If only...

If only I had not been a fool…
If only I had done this earlier…
If only…

But then…
May be it was written…
May be it was deemed to happen…
May be…

My story is full of ‘May be’s and ‘if’s but so is life. Life is all about choices and as Master Oogway says “There are no coincidences in life.”. We all are slaves to the choices we make in our life, the choices govern our past and they chart our future. When I tell you my story, and in a way may be the story of all of us - the story of a broken heart, of withered smiles, of tear-dry eyes, of blurred memories – it becomes in a philosophical way the story of my choices.

I sincerely hope I am wrong but in every one’s life there come these moments of utmost frustration, despondency and of untellable suffering, moments that are indelible from the canvas of our minds, moments that scar us forever. I had been trying for the last ten fucking years to wash them off and prepare a new canvas to paint my life in colorful hues again. Alas! But all in vain.

I decided to tell everyone my story - the story of a boy and a girl who loved each other so much but couldn’t remain happily ever ‘after’. And why? Just because they never described to each other the extent of their love. They made the wrong choice of not vocalizing their love. And that’s why I feel, if only….

I won’t bore you all with the description of how the love bloomed, just because its all so typical - a boy meets a girl, proposes her, she refuses initially but then succumbs to the temptation later. I’ll show u the dark side of the moon - the side no one longs to see but everyone wants to hear about, this is a story of how wrong choices mar relations.

I had to travel far from her, not by choice but by compulsion; compulsion of my job, of money. Like an ancient mariner, in search of a Newfoundland, I traveled far and beyond. Always in pursuit of ‘our’ dreams where we can live far from the maddening crowd, my only delight was her who, like guiding star never faltered in showing me the right direction. I knew we had to be apart for at least a few years.

Initially, everything was smooth. For the first year we met daily, sometimes on the net and sometimes on the phone. Hearing her voice on the phone or seeing her face on the flickering computer screen made my day. Life was good.

The differences started to raise their menacing heads in the later half of the second year. She was craving to meet me and I was craving to meet her. The only problem being that neither of us had the resources to meet each other. She was with a manager with a news company and I was a struggling trainee in a giant software firm. She had the money to fly to me but not the time. I had time but not enough money.

She kept on calling me to Bombay and I kept on calling her to Bangalore. What the hell? I mean, anyone could have had come – it’s only a two hour hop from Mumbai to Bangalore. But these two hours cost me a huge fortune and for her it was her career at stake. She used to say I could come to Bombay and she would pay for it, I, being a true male chauvinist, kept on denying.

One day after a long heated argument I hung up on her. We didn’t talk for weeks after that. Though I longed to hear her voice, I couldn’t somehow dial the call. The dilemma was great, my heart begged for it but my mind cut short the craving of the heart. Looking back I can’t understand the reasons but at that time it felt like a game where I would be the looser if I call back first. I had always been a winner in my life and somewhere deep down inside wanted her to initiate. After all was it only I in love?

‘Some game and some winner’ huh!! The call came, but it was not her, it was one of our mutual friends who called perplexed as to why she was going around with her boss. I was devastated; feeling like a dumb asshole, cursing her boss, cursing the whole bloody heartless world. But curses don’t work today, do they?

I sometimes feel now she had made the right choice, choosing her career.

Anyways, this was my first tryst with heartbreak as she was my first love. I didn’t know what to do, whom to talk to, where to vent all this anger and frustration out? I struggled hard to keep myself afloat, but I was stuck in quicksand of emotions - the more I tried the more I drowned.

I pondered over the thoughts of calling her one last time, shouting on her, telling how much I loved her, cursing for what she had done… But then I couldn’t have called her, could I? How could my ego have accepted my defeat?

Today, after ten years, I met her again. It was at a party of one of my friends. Standing with a champagne flute in hand, she was a perfect harmony of poise, elegance and beauty. Age had only refined her features far from dampening her beauty. I felt the same butterflies in my stomach as I had when we first met.

My hearts skipped several beats when she turned around. I don’t know why but we both smiled at each other. It was just like the first time. I forgot all the long intermediate suffering years. She was standing there in the same way she stood some fourteen years ago, the same pretty smile, the same attitude, the same old sensible face - she was my same old love.

Walking towards her I felt as if the floodgates have been opened. All the pain and longing which I had locked somewhere in my heart came rushing back. Tears moistened my eyes and I saw her like a dream, all blurred up.
The initial few moments were filled with an uncomfortable silence, the prelude of the storm to come. I dunno why but the first question I asked her was has she come alone. When she replied in affirmative I was delighted, a fleeting moment of sadistic pleasure. As I was pondering upon my selfish desires, we kept silent, stealing glances and saying ‘Hi’s to the plethora of humanity floating around.

She suddenly said in a very complaining tone, “Hey! Why didn’t you call me up? I was waiting for your call”. Never in my life have so few words arisen so many different emotions. I was feeling elated, disgusted, happy, sad and don’t know what else. I wanted to say “What the fuck? Couldn’t you have called me up? Why should I always call back to make up?” and a lot many more things.

But then I ended up saying, “Didn’t you marry your boss?”
She looked amused, “My Boss! Why in the world would I marry him?”
I smirked. As if I didn’t know what had been going on. “Why not?”
The reply shook the earth beneath me, “The last time I checked, I was in love with you.”

I was amazed. For a moment I felt like hitting her hard on the face and bringing her out of her romantic-make-believe world. She loved me, so what? What about the pain I had been through all these last ten years?

But then, I thought, what about the pain she had endured in the same ten years? After all it was I who had hung up on her.

I asked, “But then why didn’t YOU call me back?”
She said, “I didn’t want to. Initially I was hurt deeply and thought you wanted a break from me. There was a lot of conflict in my emotions. Then I decided to give myself sometime, never knew it would turn out to be ten long years. When I saw you today, it was like my long lost fondness and love rushed back, as though a huge dam has been broken. I just realized the fact that I loved you more than I love myself.”

I was dumbstruck. Not knowing how to react to such an honest confession, I was at loss for words. I just let the moment engulf us and feel the relief. I felt as if mountains have moved off my shoulders. The feeling was of sheer bliss. I didn’t want to know if it was because she loved me. I just wanted to savor the moment.

I knew it would take more than ten minutes of talk to heal the ten years of suffering, but a start was more than welcome. I asked her if she would like to join me for a cup of coffee at someplace where we could be alone. She readily agreed.

While driving to the coffee shop, I thought…

If only I had not been a fool…
If only I had done this earlier…
If only…

But then…
May be it was written…
May be it was deemed to happen…
May be…
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