“I hope you will be there” Ramya said, really expecting me to say “I would” but I just nodded with difficulty. My nervous system was against the idea of it but then my senses did not want me to look pitier than I already was.
“Yeah, you should come” Anant had attempted to speak up after what felt like a long silence. Silence that had me buried under the ignorance.
What will you do if your ex-lover who was your centre of gravity a year ago (and sadly even now) walks up with his fiancée, inviting you to their marriage?
Anant and I were friends from school days. We went to same college and had fallen in love. Only that he got up from it and I was so deeply fallen I doubt rising it from there ever after.
I nodded again. He knew I still loved him, that I would always love him no matter whom he married. He was my first love after all and that is not going to change.
I thought he loved me too, loved me enough to survive a few months of long distance relationship. Loved me enough to wait. But I was wrong, I was so wrong about the whole idea of long distance relationship. I thought distance did not make much of a difference. But it did matter after all or the new girl –Ramya mattered more.
The worst part of the entire hopeless break up was, I did not know we had a break up until many days. I had just waited, like any other day thinking he would be very busy to call or message regularly.
I knew he would read my messages, but was unable to reply. Now I know why-he was going through a guilt feeling of having ‘an extra love affair’. He would send one or two replies to my hundreds of message.
I should have known then.
I wonder if Ramya knows about us- our 4 years love story apparently ruined by her existence. But then I know Anant has never been a liar. At least not a complete liar. He must have told about me but I do not know how much of it really made sense to her. If she knew how true our bond once was, that how much it still is to me she would not have just invited me casually like inviting one of her colleagues.
She might know me as her fiancée’s long back ex-girlfriend, someone who did not care breaking up with a name sake boyfriend or something like that. I don’t blame her or him for saying a thin lie. Everybody should move on some day. I will too, only that I am hoping that someday should come soon.
Years have passed since my “non-committed” status. I am falling in love with the idea of staying single forever. I do not dare even to look at a guy in that way. I have forbidden myself form admiring anyone from the opposite sex.
Like all the unfortunate post break up life, my life too changed…the change was not intentional, and who cared what I did, when I, myself did not care. And now whenever I look back at the door I have stupidly believed to have shut down, it welcomes me back into the wide passage of it. And yet again I find Anant standing there, with his arms opened waiting to embrace me.
My parents have started to think I am losing it. The other day, my mother came to my room, her swollen eyes told me- it was not a peaceful discussion we were going to have. She had her list of complaints about me. She was afraid I had almost stopped speaking to anyone until it’s absolutely necessary, she was worried I sleep too much, that I don’t socialise, that I don’t go to see any of my friends, that it’s just me and my office work now.
She was bothered with my new appetite of two meals a day, no more beauty parlours and long hair that grew as it wished, my change of shampoo, my sudden attraction to anything she found dull and unattractive. I did not know she could notice so much smaller things. She is head achingly worried about the books I read now- the spiritual ones. I dint realise before I was being so careless about this.
She was worried I stopped gardening, I don’t like sweets now, I don’t watch any more movies, I have stopped painting and all I do now is writing and reading. I think she should be happy that I am finally doing something she wanted me to do since childhood.
She asked what is wrong, and I could not break her in anyway telling her about my broken relationship and how I am still attached to that hopeless past.
I had initially planned to tell about us in home soon after I get a transfer to my home town, but fate had completely ruined it. I had studied my degree and was campus placed in a different city and parents had no idea about me and Anant except that Anant is my childhood best buddy. She literally begged me to say if I had anything to get upset, that I should tell them if I like somebody. But now, everything happened for a reason and it’s no more a thing of joy to tell her, I convinced her not think about me much.
I am 29 now and I have no idea what I will do with my life. I still do not understand why Anant married at 23 while I wander here in the snow of Dehradun alone with hands in my pockets amidst of the couples walking hands in hands. Thanks to god, I was transferred here away from the cries of arrange marriage of my parents before changing my mind about staying single.
I have had a thousands of reasons to stay young and free and single forever but that small part of me yearning for a true companion is still out there in my tiny shattered heart. It is so stupid to wait for another love story now. I am not ready yet and for now I don’t know when I will ever be ready. I had completely lost myself in Anant.
