Moving On... Part 3

Moving On... Part 1 | Moving On... Part 2

Sneha managed to climb up to her flat and was about to open the door with her key when it was opened from inside. Maya had returned home. Sneha walked inside. Maya looked at Sneha and realized that she was limping.
“What happened?”
“Nothing… just tripped in the staircase.”
Maya offered her hand and helped Sneha to walk towards the sofa.
“You are late.”
“Yeah, I had been out.”
“With Avinash?”
Sneha looked at Maya and she got her answer.
“I tried calling on your mobile but it is switched off.” Maya said, helping Sneha to remove her sandals.
“Oh.” Sneha checked her purse. Her mobile was indeed switched off but Sneha did not remember switching it off.
“Battery empty” Sneha said keeping the mobile back in her purse.
Maya was looking at Sneha and it was only after a little while that Sneha understood the reason.
“Sorry, I forgot to buy the groceries.”
“It is fine. I will buy tomorrow. Anyways, I don’t think you will be going to the office tomorrow.” Maya said looking at Sneha’s ankle. Her foot had started picking up color and it had even started swelling.
Sneha could not believe that the wonderful evening had ended in this manner.
Maya stared at her for a while before going in to get painkiller gel for Sneha.
As Maya applied the gel to Sneha’s foot, Sneha thought about Maya. She had been a real good friend to her. Maya was her cousin but more than a sister she was a very close friend to her taking care of her during the worst phase of her life. Maya was two years younger than Sneha but Sneha liked the way Maya cared for her like an elder sister. Maya had her own house in India and her family expected her to stay there when she visited India but Maya insisted that she would stay with Sneha in her apartment and would go home only one day before the functions began. So when Maya came to India with her parents and Sneha, her parents went to their ancestral house in Bangalore while Maya moved in with Sneha.
She had her reasons for doing so. She was well aware that Sneha needed her. Sneha was a family person, loved to spend time with her family but things had changed after she was heart-broken. Sneha appreciated whatever Maya did for her. She never asked anything from her but Maya just knew when she was needed and what she was needed to do.

Sneha was deep in thoughts when Maya finished massaging Sneha’s ankle.
“I think you better go and take a rest.”
Maya never expected Sneha to give explanations but Sneha said, “I called Avinash from the office because I told him I would call back.”
“He sent me a message and then called up to ask if we could go out.”
“I thought there was nothing wrong in it.”
“Yes, nothing wrong that you too went out.”
“I never knew when the mobile battery was empty.”
“Sneha, did I ask you anything about it? It is fine, I do understand.”
“Now, come on … give me your arm” saying so Maya held Sneha and helped her to walk to her room.
Once Maya saw that Sneha was comfortable in her bed, Maya walked out and dialed a number. After some time she was busy talking to Sanchit.

Maya knew Sanchit through the internet and they instantly became friends. As they continued chatting and exchanged photos and numbers they fell in love with one another and one day Sanchit proposed marriage to Maya. Sneha was the only person who knew all about this. She also knew that Maya’s parents were orthodox and would never understand something like this. She found a solution. One day as the topic of Maya’s wedding was being discussed; Sneha said that she knew someone who would be a perfect man for Maya. She explained how she had come across someone when she was in Bombay. Things were arranged and meeting was fixed. Maya’s parents met Sanchit and approved of the relationship.
This was nothing as compared to what Maya had done for Sneha. Though Sneha met Maya for the first time when she walked inside her Uncle’s bungalow, it seemed as if they knew each other since childhood. They had seen each other growing up in photographs. Though Uncle had visited Sneha and her family Maya had not accompanied him.
Sneha shared a special kind of relationship with her Uncle and hence when she decided to leave India to get over Avinash, she could think of only one person. Sneha’s parents were deeply hurt with Sneha’s decision but after Uncle spoke to them, they finally allowed Sneha to move to France.
When they heard about Maya’s marriage and knew that Sneha would be back, their joy knew no bounds. They were in constant touch with Maya and knew all about how Sneha was trying to cope up with her condition but on strict instructions of Maya’s father they did not talk to Sneha. Surprisingly, Sneha was happy about it.
When Sneha returned to India, her parents stayed with her for a few days, not sure how to deal with her. They did not want her to think that they were giving more than necessary attention to her and at the same time they did not want her to feel neglected. Once or twice Sneha was frustrated about how her mother dealt with her and finally Maya advised that they join her parents at the ancestral house and promised that she would take care of Sneha.

