“And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse….”
“Rohan, I need to talk to you,” Amy intervened.
Rohan stopped speaking the very instant, ‘cause he knew quite well that, she addressing him as “Rohan”; either meant that she was going to say something dead serious or was gonna get romantic. And the latter seemed quite unlikely.
“Listen, where are we really going with this? I mean, do you really think it’s gonna work out between us?”
“Oh come on! Don’t do this. We can work this out. Just give us a chance.”
“A chance? Really? This is like the umpteenth time that we have given us a chance. And has it made any difference whatsoever? ”
“Just give it some time. Am sure everything will be fine.”
“That’s exactly what we don’t have right now. Time! For godsakes we are not sixteen anymore.” She strained to keep her voice down. “What if we go ahead with this relationship and it still doesn’t work? We’ll get married and for what? A divorce?”
“Amy just have some hope.….”
“No Rohan. I have lost all hope. For the past one year all we have been doing is fight. The never ending break ups and make ups. We have been together for four years and still you don’t get me. And maybe I don’t understand you either. And if we don’t understand each other, what is the point of us? This relationship?”
She reasoned in the best way she could, “Over the years we both changed a lot. And right now we both are so different and are miles apart when it comes to our thinking, likes, dislikes etc. Honestly speaking, am so tired of having to explain each and everything to you, all the time. And still you never understand. We have to make a decision, before it’s too late”
“Amy, you just want to break up with me. That’s what you are trying to say right?”His voice was breaking. “You have got it in your head and no matter what I say right now, nothings gonna change your decision”
“That’s not what I…”
“You and me both know very well what you want right now. And if that’s what you want, ok! Fine! Let’s break up. It’s just that…I….I love you…”
And with that he broke down. Amy knew that she was being really cruel to him. But, she truly believed that she had no other choice.
“Rohan…please… don’t cry”
He did his best to control his emotions. “I just…I just have one thing to ask you; and will you please answer me honestly?”
With a cracking voice he asked, “Do you still love me?”
It really broke her heart, but still she managed to say, “I do. But sometimes, just sometimes, love is not enough.”
And with that she hung up and wept.
Two years later as Amy sat in her usual window seat at The Tonico Café, amidst the busy streets of Kochi, gripping her cold coffee; she couldn’t stop thinking of Rohan. Everything reminded her of him. The coffee in her hand reminded her of how he wanted everything cold. Be it coffee, tea, or even a glass of milk; he always wanted it straight out of the fridge.
It was raining outside. As she traced a drop of precipitation down the window; she couldn’t help thinking about their first walk in the rain together. Two high school kids, under one umbrella, jumping on puddles of water, laughing and splashing water on each other as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
The two years after the break up was like this for her. A reminiscence of the good old times. Even if not every second of every day, she still missed him. And the funny thing was, what she missed the most about him was his anger and their fights.
And truth be told she didn’t see this coming. ’Cause, she was happy with her decision; initially atleast. She had thought about their relationship for a long time and had believed that being two absolutely different people, they couldn’t be together; in spite of loving each other. And she had tried too, to change, to adjust. But it didn’t get any better. Towards the end she just couldn’t take it anymore and had decided that breaking up was the best option. And hence, after the break up, she was unperturbed and felt happy. And then one day it was like someone had flicked off her “happy” switch and she was depressed.
Rohan constantly occupied her mind. She, who was so proud of herself for not even looking at a single pic of Rohan’s on social media, was now stalking him on Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and what not. Most often, she couldn’t hold back the tears as they fell down hard. And most often she had to give it all to stop herself from calling him or texting him, to say that she was sorry. And none of it made any sense. She was happy. And for godsakes she broke up. How could she be depressed?
But the truth is, when one decides to break off a serious relationship, everything about it hurts; from the decision making to having to break their loved one’s heart. And it doesn’t end there either. There is the guilt left to torment them for the rest of their life. And every day after the break up is a blend of worry and sorrow over how the other person is doing. In Amy’s case what hurt her most was not knowing if she made the right decision in choosing to break up with him. She hoped that something, some sign will come about, that would let her know for sure. It is said that time heals all wounds. But, she hadn’t done much healing.
By the time she sipped the last of her coffee, it had stopped raining. She paid the bill and started to walk back home. From morning she wasn’t feeling quite well. She was having this weird and sinking sensation, like something terrible was going to happen. The feeling was so strong and tormenting that it was actually physically hurting.
She reached home and as each minute passed by the ill feeling grew stronger and stronger. She went in her room and immediately crashed on her bed. It was like her body couldn’t support her anymore. The feeling had now become one of dread and it was consuming her. Her heart beats were rising so much that her chest hurt. And then, all of a sudden she stood up, screaming “Rohan!!!”
She had no idea as to how or why she was feeling this way, but she was sure that something terrible had happened or was about to happen to Rohan. As quickly as she could she grabbed her phone and dialed his number.
Through the dialer tone she kept saying, “Pick up. Please pick up. Please be fine.” But after a while came the computerized message“…can’t answer the phone right now.” She tried again and again. But the efforts were futile.
“Shit! OH! Shit!” panic started to take over and she started walking to and fro like a mad dog. It was then that she remembered Arjun, Rohan’s neighbor and their common friend, the last of his friends still in touch with her. She quickly dialed his number.
“Arjun! Is Rohan all right? Is he there with you?”
Sensing the panic in her voice he quickly asked with worry, “Why? What happened? And no he’s not with me and I have not seen him all day.”
