What if’s have always intrigued me, and what if things dint happen the way it did? What if I hadn’t gone to the mall two days later and what if I hadn’t actually spilled coffee on my tee and had not gone to the washroom? Would I have still met the slender 18 year old somewhere else who desperate for some help approach me to bail her out? Would I actually like the girl enough to accompany her to meet her brother? Would I bump in to her somewhere else if not there at some later date?? The matter was, it happened. Nandini, the little girl and I walked out of the washroom, chatting, where her brother was waiting for her. There stood Neel, waiting for his sister to emerge from the washroom, the same sister I had helped him choose a gift for. On finding me with her, he recognized me instantly and his face lit up.
“So you two have met already?”
“Met already? You know her?? She has been an absolute darling. It seems like you guys know each other?”
“Do you do social service with vengeance?”
“Hardly. I like to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs me” I beamed. Finally, I thought, just when I was about to give up on ever finding Neel fate brought him to me.
“Care for coffee, Noyona or do you have to scoot today too, before I can actually ask for you number?”
I blushed. “Umm..Ok if it’s not a problem” So he remembered my name, now is that a good sign or bad? I wondered.
“What the hell is going on? Will someone tell me?”
“Come along kiddo I’ll tell all but not before we order coffee.”
What had followed were calls and more hanging out. Calls were random at first then the frequency increased. The excitement was palpable but there was always a fear nagging my mind. Where is this heading? What if he is not the one, what if he breaks my heart? It didn’t take him long to pop the question. With a heavy heart I had refused him because I thought we both were getting carried away by infatuation. Heartache entailed, calls stopped and it seemed all the happiness had been sucked out of my life. Even books didn’t interest me anymore. Then a freak call from him brought it all back. It was tough taking the plunge to rise beyond apprehension and gamble my emotions. I knew I was ready, and ever so gingerly I confessed that it wasnt really infatuation but I really did love him. Then there was no looking back. As if we had opened the Pandora’s Box and none of knew just how to contain it. Fear was always close at hand. Fear of losing each other. Nandini was the happiest when we broke the news to her first. It was she who encouraged us to tell our parents. Tension and apprehension ruled but to our surprise we were both welcomed with open arms. Our happiness was now official and for all to us. I remember the ecstatic feeling, as if I had wings and could fly. Happiness knew no bounds. We knew it was a matter of time before we were officially together. But love is good while it lasts, once the honeymoon period is over the real test begins, I thought bitterly.
I was such a fool then, to even think that this was it, bliss was right here, and that my prince charming had arrived. Maybe I was riding high on an overdose of mills and boons or maybe I was hopelessly in love. I learnt in the next few years to come that my prince charming was a mere mortal, that once the prince was sure he had his princess, he would go back to being the frog and would cease to fulfill the promises and the dreams that he had promised to turn to reality. Spending time with me became a charade to him, something that he should do not because he wanted to be with me. Talks only consisted of his work; he’d briefly enquire about my day, and move on to the next topic: him, without even waiting for me to answer. He had started not telling me things, it was only when his mom brought things up that I knew of it, he had gone drinking with friends in the middle of the night, or something he has bought or some new friend he was hanging out with. I felt like a stranger to the man I was seeing. Love seemed like prison cell to me. Being the perfectionist that I am, I tried to accommodate his erratic life, mood swings and work pressure into my life, to understand all that he had to go through in life, and his inability to give me time or attention. I tried for 4 long years, I know I did. With each fight, the feeling that ‘this wont work, that I am happy alone’ became stronger and stronger. Crying myself to sleep became a ritual then I just turned indifferent. There as much as one can take, listening to a guy talk about how hard he worked as if the work put it by the girl didn’t matter at all.
I knew it was coming and then one day something snapped within me. I couldn’t take it anymore. Life wasn’t a compromise for me. For a girl fiercely independent I had given up my wild ways for a man who cared less. I compromised and accommodated him and his flaws and inabilities, despite being the perfectionist I am. My self respect couldn’t take the indifference, the humiliation and the position he could offer to me in his life, that of being a trophy girl friend. I had had enough of believing that he would change, that he would indeed keep his promises. Of hoping that someday he will value me for what I was. I applied for a job which I eventually bagged and without giving him a reason or a formal goodbye I left and relocated to this sleepy seaside town. I haven’t been home since. Baring an occasional phone call for a few minutes to exchange pleasantries, I haven’t spoken to my parents. I’m not ready to face questions about my relationship. I’m not willing to go back home and be haunted by memories of what was but will never be.
Why did he have to turn up and mess around with the life I had chosen for myself. What is he after? This is my life now, and I’m not letting Neel’s presence ruin it. This time I won’t succumb to his lies and fake promises. This time, I’m not going to get my heartbroken. What I had with Neel is over and it will remain buried and nothing can resurrect it, come what may; I swore.
To be continued…………..