Something was chewing the insides of her heart like a canker. Smriti looked out of the window of the bus, trying hard to bring the wild horses of her thoughts to a standstill. The flashback of the last one hour weighed against her chest like a huge iron rod on an unfortunate earthquake victim.
Sid had tried nudging her out of the cocoon. Not only was she numb, the obstinate poker faced expression on her face refused to fade. He couldn’t believe sitting next to him was the same free spirited, lively girl he had been hopelessly smitten with. Everything about her, right from her characteristic childish laughter, her unadulterated innocence, her blunt replies, her gorgeously beautiful face and her underlying simplicity clad in humble sophistication had simply bowled him over.
No wonder that inspite of the odd difference in their ages, they had grown together. She was in her early 20’s, a nascent age, baby steps into adulthood. He was a ripe 30, experience sculpting every shade of his life and behavior. If she was the relentless brook, he was the serene shores of stillness. If he was the impatience of masculinity, she was the coyness of a tender bud.
She had met him during her job orientation at Infosys Bangalore. He remembered the petite, lovely girl wearing a stark white lucknowi chikan salwaar kameez. She looked like a rose blossom accidently dropped in a garland of stale marigolds, the youngest, the most naive in the corporate grind. It didn’t take him long to befriend her and soon he became her anchor, her guide into the world where she had just taken her baby steps.
The symbiotic relation between a creeper and the stalk can’t function until they intertwine into each other inseparably. It wasn’t long before his heart throbbed at her name, a shy glance from her deep brown eyes and a fleeting touch of her hand. She had a fiancé back home, something she had made point blank clear in the very start of their relationship. But somehow, to him it didn’t matter. Without the need for gratification, he showered love on her. Her very sight made him want to encapsulate her in his arms. He wanted to see her smile, protect her and love her without the need of a single thread of reciprocation from her.
It was Smriti’s decision. She had agreed to go on a movie with him. She knew he had developed feelings for her. She knew she had stepped into his world. She adored him and their moments together. In this dark, dreary world, she woke up every day to find solace in the calm sea of his support and reassurances. Her vulnerability was an excuse for welcoming his emotions.
She knew Anirudh back home was counting days and hours to meet her. She accepted the fact that her bond with Anirudh was pristine beyond duplication. But yet, today she stood at crossroads, her mind dancing in dilemma. To a third eye, she was characterless, toying with two hearts. To herself, she was confused and lost in maze of unintentional circumstances.
Sid clasped her hand. Smriti trembled at his touch, the very way she had trembled when he had kissed her after the movie. She remembered the warmth, the chill that trembled down her spine. The current that flowed from his body to hers and united them as a singular entity for moments unknown.
“My hostel is near the road. I think I will get down here” she breathed, without meeting his eyes, staring at the dirty floor of the bus scattered with groundnut shells.
“I can drop u, its late” he said, still holding her hand, persuading her to stay with his touch.
“Sid people who have different destinations cant travel the entire journey together”
And she looked into his eyes
She saw his eyes cloud with pain.
Maybe she saw tears.
She felt her heart sink. She prayed the pain would stay , construct enough barriers between them to keep them detached.
With that, she got up with a sigh to leave his world her heart heavy like a rock and yet bleeding
Without looking back….