“Damn these couples”, I frowned.
Its strange how till about a month ago, it used to be “us couples” for me and now, not only is it“these couples”, its worse. I hate the sight of a couple even remotely near me. Funny story how this transition took place. More on that later.
I was on my way to Ahmedabad from Gandhinagar in an auto at around 11′o clock in the night in my jeans and T shirt on an awfully cold December night. I was too excited to plan my trip or attire conforming with the weather.The cold was getting unbearable and the journey had just begun. I tried without success to keep my mind off the cold. The auto driver’s humming wasn’t helping either.I tried humming some song on my own only to realize that heavy metal songs are no good when hummed. My break up led me into hearing heavy metal songs and now I cant even hum when i feel like. Stupid breakup!
I noticed a couple stranded on the edge of the road waving to my auto for a lift. “Just what i wanted”, i thought to myself. I could use some company. We could all play Antakshari on our way.I had it all planned out. I even zeroed down my first song. I had the auto pulled over and offered them a ride.
So now it was the three of us on a rickety auto riding towards Ahmedabad. My antakshari dreams were shattered. While I was sitting there like a jerk giving my widest possible smile and waiting to spell out my grand Antakshari plans to them , there she was relaxing on his shoulders and there he was holding her hand. “Damn these couples”
I couldn’t handle it anymore. Being silent is not my forte and humming songs would have looked stupid now. It was getting intolerable. I needed to voice it out. And I said in with blatant shamelessness, “Can I know your story?”
“Excuse me?”, asked the guy.
“I am sorry to intervene but this long journey is driving me nuts and the cold is unbearable too. Could you just tell me your story so we could get through with this trip?”, I answered.
“Every couple has a story. You know, their special story. I am sure you guys have one too. Oh by the way, you two are a couple right?”. Oops! awkward question I thought.
“We’re married”, was the girl’s reply.
“Ahh…great. So tell me. You got your special story?”, I enquired.
“hmm…Actually… there is one…”
This is the story that he told me. Its exactly how he narrated it to me. The story of Keith and Kaya.
“It was the last day of our school.Our school used to host a farewell prom night for the passing out batch.I was looking like a fool in my dad’s oversized tuxedo but Kaya was looking stunningly gorgeous in her black dress. She never liked the kind of loud music that they played at such occasions. And I never liked anything that she didn’t like. It had been like this ever since we met. My eyes happened to meet Kaya’s, who rolled them towards the exit door. We quietly slipped out of the party. I followed her as she walked her way up to the terrace of the school’s main building. The view up there was divine. The ambience was completely quiet except for the rattling of the chain attached to the giant bell. Gentle wind kept flowing and shaking the chain. On a regular occasion I would have offered my coat to Kaya but that night something was holding me back from doing so. Kaya and I hadn’t talked for about 4 months now since we had our first fight. In fact I was rather delighted when she asked me to come with her to the terrace.Little did I realize how awkward it would get after all the cold vibes we had shared for the last 4 months.
I had known Kaya ever since I moved into this city last year and after being her best friend for about 6 months now, it seemed pretty natural for me to ask her out. I thought it was the perfect timing. So on her birthday I told her that I loved her and would like to take her out for dinner. For some reasons, I was confident that she would agree to it. Never did it occur to me in my most pessimistic dreams that she could refuse my proposal. And refuse she did.
She thought it would be awkward for us from then on and so she shunned all contacts with me. She stopped hanging out with me. She stopped picking my calls, barred me from coming to her house. It had been like this for 4 months now. Eventually we all got busy in our grad school admission procedures and all these things took a backseat. But seeing each other on the farewell night brought back all the memories. My parents were going to move out of out city to Delhi and therefore my chances of coming back to this city were scarce. I knew it pretty well and I guess she realized it too. That could explain the silence lurking amongst us. We didn’t know where to start off from.
She walked up to me and slapped me right across my face. I was expecting an apology. This startled me.
“What was that for?”, I asked furiously.
“Couldn’t you try a bit harder?”, there were tears in her eyes.
“What?”, I was befuddled be her audacity.
“Fine. I didn’t talk to you.I didn’t meet you. But that shouldn’t have stopped you from doing so?”
“This is ridiculous. Didn’t I try? I did everything to make up for it but you wouldn’t listen. You just turned a blind eye towards me.”
“I am sorry Keith. I cant do this. I cant commit myself to you.” she declared.
“Its ok Kaya. But we can still be friends, right?”, I didn’t meant it at all but that seemed like the safest bet.
“I am still angry with you. You could have tried a bit harder?”, she smiled while saying this.
“Shut up. You are just trying to lessen your guilt”, I said.
“I’m gonna kill you”
She stretched out her hands to hug me but was held back by her conscience. She then held my throat and feigned to choke me.
That moment stood still.
I wanted to hug her. So did she but we didn’t. It seemed inappropriate. Instead we just glared into each other’s eyes and the moment stood still.I remember that instant of time as it happened yesterday. It kept haunting us for the rest of our college lives when we studied in two cities miles away from each other.That moment help us stay together through thick and thin through all these years.The moment seemed like a century of time.We were both infuriated at the way the last 4 months had been for us but at the same time we were delighted as to the way things were going now. We wouldn’t be meeting each other ever after this and so we wanted to cherish that moment that we had…”
“But you guys were wrong, right?”, I interrupted. “I mean look at you. You guys are together even after so many years. So you guys did meet after that.”
“No we didn’t.”, was Keith’s response.
“Keith, we are about to reach there.”, Kaya said feebly.
I noticed Keith leaving her hand and she sat up straight. Kaya had the auto stopped near a car and stepped out of the auto and got into the car.Keith asked the auto driver to start driving.
“Woaah…what was that all about?”, I inquired.
“It was her husband’s car”, he said.
“What? but you told me that you guys were married.”
“We aren’t married to each other.We are married to two different people. Sheessh…grow up man.”
“huh? what?”, this was getting way too confusing for me.
“OK fine! we lied. We aren’t married.It just felt good when you referred to us as a couple and we just played along.”
“So how does your story end?”, I had to get to the depth of this.
“Well…we never met after that.we kept in touch through phone and email. Got too busy in our studies and career to actually meet each other. She went abroad and got married while I was here setting up my business firm and eventually got married too.
Her husband had to come to Ahmedabad for a business trip and she accompanied him. That’s when she came to know that I was in town too and we decided to meet up. We just met to commemorate our “Moment”. When I saw her today it was like we were here together yesterday.Nothing seemed to have changed.We were the same Keith and Kaya who “almost” hugged each other on the roof that night. And that’s it. That’s our story.”, He finished speaking
I was spellbound. I didn’t know what to say. Keith got off the auto after a while and I reached the Ahmedabad railway station.Why was I there? I had come to pick up my ex girlfriend.She wanted to meet me for the last time before we called our relationship off.