Moving On... Part 2

Moving On... Part 1

Back to her apartment when Sneha pressed the doorbell, Maya opened the door for her. She was talking on her mobile. Sneha thanked her luck and walked to her room. But her luck was short-lived because almost immediately Maya came to her room with a cordless phone. She handed her the cordless phone and stood there for some time
Once again, it was strange that Maya knew what the couple had advised. Sneha pushed the talk button and dialed the mobile number, Maya smiled as she realized that Sneha had already memorized the number. She walked out. She knew Sneha needed to be alone

The phone rang for a long time before it was answered. It was a woman’s voice on the other end. Perhaps his wife, Sneha thought.
“Hello …”
“May I speak to Avinash?”
“May I know who is it?”
“Sneha … I am” before Sneha could complete her sentence the woman on the other end said, “Oh Sneha! Finally I get to talk to you…”
Sneha was silent. Not able to understand what to speak next.
As if understanding Sneha’s awkwardness the woman spoke again
“Hi, I am Sandhya … Avinash’s wife. I have heard a lot about you.”
“Hi.” Sneha was at loss for words
Sandhya sensed Sneha’s reluctance and continued, “Avinash forgot his cell at home, do you have any message for him?”
“Well … nothing important, just tell him I had called up.”
“Sure. Bye”
And the call was disconnected.

Sneha stared aimlessly outside the window for some time before walking out with the cordless phone. Maya was watching television. Sneha walked to her and handed over the cordless phone to Maya. Before Maya could ask anything Sneha rested her head on Maya’s lap and said, “His wife answered. She said he had forgotten the cell at home.”
“So! What did you say?”
“Nothing… just left a message that I had called up.”
“You should’ve started a conversation.” Maya said moving her fingers through Sneha’s hair.
“Hmmm. You are right. But I just could not speak anything. I was taken aback when she told me that Avinash had spoken to her about me.”
“Oh!” Maya whispered still moving her fingers through Sneha’s hair. She thought something was out of place. Yes, it was good that Avinash had told his wife about Sneha but at the same time it seemed strange to Maya. Maya had her own reasons.

Both the girls spent some time silently watching the television. Finally when they retired to bed Maya asked, “Are you going to call him up again?”
“No. And this time I mean it.”
“Good” Maya replied as she turned to switch off the bedside lamp.

Sneha had assumed that Maya would force her to call again; she was surprised as well as relieved that Maya did nothing of that sort.
Sneha was wide awake for a long time. She could not believe what Sandhya told her. Was it possible that Avinash was at home but Sandhya did not want him to talk to her? Sneha thought about this for some time before falling asleep. It was not strange that Sneha woke up in the middle of the night because of a dream in which Avinash had left Sandhya and she was throttling Sneha blaming her for what had happened. Sneha shook her head, wiped the sweat from her forehead before lying down in bed again.
Why was it that she was still unable to forget Avinash? Why could she not have a grip on her emotions? After all these days things were the same as they were before.

The next day as Sneha was getting ready for her office her telephone rang. Maya was in kitchen preparing breakfast for her so Sneha answered the call.
After all these days this was one more thing Sneha had never been able to do, that is forget his voice.
“Sandhya told me you had called. She has also asked me to apologize to you.”
“Apologize for what?”
“She said that you were sort of surprised that she knew about you.”
“Oh, actually it is me who has to apologize. I mean, I just did not know what to speak. She must have thought that to be rude.”
“No, not at all, she knows you.”
“Does she really?”

There was an awkward silence. It spoke volumes. It was obvious that Avinash had not bothered to offer details to Sandhya. His wife knew Sneha only as a friend and nothing more. She was not the woman who loved Avinash. Sneha was not sure whether she should be happy about this or not. She did not want to think about it. Her thoughts were interrupted by Avinash
“Hello, are you there.”
“So, what is new in life, any special development in past few months?”
Sneha rolled her eyes. This was the most typical and boring conversation. She knew what he meant to ask and she did not want to answer it. Luckily Maya called out to Sneha and Sneha cut out the conversation saying that she would talk to him later.