I cannot imagine another pair of lips on mine that’s been already sealed by Anant, another pair of hands holding my frame, pressing it against the frame of someone that is not Anant, it is not even possible just to imagine myself with anyone else who is not Anant let not marrying someone.
I had been in love to such a depth it was not possible to simply get up and walk forward.
Making plans in personal life seems so effortful that I had stopped making any. This morning I simply drove to Moussorie without any prior plans. But unknowingly there had been a plan at the subconscious level that I never will understand. otherwise how was I ever able to meet Anant and his family on a plan less, aimless trip like this when I hadn’t even thought about spending my week off wandering outside Dehradune.
As I walked back to the car after an hour or so of walking on the snow covered streets filled with the tourists and mostly couples, I took a left turn from the mall road, there he was, looking at me…no staring at me…as if he was waiting there for me, as if he knew I would come there.
I had long back lost the ability to have any emotional display on my face, and don’t know how I must have looked to him. He was not alone. Ramya was there too with a kid holding her hands. She told something to Anant and when he did not reply she turned to see what took her husbands’ attention.
It was awkward. After a very long time I was feeling something. Not exactly love kind of feeling of course, but confusions mostly-of how to react, if to stay or just to walk away. I was relieved at the thought of being confused more at the moment than being painful at his sudden presence at the turn of the road which probably indicated my life.
“Megha?” Ramya said slowly, as if to confirm it was really me. She was as cheerful as she looked before years back. She was as beautiful as she was when she had come home to invite me and my parents to their marriage. But the child at her hand made her look more matured.
I smiled back not knowing if that was actually a greeting or just question.
Later that afternoon we had lunch together at my place. I dint intend to get them to my place, but after knowing his 6 year kid, my ex-lover’s kid is not feeling too well I was forced to show some sympathy and call them home to rest for a while.
I had not given much of thought about Ramya before, but she was really good. She was trying hard to beat the tension of 7 years between every one of us. I was grateful she was at least trying to make things comfortable. I was beginning to feel at ease speaking to her which I had never considered before.
Anant was silent in the beginning with limited words like ‘hi –hello-it’s been long’ to his kid, and work and in between were some difficult smiles. I understood it was not easy for us to act like we were best buddies from school time. He knowingly avoided anything about his or my marriage though I could not help but notice him looking at my neck, ring finger and leg fingers for any indication of my commitments.
I was surprised how after all he did, he still could manage to be so pathetic. I was unaware of Ramya’s return from putting the kid to sleep in the spare room of my house which occasionally used by my parents or my younger sister and brother-in-law when they visit.
“Are you staying here alone?” she asked trying to be casual but something told me she wasn’t just curious but she was afraid and tensed.
“Yes, for now” I said and wondered what I meant by that. Ramya looked at Anant and he looked at me. I didn’t know what it meant to them either. Not that I cared. but I anyway continued “I mean I am not yet married.”
I knew Anant from even before I loved him like my own husband. I loved him as a friend and I knew him like the night knows the stars, like the day knows the sun. It took no time to see Anant was relieved to hear that, happy in a way. Was he proud that his love had tied me from loving someone again?
We tried to keep things casual and spoke about our work, things back in my state, about their kid and his mischiefs.
They had come to visit Ramya’s brother at the military academy and were about leave to Delhi to Anant’s uncle’s house and from there back to Bengaluru. Thanks to Ramya, I didn’t have to face a minute more alone with Anant.
When they left to airport in the evening, I had sat there on the floor, with no intentions to live on. I had so much emotions and thoughts running wild in my mind, I had no clue which one to look at first. I cried again like I have been just dumped by my lover, like I cried years back unable to accept the truth, unable to get angry on Anant for cheating me for my sadness overpowered rest all ideas of being mad at anyone.
It was not even an hour or so, my doorbell rang again. No one usually come to my place in a peaceful household area. If there was any energy left over from crying, I would at the least have acted like I do not care when he stood at the door.
He was sad as I was, looked as depressed as I was and the moment he saw the tears in my eyes he broke down. So here we were, the old love birds of college, the sweet buddies of childhood, sobbing at our fate we choose, crying like we lost the world…
“You should go, she would be worried” I managed to finally speak. It was hard to let go him again. This time knowing he wished to stay.
