Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Beginning

She was busy setting the tea up. There was much to be done: the cake was in the oven and the tea on the stove, the mac and cheese was already on the table for the girls to feast on. It was the weekend, the only time they got together. Anay usually worked late and therefore he preferred to spend the evenings at home on his off days. While she was pouring her coffee out, her phone buzzed. It must be some promotional message she thought. Not many people message her anyway.

The tea was soon ready, so was the cake. The kids were done with their snack and were now happily parked in front of the TV.  Anay had joined her on the table and was slicing the warm cake into neat pieces -- he was the one who sliced and diced everything if he was at home, this was his way of being with her while she cooked. 

The phone buzzed again, she had forgotten to check it, but she resisted the urge to get it, she knew it annoyed her husband when someone disregarded people for the phone. Almost an hour after the phone first rang, she finally got the time to check her phone. 

'Hello, are you anywhere close to Radisson?' The message was from an unknown number. 

Anyone who would want to see me, should ideally know where I stay and I should also have his number, she thought. To find out who it was, she dialled the number and was greeted by a familiar voice.

'Who's this?' she still asked, to be sure.

'You don't have my number?'

'Oh! I lost it when I changed the phone.' she lied. 'Why are you coming to Delhi and for how long?'

'Answer my question, first.'

'Yes, I am close to the hotel.'

'Well then, I am there tomorrow for a training and will see you post that.'

It had been eight years since they last met and months since they spoke on the phone -- the phone calls in any case were limited to her birthday. He made it a point to call her every year, despite her never calling him on his.

'Hello! are you there?'

'Yes, I am.'

'Is it OK if I drop in?'

'Sure' she said, though she was not sure.

Much had changed in the last eight years, she was a different person now. What would she even talk about? she thought.

Anay's voice broke her chain of thoughts. She left the phone in the kitchen and went inside. The girls had gone to bed and he was watching his favorite series. She settled next to him, facing the TV and went back in time.

They were never friends to begin with, in fact, she did not even remember much of him from school. What she did remember clearly was the time she had a crush on him -- the biggest ever. Although she had never told him, she knew that he knew. But they never talked. 

School ended and everyone went their own way. They did too, until the day he called her. There was a function he was organising and wanted her to be a part of it -- to sing with him. What followed was a dream come true: for weeks, they spent hours together practicing the most beautiful songs -- their voices were made for each other.

The event went on to be a great success and they went on to become greater friends. Amazingly, although she had always been infatuated with him she never felt that way anymore. He became one of her best friends much to the annoyance of her girlfriends.

'Where are you lost?' it was Anay, standing with a bottle of water. She had not noticed when he went out of the room and got the bottle.

'Nothing', she lied and went back in time.

In a couple of years, she moved to Delhi -- to find her place under the sun and he stayed back in Lucknow. They talked regularly and met each time she went back. In fact, he was the one to pick her and drop her from the station and even drive her around the town -- each time. 

Years passed, she was now married and he worked in Bombay, they hardly went to Lucknow and had not met in years. Their conversations were now limited to exchanging birthday wishes.

'Adi messaged' she finally told Anay. 'He's here tomorrow for a training and wants to see me post that.'

'Sure, call him home' he said.

'No, not home, I'd rather see him at the hotel, he will be at the Radisson' she muttered.

'Ok, suit yourself' he said.

He was not the kind to object to her going out or meeting people. She however, always ended up feeling guilty about going out on her own. Tonight again, she could feel the fangs of guilt slowly digging into her conscience. She felt selfish and inconsiderate to leave the girls and Anay behind just to see a friend. 

Lukewarm rays of the winter sun had already filled the room when she woke up next morning. The girls were in the study with their father: he had taken them away so that she could sleep peacefully. He is the best husband ever, she thought.

All day, she looked for excuses -- to avoid the meeting. Was it the anxiety of seeing an old friend and discover that they had nothing in common or was it the guilt of leaving the girls and husband and going out? She could not tell. She picked her phone up several times to tell him that she cannot make it, that something had come up and she had to go, but each time she resisted.

Not very long ago, she was known for being independent, rebellious, carefree and non conformist, she did what she wanted and always listened to her heart. Now, she was the exact opposite. Sometimes she felt there were two people inside her, each constantly wanting to dominate the other, it left her confused and tired. Today was one such day, she was not sure who would win -- the old or the new, the rebel or the compliant, the practical or the emotional -- until she took over both. 

'I will see you in an hour, Anay.' she said, as she left for the hotel, smiling.

As Published in Femina Fast Fiction:

1 comment:

  1. Glad she went to meet Apurva! Nothing wrong whatsoever. The guilt fangs prior to the visit would all be muddled up in the heart and mind; albeit, there is this curious and anxious self that urges one to take certain bittersweet impulse decisions!