“How are you?”
What a cliched question that was. It was showing in my face that I was embarrassed to talk. It was showing in my attire that I was doing good financially. It was showing in my gait and standing posture that I was fine physically.
“I am fine.”
“Yeah good. How are you?” It was a matter of courtesy then to ask back. He nodded his head.
“Do you mind if we sit and talk?”
Next minute, we were seated at the corner table of the college canteen where we usually sat when we were a couple.
Our eyes never met. But I knew I was looking at him and he was looking at me. The silence that prevailed between us was new to me. There were no sign of any chuckle or giggle or the guilty smile in his face that my heart used to crave for.
“I am not fine Sruthi.”
“What happened?” Of course I knew what happened. All I got back was a stern look which was a tight slap on my face.
“I mean.. I thought you must have moved on.” I lowered my head and said slowly.
“I tried a lot.” he said. I tried not to speak. I wanted to hear more. Why? Because I knew he loved me a lot. And it gave me a sense of pride for having “owned” his love. After a short pause he continued.
“I avoided taking that snaky route in which we used to walk. I gave up coffee because it reminds me of your obsession with the less-sugar-more-coffee. I gave up wearing checked shirts because I long to see that ‘thank-you’ smile on your face when you see me wearing them. I…”
“Try seeing another girl.” I cut the dialogue short. Because my heart couldn’t hold it any longer. I knew I ruined his life by walking out of it. At that second, I wanted him to hate me as much as he loved me.
“What did you just say?”
“I said try seeing another girl.”
“You really mean it?”
“And you wouldn’t be bothered?”
“Of course not.” I looked away. Then I continued.
“Why would I be bothered? We are not together anymore. We need to get over this. Life shouldn’t stop for any of us. When we know this won’t work out, there is no point in pondering over future of this, right? Keep yourself busy with something. I am sure you will see the change. You won’t even take my name once you are with someone else.” I paused my lecture. Did I really mean all that I said? The very thought of he being with someone else shuddered me. But that was okay. I couldn’t have him thinking about me for the rest of his life. I was sure he wouldn’t even think of anybody else if he had me in mind. I had to make him erase all those memories somehow.
“Oh. Is this what you did? to move on.” There was both sarcasm and some melancholy when he said the last words. One question I was waiting for.
“Yes. I am going to meet a guy this weekend.” I instantly lied. And I bent my head down like I always did when I couldn’t look into his face.
“Oh..” A long pause followed.
“Will you tell him that you have had a past relationship?” he smiled. I never knew his smile could pierce me so hard that it started paining inside. Both literally and even otherwise.
“There is nothing to lie/hide. I have not done a mistake by being in one.” I said firmly. First dialogue that I truly meant that evening.
“I am very glad you don’t regret it.”
“Why will I regret it? You are a very nice person. I am sure you will get a better girl.” This time my voice shook. He smiled again.
“I don’t need a better girl. I don’t need this soothing session either.”
“I am just being honest.”
“Yes.” He dint speak for a while. And my heart sensed that the calmness around was actually a prelude to a whirlpool coming.
“I never thought that one such episode would come in my life Sruthi. Not with you! I heard it is hard for girls to fall in love, but it is easy for them to come out of it.You just, just proved it again. You are no special. You’re just another girl.” End of the conservation. And silence again set in. Silence which can actually kill. That silence so high in decibels that your ear cannot take it. I recalled his previous words. My job was done. I was no longer special to him. It meant I won the battle of separation by killing myself. I stood up and walked towards my bike like a zombie. The hand which usually used to reach out to mine when I was down was resting on the table. The one whom I had in all my heart said I did not have one. If only I could show him my broken heart. I sat on my bike and was ready to go. I could see Karthik in the mirror and it read “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. I broke down.