She was on the beach now. A warm sheet had covered the place. Her phone beeped. It was an SMS.
Do watevr u want 2. bye
She stopped, not feeling her feet. It had gone numb now. She felt like being in oblivion and sat on a stone. She looked around, sea, blue, children, playing around, couples, holding hands, girls, taking sunbath in bikini, swimmers, swimming, small shops, selling goods, and then, it started getting hazy. A warm breeze ruffled her hair and seagulls cawed. The weeds beside the stone swung melodically.
She opened her purse and brought it out. It was in her hand now, a sentimental anchor and a painful reminder. Winds tried blowing it away but she gripped it tightly; she had to. She couldn’t afford losing it. It was a copy of the same letter, the letter that reminded her of her wrongs, of her past.
Listening to the waves gently rolling in and casting her own shadow over the letter, she cursed herself and began reading it:
I think it’s the time I should write now. It’s been a month and things are just getting worse. I know you tried, but the result? We are heading nowhere, Aditya. I never thought I could one day be writing you these words but I have to. Sorry to say this but when I said ‘I love you’ this morning, it was my last. We need to part our ways, it’s decided now.
I know I am being really rude but, trust me, this is the best for both of us. We are going through a really rough phase and I don’t think we can better it now. This is the end of us. Accept it. Please.
Besides, this relationship was staining my limits now. I have nothing to explain and but a lot to regret. I know I am doing very wrong to you and, trust me, this pain is far worse than anything I have experienced. I never wanted things to turn so ugly, but it did. It’s getting unbearable now. I thought a lot about it and it’s final now. Break-up.
And please don’t blame yourself. I never want you to suffer. It’s not your fault. Not at all. You have taught me some great lessons about life which I thank you for. You made me understand love. So just please let me look back to these days with a smile on my face. Please let my heart always cherish the moments we spent together. Your love is valuable and it will have an honest place in my heart. You are the best. But I am not like you. I am not the best. Sorry.
I am changing my number and it would be better if you don’t try to contact me now. Please forgive me for this and, if possible, forget me too.
Keep smiling and stay blessed. Bye.
As Pooja completed reading the letter, a child broke into a loud cry. Someone had kicked his sand castle. She looked at the scattered sand and it reminded her of Aditya’s scattered life. He had a built a castle of dreams too. What if he hasn’t recovered the break-up yet? He loved me so much.
Please don’t hate me, Aditya.
The guilt rose to her neck and face and she had to take deep, calming breaths. However, she couldn’t. She turned her gaze to the sun. With moisten eyes she looked straight in to it. It appeared white in the center with yellow rays surrounding in circle and orange scattered in the sky. More than a year had passed but the guilt still resided within her.
Aditya must have suffered a lot. She stared the sun hard until a sharp pain pierced her head. A tear rolled down her cheek as she brought her head down. She rose now. The sound of the pounding surf and swimmers increased as she walked towards the sea. A tiny fiddler crab was racing back and forth along the shore, reminding her of her life – unstable. Rolling back and forth.
The warm and golden sands of the beach were slipping between her toes. The water had the large sun’s reflection in it. Colours blended from the orange sky into the aqua sea.
She suspired, the air was crisp and coated with salt.
Salt, Aditya hated salt. Even an extra pinch of salt was a murder to his food. But lobsters, lobsters were the most appealing to him. Lobster sashimi, it was his favourite. So sweet it was that Pooja had started loving it too.
Pooja turned back, searching for sea-side restaurants. There it was, crowded with visitors. A grin passed her face as he watched it.
During ‘their’ initial days, Aditya and Pooja used to date at restaurants with seafood only. All that Aditya talked about was his affinity for beaches. He was born there only. With hands in hand, they would walk barefoot on the beach every evening gazing the blazing red orb of the sunsets. Aditya believed having a walk together strengthened their companionship, specially during the sunsets. “This sun reminds us that however harsh the day is, it will settle down,” he used to say.
Aditya – the guy who always wanted to work on the relationship. However fights he may have with her, he was always the first to apologize.