Sneha was sleeping peacefully when Maya entered the room. Maya could not believe that after going through so much in life because of Avinash she had decided to meet him today but at the same time she also understood how difficult it was for Sneha to refuse such an opportunity. Maya walked closer to the bed and looked at Sneha. Such an angelic person had suffered so much because of one man and now the same man was back in her life. He definitely had a role to play and Maya knew what it was going to be and hence she was very worried for Sneha. Maya stroked Sneha’s hair and then walked to the other side and slid into the bed. Within minutes Maya was asleep too.

The next day when Sneha tried to get up she could not bear the pain in her ankle. Maya, too, was surprised to see the amount of swelling. Perhaps it was something to do with the kind of heels Sneha was wearing. She was not so used to high heels but as her own sandals were broken Sneha had worn Maya’s sandals that day and hence the sprain was too much. Maya, as usual, made breakfast meanwhile Sneha stayed in bed. After they had their breakfast Maya called up Sanchit to tell him that she would not be meeting him and then walked to the bedroom to tell Sneha that she was going to get the groceries.
On her way down she decided to go and have a word with Mr. Thomson. She stood in front of their door and rang the doorbell thrice and after sometime Mr. Thomson opened the door.
“Hello Mr. Thomson”
“Come in” Mr. Thomson sounded worried.
Maya walked inside. She saw that Mrs. Thomson was sitting in her chair.
“Hello Mrs. Thomson”
“Hello Maya. So, how are the preparations going on?”
As Maya seated herself Mr. Thomson spoke again, “I know what you have come here for. I saw him yesterday when he had come to drop Sneha.”
“Did you?”
Mr. Thomson nodded.
Maya was silent for some time then she spoke again, “I am worried for her.”
“Hmmm” Mr. Thomson replied, deep in thoughts.
“She needs you, remember that.” Mrs. Thomson said
“I know. I will always be there for her.”
“Where is she now?” Mrs. Thomson asked.
“She is at home, sprained her ankle yesterday while climbing the stairs.”
Another silent pause…
“I knew he would call up again and ask to meet.” Maya said somewhat angrily.
“We all knew it, didn’t we?” Mrs. Thomson said.
“It is all for her good. Sometimes, good comes in wrapping of bad. Just see to it that you are there for her when she needs you.” Mr. Thomson said.
“How many days left before you have to leave?” Mrs. Thomson asked.
“One week.”
Mr. Thomson shook his head.
Maya understood what he was worried about.

After a few silent minutes Maya left the Thomson residence and went to buy the groceries. When she returned home and opened the door with the keys she could hear Sneha laughing in her room. For a moment she thought that Avinash was in the house. She placed the groceries on the dining table and walked to the bedroom. Sneha was talking on the phone. When she saw Maya at the door Sneha waved at her and Maya waved back and then walked away. It was obvious that Sneha was talking to Avinash.
Maya began arranging the stuff in the kitchen.
“Need any help?” Sneha asked standing at the door.
“No, but I won’t mind your company.”
Sneha walked inside and sat on the stool and started handing over the stuff to Maya.
Sneha wanted to tell Maya about Avinash’s call. Maya knew it. It was not necessary for Sneha to discuss everything with Maya but Sneha liked it like this. She wanted to share everything with Maya.
“Mom had called up.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing, was just asking the regular questions. She asked me when I am coming to Bangalore.”
“Did you tell her about Avinash?”
“Of course …”
Maya turned to look at Sneha
“NOT” Sneha added and they both started laughing.
“You know how it is…”
Maya knew exactly how it was.
“Avinash called up to say hi.”
Sneha took a deep breath and continued, “When I first saw him at the mall… I was so shocked. When he came to talk to me, I was really uncomfortable. But, when we met…”
“It seemed like old days, right?” Maya said it for Sneha
“Yes.” Sneha whispered.
“That sounds good to me.” Maya said. She wanted to add, “Take care” but she decided against it.
Sneha smiled.

