Labyrinth

“What is your problem with her? Something is really off. I can see it. She can see it.”

“No, she doesn’t see it.”

“Oh wow! You think you are smart, only you see things, only you get things? You can tell when people dislike you and other people are just stupid to see when it is the other way round?”

“I don’t dislike her, I just… gah! I can’t explain. Let’s just say, I am tired of her, of everybody… for now”

He just stared at her. There were times when he could not stand her. There were times when he wished he did not love her enough to stay and try and help. She just went back to reading what she was reading.

“T you know this is not healthy. What you do with people, it’s not right”

She couldn’t tell if he was thinking aloud or really not giving up on her. But he was right. It was not healthy. She made people love her, trust her and left them in the middle of nowhere when they needed her the most.

“You think I don’t know that? I don’t need somebody else to judge me. I am enough for myself. I know my flaws. I know me. AND I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TRANSPARENT ABOUT MY FUCKING FLAWS. SO DON’T GO ON TELLING ME THAT IT IS NOT OKAY TO GET TIRED OF MY FRIEND…”

It was going to get nasty. She was getting louder by the moment. He was getting madder.

“You are already lonely, but trust me, if you go on this way you will end up alone”

“I would rather be alone! Why don’t you just fucking give up on me? Stop wasting your energy on me”

He did, for that day. He slammed the door behind him and left.

Today, seventeen months later, as T deleted their last picture together, she thought of the last fight they had. M had come back that day. He loved her and he wanted to save her from herself, only if she let him. If he was lovingly relentless; she on the other had been destructively relentless. Even when he gave her a chance, she destroyed everything with her words. She destroyed him with her words. He left. She never called to check if he was okay.

She had been constantly thinking of him this morning and hence she decided to look him up on Facebook. The last time she looked him up, his page was not available. She thought he had blocked her until Google assured her otherwise. This time his page was available and there were some public posts which revealed that he had grown closer to her friend. It made her happy and sad at the same time. He was a good human being. He had gone on to fulfill the promise T once made to R. He had stood by R in her toughest days when T failed to do so.

T wanted to call him up. Say thank you. Just thank you. She knew saying sorry now wouldn’t make any sense, not after all this time.

She still had his phone number stored at the back of her head. She dialed the number. He picked up.

“ Hello”

“Hi… M?”

“Yeah …Hi?”

“You didn’t recognize me..”

“You wish. It’s difficult to not recognize somebody who gave you enough reasons to hate them”

They were both silent. M broke the silence.

“That hurt eh? Now I feel a little better. ‘Sup, How did you think of me after seventeen whole months? ”

“M, I just wanted to thank you, for.. for coming back that day, for not giving up and .. uh going out on a limb for R, when I couldn’t”

“ But you’re not sorry?”

“Noo. I mean of course I am. I just thought saying sorry now wouldn’t make much sense”

“Of course it doesn’t, but you could have tried”

“Umm.. Sorry”

“It’s not okay”

She took a long sigh. He was not the same guy anymore. M was not there to impress anybody anymore and probably he had lost faith in goodness and modesty.

“ I know it’s not.. listen, umm.. do you maybe want to.. no forget it. I am just happy to hear you after so long”

He chuckled.

“You used to be bolder. Yeah sure, let’s meet up for a coffee? We don’t have anything to lose. And truth be told, I have learnt not to give a fuck about the past. We can always catch up. I’m sure you want to know what happened after that day”

She sighed. She was happy and scared at the same time. She didn’t know what he was thinking. But she wanted to see him. At least once.

“ So, same old place?”

He roared with laughter.

“T are you fucking kidding me? The place does not exist anymore. A new building is under construction in that place”

“Oh”

For the last seventeen months she had been going back and forth between her work and home and elsewhere only when she needed to. Her social life was fucked up. She either socialized with colleagues or family. She was out of touch with every friend she ever had.

But she did travel. Every once in a while, she did what she always wanted to do, pack her bags and just leave to somewhere she had never been before. She always found happiness in places and among people to whom she didn’t belong- because they didn’t know her enough to judge her or intrude when she indulged in self destruction. Detachment was healthy for her.

She didn’t recognize him from a distance. He looked healthier and happier. She had never imagined in her wildest dream that the clean-shaven look would suit him. He looked handsome. When he walked over to her, she didn’t know if she should hug him. He knew that they should. She couldn’t remember the last time she had hugged him or anybody.

“We’re good”, he said with a poker face.

She couldn’t tell if he meant it. Maybe T was looking for more than that. Maybe she wanted him to be mad at her, be sarcastic, fight or yell. Maybe she wanted him to hate her. It hurt even more to see that he was indifferent. As if he had heard what she was thinking, he told her that he learnt the art from her.

“When you got tired or sick of a person, when you couldn’t love or hate a person, you were indifferent towards them. I think I acquired the skill over time. Damn. It feels good.”

“And it feels terrible when you’re on the other side”

He looked at her painfully. “You are lonelier than I remember”

“You bet”

“So, you haven’t been seeing anyone”

“I don’t dare. Attachment is injurious to health”

“You bet”

They both laughed.

“How is R?”

“She is good. She still thinks of you. She says, you would have made her happier”

“Happier?”

“Yeah, apparently I make her happy but not as much as you did. You know what your problem is.. or was? Everybody saw it but you. Everybody felt it but you. Everybody loved you but you.”

She was quiet. The problem with her was that she always indulged in the idea that she was not a people person. She always thought that she could never help people or that she could never take help from people. She always thought that she could never love people back. She could, only she didn’t like to believe so.

“Has she settled or does she still drool over guys from a distance”

He was quiet. She waited for him to answer until she realized what she was going to hear. In those seventeen months, M was not the only one who had gone out on a limb. R did too. They had helped each other get out of their personal hell. Both being irrestibly beautiful human beings, it was inevitable. Nobody would know better than she did how easy it was to fall in love with each of them.

“Oh my god! You guys are dating aren’t you?”

“ For the last seven months. Yes.”

She didn’t know what to say, where to go, how to react. She just smiled. He smiled back at her.

“I was wrong. You were right. You two are far from similar. Always have been”

Although from outside T seemed more sorted, R was always less chaotic, R was more thoughtful, R was more loving. R was easier to love.

“I told you”

“Excuse me ma’am here’s your lemon soda with salt and sir yours with sweet”

They both smiled. The only thing that hadn’t changed between them was their taste for the drinks.

“ I want to see R”

“R wants to see you too. One thing though, R and you might go on to become friends again. She never fell out of love with you. But trust me, if you break her one more time I’ll forget that I ever loved you. At all”

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