As Sneha disconnected the call and walked to the dining table, the breakfast was already served and Maya was munching on her sandwich. One look at Sneha and Maya knew whose call it was. She did not interrupt Sneha’s thought process.
Taking a bite of her sandwich Sneha thought aloud, “I wonder how he got the residence number!”
Maya kept her sandwich in the plate and said, “Sneha, don’t be so stupid! You had called him up on his mobile and there is something called CLIP, Caller-Line Identification Protocol!”
Sneha closed her eyes. Oh yes, how could she be so stupid?
“Yeah right”, Sneha murmured as she continued eating her sandwich.
“I will not be home when you return from office.” Maya said
“Ok” replied dreamily.
Maya picked up her plate and walked to the kitchen. Sneha finished her sandwich and carried the plate to the kitchen. Maya took it from Sneha’s hands and said, “I will do the rest, get going … you are already getting late for office.”
“Say my hi to Sanchit”
“Sure. Do me a favor.”
“On way back from office please get a few things.” Maya said pulling out a small note from her trouser pocket.

Sneha climbed down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. She was claustrophobic. Also, on her way to the office she wanted to say a quick hello to the Thomson’s.
As she had expected Mrs. Thomson was already there waiting for her. After a quick hello Sneha left for her office.
Sneha had made up her mind to stay in India and hence she had taken up a job as PRO. Her Uncle had offered to use his influence to get her a job in one of the most renowned companies but Sneha had decided to try on her own first. After a few futile attempts she had finally managed to get a decent job. Her job demanded maintaining public relations and she was good at it since the college days, Avinash had said so. Today, things were different and it was Avinash who was to be blamed for it. Sneha could not concentrate in her work because she kept thinking about him. She was thinking whether she should call Avinash and if she calls what was she supposed to talk to him about? What was happening in her life, which she could discuss with him without letting him know that his walking out of life had left a void in her life she had not yet learned to deal with! Staying back in India was the decision she had made assuming that she would not come across Avinash again and that she would be able to work on forgetting him. Also, Maya was going to settle in India and as Maya had given her care and concern to Sneha when she needed it, Sneha thought that she should return to India for Maya’s sake.

Finally during the lunch time she called him up using her cell. She was surprised as well as thankful that Avinash did not continue the previous discussion.
This time the talk was more on the lines of what happened in his life after she had left the country. He told her that there were times when he needed a friend and he could not trust anyone. Those were the times, he said, he missed her the most.

It was true. Sneha had been a very good friend to Avinash, helping him out of situations with her suggestions. The night she had spent at Avinash’s residence comforting him was one of those situations. Unknowingly, tears welled up in Sneha’s eyes as she thought of that night. She had cried that night too, with Avinash in her arms, sobbing like a child, fully drunk and incapable of thinking. She had held him tightly in her arms trying to comfort him as well as trying hard to control her tears. When, finally Avinash passed out, her tears started flowing unbounded.

“What else madam?” the waiter asked Sneha.
Out from her reverie, she realized that she was still sitting in the mess and her plate though empty gave an impression that she wanted to eat more.
“Nothing” she answered and the waiter gave her the bill.
She walked back to her cabin and got busy in her work. Her mind a little relieved because she had finally spoken to Avinash. Towards the end of the day as she was winding up her work she received a message on her cell.
She thought it might be Maya, leaving a reminder about buying the things Maya had asked her to get on way back home. She did not bother to look at the cell.
After a few minutes, her mobile rang. Sneha looked at the display and was surprised to see it was Avinash calling her.

