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Alleged Lovers – Part III

March 7, 2012 4 comments
If you haven't already, you can read Part I and Part II before you proceed.

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She would have gotten really upset at his behavior had it been another day. Wasn’t she always a little submissive to his disposition, she wondered. Had it been another day she would not have said what she did for she knew how he reacted when the topic of their marriage cropped up for discussion. She was aware of his every mood – and what caused it – and she somehow ended up by equating this understanding with her love for him. How beautiful it is to understand a person so deeply. Had it been another day she would have responded with that understanding.

Today being the day it was triggered something inside her that couldn’t be identified as love. And the Ganga, having soaked the sun, illumined the wick of her mind to pave way for her outburst.

“Why are you so shit scared of my questions…?” she began.

“What is it that you want me to do?” he asked.

It was her turn to look away. Exhaling through her closed lips, she made an uncharacteristic sound as if purposefully mocking his plea. Seeing her reply, something told him that he was wandering in an unsheltered territory of their relationship but he couldn’t be sure. So he calmed down with,

Achha seriously, I want you to help me figure this out…”

She twitched in acknowledgment, still avoiding his eyes.

“I thought I would buy the shop in installments and considering one week for renovation after all the paper work and all that, on the first of next month I had imagined us to be receiving your parent’s blessings.”

“What?!” she was shocked. Was it a surprise? A joke?

She felt weird. It did not sound right to her.

The discomfort that she felt was at her own self. She thought of not getting excited at the sound of just his words. It did sound like a reasonable plan. Maybe she felt disappointed in his fidgety and reckless way of dealing with confrontation. No, it wasn’t that – she fought with her thoughts. How could it be that the man she looked up to get so pointlessly agitated as soon as she touched the topic of their future, which he thought questioned his intentions!

Maybe she was over-reacting, but she couldn’t stop herself, “Why now?” she asked, “Why now…how did you find such an easy answer to my perpetual question…so easily?  How do you have a solution so clearly thought out now at an instant notice of my outburst? I don’t want to feel satisfied by your plan although it does sound sensible to me,” he raised his eyebrows and tried to smile but she ignored and continued, “but you know what? I don’t trust the plan because it is just a plan! It has been more than 2 years and all I have seen you make are just plans and I have had enough of them.”

The table felt the thud of her hand and the vibration pursued via his elbows and pulsated itself to his heart.

He was shaken by the surprising intensity of the frustration in her eye. He was shaken by her exasperation of which he was the cause. He thought about what she had said. In their earlier conversations he just went on maybe because he liked the sound of his voice and the assertion of his myriad and random views just led her on. It led both of them to believe that life was to be lived in the moment and that is what he was practicing. Did she not share that view with him?

She was waiting for him to reply and all she could see was his perplexed expression. He was staring blankly at her. She suddenly felt regret at having said what she said. She felt that maybe, maybe he did not share her concerns at all.

As the majority of her scuffle with her heart had been silently fought in some sub-conscious recess of her mind earlier, he could not quite comprehend today’s unexpected unrest in her otherwise smooth and predictable behavior.

“You don’t think about us and our future when everything is going fine how do you suppose I understand that you will take a stand when things are really rough?!” She stopped and thought that she was making it more difficult for him to understand by just voicing her uncontrolled thoughts out of her buzzing mind and so she decided that enough was enough and got up and started walking away.

He could only begin to absorb what had happened as his eyes, disconnected from his mind saw her moving away. Involuntarily his feet felt firm and his body stood up. The head itself couldn’t know what the body was doing.

A slight thought was given to his bodily movements; his frame of mind disregarded it as he had disregarded her. She was fooled into thinking that he would soon act and do something about the promises he had made. Of course you could have done this and that right, his old-self made an attempt to make him ponder a little, but she really didn’t let you know what she was feeling, you played along and carried on because she misled you into believing that she was fine by accepting you as you are. She seemed fine by all of it and what is all this now?

Like a lifeless, breathing image of himself he dragged his body in the direction she had gone. Down the stairs, she had become a part of the crowd that was going towards the Laxman Jhoola, but she had cut across to the spiraling road that went down to the Ganga Snan cafe and had disappeared along the curve.

He thought he would run and catch up with her but at the bottom of the stairs he also met the crowd thronging the bottleneck at this end of the Jhoola. He made his way past them, lost in the guilty realms of his mind – disillusioned at the prospect of what he would say to her when his legs caught up with hers. It seemed that she had moved away holding an end of the thread that he had coiled over himself. The coil of self-righteousness had begun unraveling.

His mind was churning and mental retina was forming images of the time they had spent together – “…You can be whatever you want to be.” She had read from a book about a year ago “But you’ve got to know what you want to be first. As that knowledge alone would create the drive in you to achieve your goal…” He had dismissed it as “self-help crap” then. Now he thought that in dismissing it, he hadn’t really given any real thought to what was being said.

He thought he was done justifying his actions and words with more words. At least he thought so in so many words! It could be really easy for him to blame her right now, he told his old self. He grew all aware of his need for her which jolted him out of his reverie of (mis?) leading himself on.

He was surprised that she saw through his farce before he could. But now that she had seen it, wasn’t she the one who could help him the most at this hour?

He saw an old man smiling at him with toothless glee as he moved on.

He saw a little girl giggling blissfully as her father played with her.

He wondered whether he felt sorry for himself. He wondered whether his pursuit of her was foolhardy attempt that would again lead to such a confrontation if they got back together.

She was sitting on the spiral staircase of the Balakrishna massage center, looking at the heavens for answers. It began to drizzle and all she got were drops of rain, hitting her face and then sliding across her skin before they were united together at the chin and fell to the ground.

He saw her as soon as he reached the curve, she didn’t seem to notice or care. He thought he fell in love with the faraway look in her eyes as if he was looking at her for the first time. He saw her indifference – an hour ago it was muffled pain at his futile plans. He wanted to go and cry in her lap. But he went to the adjacent shop and gently removed the plastic curtain protecting the books from the drizzle and went and sat besides her, covering her from the rain. She did not revolt or show displeasure.

The plastic sheet over their head began to make sounds at the falling drops of rain on it. It filled their proximity with the lack of silence that was needed to break ice between the two alleged lovers. Alleged lovers – up until now.

Her eyes closed and she let a lot of air out of her mouth, as if she was trying to hold on to the oxygen inside her forever. She started crying. He could just muster up the courage to ask, “Are you okay…?”

“This is the first time… this is the first time as far back as I can remember you have shown your care for me by doing something…” and she dug her face in her knees.

The shop keeper whose polythene sheet had been taken away came and started calling them names.

Although he couldn’t hear any of it and she didn’t look up, he just looked in the shopkeeper’s direction, gave the sheet to him and smiled. The shop keeper went away, continuing with the name calling.

He put an arm around her and said, “I know better now, I think.”

Surprised at his own admission, he quietly said “I am sorry.”

Together they sat there till the rain drenched them. In the rain drop silence she got up and wiped the rainy tears of her cheeks and smiled.

∞ 

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