Read the text message I’d sent you. No lovey-dovey endearments this time. Just plain words, harsh maybe, but they failed to convey the murderous rage that I had roiling inside me ever since I learnt the truth about you from Sushant.
“She’s not Pihu… her name’s Payal… And she’s not what you think she is…”
I’d lost count of the times those words had rung in my head like the jarring clang of metal on hard, cold stone, that reverberates down to your marrow. I felt leaden on the inside, like all emotion, save rage, were sucked out of me by an infernal succubus. I don’t know what I may have been capable of that night when you ran away. It’s good that you did, because let me tell you, I may have been capable of murder that night. I was so, so, soooooo enraged.
And maybe you knew it, which is why you never, not even once, tried to explain your reaction to Sushant, or tried to cajole or console me. Not one message, not one call, did I receive from you. Your silence had condemned you in my eyes, and the only reason why I asked you to meet me the next morning was so I could watch the horror of the truth unfold in the lines of your face. I wanted to watch you suffer in the ignominy of being branded a liar, and in the heartbreak of a separation. It was the best kind of harm I could inflict on you without touching you.
So that morning, I stood where you had stood a month back, waiting among the trees in the grove, and the weather, it seemed, was one with me. It was drizzling, it was windy and cold, it was dark and the sky was laden with grey, pregnant clouds that threatened a deluge. Exactly how I felt inside.
I knew you would come. You weren’t a coward, I’ll concede that. But you crept up the hill in an unnecessarily slow pace. When you came over to where I stood, neither of us spoke for a long time. I could hear your heavy breathing even through the rain and wind. Then I turned and our eyes met. And you saw the madness in me and took several steps back. I never thought I could be menacing, but it felt good that day, to see you scared of me.
You held your palms up in defence, as if I was going to hit you. Oh, but I had no intention of ever even touching you anymore. I didn’t need to. You were stricken already, I could tell.
You started hesitatingly, “I won’t explain myself and waste your time. I can see it’s over and nothing that I say or do will make you believe that I was innocent.” You looked straight in my face, unzipped your jacket and reached into it’s inner pocket for something. You took out a manila folder and held it up to me. “Read it. All of it. And maybe you’ll understand why I did it. Why I was scared to tell you the truth about me.”
Inspite of myself, a spark of curiosity woke up inside me and I took the folder from you. I had told myself that I wouldn’t fall for anything you said or did, but this… was unexpected.
You carried on, “Remember the scar on my face and the tattoo on my waist? I told you that someday if I trusted you enough, I will tell you about them. This folder will do the talking for me.” You licked your dry lips and spoke again, “I don’t know if after all this you’ll still come back for me. I don’t think you will… I don’t care about it either. I can see it in your eyes that it’s over, but know this….” you started walking towards me but I stepped back, as if the mere shadow of you was loathsome to me.
You sensed it and stopped. “So that’s how much you hate me now, is it?” You looked away as a pretext to wipe away a stray tear, but for the first time in my life, a woman’s tears weren’t fazing me. I was that mad.
You turned back to me, your eyes red with the promise of tears but your voice had steel in it, “But know this, that I loved you enough to do anything for you. I loved you enough that I could have stood between you and anything that could harm you. Anything! I loved you with all my heart and I was true to you!”
I knew that much. You were loyal to the bone. I always knew. But what you’d hidden from me had shredded my trust in you.
There’s no such things as mending a broken heart or picking up the pieces to put back a relationship together. Once broken, nothing and no one is as good as they were before.
You had begun to shake all over in your own rage. I could see it mounting with each and every word you spoke, “And even now, I can do anything for you, be anything for you. But I know we’re done now, goddammit! Damn that bastard Sushant! Damn that dead ex of yours! Had she never come back that night, you and I would still have been together…”
I spoke the first and the only time then, “No! We wouldn’t have. Because eventually I would’ve found out all about you…”
“I was going to tell you about it myself!” you shouted your frustration at me, “Do you think I could have hidden something like this inside me if I wanted a future for both of us? Do you think a girl can ever get over a past like that by hiding it? Can you imagine what I have been through to put it all behind me? You can’t, huhn! And I know you won’t… thanks to that damned ‘friend’ of yours!” You almost spat out the last words in anger. You were positively crying now.
I didn’t say a word. But I was beginning to sense that there was more to your story than what Sushant had told me, because your emotions all seemed real. You seemed in real pain about your past.
We stood facing each other in silence for a few seconds more, while the wind howled around us. The drizzle had turned into a full-fledged downpour. It was impossible to stand there, even shaded by the grove, any longer. You were the first to turn your back and walk away. Without a word.
I followed suit some minutes later, but not before I had watched your retreating form tread all the way down to the foot of the hill, till my eyes lost you to the rain induced haze. Maybe it was the last time I was looking at you.
I was itching now to read the contents of that folder. A sane man would have dumped the folder at your feet and told you that he didn’t care about what was inside it or what your side of the story was. But I’d lost all sanity the moment I’d laid eyes on you.
I did say I hate complicated. But did I mention I was a sucker for intriguing? Did I mention that you were the epitome of intrigue?
I think I did.
I rue that I did.
For this intrigue-storm you’d conjured up, was a tempest I couldn’t survive…
To be continued.
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
Image Credits: makunin at www.pixabay.com