The café was busy as usual. Dhruv exchanged the bill for the coffee.
“No sugar, please!”
Dhruv took his coffee and walked towards the deserted table at the corner of the shop.
He settled on one of the tables and took out his laptop. The review went bad and the panel had asked him to re work on his proposal. Work pressure, sleepless nights, empty feeling all ensured a rough couple of weeks for him. Nirvana’s ‘About a Girl’ played over the speakers.
The team has now become entirely dependent on Dhruv, as if he was the only one in it. Others never batted an eye. Since the ‘ship’ has to reach somewhere, Dhruv has been pulling his own weight to get everything right and also his next promotion heavily depended on this project. Almost an hour passed when Dhruv was finally done with his reworked proposal and looked up from the laptop screen. Dhruv saw Abha walking in. Dhruv felt disturbed, but it was nothing compared to what he felt during the beginning. He looked away to avoid making an eye contact.
“……..take advantage while you hang me out to dry…….” on went the song in the background.
Nothing has been the same since that day. Dhruv still had no answer with him when asked why have they split up. Sometimes it is better to leave some questions unanswered, Dhruv thought. It has been a difficult task, moving on, because you cannot tolerate the pain of someone being taken away from you. There was this empty feeling inside him,which has not healed, yet.
Abha walked towards Dhruv’s table and sat opposite to him. Burying the excitement deep inside, Dhruv looked up. After a long time, they looked into each others eyes. Dhruv felt as if the clock has stopped ticking. Everything came to a sudden pause. Abha was looking at Dhruv, who was gaping at her. She snapped her fingers which pulled Dhruv back onto the ground.
“Why have you come?” asked Dhruv.
“I know things have not been that good between us, but I need to talk” She said.
“Why don’t we get something to eat?” She said, raising from her seat.
“Sit there. I’ll get something.” Dhruv said and walked towards the food counter.
Abha watched him walking briskly with a grim face. A lot of emotions rushed through her mind. She remembered how they used to be, how nice a guy Dhruv had been, how rude she had become. She felt a lump in her throat, her eyes moist with tears. She wiped her face and watched Dhruv.
A few minutes later he came back with Grilled Sandwiches, her favourite. Abha’s face beamed,he still had’nt forgotten.
“So, you haven’t forgotten.” She smiled
“How can I ?” Dhruv asked.
She offered a piece to him. They ate in silence. Dhruv didn’t feel like eating. The feeling was all over him again. He recollected the day they broke up, for which she never had a reason. Life had become a hell for him during those days. Dhruv looked out of the window.
“Aren’t you eating?” Abha asked.
“I don’t feel like eating” said Dhruv playing with the food.
They didn’t talk. Silence lingered. They had a lot to talk, but words stood away. They sat bearing the painful yet alluring silence. Abha was the first to break the ice.
“So, how’s everything?” asked Abha.
“Nothing new. Same mundane life.” Dhruv said.
“Why don’t we take a walk, Dhruv?” Abha asked, almost as if she sensed Dhruv’s disturbed self.
How he cherished all those walks with her. He didn’t have to pretend to be someone in front of her. However draining his work would get,he always knew there was always something liberating to look forward to. It has been almost a year since their last walk. How much he needed this.
“…….no I can’t see you every night, free………..” Cobain’s voice faded as they left the coffee shop.
It was a beautiful evening. The air was filled with the fragrance of freshly bloomed lavender. Spring had just birthed fresh life into the dormant flora of the city. Dhruv walked with Abha besides him. They headed for the park nearby overlooking the harbor. There was a tangible excitement about the place, children running around,birds chirping, elders on their evening strolls .They headed on towards the boardwalk. The sun was about to set. The sky was painted orange.Perfection.
“Dhruv..” Abha started.
“I know what I have done and there has never been a day I had not regretted my actions. Sometimes all we are, are a bunch of screw-ups.” She paused fighting back her tears.
“I know apologizing is easy and not even a thousand sorries would be enough to make it up for what you had to go through.” Abha said.
Dhruv looked into her eyes. They were red now.
“I’ve made my fair shares of mistake Dhruv. Only when I lost you, did I realise your worth. I want you back in my life.” Abha stopped. She couldn’t resist from crying. She covered her face with her arms, then wiped it and looked at Dhruv. Dhruv was looking into the sky. The birds were flying away, the sun had alredy gone halfway into the sea.
Abha felt Dhruv’s fingers over her’s. Dhruv turned and looked into her eyes. Deep down the abyss, Dhruv saw her burning love for him. Dhruv walked towards the railing and stood there. He felt Abha’s breath behind his neck. Her arms clutched his. Dhruv turned around and pulled her into him.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me again.” Dhruv said.
“No… I” She couldn’t talk.
Their eyes locked. His lips touched hers. Abha hid her face in his chest. She felt complete.
“And Dhruv, Happy Birthday!” she said.