“Hi! Did not get my message?”
“Oh, it was yours? I thought it was Maya, I did not read it yet.”
“Ok. Read it now.”
“Oh ok, wait…” saying so Sneha entered the menu options, went to the messages folder and opened the inbox. The message read…
Let’s meet. Let us go and spend time at our favorite hangout. Got the time to dive back in time?”
“Hello” Sneha could hear Avinash shouting out of the ear piece.
Sneha put the handset to her ears and spoke; her voice seemed to come from a faraway place. She was perhaps already back into old days
“Yeah, am here”
Sneha was silent for a moment
“Well! Let us meet only if you are comfortable.”
“When do you want to meet?”
It meant Sneha was ready to meet so Avinash continued, “How about today? The climate is good. I will pick you up from your office, also I am free today.”
“Fine, see you in half an hour.”
Avinash promised to be on time, like he used to in old days.
Sneha smiled as she thought about it. She was very sure that Avinash would not reach on time. Therefore, after finishing her work when Sneha walked out of the office building she was surprised to see Avinash waiting for her at the gate. He was wearing her favorite color and was sitting on his motorbike, looking at his wrist watch after short intervals. Sneha could have walked to him immediately but she wanted to wait and watch him for a while. She found him to be handsome, like before. His face reflected maturity. There was something else, which Sneha found different in his face but she was not able to read it. She stood there for a while, out of Avinash’s view. Then, she rushed out of the premises making her way straight to him as if she had just come out.
She did not know that Avinash had seen her as she had stepped out, waited behind the tree and looking at him. As Sneha sat behind him, Avinash started the motorbike and they drove towards their favorite hangout. The wind pierced her skin as the motorbike sped up on the highway and the gust of air caused water to accumulate in her eyes, which Avinash mistook as tears as he turned around to look at her when they were at the red signal.
The sun was biding farewell, kissing the horizon on its way home.
As Avinash parked the motorbike at a safe place Sneha got down and walked towards a particular spot as if guided by her instinct. Avinash followed. A soft breeze tickled her skin and played with her hair. Avinash was watching her from the corner of his eyes as he walked next to her. They walked for a distance in silence. As they reached the place where they used to sit before Sneha involuntarily stopped walking. A smile crossed Avinash’s lips “So, you still remember?” he said.
Sneha looked at him and smiled. She sat down and as Avinash sat next to her she felt his arm brushing against her arm.
They both sat there silently watching the sunset. It was getting dark and soon Sneha would have to leave. After a while Avinash spoke up, picking up the threads from their last conversation. He asked her what was happening in her life, this time tactfully avoiding asking Sneha about the man in her life.

The idea that Sneha was still in love with him gave him some comfort. Something, which he could not explain! At times he even felt like giving her a hug. But things had changed. A hug might have seemed to be normal during those days but now it would not be right. Then why did he feel the need to hug her? He stared at Sneha as she continued talking, telling him about Maya and Sanchit.
“She’s so beautiful” Avinash thought. Unknowingly his gaze traced her lips as they moved while she was talking. He felt a sudden urge to kiss her. He looked away and Sneha realized that something was wrong. Suddenly she became conscious in his presence.
“Let’s walk” Avinash said and got up. Sneha got up too.

As they walked along the shore, Sneha’s dress stuck awkwardly to her body because of the breeze and Avinash, in spite of his several attempts, could not stop himself from observing the curves of her body.
Sneha did not know when it was he held her hand as they walked towards his motorbike. Only when he released her hand to sit on the motorbike did she realize that all this time her hand was in his. Avinash started the motorbike and Sneha sat behind him.
Sneha was tired and was not interested in looking around so she held her head low and was deep in thoughts when suddenly Avinash applied brakes at the signal, which had turned red. Because of not being alert, as Avinash applied the brakes, Sneha was about to fall and she held Avinash around the waist. Also, being in inertia her body pressed hard against Avinash’s body and for a moment Sneha thought she saw love sparks flying around. She moved back and corrected her position and Avinash waited for the signal to turn green.

If the sudden body contact had this kind of impact on Sneha’s mind, it had similar but magnified impact on Avinash’s. He felt aroused. He was not sure what was happening to him. It had never happened before. They were friends for many years and had spent many moments together. There were times when their bodies had come in contact in many ways, arms brushing, hugging etc. but this kind of feeling had never aroused in his mind. His body had never reacted like this to her touch.
The signal had turned green and cars were already moving when Avinash finally managed to have a grip on his feelings and started the ignition.
It was late when Avinash dropped Sneha at the gate of her building. Sneha hesitated for a moment but then walked closer to Avinash and gave him a light hug and thanked him for the wonderful evening.

As Sneha turned around to go, Avinash smiled. She still loves me, he thought as he drove away. Sneha was not aware what she had done. She was not sure whether she had the right to be happy the way she was. At the back of her mind, a thought kept disturbing her that whatever was happening was wrong. But Sneha tried to explain to that part of her mind that she knew what was right and what was wrong. Spending one evening with Avinash did not make any difference. She was well aware of the fact that Avinash was married and having any kind of expectation from him was not only wrong but would turn out to be painful in future.
Sneha was a strong woman and she did not believe in extra-marital affairs. Though there was a time when she had nearly broken down when Avinash had confided in Sneha and told her that he loved Sandhya. Sneha stumbled on the stairs and sprained her ankle as she was climbing the stairs with thoughts of Avinash gripping her mind.

Part 3