Friday, May 2, 2014

Love is Selfless, Love is Kind...

'How did you know...? What are you doing here?' He asked abruptly without any greeting. 

He was a little taken aback by her appearance. She had aged decades since he last saw her. She had lost quite a lot of weight. Her chubby face had hollowed out and her clothes hung from her frame loosely. She was wearing over-sized sunglasses and had draped a scarf tightly around her face in the summer heat.

'I... I thought I owed you an explanation,' she mumbled taking off her sunglasses.

It took a lot of emotional blackmail on her part to persuade one of their common friends to tell her where he was. When she saw him, she was taken aback. It looked as if he hadn't aged a single day. He looked dapper in a smartly tailored suit and shiny boots. She noticed that he had cropped his hair and had finally started shaving completely, saying goodbye to his trademark day-old stubble.

'After 4 years?!' He laughed a hollow laugh.

'Better late than never?' She tried to lighten the mood.

'In this case, never would have been better,' he said turning away.

'I left for you!' she cried desperately before she lost her nerve. 'To spare your feelings,' she added almost in a whisper.

'You've got to be kidding me?! You left 10 days before our wedding without so much as a phone call or a fucking letter or a damn text!' He was pacing the tiny room like a caged beast, with his voice rising with every syllable, 'One day we are talking about having kids and the next day, poof!,' he made an explosion gesture with his hands, 'you disappeared... as if you didn't even existed! As if I had dreamed the last five years we spent together. No one knew anything, not your parents, not our friends. You left me brokenhearted and confused to face the ridicule of relatives, all alone... And you did that for me?!' He asked, incredulous, facing her, looking in her honey-colored eyes sunken in their sockets and surrounded by deep brown dark circles.

She could see the anger seething through him. The vein in his forehead was dangerously close to popping. His dark black eyes wide with rage. Even after four years, she could see that the wound had not healed completely. Why are you still so upset? she thought. Because when I left I broke your heart or I hurt your pride? I shattered your ego? Because you had to face ridicule? or because you truly loved me and missed me? 

She knew the answer. She knew he had loved her but did he love her still? She shook her head. He was staring at her waiting to hear what she had to say. That's a good sign. 
Without wasting another minute, she uncovered her head to reveal her balding pate with patches of light brown stubble where her once lustrous hair had slowly but surely started to grow back. She saw his eyes widen more, if it was even possible.

'I left because I had just found out that I had cancer. I thought I was dying... I didn't want you to go through it. I didn't want anyone to go through it.' A tiny sob escaped her. Leaving when she needed everyone the most was the hardest thing she ever had to do. Leaving him before their happy ending was next to impossible. But, she had taken that decision for his happiness.

He kept staring at her without saying a word. The silence stretched for a long time. When the silent noise started pressing her from all sides, she decided to speak up herself, 'I am fine now. Cancer free for almost an year.' She smiled wide with tears in her eyes.

He opened his mouth but no words came out. He looked like the same teenage boy, she remembered, staring at her with wordless wonder when they had met for the first time. But, the wonder of his eyes was replaced with something else. She tried reading it. Anger? Confusion? Sympathy? And then the answer just swam in front of her and knocked the wind out of her stomach. Disappointment.

He began speaking, slowly, clearly and poignantly, 'After 5 years of knowing me, after all that we had gone through together, this is what you decided? To leave me in your greatest hour of need and run away? To go and die alone? For what? To spare me some heartache?! Wow! Did you forget that there are two people in a relationship? Two! How could you decide for me? How could you decide what is better for me?' His eyes moistened. 

Why doesn't he understand? I did it all for him!

'I wanted you to hate me so it would be easier for you to move on. I know how much you love...' she paused and looked into his expressionless eyes and then corrected herself, 'loved me. If something happened to me in front of you, I knew you would have stopped living too.'

'Well, how very modest of you. But, I would like to say, one, this is real life and not some romance novel or your romantic comedy movie... and two, it looks like your mission was accomplished. I did hate you and I have moved on.'

They kept staring at each other each one trying to gauge the truth behind the words, trying to reach each other's eyes.

'Why don't you understand?! I did it for you...' she began again, earnestly.