“Can you please find out where he is and see that he is okay? Please… It’s really important that I know where he is.”
“Okay. Let me see. I’ll call you back in five.”
And just as she hung up, suddenly she knew. She wasn’t sure where exactly or what it was. It was something like a premonition. But she just knew. She dialed Arjun back and told him “Just come and pick me up ASAP. We need to go somewhere.”
After hanging up she quickly ran outside and waited eagerly for Arjun. The waiting was killing her and with every minute that passed, she became more and more restless. Finally, few minutes later he came. She quickly climbed on his bike and screamed “GO!! GO!!”
“I donno! I mean…just start. HURRY!! ”
With a look of utter confusion Arjun rode on. Amy was still not sure where she was going or what she was doing. It was like something had possessed her or something was guiding her; and somehow she was screaming directions at Arjun. They were travelling through pocket roads and barely five minutes later they were crossing a narrow bridge; and suddenly she was sure that that was the place. She screamed, “STOP!”
As soon as Arjun slowed down, she jumped off the bike and ran down the slope to the right of the bridge. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but her eyes frantically kept searching for something. And that was when she saw Rohan’s bike crashed down. And not far away she saw Rohan on the ground.
Screaming his name she ran towards him and her body froze for a split second seeing the state he was in. He was fully covered in blood, his whole body was bruised and there was lots of torn flesh, and he was barely conscious. She held onto his hand and whispered “It’s going to be okay. You’re gonna be fine.” Terror was searing through her body and she looked at Arjun for help. He had already stopped a passerby car and quickly they took Rohan to the nearest hospital. He was immediately taken into surgery.
As she stood in front of the Operation Theatre, for the first time in her life she was praying to all the Gods above to save her Rohan. Arjun did his best to calm her, in spite of him being unable to absorb the events that had just unveiled in front of him. A few minutes later Rohan’s family came over. With tears streaming down her face his mother asked Arjun,”What happened?”
“I donno. I mean ….” He looked at Amy and continued, “She called me and…”
Amy quickly held his hand in protest and spoke up “Me and Arjun…we…ahh…we were… going for a ride and it was on the way that we saw Rohan.” Arjun looked at her curiously and quickly filled in on the rest. Suddenly, the doctor came out of the Operation Theatre.
“Rohan is still in surgery.”
“How is he Doctor?”
“He is out of danger, though it’s a little early to tell. He has suffered major head injury and there was internal bleeding, which we were able to stop. One thing I can say for sure is that if he was a minute late, we would not have been able to stop the bleeding and that would have definitely taken his life. He’s alive and these two are to thank.”
Tears streamed down Amy’s face as she hurried out the hospital, Arjun quickly behind her. Rohan was fine. Alive! That was all she needed to know. She had finally received the sign she was looking for and was heartbroken at the realization of the mistake she had committed. But she believed that it was already too late. ‘Cause if Rohan was happy without her and had finally moved on, she wanted it to remain so, and not barge in to his life again.
Once outside the hospital she couldn’t help but hug Arjun and cry. And with teary eyes she begged him “You must promise me that you won’t say what happened today to anyone. Not even Rohan.” And after some ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and with a bit of prompting he agreed.
Almost a month had passed by after the accident, and Arjun filled Amy in on Rohan’s condition day by day. She was relieved to know that he was getting his health back. But, it came as a blow to her, when Arjun had to go abroad; cutting out her last link to Rohan.
She was completely devastated. She wanted to call Rohan up so bad, just to know if he was fine. She knew that she shouldn’t, but two weeks after Arjun’s departure, she couldn’t take it anymore and she finally texted Rohan, inquiring after his health.
She willed herself to not check her phone to see if he had replied. It had been about three days now. She hated that she was constantly checking his ‘last seen at’ status and yes, he had logged in just five minutes ago. Yet she couldn’t stop herself. This sinking feeling to find absolutely no communication from him was becoming unbearable, almost torturous.
And then, just as she sat down in her chair, her phone vibrated. With her heart thudding in her ear, she unlocked her phone and stared at the screen. Finally! It was his message.
But when she opened it and read it, she nearly stopped breathing. She didn’t know if he was joking or not. What was this?
She abruptly ran to her balcony and looked outside. The revelation that Rohan was not kidding nearly took her breath away. With her eyes filled with tears and her heart going haywire, she bolted down the stairs. She had left her phone on the chair and just as the screen was about to lock down, it showed his message “Come down. Am here”
As she descended down the last step, their eyes met. And she froze.
With an emotion strained face Rohan spoke, “I just came to know…He just told me.”
She was taken aback and opened her mouth to speak, but no words came.
He started walking towards her and when he was right next to her, with teary eyes, he said, “Amy, every single day I missed you so much. I was just yearning for a call or text from you”
“I am really sorry…”
“If being similar is what it takes to have you back in my life, then I’ll…”
With difficulty, she said “Rohan, we are really different from each other…”All hope and joy drained from Rohan’s face.
Taking his hand in hers, Amy continued, “We were always different and will probably remain different for the rest of our lives. But I have finally realized that it’s actually a good thing. ‘Cause then I gets to do the things that I hate, for the person I love the most. And the best part is, be happy about it. I guess that’s what love is all about.”
Her words made his face light up like a Christmas tree. He hugged her and said, “I love you. And am not letting you go again, ‘cause sometimes all you need is love.”
PS: originally written for the TOI Write India Contest, on the prompt by Preeti Shenoy.
PSS: The featured image is my self work.