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The Conversation

As he sat there opposite Sheetal, Rohan’s mind was blank and the swirling mass of questions that he had inside his head were missing. It felt like standing in the middle of a prairie with nothing but calm winds. He wondered how she traced him after all these years but he did not dwell on it.

This was no game of control because he saw that there was no need for it. He took a gulp of his black tea and waited. Sheetal’s eyes were furtive and the impatience and unease were clearly visible on her face. Somehow even small talk was a climb uphill at the moment.

This chapter of the story of his life was years old. It began in college and ended for him some time after his college years and what was now happening was a postscript for him but it was the beginning of a new story for Sheetal.

She asked, “What have you been doing?”

He took a sip of his tea and answered, “I have been busy. Work and life have been good so enjoying life for now. What have you been doing and how is life at your end?”

He knew the answer but a correct assumption is just a small part of the confirmation and it helped keep the issue in sight and in the clear.

“I am getting divorced,” said Sheetal and looked intently at his face and tried to probe his eyes for a reaction. Sheetal was not good at it but after 8 years of marriage she had a fair idea. Rohan was inscrutable back in their days in college together and he was as much a mystery today. She wanted to know his mind but it was not an open book and nor were the visible pages an easy read.

Rohan felt nothing and his face showed the same though he realized that people will mistake it for being cold and heartless. He was merely processing the information about the divorce and not analysing it.

“What happened?” Rohan asked. “We just went our own ways and we got too disconnected from each other. I wonder if I know him and if he knows me.” Sheetal’s voice was not happy or sad but weary.

Rohan was looking at the floor and was trying to find the right answers or emotionally correct responses to the statement. He was trying to be someone he was not and by his own low standards of being emotionally correct, he failed miserably. He found no right words.

Sheetal continued talking, “What you said all those years ago came true and I was not smart enough to see it then.” She was looking for a slight smile or a smirk. She had hurt him all those years ago and this was his chance at payback. She believed that the circle of actions had to be completed.

All she saw were his eyes looking into her soul and watching her train of thoughts.

Rohan took a deep breath and asked, “Can I be blunt?” He knew the answer would be positive and also the fact that she hated him when he was blunt and logical. Sheetal dreaded this moment but she had found him after all these years for this precise reason.

Her friends and family gave her advice and sympathy but Rohan rarely sugar-coated his words. He was either blunt and logical or completely silent. There was no sweet guy inside of him who would say that everything would be fine.

“Yes,” she said. The flood gates had opened and Rohan knew this was their last conversation ever. “You came here looking to find if there was any common ground left. By holding onto this past you are not looking at your future and your 4-year-old daughter’s future. I made the assessment of your present 8 years ago based on what I saw in you and your husband. I stand by that assessment even today and am not going to change it.”

Sheetal cringed at his brutal bluntness. She expected it out of him but it still felt like Rohan has stuck a knife in her and was twisting it.

Rohan continued mindful of the pain he was causing her, “There are no happy endings in life unless we work on the endings. You are at crossroads and whichever road you choose to walk on, they are full of thorns. You get divorced and you have to start it all over again. You fight to stay married then you have to rebuild the relationship from scratch. You have to rebuild the trust and companionship and happiness is a by-product of it.”

Sheetal had tears in her eyes. She knew these answers but it was gut-wrenching as the answers cut right into her soul with their sharp edges.

Rohan continued, “You chose this road years ago and walked on it for 8 long years. You tended to the plants on the roadsides and over the years the plants gave flowers and fruits. You will have to do it all over again and this time you could be walking it alone. The thorns are going to pierce deeper. If you choose to stay married and fight, you will still be walking alone until you convince your husband to walk alongside.”

Rohan had the last mouthful of the cold black tea. Sheetal looked into Rohan’s eyes and felt him looking inside her mind through her tears, “Make your life’s journey memorable, not just a memory.” Rohan’s final words were soothing yet Sheetal understood the weight they carried.

She felt like she had lost too much and life had taken its toll on her. Mentally drained and weary, she wanted to rest. Yet the road ahead was clear to her. Her choices brought her to the crossroads and it was her choices alone that would set her free.

Rohan simply got up and walked out of the coffee shop. The evening crowd milled around Sheetal but she suddenly felt lonely and left alone to battle her demons.

Rohan got into his car and drove away. He never knew what happened to Sheetal after that. He hoped it was something good but he had long since turned the page from that story of his life.

Sheetal deleted Rohan’s phone number from her cell phone, paid the bill and walked in to the world to start her fight afresh.

Categories: Fiction Tags: , , , ,
  1. pushpanjali
    September 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

    hey nice piece..

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