15 Years...5 mins 227 5 mins 227
I met Manyata the other day in an art exhibition; didn't know that her paintings were also displayed there.
15 years... and yet it felt like everything happened yesterday.
She was standing there in front of me and both my words and emotions ditched me.
We were looking into each other's eyes... but none of us could utter a word. Silence lingered between us. She was standing there elegantly draped in a saree and wearing a specs. The same familiar face which I once wanted to always see for the rest of my life, was now in front of me as a stranger. A lot of water has flown in the river over time. She was looking at me with a constant gaze without blinking her eyes and so was I, while all those memories of our relationship which I had looked at some corner of my heart long back, now unveiled all at once.
"Kshitij... How are you?" She asked in a low voice.
"Ah... i.. am .. good. And you?" I stammered a bit.
The corner of her lips smiled but her eyes brimmed with tears, which asked me thousands of questions at once... whose answers I still didn't have. She wiped the corner of her eyes and tried to smile a bit more.
"You still look handsome in Kurta," she said with a smile.
"When did you start wearing specs?" I remarked too.
For a moment, we just smiled, looking into each other's eyes.
"Are you staying here, in Delhi, now?" She asked.
"No. Just came for few days to attend this exhibition. One of my friends is participating here." I replied and then, looking around her paintings, I said "Finally, you have made it big as an artist which you always wanted! Congratulations"
"Hmm... somehow. Finally, I became an artist!" She gave me a half-smile and with a deep breath, said "But.. my paintings... my passion to be an artist... has taken a lot from me. When we try to fly high, we never realize that we have left behind our ground too far. And by the time when we realize, it is too late!".
"Aren't you happy with your success,
Manyata?" I queried.
"How can I be happy with a success which gave me only guilt and loneliness in return; something which is killing me from inside for the last 15 years?" She replied.
I was looking at her.
"For the last 15 years, I have been living with the guilt of leaving you on the day of our marriage. I cried to sleep every night, thinking about my cold-blooded and selfish decision to break your heart just to pursue my dreams. I had hurt you considerably, I know. If possible...if you can... please forgive me Kshitij! " A drop of tear rolled down her eyes, while she asked for forgiveness, with her eyes looking down and hands joined.
She was sobbing.
I looked away and said, "That night... I found the engagement ring and that letter which you have left on the dresser. I loved you to an extent that for few minutes, I couldn't believe you have left me. I thought you were doing some prank with me. And then, when Deepali came and told me that you have left me forever, I didn't believe her too. Hadn't she shooked my shoulders hard and howled at the top of her voice saying that you are gone forever... that you had broken off our engagement, I wouldn't have believed the truth. My world shattered at that moment. I felt as if someone has torn my heart apart."
Wiping off her tears, she uttered, "I didn't have the courage to face you Kshitij. I tried a lot to tell you about the offer I got, of doing my masters in Arts from the US. But... you were so excited about our engagement and marriage that you didn't care to listen. And neither my family listened, who started doing the preparations of our marriage. Only Deepali was the person, whom I could trust and she helped me to escape even. I know that just a mere sorry would not be enough to compensate for the step, I took that night."
"No... Manyata. I should be the one who should apologize to you. I boasted of myself as the most trustworthy lover in the world. But... But, I failed Manyata!".
"What?" She looked, surprised.
"Hmm... yeah. Had I been a true lover, I shouldn't have done what I did. That night after you left me, I was writhing in pain. Deepali came into my room to console me. And at the moment when she hugged me, I don't know what happened to me. I don't know what happened to her. We couldn't control ourselves. At that moment, we both forgot everything... my relationship with you.... her friendship with you... everything. We crossed our line of reticence and..." I couldn't speak further.
"Wh..a..t?" She was numbed by my confession.
"Hmm... and then, I married her." I sighed and continued after a pause, "But soon, we both realized that we were really not made for each other. The ground of our marriage was the guilt of a moment and not love. It was a shallow relationship that was just a victim of a moment. We are divorced now."
"Oh... I didn't know this!" She exclaimed.
"Hmm... how would you? You were not there!"
"Umm... can I ask you something?"
"Yeah." She looked up at me.
"Did you marry?" I sought an answer.
She smiled and shown her ring-finger. It was empty. "And... did you marry again?" She asked me, in return.
"Yes, I did!" I replied.
"Oh..." She stole a glance and then asked again," Whom?".
I showed her my ring finger. She looked up at me. I was wearing that same engagement ring, which she had given me.
She couldn't hold back her overwhelming emotions anymore. She came close to me and hugged me tightly. We both were in tears, while our lips were smiling. We could feel our hearts beating in sync, once again. After all, it was time to complete the story of our incomplete love after, 15 long years!
It takes time to understand love. It takes time to really feel it from the core of the heart. But, once it happens, there is no looking back for sure. Nothing can dwindle that love then, not even separation. Even though it is said that the most famous love stories in the world are incomplete, but there are few stories that deserve to be complete. Isn't it?