A breeze of fresh air, Aditya was the flare to Pooja’s pallid life. Someone she could always look up to. A great communicator, he was always gentle with his words and romantic in his acts. Even if he fought at times, it would only be a teasing. He would at times write romantic verses for her and teach her about life too. Always encouraging Pooja to try something new, Aditya always wanted her to be independent, take her own decisions.
And she did, she did take her own decision, asked him to go away. She never wanted to but she had to. Aditya had called her that day, the day he got the letter.
“What was that, Pooja?” Aditya had called, shocked. He had never sounded that way. “You were joking, right?”
“No, I wasn’t.” Pooja had said sharply. “I have given a lot of thinking to it.” But I never wanted it.
“Since when?” His voice had shown that he was aghast. “And couples fight. It’s common. Break-up isn’t the solution, baby. Let’s meet and talk about it.”
“I won’t” I can’t.
“What do you mean by you won’t? I am coming at your place.”
“I am not there.”
“Where are you?”
“With my boyfriend, Karan!” Pooja had said, breathing heavily. “And I am changing my number. Don’t call me now.”
Aditya had gone silent. So silent that Pooja could hear her own heart weeping. She never wanted this. He had just said, “Congratulations.”
Forcing down the lump that had lodged itself in his throat, Aditya had cut the call without another word.
He hadn’t showed any remorse but Pooja had heard his loud cry. A cry that penetrated her soul. He wanted a life with her, life that she robbed him from.
Pooja changed her number, blocked him from Facebook and moved in with Karan, preventing Aditya to come back to her life. Karan was her life now.
Pooja massaged her neck as she had some back strain. As she passed her hands through her shoulder, her fingers touched the chain that Karan had gifted her.
Karan was Pooja’s ex and present now. A man with attitude to control others’ life though, Pooja loved Karan since her school days. They were very much in love since then, but parted ways as the college-breeze hit their life. His paths were diverged to newer girls and he left Pooja, broken.
But years after when he met Pooja again on the same place and under the same sunset, the old love sparkled and they were back again. She couldn’t control herself and woke up next morning in bed with Karan, forgetting Aditya.
Karan didn’t know anything about Aditya and neither did Pooja wanted him to know. But he had changed now, matured. He never asked her about her past, considering he himself had his share of mistakes. He couldn’t blame her anyway.
Pooja walked beside the shore, dipping her foot into the wet sand, and wiped her tears that reminded her of today’s morning.
“You won’t buy that dress,” Karan had fumed, seeing Pooja trying a short dress at the showroom. It was today’s morning only.
“Please let me buy it, baby. Please, please, please!” Pooja was on her knees, hands folded. She was animating like a baby for candy.
“No!” Karan had his eyes bulged out. “And don’t humiliate me,” he said, his tongue behind his shut teeth.
There was a lump down her chin and she hadn’t said anything.
“Besides, black doesn’t suit you.” Aditya gave Pooja a hand, “C’mom! Stand up now.”
Her thoughts had raced back.
“Hey, Pooja! Buy a black dress. It will suit you,” were Aditya’s words on seeing a girl in black dress. “I think you don’t have any black dress, right?”
“I have one but it’s old and I don’t wear it now.” Pooja had head down. “You know, there’s a black dress that I have seen at a showroom. But …”
“But it’s too short, you know. Above the knees.” Her voice dropped.
“So what? You like it?”
“Like? I actually love it. But won’t you mind your girlfriend wearing short dresses?” Pooja had said in a hesitated tone.
Aditya had laughed hearing this. “See, Pooja. I am definitely your boyfriend but it doesn’t mean that I should decide everything for you. Actually, why should I?” Aditya had said, shrugging his shoulders. “Be independent, take your own decisions. Buy it,” he had said with a smile while holding her hands. There was something about his hands, hard and rough. Swimming had made him strong.
Pooja had hugged him and said, “I won’t buy it now but I will. Some other day. It would be a surprise.”
The day was today. Aditya’s birthday. Though Aditya wouldn’t see her, Pooja believed he could feel the gift wherever he was.
“I am buying it,” Pooja had looked straight into Karan’s eyes, after she failed in convincing him.
