“Its your turn now.” He spoke before she could finish her final greeting.
She was taken aback. “My turn, as in?” she questioned.
“Yes, tell me..” he said.
“What?” She asked again.
“About the call you made, yesterday, from my number. Remember? I got a call back. He was enquiring about the call.” He told her.
“What did you say?” She was scared.
“Ohh, nothing much. I just told him that he had won a lucky draw and he can happily walk in to our bank and take his free credit card.” He said, suppressing his laughter.
Her relief on hearing his words was quite evident.
“So….” he continued.
“Tell me, I’m listening.”
“Look, its not worth spending time on.” She wanted to dismiss.
“Let me decide that later.” he was adamant.
She was still hesitant.
“Okay, then I can ask the details from him. You want me to do that?” He countered.
“Nooooo, please don’t call him. Pleaseeee…” She almost pleaded.
“Okay, then you tell me everything.” He insisted.
What followed was silence as she was still making up her mind.
“I’m still listening…” this time it was a whisper.
Aastha felt the tremors in her veins as a single tear drop trickled down her eyes.
“He was a colleague in the institute.” She began. “Initially we were just colleagues, but slowly he started sharing things – about himself, about his life, sometimes about his girlfriends. At first, I just used to let everything pass. Never paid heed to anything he said. But Slowly, I didn’t even realise when his presence started making an impact. I began liking him. I loved having conversations with him. I knew he was just flirting around. But then he would sound so sincere.”
“We would share some time talking after our respective classes. Then there were some coffee table meets. I, sort of, got attached to him. Deep down I knew that this is all temporary but just couldn’t avoid the flow. I started liking him, platonic though. I knew he had big plans like he had to go for further studies. He got through a good B-school this year. He promised that he would stay in touch. The month after he left was good enough. He would call regularly and share details about his day, his life. I enjoyed those details and it was enough for me. But then as he got busy in his studies, his calls started getting minimal. I understood. He had studies, assignments, projects and so on to attend. Everyday I would call; he would tag busy. I understood. A day, a week, two weeks, a month and he has not a moment to spare and wish a proper ‘good day’.”
Aastha let out a deep breath.
“Surely, one cannot be that busy. His social pages are updated, he shares his day trip pics, but not a single second to call. It just feels so ignored.” She was probably holding back her tears.
Aakash could feel her pain but did not want to interrupt her. So he remained silent.
“Yesterday, I gave him a call when I saw his update on social networking site. But he would not pick up. So I used your phone and…..!” She swallowed a lump here.
“And he picked.” He finished the sentence.
“Yes. It just feels so damn repulsive.” Aastha couldn’t stop the sobs any longer. “He once told about some girl who bothered him with calls and all. Now I too feel the same. I feel like I too have become some leech stalking him, bothering him. I am feeling so cheap.”
She broke down.
Aakash had this sudden impulse to hold her in his arms but this distance….
“I knew this would happen. I had this feeling that things would change once he leaves for higher studies but I never expected a closure like this. I feel repugnant. It has never happened with me before, like people shutting me out. The day when that accident happened, I was so lost in his thoughts, I never realised why I took that way? Its not my usual route. So preoccupied was I, that I didn’t see your car speeding away.” Astha was quick to gather herself. “So you see, it was not entirely your fault. You behaved as if it was. A thorough gentleman I must say. But it was a reality check for me. I started questioning myself. I mean, to pester someone like that. It was not something I could ever think of doing. It was certainly not me, not my usual behaviour. And I realised I was wrong. Like behaving so out of character!”
She was speaking incessantly, her voice almost choking. Though her talk didn’t go well down his stride, he never interrupted. He understood she was emotionally messed up, caught in an extremely wrong relationship. He felt jealous, his nerves were on their possessive edge. If let loose he could punch that unknown jerk, wherever he was, for making her suffer like this.
After a while, when he realised she had probably finished, he spoke softly.
“You know some people are not worth spending your emotions on. I don’t know his side of the story and don’t expect me to be fair. He falls in that category of persons who find amusements, a sort of distraction in all the places they stay. May be at the college there was someone else, at home it would have been some other and at the institute it was you. They don’t form serious relationships, just temporary fill ins. And now that he is somewhere else, I am sure he must have found some other distraction…”
She interrupted, “So you mean I was just a distraction, an amusement?” The last word was spoken in between whispering sobs.
“Sorry for putting it that blatantly, but yes. Please, I don’t wish to hurt you. But do open your eyes to the truth. Some relationships are not worth cultivating and this is one of them. You are a gem of a person. Its pity that he didn’t realise your worth.” He spoke earnestly.
“How? How can you say that?” Her speech was slurpy.
“Well, I have seen how you treat people around you. How you take care of them. And try to make them feel comfortable. Believe me when I say that you are an amazing human being. Else you would not have bothered calling me today. Don’t shed your tears for him. They are precious. Preserve them.”
She could feel his affectionate smile as he spoke the last sentence.
“Thanks, really….. thanks a ton. It was some talk I needed the most. I haven’t told about him to anyone, but don’t know why couldn’t stop myself from sharing with you. Thanks for the patience.” She was indeed indebted.
“So no more tears. Right?”
He sounded it like a deal.
And she consented.
“Yes no more tears. You too.”
And with that the conversation ended.