Her lips quivered to tell him the truth, but she was too overwhelmed with emotion to speak anything. ‘Everything will be fine now. We will be together always’, Shayan was whispering to Simi, as he cradled her in his arms.
Simi was jolted out of her dream as a thunder struck outside. She woke up perspiring in the rainy December night. For a while she was too dumbstruck to understand what was happening. She slowly wiped her forehead and took deep breaths to regain her senses. She was sitting on her bed, in her room and she had had a dream. She peered at the other side of the bed to see Joy sound asleep. She was thankful for Joy’s deep sleeping habits as opposed to her light sleeping ones. Since their marriage, she had always been the one getting up earlier or in the middle of the night due to some small noise or sound to find Joy sleeping peacefully.
But that was something else, her mind was disturbed by the dream she just had. Or was it a nightmare? No …certainly not a nightmare! She could not dare to think that whatever she had ever felt for Shayan was a nightmare. Shayan, the name stirred all those hidden memories in her. She was puzzled why after so many years, she was suddenly dreaming of him. They were not even in touch….neither was she unhappy in her marriage and missing him….then what was it? What was it that had not broken off still…sitting there she could still relive the incident on her wedding day.
Simi was looking exquisitely beautiful. More than her face she had intelligent eyes that did half her talking. In the bridal attire her eyes were to die for. As she sat in the marriage hall waiting for her groom to come, she heard her phone ringing inside her purse. It was Shayan. He must be calling for the direction to reach the wedding hall, thought Simi. He was always early for everything, be it a class or an interview or a date. He hated being late.
‘Hello…Oh my God…. You look too good!’ exclaimed Shayan over the phone. Simi laughed at his easy self. After that day at his flat, there was a weird silence between them. She was happy to find Shayan in his normal self. ‘As if you can see me through the phone…’ retorted Simi. ‘I don’t need to…I know that you’re looking stunning…..I just called to tell you something…..that I…’ he searched for words.
‘That you are sorry to let me go and not propose marriage to me when you should have…isn’t it?’ teased Simi with a mischievous giggle.
‘How did you…. Yes you are right. I love you a lot and I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have proposed to you that day at my flat when you told me that your marriage was fixed…..’ Shayan’s voice was suddenly serious and almost pleading. The smile on Simi’s face vanished and her joyful expression was replaced by that of panic.
‘It’s not too late…. I can arrange everything…You call off the marriage….or maybe we could elope and get married….what do say?’ carried on Shayan.
Simi was suddenly furious, ‘How dare you say all that to me…you are still not ready…and you never will be. You really think all this is a game….right? Either call off the marriage or run away….how could you suggest such a thing…..how could I ever fall in love with someone like you…?’ no matter how much angry she was, Simi had confessed her feelings for him.
‘So you do love me…. Then why are you getting married to this guy?’ pleaded Shayan. ‘Just leave me alone Shayan….just leave me alone….before I lose my temper and….. After so many days and months you suddenly call me on my wedding day and expect me to leave my marriage and family and go away with you. Who do you think you are?’ ‘But I….’ Shayan tried to say something, Simi closed her eyes to let the tears sting her face. She had to do something quickly before any further scene was created.
‘Please do come and have dinner at my wedding!’ added Simi with a strict tone, trying hard to control her tears.
Shayan was too shocked at her sudden change of expression. He wanted to say something to her when he heard voices of relatives filling the room. ‘Silly girl….why are you crying on your marriage day…you are ruining your mascara….Renu…can you please fix her eye make-up? Look at her…such a pretty bride with mascara all over her face!’ exclaimed some female relative. And then there were other voices, which almost engulfed her amidst them. Shayan could only hear the phone click when she disconnected the call. She had pushed him out of her life.
That was five years ago, now Simi was too happy in her marriage. She could not have asked for more. Then why suddenly did she dream of him. She took out her diary from its hiding place under the mattress and went back to the initial entries. There, on the top of one of the blank pages she found Shayan’s number. She thought of calling him, but why…suddenly after so many years….they would not have anything to tell each other. After that day, they had not talked to each other even once. She didn’t know whether he was married and most importantly, whether that number still existed!
The night passed slowly and unable to sleep or unable to try to sleep, Simi finally caught up on slumber just minutes before the alarm clock struck. She grabbed it and got out of bed. She mechanically did her routine work of the morning and got ready for office. ‘Is everything alright?’ inquired Joy, finding her unusually quite throughout the morning. ‘Yes of course…just worried about a presentation I have in office…’ covered up Simi.
