. . .
Sitting on the couch, I remembered to call Aman.
I dialed his number. He asked me if everything was all right. If I was alright.
Rhea had called him last night to know why I called her. To know what was I thinking. How was my life at office. Whether I was eating right or not.
And finally, have I moved on or not?
‘If she calls you again,’ I said after a moment of thought, ‘tell her that I called her by mistake.’
. . .
After she had left for New York, the rest of the winter dragged on painfully. I felt lonely and lost. We talked less frequently.
Intermittent chats on Whatsapp and Skype.
The realization sunk in slowly, gradually, that our way of lives were too different, too alien to each other and how much we might love each other, things will not work out.
There was something slipping away. I could sense that. And I could do nothing about it.
Even after knowing this my heart and soul were tethered to her thousands miles away.
I’d never shunned solitude. But in those times, I feared the silence around me, because it made me realize how life could be without her. Without her sight. Without her touch.
I wondered how much a man can submit to a thought. Surrender to an emotion. How much he can bend in love, concede in worship, to someone far far away. While they stay unconcerned, incapable to sympathize what we are going through, without an inkling of thought to what we are feeling.
Our situation never effected her the same way as it effected me. The asymmetry of situation, that troubled me even more. That she didn’t even know what I was going through.
. . .
Time went on. Life continued. And two long months passed away.
One day when she had too much Vodka, she told me how much she loved me. That she was missing me. That she wished she was here, with me.
I laughed it off, too much Vodka speaking.
But one day, like an off-season rain, she appeared in my life with a surprise.
. . .
Winter had descended and given way to the colors of spring. The days were brighter, the nights warmer. The life which had gone hiding in winters came out and celebrated the act of living once again.
‘I’m here,’ she told me over phone. And at once I could feel nearness in the texture of her voice.
This time she came without the baggage of her work — without laptop and data-card and long calls that punctuated our previous meetings.
We went on drives to far-off places. Ate exotic food. Climbed mountains and swam in rivers. Saw handsome sunrises and amazing sunsets.
And it felt, for a moment, that things have started changing for something better. For a new ‘us.’
. . .
One week, we were on a lonely beach in Goa.
Lying on our backs, on a peaceful shore of Palolem beach, we were gazing into the sky.
The shimmering stars mottled the dark sky. A full moon pouring down its milky whiteness. The sea below was dreamy black under the night sky, sparkling at places where it reflected the pale moonlight. The waves crashed the beach in a slow lumbering rhythm, all resonating so perfectly as if orchestrated by a master conductor.
It was perfect.
Hands in hands, we drank the atmosphere with my eyes, getting high on its rawness that can only be found in a place like this, far far away from the city rush, and its daily bustle.
‘Let’s stay like this forever,’ she told me, as she tapped on my shoulders with her head. I breathed in the fragrance of her hair, and felt that amazing feeling of contentment and fulfillment which can only come from the realization of being in love.
We kissed and made love. Our bodies naked in the pale moonlight.
By the time we left, a ghost moon was fading in the early dawn light.
. . .
I woke up and found myself alone in the bed. I rubbed my eyes and went to the bathroom to wash my face. There was a noise coming from the hall — a melee of clicks and clanks. I stepped towards the hall and found Rhea’s stuff spread on the couch. She was packing.
As I stepped into the hall, she halted, as if frozen in time.
‘I got a call,’ she whispered. ‘I didn’t expect getting the call so soon. I thought I could settle. I wanted to ditch that. But this call, it changed everything.’
She paused for a moment and then said, ‘I have to leave urgently.’
I decided to say something, to plead, to beg, to ask her to reconsider. But the very fact that she was considering a life in which we were not together was enough for me to not say anything. It was as good an answer could be.
Then she resumed packing. It was the last time we saw are talked to each other.
When she stood at the gate, there was a hint of tears in her eyes. Or maybe not. I couldn’t say. The world was too hazy for me to make out the difference.
I turned around without saying goodbye.
. . .