had. Her world has been shattered and she is trying to remain calm. How does she do it?”
But, she wasn’t calm inside. There was a huge turmoil going on. She now looked shaken, pale and was staring at the empty space. Blank.
She looked up suddenly and asked “When?” Her voice sounded very low.
“How did it happen?”
“It just happened. I couldn’t help it; was entirely my parent’s decision. I just couldn’t say no.”
“How…How could…..” She looked at him helplessly.
“I am sorry, Anu. I just want to say that I love you. I really do.” He looked up at her, like he always did, as if asking her for a solution. She always knew what to do. She was the one who made everything right in his world. “Say something, Anu. This silence will kill me.” he thought.
“What will I do now, Ash? What will I…” She stopped, her voice was shaky. She had no answer this time. She looked towards him, with an expression, as if, all is lost. Like a huge wave that sweeps away the sand castles, and nothing remains.
Her dreams were those castles made in sand.
“I am sorry.” He said.
“So, that is why you came here to see me? When is the marriage?”
“You are back to India for your marriage?”
“Won’t you give me your marriage card, with my name written on it?” She said in an angry tone, but, he could sense a hurt feeling also.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Did you tell your parents about us?”
“No. I couldn’t say anything. I was helpless. I didn’t have the courage. You know how my parents are, they would have never agreed.”
“You had the courage to love, though. Where did that come from? Or was it that I was there to take care of us and our relationship, so you went along? Do you realize, that we have been together for eight years, now? Does it have no meaning, anymore?
“I love you very much, and I will always love you, Anu.”
“These words sound so empty.” She thought.
“What a comeback gift you gave me, Ash. Lovely !” she said this like a person who has no control over the turn of events, and all they are capable of at that moment is a derisive smile.
“It’s not like that.” He said. “It so happened……….”
He started justifying his situation. But, she wasn’t listening; she had already drifted into her own world of thoughts.
“All these years of togetherness, has come down to this? How could I not see that he has no decision making capability? The most important decision of our lives, and I was so oblivious of the fact that he could never ever take a stand? I was a fool in love all this time. I feel stranded on an island; I can’t go back and the future is so hazy. Why did you do this? Was I not good enough?”
They looked so good together. Those college days, he was so charming and funny; she was a quiet and studious type, keeping to her world. How it started, no one can say. But, we all thought that they were together forever. She was his pillar of strength. I never once saw her complain about anything. How she would prepare notes for him and make him study, so he could pass. She would write articles and presentations for him, that he would present as his own and get appreciation. She liked doing all this. And, she has a huge contribution in making him what he is today. She always put him first, and gave up a lot of things, so he could move ahead. I remember, she was getting a good job offer in a different city, but he wanted her to stay close; she didn’t go. Now, it is he who left her for a better job to London, and, is leaving her forever for a girl he probably thinks is better. She saw him through his worst days, and when everything is going right for him, he is leaving her.
What has she been for him? A ladder, which he can climb to his success?
How can such a nice girl fall for a person like him? Strange are the ways of love. What can I say?
“Are you listening?” he said, shaking her hand.
“Yeah, I am.” She looked towards him, the spark was missing from her eyes. She looked lifeless.
“What went wrong, Ash? She asked in a soft voice.
“I don’t know.”
“It wasn’t meant to be like this. At least, I thought, someday we will be together.“ She glanced at the couple sitting at the other table. “They look so much in love. God bless them.” She thought. “Is she pretty?” she asked suddenly.
“Yeah, she is. But, I don’t love her at all. I love you.”
“Does it matter?”
“You don’t believe me, do you?
“It doesn’t matter now. You never took a stand, Ashish. Your parents don’t even know about us. Maybe something positive could have happened.” She looked up at him with some hope.
“I know they wouldn’t have agreed.”
“You know what, Ash, I think you do want to get married, but not to me. That is why you gave up without even trying.”
He couldn’t say anything in reply.
She continued talking “I gave you my everything, Ash. I have been a friend, a confidante, and a lover to you. And, you know that if you are gone, it will be like an end for me. There will be nothing left for me. The best years of my life; I gave all of those to you. I have been waiting for the day when we would start a new life.
It’s all gone.
“No. It isn’t like that. I won’t be able to say no to my family, but, I don’t want to lose you.” She looked up at him, with hopeful eyes, as if; there was still a way out.
“So, what do you want me to do?”
“Nothing. Can’t we stay as we have always been?”
“Even after your marriage?” she asked.
“I can’t see you not being a part of my life.”
“What do you want me to be then?”
“Can’t we be friends, at least?”
“If we are to remain the way we have been, even after your marriage; it won’t be called friendship.”
“Then what it is?”
“You know very well what it is….I am sorry, Ashish, I can’t play that role.”
She got up, and walked away.....
He knew he had asked for too much. She wasn’t going to come back this time.........