Does it matter? Why? Really?
I stood there silently and the questions kept coming into my head; like waves hitting a dead rock on the seashore. Anger, anxiety or helplessness; whatever it was, but it was gripping me hard. I kept standing there like a rock, and the questions gave no respite.
The waves of countless questions were doing a good job of beating the hell out of me.
Perhaps, I was hallucinating but I felt gravity move up a notch or it was the atmospheric pressure that changed. I felt it really hard; I had to put all my effort just to move my leg. I guess it was just the effect she had on me.
I felt that there were a lot more parts of my body other than the heart and mind, which were controlled by her emotions.
As I stood there, I could hear the sound of the shehnai. I was very far, far enough to ignore the sound of music coming from the distance. The lights of the events were just about visible, but I could still hear the shehnai almost clearly. Everyone else would have ignored this bare minimum sound. I too wanted to ignore it, but I could not.
Trust me, the last sound you want to hear in the world are the wedding bells of the girl you loved.
If you ask me, it’s even worse than being fired by a super cruel boss. Lost in these thoughts my mind kept slipping back to the events of the recent past.
“I am earning 7 lakhs now; 55 grand in hand, maybe more with incentives,” I urged again. I had my offer letter in my hand. I showed it to her. I wanted her to look at it; I wanted her to see that I was doing well in my career. I kept justifying myself, “Common, I mean, 60-65 thousand is good enough to run a family. Isn’t it?” And the love I had for her, which she wasn't even looking at.
She gave me a look that had become familiar now.
The look silently translated into “Your persuasion is not working.”
“I am asking you for the 100th time,” I almost begged her. Her infamous silent treatment continued. We were sitting in her favourite coffee shop in the Green Park market. Overpriced coffees, stupid conversations, and silent treatment sessions were common at the corner table where we spent almost the whole summer. She was silent.
Her big eyes were looking at everything but my love for her.
“Reshab, I respect your feelings. I really do. I want you to know it. But I don’t love you. And that’s why I can’t marry you. I can’t…” She kept repeating. “Why? Why Neeti? I still don’t get the reason, why?” I almost screamed and several heads turned towards our table. It was embarrassing.
However, my life was at stake, so who cared about being embarrassed!
But needless to say, that was just me and I didn't know how much it mattered to her. She was in no mood to get embarrassed. When she saw my emotions going out of control, she took her jacket and stood up to leave. Or should I say, she left. I know that it certainly explains that she didn’t love me.
I understood it. But my heart was not the adaptive kind. So I had to try.
Everyone stared at her as she got up from the table while I just sat there, trying to figure out what I could say to make her reciprocate my feelings. Within a moment, she was out of the cafe. I stood up, paid the bill and ran out.
If any of you have seen this scene before – a guy running behind a girl - in any other coffee shop, please do not associate it with me. This was my first time and I am certainly not making it a habit.
As I ran out, I wondered where could I find her in the market. Just as I was preparing to start a search operation, I saw her standing patiently, waiting for me.
Well, that was one of the reasons why I loved her.
“If you promise not to make a public scene, we can talk now, or else, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I could sense the panic in her voice. It sounded less of a sentence and more of an ultimatum. “Ok!” I said.
We took a little walk and I calmed down. I started behaving like a 'friend-cum-lover' kind of a guy.
Yeah, it sounds confusing, but that’s how our relationship was.
“See Neeti, it’s been a year that I have been chasing you. We are great friends and have spent countless days in the same coffee shop, which proves that we have a great time together. I just want this time to continue. Always and forever…” I paused for a breath.
She kept looking down but the last part made her look into my eyes. I loved our eye-to-eye sessions. She had lovely eyes and I enjoyed looking into them.
“I get it, Neeti. You haven’t seen me as a husband; you don’t feel that way for me, I am your best friend etc. You don’t address me as ‘aap’, which you want to call your would-be-husband. I understand,” I said calmly.
“I still don’t see the point. I don’t feel for you that way. You are my best friend and I don’t know what more to tell you. I hate to disappoint you and I hate hurting you whenever we have these conversations,” her voice sounded genuine but adamant. She had made up her mind.
It was difficult to imagine that a sweet, simple girl like her was so firm at heart. It was far tougher to deal with.
“I know the friend - best friend - boyfriend confusion. I know it, ok! I should have left you alone and let you miss me. That would've made you realize how much our coffees and talks matter.
But then I thought, why should there be any strategies in love?!”
We stood in an empty corner of the street, towards the end of the market. “Reshab, it’s not happening. I am sorry.” I urged her to wait for some more time. “I will be earning..."
“Reshab, it was never about the money,” she cut me midway. “What was it all about then, Neeti?” My voice had started to give up.
I knew I was not going to get any answers from her. Maybe she did not owe me any.
“You are a really nice guy, Reshab…” She wanted to console me. “Tell me I am a loser. It’s fine. You don’t have to be nice, Neeti,” I cut her sentence. “No, you’re not. And you know I mean it,” her voice was soothing. She held my hand, and lifted my face with her other hand, gently caressing my cheeks.
I wish I could kiss her and tell her how much she meant to me. But nothing mattered.
“So, Ms Neeti Chauhan, you’re going to marry Mr Bajaj?” I asked sarcastically. “Yes. It’s Aman Bajaj.” She smiled and hoped that I’d smile too. How could I?
When I asked her if she liked him, she said yes. “So, you love him. Right?” I asked again. “Maybe, not yet. But I will someday. Soon!” she sounded optimistic.
“Ok. You never liked me. Right?” My question caught her off guard. “No, that’s not correct; I always said I liked you,” she replied. “Did you love me ... ever?” I didn't want this to be a question. I believed she did. But she said no.
I could never really read her face and failed this time too.
“Maybe, not yet. But I’m sure that you will someday. Soon!” I replied in the same words as her. I was greeted with her famous silence.
“Can I… If you don’t mind … awkwardly hug you for the last time…as friends, of course.” She didn’t reply, just came forward and hugged me. It felt lovely.
I wanted to kiss her, then again … there’s a place for all uncalled wishes, it’s the dump-bin in the corner of your heart.
After that day, we did not speak much. For those of you, who think that she understood my love and came back to me, sorry guys, it did not happen. I don’t know if she realized it or not. Even if she did, girls like Neeti Chauhan are too tough to accept that they were wrong. Or probably she was too busy trying to find her love in Mr Bajaj.
Today is her wedding day and I’m standing far away from her mandap, and waiting for her to come running and hug me again. Well, needless to say, that is just my hopeful heart. And it doesn’t matter.
This whole time, the one thing that didn’t really matter was ‘me’.
“I guess I wasn’t meant for her,” thought my brain, which had been sleeping for a while. “And if I don’t matter to her, she shouldn’t matter to me as well.” It’s over. It is time to move on analyzed my brain. I smiled. “Neeti, have a nice life,” I said out loud. In my heart, I hoped for something else.
Yes, it is the sign of a loser. But isn't that exactly how my heart feels right now?