. . .
I cursed myself for calling Rhea. For giving in that moment of weakness.
After I changed into fresh clothes, I went up to the table and picked up the phone. There were three missed calls on my phone.
None was from her.
One of the call as from Aman. He was my ex-flatmate. We used to stay together at a time when I was going out with Rhea. Sometime after that he moved in with his girlfriend.
My head still groggy from last night party, I decided to deal with missed calls later. I went into the living room and sank into the couch.
I then clicked on Whatsapp and checked Rhea’s last-seen time-stamp. It showed she was online two days back.
She must be traveling, I thought.
. . .
Rhea had to travel a lot for business. And she hardly complained. In fact, she loved this life. A life out of hotels and suitcases. The constant flying from one part to another. She didn’t like to be rooted to one location.
She was a modern day nomad.
I, on the other hand, was from a breed of settlers. I liked to make places home. Stay long enough to know what that place is about. What is its character. The way it bathes in the light of the early morning sun. The way it glitters in the star-filled night. Its sounds. Its smells. Everything.
I would try to know places as one tries to know their lover.
She never understood that.
The way I never understood her fascination for constant travel. I guess that’s where our relationship failed. She wanted to fly in clear skies. I wanted to stay grounded on muddy earth, playing home.
There was no middle ground for us.
. . .
Rhea visited again after two months. The monsoon had given way to a pleasant winter. Handsome season of balmy sun and clear skies and misty nights. Chill just enough to keep your spirits high. Your mood lively.
A perfect time to be in love.
She landed in Pune on a beautiful evening. Draped in a lemon colored jacket, over a black colored french-lace dress. Her hair tied in a bun. Face glowing in the slight winter chill.
We went directly to the hotel.
In that lamp-lit room, we drank Jim Beam and coke. Then, we touched each other and giggled and made love like teenagers.
That night, in bed, she told me that she’d never loved anybody the way she loved me.
. . .
For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant and ordered Pasta and Mushroom Risotto. Velvet Cake for desert.
After dinner we decided to take a walk back to the hotel.
It was a beautiful night. An enormous moon hung low in a star filled sky, its light covering everything in a dreamy glow. Jasmine fragrance filled the air. The old leaves crunching below our feet. I looked at her face. She appeared younger, more beautiful than ever. A faint sound of piano came from a distance. I wished the night would ever end.
The night ended. So did the one month she stayed in Pune. In-between we laughed and cried. And had our first big fight.
And then she left for New York.
This time with no promise of return.
. . .
A knock on the door woke me out of my reveries. It was a courier boy.
As I closed the door I wondered how much I still cared about her. Her thoughts rushing into my mind as water rushes into a sinkhole.
Feeling overwhelmed, I decided to fix up a cup of black coffee for myself.
With the steaming coffee in my hand and Rhea on my mind, I sank into the couch.
. . .