It had been years since they had met, Six to be precise. It’s so bizarre how the outcome of certain events can trigger the most vulnerable emotions of the human mind. Two individuals who had kept their existence mutually aloof from one another and had ventured out to create two separate worlds now sat face-to-face, victim to a cruel joke by fate. Despite having sworn to stay out of each other’s sphere of existence, the two of them eventually got wound up at the corner ends of the table.
Swati reluctantly picked up the CV on the wooden desk while stealing an uneasy glance at Anirudh. All this while Anirudh was perplexed to find her in the interviewer’s chair. His legs were trembling, and his eyes were pathetically searching for only a bit of warmth from Swati’s expressionless face. His eyes pleaded with her to break the tension suspended in the interview room.
“Mr. Roy, it says here that you started your job as the Sales Executive at Acropolis International, Indore. But it didn’t last more than a year. Could you explain what went wrong?” Swati completed her question and sipped a drink of water. Anirudh was totally on edge. Back at home, he had readied himself with the answers to all feasible questions the interviewer could have asked, but now, he was choking on his words.
“Swati… Sorry… Miss Bose… Umm… I had been….”, he made a pathetic attempt to answer the question, but how could he? He could feel his throat dry up and he retorted to incessant coughing. He managed to look down at his trembling feet. A look of apprehension hung on his face. His feet convulsed and shuddered the same way they had ten years ago. Back when he had confessed his feelings for her.
Swati back then had been a cheerful girl… shy and reticent, but cheerful, nonetheless. She never bothered opening up before anyone except one. She and Anirudh were classmates, both pursuing the stream of science. Much like Swati, Anirudh was a reserved guy. He did not get along with his peers, but somehow, Anirudh and Swati found comfort in each other.
It was only a matter of time before they fell for each other. Anirudh was the one to confess his feelings, and Swati was charmed by his proposal. The young lovers had promised each other everything their innocent selves could. The reality, however, took their story far from a fairy tale.
Life can be anything but perfect. Their perfect story met an abrupt end when Anirudh suddenly began snubbing her. One day, with reasons unclear, Anirudh dumped their relationship that had prospered for four long years. Needless to say, Swati was heartbroken. By this time, the two of them had completed high school. Swati looked upon Anirudh with her teary eyes and took her gaze away. She demanded Anirudh that she be left alone and that he should never make an attempt to meet her again. Anirudh kept incriminating himself for all the valid reasons, and Swati was left emotionally impaired due to this betrayal.
The air of the Interview Room was suffocating, as if time had come to a stop. The office peon knocked at the door to break the doldrums. Anirudh and Swati were engulfed in each other’s gaze as they reminisced their forlorn story. Swati was the first to snap out of the trance. She sneaked a peek at her watch and uttered softly, “Mr. Roy, we don’t have much time left…”
“I am sorry Swati…”, Anirudh let out a cold sigh. Swati had begun losing her grip over her emotions. She kept looking at his helpless face, oblivious to her own moist eyes.
“Sorry for what Anirudh…”, Swati couldn’t maintain eye contact. Her voice got muffled with emotions.
“For everything…”, Anirudh’s gaze was steady now. He slowly put his hand over her slender fist, to which she looked away, whimpering to herself. “It’s okay…”, said Anirudh with an assuring tone. “We don’t need to act like strangers any longer. I am well aware that I don’t deserve your forgiveness or your pity, Swati. I know the answer to the question that you had asked me earlier… but I can’t muster enough courage to answer the question that you had asked me six years ago…”, his voice broke.
“What went wrong Anirudh ?…”, Swati sobbed.
“You will know soon…”, Anirudh grabbed his resume with his teary eyes and left the room. He didn’t look back.
A few months later, Swati received a letter addressed to her name. She opened it and read the body. Grabbing an old diary, she vehemently dialed a number on her mobile phone, but the call wouldn’t connect. Only a few moments later, she sat down on the floor with a thud. The ink on the letter was left smudged by her tears.
The letter read:
“Hi Swati, I am so sorry that I had riled up your emotions that day. I did not wish to upset the old wound that was the only essence of my failed commitment to you. You know, I am dying… quite literally.
Six years ago, I got diagnosed with thalassemia, and I have been put under medication ever since. I wish I dared to break the news to you. So, I found it wiser to gradually step away. The Doctor’s prognosis says that I have three more months to live. Who would ever want to waste their penultimate days at a hospital ward in a distant land? So, I returned and tried to secure a job while spending my final days with my family here in Kolkata. It was a beautiful coincidence that I figured out that you are doing well at an esteemed organization. I couldn’t be prouder!
Anyway, I hope you realize now that, what I had done back then was not as abrupt as it seemed. I wish I could phrase it in some other way… but I have always been a lost cause.