“Do whatever you want to,” Karan had banged his fist on the counter and walked out of the showroom. “You have changed so much,” were his last words.
The sun was turning red now and the seagulls were flying back. The laughter of the children was fading away. Peaceful and quite it was, everyone was heading to their home.
As she walked ahead, something pricked her feet. Ouch! She looked closer. They were the gorgeous and shiny shells brought on the shores by the water. She touched them, wet and cold. Aditya used to admire them, saying he had many colourful and unique shells that he had collected in his childhood.
She smiled. With her knees bent, she leaned and drove a shell on the beige sand. She wrote ADITYA
But before she could admire it, a wave came and washed her feet. It was cold, chilling her to the knees. She felt tickled. The waves came in succession, crashing round. She bent down and there was no ADITYA now. All she could see was a pattern of waves imprinted on the sand. Tight lipped, she looked around. A silence hung around and she could hear the water chattering against the stones. She closed her eyes and tried listening to them. “No, no, no. Aditya is washed away now,” they were talking among themselves.
She opened her eyes, smiled, looked into the see and wondered if they really had something to say. Aditya used to call the sea his friend. “They have all the philosophies of life engulfed within them,” he used to say.
She felt the salty breeze swirling around. The air blew across the beach. She breathed in and looked down. Tiny shells rolled on the sand. Pooja sat and admired them. They had beauty with nothing to compare. The sky was alight by the red sun sinking in the west.
She wrote on the cool and moistened sand again, KARAN AND POOJA, FOREVER.
She stood and waited to watch the water come and walk over it. However, it didn’t come. The water went silent. It was still. Pooja took her steps back and gazed at the sea. The blue body didn’t seem to move. Her footprints could be traced on the sand. Neither did the wind blow nor did the water move. It seemed as if the world had taken a pause. Their names were still there. KARAN AND POOJA, FOREVER.
She gazed, motionless, without a single thought in her mind.
A call broke her stillness.
“Hello! Where are you, baby?” It was Karan.
Pooja uttered a sigh. “Why? Do you care?”
“I do, sweetheart. I really do,” Karan said. His voice reflected remorse. “I am sorry for today.”
Pooja didn’t speak a word and closed her eyes. The breeze was back again, just as normal. It passed by her, cooling her wet feet. She felt a tickle down her neck. It was playing with her, causing strands of hair to move on and away from her face. It seemed as if they were playing piano on her cheeks. She pulled the strands back, above her ear.
“I shouldn’t have behaved so. I am so dumb, you know that. Sorry, darling.”
“Avoid it. You will never change, I know that.”
“I will. I have.” His voice had a weight. “Sweetheart, you won’t believe but I did something,” Karan said in sudden excitement.
“The black dress, remember?”
“The black dress that you didn’t let me buy.”
“Well, I have a surprise.”
“What?” She wanted to know.
“Drum rolls, please,” he said, making some sound. “The black dress, I bought it.”
A grin passed her face and she squeezed her eyes. “Really?”
“Of course, yes! I had to. My Pooja wanted it. How could I not let her buy it!” Karan laughed. “Seriously, I have come to realize now that I should let you be yourself only. If you like it, you should wear it,” he said, in a serious tone.
“Karan, are you drunk? If you are, then please drink more often.” Pooja laughed.
They both laughed. Suddenly, everything seemed much brighter in the world.
“Where are you, by the way?” Karan asked.
“At the beach but returning,” she said merrily.
“No, wait. I am coming. We will have a walk together.”
“Who will prepare the dinner then? Promise me you won’t shout if it’s late.”
“Don’t worry. We will go to some restaurant,” Karan said, romantically. “Have you tasted Lobster Sashimi before?”
“Lobsters shashimi? Yes!” She squeezed her eyes in excitation. “Darling, come fast.” Pooja cut the call and looked around. Colourful shells reflected the red sun. It was setting down. Breezes blew strongly and the palm trees danced against the horizon with a grace. She loosened her grip, letting the letter, the painful reminder, fly away. She smiled at the swaying palms. “Now he is your life – Karan,” they nodded, as the letter flew away.