After a couple of minutes, he nodded, wiped his tears and got on his legs. I wanted him to stay badly, little more if not the entire life.
I got up too, to bid bye to my lover, adjusting my long hair back in its place. He always wanted me to have long hairs but I simply denied it saying it was hard to maintain. After he was gone I did everything that could bring the feeling of being with him. It was all stupid I know, and was utterly contrast of the things I should have done to move on without him. But I chose to stay, stay where he left me. Waiting for him, knowing he wouldn’t return…
He embraced me in a tight hug. I had never allowed myself to be hugged in years. The tiniest parts of my cells could also recognize his touch. His odour- cinnamon and mint washed over the dull scent of my house. My body reacted hundred times greater than I wanted it to.
However I wanted to end it again though I would not wish to move on. I didn’t hug him back but neither did I push him away. I stood, living the moments…
“No words can tell how sorry I am to you and to myself…”he spoke against my hair, his warm breath on my ears. “I have always loved you” his voice broke by the restrained sobs.
He quickly recomposed himself and got steadied. With a final look in my eyes, he walked without turning back.
Life continued…I wanted to remain there in Dehradun.it was way quite and I liked the cold air of it… It was also one of the place where I no longer act around to show I am alright. But life throws surprises when you least want it. I was promoted and was shifted to Singapore.
My parents once dreamed of marrying me to a foreign settled guy, and I had brutally killed their idea about my marriage. Now I wanted them to feel happy that I finally could fly abroad, but now they did not want me to go alone.
I was 34 now. Still never figured what to do with my lonely life. I wanted to have my parents with me but I could not stand their monotony of the same thing over and over, and their sad faces when they almost plead me to have a lifelong commitment. So here I was, alone, single, no more young and wild, with no plans for the future, with no one to share secretes and no real commitments… I was in a way free… free to do everything. Only that I did not chose anything out of it.
During my college life, I once secretly wished Anant would surprise me by proposing to me in front of a large crowd. Like how they do it in movies. But I never dreamed a married man would not only propose to me but also would ask me to elope with him to the other part of the world.
I was shown my two bedroom apartment provided by the company I worked in. after seeing the luxurious and spacious apartment with a private swimming pool which is going to be mine for as long as I stay here I laughed at the poor apartment that should have sheltered minimum two persons. And swimming pool? I did not even know how to swim!
The office and the staffs were great. It was more peaceful here than back in my country where people were concerned about others. Here no one give a damn to anyone’s personal life. All are busy making money.
The first six months was peaceful. I rarely had any emotions and most of the time I was just numb. It was as if the basic instinct of feeling anything has been erased. I just reacted to situations and never felt any of it.
I was ruthless in my decisions and that got me into higher position again in my work. And my heartlessness was not an exception to my own self. I was cruel to myself. I have stopped feeling the physical pain too. The other day a half broken glass fell on my leg and I had to get 5 stitches to cover it. but When I walked into the doctor just fine he was surprised to find a long cut on my left calf.
Finally one day I really felt I was not normal and decided to see the psychiatrist. I told him I get this constant buzzed sound in head, a sound that do not stop and continues like a back ground music. He told it was because I was lonely. That was not a solution. It was just the truth.
The numbness continued like an endless melody, a harmless companion-
Until one day when destiny chose to put something interesting in my boring life. I met Anant again. On the fateful day when I was planlessly roaming in the city mall, he saw me. He smiled as though his life finally found a meaning to cling to. That moment a miracle happened- I felt…I felt the pain again. I felt the loss and I felt the bloody love that had almost eaten up my youth. I felt guilty for my worrying parents, guilty of losing all my friends for the sake running away from him. I felt so stupid but I felt happy.
Now I was finding joy in my otherwise non interesting life. Anant is the sole reason for the colours I saw now, the hundreds of emotions I thought were lost from my memory. I finally started to laugh and smile truly and not for the sake of showing people I was normal and fine. We reminded me of our childhood days, where we talked and walked without the fear of false commitments, where we hugged each other without even thinking anything physical, where we went to school hand in hand without even noticing it.
Ramya was of course not happy with me coming back to their life. She had not openly showed it. But I knew better. I understood Anant and hers was not a happy married life. Both were as compatible as friends and they did not seem to be getting all too good even after ten years of marriage life. I started to wonder why. Why did he leave me for her if it came to this?