While Maya was busy working around the house, cleaning etc, Sneha spent time in her room.
She remembered the day when she had met Avinash for the first time. Avinash was her senior in college and they knew each other through ragging. Many people said that ragging was bad but Sneha was thankful because she found Avinash because of it. They had become friends instantly and Sneha never knew when she fell in love with him. The way Avinash treated her, Sneha took it for granted that even he was in love with her. Till the day when finally Avinash told Sneha that he loved somebody else.
Sneha still did not want to think about that day but memories haunted her idle mind.

After being friends with Avinash for many years, Sneha knew when he was happy or sad. That day he was sad and she could feel the heaviness. She wanted to know what was wrong. It was his final year in college and on the night of the farewell party he got drunk. Sneha knew that Avinash did normally take a glass or two of drink but that night he was too drunk. She looked at him from the corner of the room as he continued to fill his glass at the bar. Finally she walked to him and stopped him from drinking. He almost collapsed in her arms. She put his arm around her shoulder and put her right arm around his waist and helped him to walk out of the party venue. She hailed a cab and helped Avinash to get in. Once inside the cab she called up at home to tell her parents that she would be staying at her friend’s place.
On reaching Avinash’s residence she searched for the keys in Avinash’s pockets and Avinash laughed as Sneha’s hand touched his body and tickled him. He opened his eyes and looked at her. Then he gently kissed her on her cheek.
“You are the best friend I have got.”
Sneha smiled as she opened the door and helped him to walk inside.

Once inside the house, Avinash collapsed on the sofa and Sneha removed his shoes. She loosened his tie and took out his belt. She bent over him and kissed his forehead. Avinash smiled.
“You are the best friend I have got.”
Sneha wanted to kiss him on his lips and would have done so if Avinash had not said what he said after few silent moments.
“She does not love me.”
The words hurt Sneha.
“Avinash … what are you saying?”
Avinash managed to open his eyes and tears rolled out of his eyes as he did so
“I proposed to her today but she said no.”
“Who?” Sneha asked annoyed.
The name seemed to be familiar. Oh yes, Sneha remembered. Sandhya was her junior. Though she had never met her, Sandhya was known to everyone as she was the rose queen of the college. Someone had anonymously given her the rose bouquets to make her the rose queen.
“Is this the reason you are so drunk?”
Avinash nodded and it was so forceful for his drunken state that he was about to fall forwards but Sneha held him.
She sat next to him and Avinash placed his head on her shoulder.
“I cannot live without her.” he cried.
Sneha did not know what to say. She turned to look at him and held his face in her hands. This was the time when she had to confess her feelings for him.
“Look at me.”
Avinash raised his eyes, tears still streaming down his face.
“This is not the end of all. So what if she does not love you, I do.”
Avinash smiled.
“You are the best friend I have got.”
“Avinash, I love you and I cannot see you hurt.”
Avinash looked at Sneha. After a moment he hugged her.
Sneha held him tight. She could feel her shirt getting wet with Avinash’s tears. She did not move back. She could feel his grip tightening.
“I love you” Sneha whispered as she tightened her grip on him.
“You are the best friend I have got.”
Sneha moved back and holding his face in her hand she stared at him. She wanted to kiss him.
Avinash was still crying.
She got up and walked to the balcony. She needed fresh air; she had a decision to make. It was clear by now that Avinash took Sneha to be his best friend and he loved Sandhya. Yes, it hurt to think that Avinash did not love her. But what she could do about it?
She had a fair chance of bringing Avinash in her life. But that way, would he love her? Avinash was drunk and he kept on repeating that Sneha was the best friend he had got but Sneha knew that if Sneha got close to him, there was a strong chance that Avinash would succumb to her attempts and then make love to her. But, was all this worth? Sex was not what Sneha wanted. She also did not want to fool Avinash into this.
She heard a sound from inside and when she turned around she found Avinash sprawled on the floor. She rushed inside and helped him to get up. She helped him to sit straight on the floor. Then she touched his cheeks gently and kissed his forehead.
“I will do something about this.”
“Will you?”
“Will you convince her on my behalf?”
That was the last thing Sneha was capable of doing.
“I will help you.”
Avinash smiled
“You are the best friend I have got.”
Sneha hugged Avinash.

Part 4