Cross Paths Never Again..
Cross Paths Never Again..10 mins 488 10 mins 488
It was 9 PM again. As Trisha stayed back to finish the last algorithm in the office, the desks were getting emptier. Even though work had pretty much come to a halt, there was the same hustle bustle near her desk as on a typical Friday evening, colleagues sharing their weekend plans, some leaving for get-together at the nearby swagat bar and others bidding goodbyes as they stopped by neighbouring desks. Trisha was almost unperturbed by this, staring at her screen to fine tune her analysis. She was generally used to this environment, especially on Fridays hence it hardly bothered her. As someone stopped by her desk and asked her plans, she would smile and gently say, "Not much" and shrug. This was also a noise that she kind of enjoyed as it reminisced her of good times and took away additional panic moments. As for her, she loved to travel with family and that was her idea of weekend or anytime she had on spare, once she finished work.
Today was quite special for her. This project had been a really nagging one for the last three months. The client had not been good to them and had been pestering them to complete multiple requirements one after the other. She has been an experienced team member within a fairly new team. Hence she took onus to complete additional complexities and set up advanced algorithm now to get all done and dusted. Today she was closing with a few last customizations and then she will be planning for a week long vacation. Manali? Munnar? Or Dharamshala? She loved mountains and had been thinking excitedly. Rishabh was more of a beach lover and it often was the conflict, when they were deciding the perfect spot to relax. She was thinking of a better way to convince Rishabh on a hill destination. Notwithstanding this thought, this work was quite fascinating for her amidst all the noise, internal and external. She had a bittersweet relationship with such nagging projects. She just wanted them to get over to let off the stress around, and yet waited for such opportunities to sweat out every moment, probably because problem solving was her mission in life. She was not doing a job, or even pursuing a career, just relishing the phase and accomplishing a mission. That moment of accomplishment was no less than conquering an adventurous trip. It made her feel alive and worthwhile. This was her lab and she was the scientist here, a childhood dream that she loved still.
As she finished and started packing up for the day, she heard a shrieking familiar voice, "Hey Girl!". She knew that it was Prashant, someone, whose attention she suddenly started receiving off late. She didn't look up but responded in a rather faint voice, 'Hi'. Prashant came up to her desk and asked in a gleeful tone, 'So, what's the plan for today? Going for a date night with your hubby? '. Trisha pondered on his question, thinking how to respond, said casually, 'Well, Not really.. '
'So how about a date with me?!' Prashant said in a flirtatious tone, with oodles of energy and a gaze she could not ignore. It just bewildered her as she was taken aback by the certain audacity of this 30-something man. She had seen him talking intently with other girls as well, but this was different. Trisha just smiled formally to avoid confrontation and said with a tinge of sarcasm, “Yeah why not! Some other day...” and started leaving.
“Awesome, I’ll see you then. When are we going? I’ll fix the appointment” He lingered casually.
This time Trisha was a bit baffled. “What has gotten into you?” She chided him.
‘Come on, be a sport!’ He came closer and said laughingly, “I am not planning to elope with you. So, relax!” Prashant had this habit to crack weird jokes and laugh. However, Trisha was not amused.
‘This is not funny Prashant. I need to leave. Let’s talk on Monday.’ She walked past him quickly.
While travelling, she kept on thinking about this conversation and a series of previous interactions. She had known Prashant since last 2 months. He was in the products team and became friend through a common acquaintance. He was taller than average, with a muscular build and better groomed than most. He seemed quite popular due to his friendly ways, quirky sense of humour and straightforward attitude. They often had a good time talking about common interests and exchanged ideas about work during lunch. Recently, he would hover around his desk often for casual conversations. Trisha liked these discussions initially for the engaging topics and quick-witted responses. Later, she wondered at the frequency of such chitchats and moreover they seemed quite extended. She started getting conscious of his presence around her cubicle, more so, since the nature of conversation started getting more intimate. Why was she not stopping him? Trisha tried ignoring these thoughts which clouded her previous excitement but to no avail. She wanted her life to be simple and tended to avoid unnecessary complications. Conflict with respect to work was way easier to handle in comparison. However, today’s conversation was alarming for her as she was not ready for this at all. She was willing to conclude that this was just another weird joke of Prashant and not actually real interest. Yet, she just wanted to put an end to this; Did that mean losing his friendship and all those free-flowing conversations? She was unsure as to how she must call off since she had developed a certain liking for him, albeit not romantic one. At least that is what she wanted to believe.