Months rolled and I and anant were still in the friend zone. I initially wanted to shift to another city or country but he had insisted that fate really wanted us to meet. If not, how could we end up seeing each other like this in a totally different places? There were billions of people out there and of all of them it was we, for each other. I for some reason felt it is true. I stupidly pushed back the idea of shifting.
After our first meeting in the mall of Singapore he found many reasons to visit me just co-incidentally! I knew he longed for his old friend in me just like I had been longing for him. Though many a times I wondered what it between two of us now…was it love? Friendship? Or unfathomable fondness for each other? No, I could not describe it. He was more than anything I could imagine he is to me.
Still, even after all these years I just loved him. Loved him like I did when I thought he loved me. Loved him enough to let go of him without a single word when he asked for a break up. Loved him enough to let go of anything.
Life went on. Like a fairy tale now. We started meeting frequently after a few months. Though Ramya always welcomed me with a smiley face when I went to their house, I could still see the hidden disappointments in them. Their boy kid looked at me with a question mark whenever I saw him. There was a disgusting feeling on his face. I tried to think if it was because Anant and Ramya fought often because of my reappearance in their life. The hurtful expression of the kid when he saw his father joyfully talking to me while his mother silently sat at the opposite sofa with a forced smile on her face.
I knew I was not doing right. I knew I was being selfish. But having my love back in my life was an incredible feeling, Something I have not experienced since a long time. So I continued being selfish. I wanted to see how far it could go this time. However short it would be I wanted to feel it all for I knew, feeling empty was not my first time anyways.
On one of the finest evening of my life, a beautiful evening with a person I let myself love the most, I was enjoying the wine with my legs in the private pool of my two bedroom apartment. Anant was next to me. His shoulders brushing against mine. Somehow the moment was very familiar.
That was how we were sitting years back, with our legs in the flowing water of Payaswini River, our shoulders touching. I had tried to move away thinking it was unintentional but he had come closer, his hands slowly entangling around mine. The sun rays had played on his shy face. His eyes speaking louder when no words came out of his mouth. I had smiled knowing what was in his mind. He had smiled back knowing I understood what he meant.
“Are you, by any chance, remembering the same thing as me?” his voice a mere whisper. I looked at his eyes searching for something in mine. His glass of wine already empty. “Yes” I had told. That was the moment I had let go of the last guard I had been holding all this time. Nothing mattered more than the present even if it meant I had to fall back again miserably. I let go of anything that was holding me to be called as sane. All that counted was I loved him.
That was the happiest night. Being wanted by someone you would do anything for. That night I had thrown even the tiniest things that came between us.
The day after day passed with a new found happiness. I was on peak time of my life. I never did imagine my life could be any more than a grey colour after the hurtful separation. But it was once again glowing with all the colures of a rainbow.
Occasionally I thought of Ramya and the kid. But I kept aside the thoughts in vain attempts of running away from reality. I needed Anant. I wanted him. Because I loved him.
But was it okay for me to be the reason of their broken marriage? Was I that bad a person to ruin a family? Was it even possible that he would leave everything for me? His wife, and his little son? Or were I a lost and found romance for him?
I had no answers for the questions that raised in me. I gave no space for the answers and wanted to go with the flow this time. I was prepared for the outcome. Prepared to face the hell again, prepared to go numb again if that meant I could spend a little more time with him.
“Megha” he said his warm breath against my neck as we lay on the bed looking at the city down through the large glass window of the room. What I heard next left me with surprise. Anant had in fact never stopped loving me like he had said. he did not wish to leave me behind for Ramya. It was the momentary distraction between a boy and girl that lead them to commit a mistake. A mistake that made into a relation. A relation that was initially forced to begin. But Ramya did love him genuinely. He was ashamed of his deeds and could never come up with courage to say it to me. For he feared I would hate him more.
I had wiped of his tears with mine. He looked so delicate at the moment, I had held him in my arms, comforting him. I could never hate him. No matter what the reason is, I could never bring myself to hate Anant. But I hated me myself then, for somehow feeling guilty for all that happened. For leaving Anant alone while I worked in a far city. For giving him an opportunity for a distraction…
Ramya’s face flashed in front of me. Her humble attitude and patience. Their son looking at me with puzzled look wondering why his father was close to a woman who is not his mother.