'You know, when you left, you broke my heart into a million little pieces. I was worried and hurt and angry and confused and lost. At first, I didn't realize what had happened. I was worried that something must have happened to you because you could never me leave me right? But when we saw you had taken most of your stuff and the wedding jewelery and cash, I couldn't believe it. My mind buzzed with thousands of questions. Were you okay? Did I say something? Did I do something? Why would you leave so suddenly and abruptly? I kept going on and on replaying the last few conversations we had together trying to find the tiniest reason. And when I couldn't find it, I got angry... at you for leaving, at me for not figuring out why, at everyone for just existing! I couldn't trust anyone. It took me a long time to gather those tiny fragments and mend them into a whole again. And now, when I am finally moving on, you resurface and tell me you left me because you had cancer?! Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?' He got silent and stared out the window.

She wanted to run and hug him and tell him that she was sorry... that she still loved him... that she would like nothing better to go back to the way things were. She wanted to kiss him, get lost in his warm embrace. But, she couldn't do anything, couldn't move, couldn't utter a word, couldn't comfort him. She felt as if her mouth was filled with soot and her feet were made of lead. She kept standing there... few feet away from him... dying with repressed emotions.

He turned and looked at her again, 'It makes me feel guilty! Here I was oblivious of your fate, lost in my own pain, hating you with every fibre of my body... and there you were being all selfless and sacrificing your love and fighting cancer, all alone. It makes me feel ashamed for all the times I wished you ill. So, congratulations, you have successfully made me feel guilty for harbouring ill will about you when you left me at the altar. Great job.' He clapped slowly for effect.

She couldn't believe what she was hearing, 'I didn't tell you this to make you feel guilty. I don't want you to feel ashamed.'

'Then why are you telling me all of this now? Why are you back? What is the point?' She could hear the frustration in his voice.

'I just want you to understand why I did what I did so you hate me a little less,' she said slowly, almost in a whisper.

'Let me get this straight - you sacrificed our love and left me without any information so I could hate you and move on with my life and now when I am finally moving on, you come back to clarify everything so I hate you less? Do you hear yourself?'

'All I know is that I loved you then and I love you now,' she said almost in tears now. This was not going as expected.

'All I know is that you left me confused then and you are confusing me now. Honestly, I don't know why you left, I don't even care now... but you have come back only because you couldn't deal with your guilty conscience.' His face hardened.

'That's not true,' She said, shaking her head, tears streaming down her face.

'If you'll excuse me, I have to go.'

He walked out of the room, leaving her in a heap on the floor, discreetly wiping his tears. If only, she would have trusted him and not left. If only, she would have told him about her disease instead of fleeing. If only, she didn't love him so much. Life would have been so different. He wanted to run back and take her in his arms. He wanted to ask about her suffering, the years of torment she must have gone through. All alone. He wanted to kiss away her tears, tell her that now he is here and everything would be alright, but instead he entered the nearest restroom and splashed his face with water. He stared at his reflection in the huge mirror. Water streaking his troubled face. He knew he couldn't leave his fiance who at this minute must be getting ready for their impending engagement in the presidential suite, blushing and happily posing for pictures. He knew how it felt to be left at the altar. He couldn't do it to someone else. I wouldn't. Even if it means pretending to be happy for all of eternity. He hated himself for being so insensitive, for saying all those harsh words to her. But, it was necessary. Today, he understood why she did what she did. He understood why she left, why she wanted him to hate her, but he still wished she hadn't left then... He wished she hadn't returned now.

She lay sprawled on the floor, lying in her own pool of tears. If only, she would have trusted him and not left. If only, she would have told him about her disease instead of fleeing. If only, she didn't love him so much. Life would have been so different. She knew he was getting engaged today and he would never leave his fiance at the last minute, because thanks to her, he knew how it felt to be left at the altar. He wouldn't do it to someone else. Even if it means pretending to be happy for an eternity. She wished she hadn't left then... She wished she hadn't returned now.

6 comments:

  1. You made me cry. This story has a lot to whisper in my soul. I do not want to reveal who I am for obvious reasons. But your story almost synced with my true one. She left me, it is almost more than a year. She broke our 6 years love. Our parents agreed, Engagement... All set to happen right. Then things messed up. Cancer in thoughts probably!

    I could hate her for braking our promises, but what is the point when I am waiting for her still, hope my Priya comes back with same love in me. :)

    Thanks for this beautiful story! and Tears.

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  2. Your comment made me happy and sad... I wish you a great life ahead. Thank you...

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  3. Such a beautiful and heart-warming love story. Why love has to be so unfair and tragic at time?, I wonder. It makes me feel so sad and I've been through a painful break up due to religious differences.
    Cheerz

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    1. I am sorry to hear about your break-up. Thanks for reading though... I hope you find someone soon :)

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  4. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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    1. Your comment always makes me smile! Thank you once again! :D

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