I drove home amidst the crowded roads of TNager. I thought about what Anand had said the whole time. It was his audacity that bugged me. He assumed that I was unhappy; he assumed that my life would not be complete without him. He assumed that he was such an integral part of my life. He was right. He had been.
I thought about Brindha and Disha too. How did Brindha agree to bring Anand to meet me? If there was anyone who had always questioned Anand and me being together it was her. Every time we broke up, she told me it was a good things and every time we patched up, she was not happy about it. Why would she ever do that? Especially now, when I have done what she has been asking me to do for ages. Make a choice and give it all you have.
Then it struck me.
Brindha called me as soon as I reached home.
“Hey! I did not mean to upset you”
“I just thought it would be better if we…” she stopped as though scourging for words.
“I know Brindha”
“So what did he say?”
“He told me I should go away with him”
“Hmmm. I expected that.”
“And that what am I am doing is a mistake”
“SO?” asked Brindha. I could see her waiting for my reply with anticipation.
“I am meeting him tomorrow at 4 in the same place”
“What? Are you sure you want to do that?” I could sense disappointment in her voice.
“Yes, I am”
“After everything Asha? After all those years and everything you have been through. You are going to meet him again?” She did not say more, I sensed that she had once in for all given up on me. Her voice of reason she figured had no effect on me after all these years too.
“I have to say goodbye Brindha, Can you guys be there too?” I said as though she never made that last plea.
“All right” she replied with the phone slamming down faster than she finished her sentence.
I slept peacefully that night. Though the day gave me enough fodder for getting confused and muddled up all over, I slept peacefully. I was learning. Anand did make some sense. He did have a point. Tomorrow was going to be a new day. A new day with newer beginnings. And end to all prior mistakes. I slept like a baby.
It was 4PM and I was already at the coffee shop waiting for him. The past few days have been a revelation. It has shown me a glimpse of a life where one’s mind is clear and content. Something that I had forgotten. It is amazing what a decision can do to you. While you have no idea whether the decision is going to pan out in the long run, it somehow felt right. I had always let Anand question me and my thoughts, and in turn question myself. Too much introspection often leads to insecurity, as I found out for myself.
As I immersed myself amidst all these nice and not so nice thoughts, I saw Anand walk in to the coffee shop. His smile reached his eyes. He always had a good smile. The kind that was infectious, the kind that could make you swoon.
Out of the corner of my eye, I also got a glimpse of Brindha and Disha. Now them, I did not expect to see so soon.
“I can’t think of them now” I told myself and focused on Anand. I have to do what I came here to do. I can’t let them distract or change my mind.
Half hour and detailed discussions later, we went out to our bikes. Brindha’s face was rife with disappointment.
“You are wrong this time Brindha” I thought to myself. For once I knew I was right, contrary to everything Brindha might say, I did the right thing this time.
As the sound of the bike starting faded away, I saw the surprise in Brindha’s expression turn in to a brilliant smile.
“By Jove! I for a moment thought…”
“That I would go with him again.”
“I did. I am sorry but you know how you guys were. I really thought you would” she said, her relief being more obvious than before.
“What happened?” Disha asked me earnestly
“You know how I hate getting the check right?” I asked her back with as much fake earnestness as I could muster.
‘Oh, come on Asha” Disha replied with her customary giggle.
“Well, you can do some mistakes only so many times. Anand always asked me to come with him because he believed we would be right together. Because he said he loved me. It would have been enough, had I felt the same way too. I did not. When I met him that day at my wedding, for the first time I felt scared. Scared of what life would be if I had to be with him. For some reason, which I can only thank, all the things that had gone wrong flashed in front of my eyes and I did not feel the love that could make me overlook those wrongs. I know I wasn’t in love with Rakesh as yet however I saw hope there. You know something is not bright when you are scared of a future with someone. So…” I raised my eyebrows as I looked at Disha and Brindha ” .. That is why I did not agree to go with him”
“But why all this then… Why dint you tell him that yesterday? I really thought you would, which is why I brought him along. Really!” asked Brindha
“Well, you know Anand. If I reject anything outright, he tends to think, I haven’t thought it through. He takes it upon himself to convince me more. That was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to put an end to this. I have no intention of being dragged to a coffee place after another discussing a “what could have been” situation with him. So I told him I’ll think about it. There was nothing to think about it really. I am happy where I am. It’s a life that I am beginning to really enjoy, and I see myself being happy. So all I had to do was tell him, I thought long and hard and that I made my peace with where I am and so should he. And that’s that.”
“Well, you could have told me you know!”
“Ahhh! Where would the fun in that be Brindha” I said as I smiled and hugged them both.
“If…” I stopped and continued “If not for you two.. I do not know how things would have turned out” I said while still in the embrace.
“Aah. If…How happy we are that it isn’t so!” said Disha giggling away.