Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Down Memory Lane

It was just another boring day. She was feeling frustrated, and yet, there was nothing big that had happened to trigger that frustration. Just a petty quarrel at home in the morning; a small payment pending at work; a new friend  acting funny; an old friend missing on Facebook... and deadlines piling up.

Her cell rang and her eyebrows shot up. The call was brief, unexpected and sent her down memory lane. Anil, her senior from college - a man she could never define her feelings for clearly. Did she love him, or it was the respect and affection you feel for a mentor, or just the joy of hearing a friendly voice? He was always pleasant, cool, encouraging, the wind beneath her wings...

The invitation for the alumni meet that weekend was just the shot in the arm she needed. And yet, she hesitated. The mood she was in, she was not even sure if she wanted to meet Anil with those mixed feelings he managed to arouse in her every time. And just now, she felt very vulnerable, very much in need of assurance.

She stepped out for lunch and the music player in the restaurant blared out an old Lata song - Chand phir nikla, magar tum na aye. It was like a punch in her stomach. Unexpectedly, tears sprang up and her eyes hurt. She blinked quickly and sat in the first available table, ordering a very boring roti and dal tadka. It was a day for memories, she realised, for this song was just how she felt when Akash left for the US for further studies. No letters, no phone calls. So typical. It did not surprise her, but it hurt her very deep. True, they had seen it coming, this parting that could be final. But to so easily distance himself from her? Was she so forgettable, really?

And now, though they were friends on Facebook, it was rare for them to even post anything on each other's timelines. What was the point? He seemed not to care. And she still cared too much.

She quickly finished her lunch and returned to work. Her colleague Tejas was pacing up and down. Handsome and fierce, there was an intensity that roused strong feelings in her, and many women in the office. Sometimes she wondered if he felt the same way about her. But since it stopped with that devouring look, she satisfied herself with sighing about him in private. Face to face, they were professionals.

Today, though, she feared something of her longing for those strong arms to wrap her in their comfort showed. "Anything bothering you?" she asked, throwing the question at him.

"I was waiting for you," he said, his deep voice immediately sending a thrill up her spine. But it was an anti-climax when he asked her to mail him some financial details. That's all? Sigh, of course. That's all. She consoled herself and went to her seat, focusing on getting the task out of her hands.

6! Where did time fly! She sat back, remembering her fight with Varun in the morning. Did she have to face him? She closed her eyes. And suddenly, the distance bothered her. She wanted to fly to him, tell him all was forgotten. Today, of all days, she couldn't bear sulking.

She would surprise him... get him something nice, for being there for her. But where would he be? She decided to take a chance and walk to his office. She hoped he wouldn't snub her.

Just the thought of meeting him rejuvenated her, her blue mood dissipating. She realised that Varun and she could celebrate their three years of togetherness today. Yes, there were others, there would be others. But just the thought of Varun, the familiarity, the comfort, the dependability, made her feel she was home.

The surprise in his eyes when he saw her at the reception, the joy when she dragged him out to the foyer and pressed the beautiful wallet in his hands that she picked up from the wayside shop, the promise of something more in her eyes. 'Avni,' he whispered.

Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Their eyes met,their hearts were united in one thought, of getting home right away.

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