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When I was finally done tracing every shop in the mall, on each of its three sprawling floors, of every possible type from SuperDry to One Dollar store, I called her again.
It is the same routine, calling someone over the phone. The sequence of slight touches on the touchscreen. Hearing the mechanical ringtones ringing near your ear, punctuated by heartless silences in-between. And waiting until the other person picks up the phone.
I was hopelessly waiting for her to pick the phone up. As I’d waited eight times before earlier in the day, and many times before during the past one-year relationship.
There was no answer.
The phone reached her voice mail. This time, though, there was a message notification at the top of the phone screen.
‘Stuck in Traffic. Can we reschedule? Thanks.’
I typed Ok, added a smiley at the end of this short three worded message, and hit send. And then I deleted her number.
How many signs one need to see before realizing the relationship is over? Canceled meetings. Mono-syllabled replies. Being busy, always. Is there a threshold number which can be put on such signs?
Can we identify all these and add them up? Derive a mathematical certainty that it won’t work anymore. Know when it is futile to go on. To give up on this hope that you’d be loved like you love them.
All signs are there. But we still hang on. Hoping for the things to get better. Hoping for a light at the end of a tunnel.
I kept hanging on to such hope. I’d felt the distance between us long before. The flippant casual thing that I felt in her words. Still I held on. Hoping for a light at the end of a tunnel.
Why do we linger around this fading light? Around a candle that is past its burning days. It’s wick half drowned in the molten remains of its own burned wax. The wax which gave it its life once. Now the same wax forming the bed of its own grave.
I deleted her messages. Her photos. I blocked her on FB and whatsapp.
I did everything to remove the traces of her existence from my life. To wipe the slate clean. To start afresh.
It takes time.
Slowly, as the waves of time washed the shores of my existence again and again, washing away the marks of my present, dissolving them into the sea of past, the memories started fading away.
‘Were you in a relationship before?’Rhea asked. I had met her a year after after I’d deleted that number, ending the already dying relationship. The only one I’d ever been.
‘Yes,’ I said as I swiped fork in the almost finished Plate of Pasta. ‘I had one relationship before. Ended around eight months back.’
‘For how long you were together?’
‘Wow. That’s a long time. Why did it end?
I looked at her for a moment too long. She caught my uneasiness discussing this topic. She then quickly added, ‘Do you miss her?’
‘No. Not really,’ I said as a matter of fact, ‘I have erased the memories of that relationship. Her thoughts don’t bother me anymore. I’m completely over her.’
‘Hmm. Ok.’, she said, not looking at my face. Somehow, she wasn’t convinced of that.
We went out again a few times in the next couple of weeks. It was good in every way possible. She was nice, caring, and gave me the respect that I never got in my previous relationship. But I couldn’t give her the attention that she deserved. My mind still a prisoner of the past. My existence of ghost of what I used to be.
She tried, she tried hard.
But then, one day, she let me go. She and I broke up.