Trisha had usually been quite focused on her goals and was not keen to spend time in other activities, much lesser in socializing. She always had a close-knit family and group of friends where she dedicated all her emotional energy and affection. Her friends were aware of the depth of her intimacy. Beyond that, she would usually be taciturn and remain to the point. This also meant that most of the people around her were never comfortable going after her or striking informal conversations. Rishabh had somewhat similar temperament which made it quite comfortable pair. They had few friends and would seek solace in spending time with each other. They may not converse all the time neither would go for romantic evening plans but their understanding for most part was usually impeccable. Hence, she would usually feel blessed for having a good life. She did not like anybody to intrude in her peaceful life.
After coming from Munnar, Trisha was just relishing the moments she spent during the wonderful vacation that they had last week. She had just wiped off all confusions and felt rejuvenated as she got back to work. As she reached office, she saw him near the coffee machine in the morning. He was busy talking to his team member when she whizzed past him. Suddenly, he came next to her, this time looking quite apprehensive.
“Where were you last week?” His voice was a bit muffled.
“Hey Prashant! Hope all’s well. I was off for a vacation with family.” She gave a friendly smile to ease off the discussion.
“Yeah, all is well! I missed you a bit. I wanted to talk to you about...” He paused for a while. This seemed like a much longer silence for Trisha so she interrupted.
“What is it Prashant? You don’t look your usual self. If it is about that day, forget it. I was just not in a funny mood.”
“No Trisha! It is not just that…I umm…I actually have begun to like you a lot. I really find myself thinking about you and miss you. I like your..” Prashant wanted to just vent out everything but Trisha wouldn’t let him do so.
She snapped quickly, “Listen Prashant, I don’t think that I can continue with this. I am not interested in knowing what you like about me. I trust you as a friend, but I have a family, which I cannot ignore.”
“I understand Trisha and I am sorry if I hurt you. I wanted to tell this to you sincerely but I don’t expect anything. Please don’t stop being friends with me. I just feel that if you were not married, we could have..” Prashant again paused for a while, mustering the courage to complete the sentence.
Trisha softened a bit, as deep inside her heart, she did not want to let go of the relationship. She realized that she was also drawn to Prashant, possibly because it was a bond where she could talk her heart out, without feeling judged. However, she wasn’t sure which way it is supposed to go. After the whirlwind of thoughts, she almost woke up imagining the repercussion and spoke gently,
“Prashant, I am married and that is that. There are no ifs and buts in this case. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise, but I do not want to live in any fantasies. I love my life dearly and cannot complicate it because of a mirage. Hence there is no point discussing all this. I am only concerned about our friendship and nothing else.”
Prashant insisted, “Tell me Trisha, If I would have met you earlier, would you have chosen me? I just want to know that”
Trisha was not sure how to answer this. She wanted to say no, but she was overwhelmed. She felt it deep but could not explain as to what it is. She almost choked saying, “umm...I don’t know.” Prashant could sense her anxiety so came closer. “Trisha, you don’t have to be sorry for your feelings. It happens at times.”
It got her thinking whether there is a void in her life she feels unfulfilled. Why did she get drawn to someone in such a short span? She, being her own analyst, wondered till she realized the importance of communication and the power of expression. Despite all fulfilment in her life, she reflected that there was a lack of communication between the two of them. However, it did not seem a good enough reason for any form of betrayal. She suddenly stepped behind, “Prashant, I don’t think we should continue this friendship. I think that I need some time to get my life sorted. I don’t have any issues with you or your feelings, but this cannot go on. I know how to solve this so please let me be.”
Prashant was a bit startled. He knew that his getting involved with a married girl could get both into trouble. However, he believed in letting things go with the flow. He had a strong impulse and was astounded by sudden withdrawal that Trisha showed. He wanted to convince her but her eyes had a strong conviction, one of a lady with strong resolve. That was the quality which made him admire her so much. Hence he decided not to change it. He pondered for a moment and said, “Okay Trisha, If that is what you need, so be it. I want to tell you that I love you but your love for yourself is more important. Anything that hurts your self-esteem is just not worth it.”
He just left and did not look up at all. Trisha could feel the heaviness in his walk but restrained herself from going behind.
She smiled at herself, “It was not meant to be.” However, this was probably a friendship she would cherish for its innocent gullibility, but she was proud that she could overcome and came stronger than ever. ‘This would strengthen her own relationship and she will do everything to fill the void.’ she thought.
She looked at her phone and sees a missed call from Rishabh, again with moist eyes.