They left in opposite directions for their offices. When alone the first thing Simi did was to dial the number she had written on her palm. Before the ring, she cut the call, then again and…..again. The last time she left a missed call. ‘Damn!’ she muttered feeling like a schoolgirl in love giving missed call to strangers. Strangers….? Was that what they were….? Then what was that they had shared that afternoon in his flat….?? They had been so close to each other, that time seemed to have stopped and everything else had lost its meaning. But then she had moved away…not letting them commit what they had started to….. Was it that unfinished story between them that tied them together? What if…the story had ended as they had wanted it to…??
There were too many questions. She had to meet him once…. maybe, to talk about what happened…. maybe to move on from him and with her life. But had she not moved on? She was married and settled but there was something that still tied her to him. Otherwise why would she dream of him? In the initial days of her marriage, she did think of him often but then she got busy with work and life and he went out of her mind. What was it now that she wanted to know….? Certainly she was not looking for a fling with her ex-flame….Joy was more than what life could give her. Then what was it…that was tying her to Shayan. An apology maybe….or at least to talk about things to make them straight….to depart with a sweet ending than a sour thought. But was it at all possible….??
Her phone’s loud ringtone brought her back to the present.
Shayan’s number flashed on her phone display. She hesitated but picked up.
‘Hello….I got a call from this number. May I know who is calling?’ inquired Shayan in a business like tone.
‘Hello….I’ was all Simi could start with.
‘Simi…is that you?’ chirped in Shayan’s enthusiastic voice.
‘Yes… how are you? It’s been so many years….I just thought….’ She replied.
‘Oh my God…I’m so excited to talk to you. Where are you? I’m in Delhi…..it seems from your number that even you are nearby…..My God…there’s so much to talk about…why don’t we meet? Today at lunch….are you free?’ asked Shayan excitedly.
Simi was taken aback at his casual behavior. What had happened? Had they time-travelled? It seemed as if that day of her marriage had not happened at all. Shayan sounded like the good old times. Puzzled, she heard herself say: ‘Yes I’m in Delhi itself and…hmmm…. I’m free… I think we can meet!’
‘Great! See you at lunch then. I will text u the details of the restaurant’ saying so Shayan ended the call.
She instantly regretted her decision to meet him. She toyed with the idea of calling it off till the time when she could no longer cancel it. She reached the restaurant, the address of which Shayan had texted her an hour back, informing her that he had made a reservation for two. Walking in hesitantly, Simi saw Shayan waiting at the table. Always before time, thought she and smiled. Shayan was dressed in smart formals, which spoke of the rising curve of his career. He had also put on a little weight that added a streak of maturity to his personality. Watching him sit there waiting for her, all her inhibitions were gone. She felt relaxed, approached the table and took her seat opposite him.
‘So…how has life been?’ asked Simi. ‘Life had never been the same…since you left me with a broken heart…’ retorted Shayan with a glint of mischief in his eyes. With that they both started laughing. ‘Oh really….I know I have that effect on guys….but in your case I should be given all the credit for your successful career. I broke your heart and you worked hard to succeed in your career.’ she quipped. ‘Oh yes…absolutely…’ added Shayan. The mood was lightened and they started talking about good old days.
‘I am sorry about that day…Shayan. I hope you understand that we were too young then to have taken a more mature decision’ added Simi finally. ‘Apology accepted. But I’m to blame too…. I guess I was too full of Hindi films to think that you will run away with me…. and I’m sorry too. You know after your marriage I did have thoughts of calling you so many times but…. somehow….I restrained myself. Today your call made things a lot easier for me.’
‘I did love you then…but…. There was no childishness or immaturity in that’ Simi blurted out and lowered her eyes. It was too candid a confession but she needed to get it out of her system. ‘I know…..even my feelings were very true…believe me. I know that we were honest then and….now….you and me…we are no longer the same…. Even if I try I cannot fall in love with you again. I fell in love with a pretty girl named Simi years ago……But years of pondering has made me realize that no matter how hard you try you can never go back to a phase in life which you have already passed. It doesn’t happen somehow. We have changed…everything else has changed….. don’t you think so?’
‘Oh my God…. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear you say that. Yes exactly…that is what even I wanted to say. I don’t want to have hard feelings for you…I think we should put the past behind us’ added Simi. She felt a burden go down her shoulders, she could breathe more easily. They smiled at each other.
‘Oh….it’s almost half an hour past my usual lunch time…. I should be leaving now’…declared Simi looking at her watch.
‘Oh yes…me too. And yes…did I tell you that you have become prettier than before. Had I met you now I would have never let you go!’ winked Shayan. ‘I think…what we finally have now is a relationship with strings detached!’ stated Shayan. ‘I guess so…’ chirped in Simi.
They enjoyed a hearty laugh, shared the bill, tipped the waiter generously and left the restaurant. They hugged each other and waved goodbyes to carry on with their separate ways.
Simi felt light and happy almost ecstatic with herself. Smiling happily, she called Joy to ask:
‘Will you be able to come home a little early today? I will prepare something special for dinner and…you….’