He stood smoking by the window, the wind curling his hair and smoke all at the same time. She sat behind him smoking too, making sure the window takes away most of it. The yellow streetlight made them look eerie, sitting by the small turn of stairs outside her apartment, blowing curls of smoke in the wind. Not talking to each other. Not even facing each other.
Suddenly he turned and after what looked like an effort to form words, made some sound.
“You really dont want to know? I like that you dont want to know,” he said.
“You want me to know?”
“I got divorced, dammit. I left her. It is over. You dont want to know why?”
She smiled. Sent out another bit of smoke which the window was too eager to take away
“Again, do you really want me to know?”
“It did not work out. It just did not.”
“It never does.”
“Why do you think I came to you? You of all the people whom I haven’t spoken to in two years?” He blurted
“It’s not gonna happen.”
“I am not going to be your rebound.”
There was a look. A surge of expressions that clouded his face. Was it disappointment? or was it hurt? or was it disappointed hurt? She wanted to give a name to those expressions.
Meanwhile the cigarette had breathed its last. He threw it and left. If he felt that words wouldn’t really mean anything at that moment, he was right. She didn’t try to stop him. She didn’t feel like.
Walking back to her apartment, a little of the past two years showed up in slight flashes. She laughed. Surely, who ever was scripting her life above seemed to possess a sense of humour.
Two years ago, when they had parted, it was the day before his wedding. It was the day before she asked him why he was getting married. A day before he told her he was going to commit the biggest mistake of his life.
He committed his mistake, with a fanfare which put a lot of weddings at that time to shame. She fell in love with a youngish guy and forgot all about him. Well, to say the truth, she forgot everything about everything. The love enveloped her completely. It was unbreakable, for eternity. Unlike his marriage. Completely unlike his marriage.
Who knew a marriage of compromise and a love that was eternal could meet the same fate?
As she entered her apartment, the phone rang. She didn’t recognise the number.
“Is that the only relationship possible between us? that of a rebound?”
“It wont be utter committed love, I am sure.”
In the silence that ensued, she didn’t realise when he slipped in “I will see you tomorrow”
Sometimes even when you know you are heading into danger, going in with your arms wide open seems to be the most logical option.
In the morning, while taking a bath, she took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Tweeked her eyebrows and shaved her legs. Checked herself twice before leaving for work. Spent two minutes finding out the right earring to go with her red and black kurta.
She left only after she was fully assured that she looked good. Beautiful. However, she didn’t skip a beat while walking to the bus. This wasn’t the excitement of love. Not even sex. She knew what it was not, but wasn’t sure what it was. Probably the excitement of doing something so out of the limits that it leaves only the deed as worthy of any mention. She was crossing her limits. Her bare, vulnerable limits.
Perhaps this was the cosmic way of teaching her to learn from her mistakes, by making her commit a last horrible, horrible mistake. The words echoed in her head all day, “a last horrible, horrible mistake”
When she looked at him from the doorway of the coffee house, his eyes gave nothing away. The soft eyes that had always been a matter of concern before, looked harmless right now. They seemed bluer today.
The Coffee House was full of people and the attendant asked her to wait before entering to avoid being pushed in. He was there, sipping coffee. She could see him.
She smiled again. Two years ago, she would have dismissed this event as a dream. Or maybe as guilty indulgence.
Two years ago, when every waking moment spent was a blur of love. When every asleep moment meant being enveloped in his arms. When every road forward was with him. Not with the guy sipping coffee in front of her. No, that guy was the past. Gone. Gone as good as gone.
Then, how did this happen? How is she back to where it might have all started? Two years ago, when they had parted, no one had felt a pang of separation. There was no need to. The eerie attraction between them had never materialised to something concrete. The heart had never developed a feeling of belonging. If given a chance, they could have been together. If given a chance. But both of them met their respective people almost at the same time. For her, it was love that hit her out of nowhere and changed her forever. For him, it was a conscious choice of being with someone comfortable. His high school sweetheart. His comfort zone. And although the decision to marry was a forced one, somewhere in his heart he knew he’d be able to sustain it.
To wipe out all of that and come back, again, to the point where something could happen tells you why fact is more interesting than fiction. They were at the starting point again, but with a baggage that might never let anything happen. The futility of the past two years enraged her. It also saddened her. It made her eyebrows come together in thought.
Did someone mention sense of humour?
Note: This is part one of a longish series I want to develop on both the above characters. As and when I feel to write. Stay tuned, if you are curious 😀