“Since that fateful evening, we started re-joining the threads that had been dangling loose.” He suddenly stopped, “Am I boring you, kid?”
Hemanta was living every word of his mentor; boredom was a far-fetched word, so he replied irritatingly, “Can you stop being modest and continue, please?”
“Ha ha ha!” he laughed out, “You are the first and last soul to know my part of the story. Can I take a sip?” taking a long sip, and after giving a deliberate break, he restarted, “The 1st lady to whom I expressed my love left me for her good, and on one otherwise dull evening, I proposed my love to her.”
“Excuse me? Who is the ‘her’ here?” cried Hemanta, “Can you please use names. You are confusing me.”
“Hemanta, henceforth, every ‘her’ in my story is only Ankita. So, on that evening, I expressed my love for Ankita. Do you know what she did? She cried! She cried like a baby and asked, “Couldn’t you tell before? She said that she had waited for me for years and can’t accept my proposal anymore. She kept crying, and I kept on saying how much she had meant and still means to me,” Concluding in one breath, he paused to lit up his fag.
There was a drop-dead silence. Aniket broke it and continued, “13 years have passed since that evening, there have been Orkut, and there had been GTalks, which got renamed as Hangout, then there came Facebook, and now there’s Whatsapp. Just like the virtual media communications have sustained in spite of different phases of technological updates, so has our relationship. We have seen more moments together than you kids see sitting beside each other.”
By now, Hemanta was smiling, and it didn’t miss Aniket’s eyes. He too grinned and added, “I am 51, and the social media has been a better friend of mine than it has been yours. It has given us all the pleasure and pains that you can fathom of.”
Both the young and the old man blushed, but Aniket knew he had to speak today. If someone could pass on his message to Ankita, then it was Hemanta; if someone could tell Ankita how desperately he needed her, it was this young chap. So, he continued, “You know Hemanta, that day when Ankita rejected my proposal, I was shattered. I was betrayed in love for the second time. Starting from the moment I knew her, I had felt a bonding between us, but to date, I don’t know why she did not accept my proposal.”
His weak voice, sang through the ticking of a nearby wall clock, “Just a few days back, she said that she had some feelings for me. I was blatant enough to tell her that I knew it. After all, it was evident from her behaviour towards me. However, I was confused!”
“Confused?” after a long time, the listener interjected, “…. about what?”
Aniket stared at Hemanta with astonishment, who was under the charm of a lady’s enigma. Slowly he continued, “Hemanta, the day I had laid open my heart to her, she rejected, reason still unknown, the day I organized an event in Kolkata just to meet her, she didn’t turn up, and then suddenly after so many years she expresses her feelings to me. Is it she speaking or her despair? Does she know anything about me and my life?”
It was the kid’s turn to call for the waiter, “Please get me something to eat.”
“Don’t be an escapist like her,” smiled Aniket.
Hemanta plunged his head in the menu card, and after a few moments of deliberate searching, ordered, “A club sandwich and cappuccino.” Then as if forcefully diverting his attention to his speaker, he asked, “What do you think?”
Waiting for a response for a few seconds (which seemed like an eternity), he asked, “Do You love her, dada? Please call her back.”
Getting up from his chair, Aniket slowly muttered, “It’s too late! It’s all over.”
He took out the purse from his pocket, kept it on the table, and giving a pat on his young fellow’s shoulder left the coffee shop to vanish into the office-to home-returning crowd.
Ankita had reached her hotel room a few hours back; she was done with all the melodrama. She was a calm, composed lady back to herself when she drew the chair near the window to look at the sky. “Evenings in Bangalore set in very late, if only it were the same in Kolkata, I could have spent a few more hours of childhood with him,” she smiled at herself.
The last few years danced impromptu in front of her eyes, curtain after curtain, and it finally stopped on today’s morning. The sun was setting, and the sky looked perfectly handcrafted, she looked up and sighed, “Today was the last day, I spoke to him.”
Somewhere far in the other end of Bangalore, a tired soul reciprocated her thoughts, and sighed, “She will never meet me again. The crudeness of my character shows on my face.”
Distance has not parted them, logic has not, rejections have brought them closure, would one meet bring an end to their saga?