When I was ready to challenge my own heart sinking, I already found myself sinking down. It was a complex feeling with no exact meaning for the mixture of emotions that suddenly attacked. And in the end I stood there responsible for everything I once thought I dint. Still, I needed him. That mistake or whatever that was has now lead into a family, I could not alter it.
and then,Anant had asked me for a new beginning. A beginning that had only two of us. The beginning that would end the family he owned. He promised me it would be as we wished once upon a time sitting under the evening sun on the banks or river Payaswini back in our college days.
I was surprised when I could not give him a reply. Was I afraid? If I was, what was it I feared? The thought of him leaving me again? Or of the pain I have to go through? Or the society? No, they could not certainly be the reason for someone like me who had overcome them all. Was it Ramya? May be yes, but it was the look of their child…! I dint want Anant to make a mistake again…not to his child. Not to someone innocent who dint know he was born out of a mistake his parents committed. Who did not know he survived because his grandparents got his parents married for their mistakes…for that innocent child who would never know why his father would leave him behind for a woman. I saw Anant through his child’s eyes- never knowing what mistake was his for Anant to leave him. Just like I never understood why Anant left me years ago.
My work efficiency was low. I could not concentrate. I sometimes thought being numb was more efficient than being able to sense everything. I kept my silence to Ananth’s proposal.
That was one fortunate day when I was in the hospital just for a little headache and fever but was found to have the last stage of brain tumour. It wouldn’t be much of a shock if I had learnt about it before my fateful encounter with Anant in Singapore. But now it was like the storm in the night sea. One would not see where to run for rescue.
It was as if the god himself has answered to Anant’s proposal of our new beginning in the farthest part of the world where everything that once a part of our life dint exist. There wasn’t anything left for me to choose now. It could not obviously be a “yes” with someone who is having very few days left. In a sense I was relieved. I could finally give him a reply.
Though my heart was screaming silently, I had to give him my answer, something I had held from the past few weeks. With my eyes incredibly stinking and hurting with the weight of the tears, I had confronted him, yet again on a beautiful evening, where we sat together, our feet in the cold waters of Kallang River.
I never thought I would ever want to die looking at someone’s sadness. But that day I did. Anant looked so fragile like he was made of glasses and I was shattering him. I had never before considered committing suicide, but that day I did. If however I am going to end up dying why not do it early?
I had left without looking back at him. This time I making the decisions for us to fall apart, again…
One month after I was back in my home in India. Having resigned to a job that paid more than I needed to survive, I had come to bid my final bye to my parents. I dint tell them anything about my ill health. I was so happy to see my parents happy seeing me happy. At least they think I’m happy. I felt the surge of pain for not doing this before. For making them worry about me in the past.
Seeing my parents happy was the best feeling I gifted myself for the last time. I dint want them to know that was the last time they are seeing me. If nothing can be changed then why say about something that would ruin their smile?
After a few days in my parents warm nest I decided to fly to a place that’s absolutely foreign to me.
“santorini! It’s in Greece” Anant had said, it was the place Anant had always wanted to go as a teenager. Wasn’t it the best place for me to spend my last days? A place my lover had loved, a place where no one recognise me. A place where my soul would finally unites with the thin fresh air…!
I walked through the narrow lanes of island city of santorini surrounded by the Aegean Sea, looking at breathtakingly beautiful sunset, The colours that streak the sky changing from lilac to deep purple, from yellow to orange to red, as the golden sun sinks and becomes blood red reflecting its light on to the sea and the surrounding little islands.
It was pleasant peaceful days in Santorini. I wasn’t afraid of death. I wasn’t afraid of saying good byes. In fact I was glad this is all ending in a more meaningful way.
I had this immense feeling that I wouldn’t be able to reach back my tiny rented cottage in the island that had a veranda faced to sea…my legs protested to walk anymore. I sat on the nearby stone bench, glancing the never ending blue waters, in the beautiful evening. a couple crossing my path, happily holding each others hands…
How lucky I am to have people who make saying goodbyes so hard…I thought with a smile crossing my face for one last moment I closed my eyes and thought of mamma, pappa and Anant. His beautiful eyes staring at mine. They were happy and so was I, saying my last bye….