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I Still do…

By: Asim Patnaik
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My eyes were glued to her. I didn’t even blink. She was with her friends sitting two tables away. It was a small restaurant where I had my lunch daily. Ignoring the buzz around me, I continued to gaze. All of a sudden she burst into laughter. And at that very moment everything around me just came to a standstill. The cacophony around me had gone mute. I heard only one sound – the sweet sound of her laughter. And all I could see was an endearing face – a face that had the radiance of a million suns. And then she saw me looking at her. Her laughter subsided into a sweet smile. As she put few strands of her hair behind the ears, she slowly looked away, still smiling.

The next day I went for my lunch at the same time hoping to have a glimpse of her. Hope drives a man to do impossible things.. with the same fervour, I entered the restaurant. She sat at the same table. I sat at the usual place. She glanced at me with a smile but immediately looked away even before I could reciprocate. She hardly looked at me throughout the course of my lunch. I wasn’t sure if I was to be happy as she smiled at me or be sad that she didn’t look at me. As the bewilderment occupied my mind, I watched her leave the restaurant.

The day wasn’t going well after the incident at lunch – or was there any incident at all? I was confused. There was this tussle between the brain and the heart, between hope and despair and there was chaos within. Exhausted mentally, I left office for the day. At times, it takes ages to build a connection with an individual and there are times when one sight, the very first sight, is just good enough. So was my state today. I had started thinking deeply about her, sewing together my wishes and desires into a beautiful dream – dream of a life together in an ethereal world. I had fallen for her, may be. I was walking back home after dinner casually humming – ek ajnabee haseena se yun mulaaqaat ho gayee -, when I heard a voice from behind. I turned and there she was. “Hi” – she said. I smiled at her – the smile that I couldn’t return to her the same afternoon. “Yahaan kaise”- I asked, “Do you stay somewhere nearby?”. “There”- she said pointing at the PG opposite my apartment building. “We are almost neighbours” – I said to which she laughed. We talked for the next half an hour but I could hardly remember anything.  “See you tomorrow morning. I’ll give you a buzz when the cab is here. Bye.”- she said. “Cab?” – I thought to myself. Before I could utter a word, she started walking towards her PG. Confused, I stood there for a minute before starting to walk to my apartment. While I unlocked the door, a message popped up on my phone. “Good night”- read her message. “You sleep well” – I replied smiling my way into my house.

“Thanks for giving me company. I get bored traveling alone for 2 hours everyday”-  she said as we got into the cab. I realized that probably I had agreed the night before to give her company in her office cab. “How do you commute daily?” –  she asked. “In a startup, you even pay for the toilet paper that you use. So, we have got to be really stingy and if possible, reuse the napkin. I take public transport” – I said, “It’s lighter on the pocket”. “You are funny”- she said as she laughed at my ridiculously pathetic joke.

In the week that had gone by, the daily commute together to office and back followed by dinner had brought in an emotional connect between the two of us. We had an early dinner that evening and went for a walk together. It was an unusual evening – unusual because neither of us talked, we just walked around till we found a place to sit and may be talk. Guess either of us waited for the other to break the silence. After few more moments of silence, I just placed my hand over her shoulder. She turned to me and asked – “Kyaa huaa? Why are you so quiet today?”. “I love you. Seriously, I do” – I replied. She just turned away and stared at the empty road. “I didn’t want this to happen. It will not work out” – she said breaking the few minutes of silence ensuing my proposal. “I mean it will not. Probably we aren’t destined to be together” – she said. “Why do you say so? Don’t you love me?” – I asked. “It isn’t that but” – she said. “Don’t you love me” – I asked again interrupting her. She turned to me and held my hands and said – “Yes I do. I love you too. I never thought it would happen but it has. But for all I know is that it isn’t meant to be”. She stood up and said that she wants to go back to her room.

As I sat on my bed hoping to get some message from her, my phone rang. It was her call. I answered it.

Me – “Hmm bolo”

She – “I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I was on deputation here and my assignment got over today”. She wept incessantly as she said this. “I have fallen for you too but you could have held back your thoughts for one more day. I would have been gone then. I was scared that you would express what you feel and you did. I didn’t want this thing to happen. But I guess I had no control on my feelings either. But it doesn’t have a destiny”. She continued sobbing. I was quiet as I heard her cry. I was numb.

Me – “Not every love story has to end in a marriage. We can be eternally in love with someone. Every moment that we spend with each other, not necessarily being physically present, is the destiny. Every milestone along the journey is the destiny. Getting married and staying together is just another milestone. But that doesn’t define love alone. It’s that very moment spent with your loved one defines it.”. She continued sobbing.

She – “Nahi hogaa yaar”. I could understand that she had her own valid reasons but didn’t want to know. “Yaar my heart is sinking when I think of a day without you. All I know is I will miss you to the core”

She hung up after few minutes still crying. I continued being numb.  It was the longest night of my life.

It was dawn and we waited for the cab to arrive. I had only few minutes to spend with her. I said – “I don’t know how life will be. But you are one I’ll cherish forever. Thanks for being a part of me and please be forever”. “I am glad our paths crossed. You are one beautiful chapter of my life. I didn’t want this moment to come when I will be bidding goodbye to you but it’s here now. We may be in touch or not but all I can say is that you will be the special one in my life and I will always love you from the bottom of my heart” – she said as she saw her cab approaching. “I love you” – she murmured in my ears while hugging me tight as tears rolled down our cheeks. Just before getting into the cab, she turned and blew me a kiss. That was the last glimpse of her I had – the one that loved me.

——————————————————-*********—————————————————

It was midnight and as the whole sequence of events flashed in front of my eyes as if it was only yesterday, I was awakened by the notification on my phone. “Happy Friendship Day you monkey” – read her message. “Same to you” – I replied. It happens that we love someone so much so that we can’t let go of them from our lives if love doesn’t culminate in being together. So, we settle for friendship so that they continue to be a part of us. So here she was still a part of me. Now she likes me but I still love her.

 

 

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