“What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?” Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. “Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.”
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .” she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man. Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.” She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?”
Sanjay didn’t reply. Maya knew the answer. Her husband cheated on her. She was frantic. All she could do was cry, but she couldn’t. No words came out of her mouth.
Silently, she went to bed, trying to control her feelings. That night was a terrible night. Thinking about him made Maya feel helpless. She remembered her love life. The past came rushing into her head like a raging river.
July 14, 2008.
“Wake up Maya! Today is the first day of university. Get ready and come downstairs. MAYA!” shouted Maya’s father, who was trying to wake her up. Lazily, she woke up. But suddenly she remembered, “Dad! You have to drop me at the university.” “AND WHY SHOULD I DO THAT?!” hollered Mr. Singh. Never mind! Thought Maya.
So, she went, walking on the streets thinking about how university would be like. But, as she entered, a guy stumbled upon her. “Hey! I am Rahul Kapoor. Sorry I bumped into you. I thought I was late. Never mind. Here, let me help you out.” Rahul helped her get up and apologized again. All Maya could do, was stare at him and his eyes. “Thank you. “ She turned around and started going in the wrong direction. She didn’t notice Rahul was right behind her. “You didn’t tell me your name.” he said politely. Oh! His voice is so mesmerizing, she thought. “Oh! Umm… I am Maya. Maya Singh. First year, Psychology.” Rahul was smiling at her, as though he had never smiled at anyone before. “What are you smiling at me for?” Maya questioned. “I’ve never seen a girl like you before. Not that I talk to girls. But, I know what they are like. Yapping, like, ALWAYS. And always with guys. They are so insecure without men. But you, you stammered to talk to me. Haven’t you ever interacted with guys?”
Maya was blushing. Her face turned to pinkish red. Rahul was staring again. “I don’t talk to guys much. To be honest with you, I’ve never had a conversation like this before.” Rahul was flabbergasted. He was lucky. A beautiful girl hasn’t talked to any guy, but him. Wow! What a wonderful day!
September 20, 2008.
“Rahul! Come. We’re already late,” screamed Maya. “If you scream at me one more time, I will take my girlfriend to the concert instead.” Maya was shocked. Rahul was her best friend. And he hadn’t mentioned any ‘girlfriend’, until now.
“And who is that, may I ask?”
“Do you really want to know about it?” Rahul’s face expression had changed from carefree to serious. “Yes! I will obviously want to know about it. After all these days, you seriously expect me not to know about your “girlfriend”?” She showed the quotation marks for girlfriend with her fingers. “No one can ever win an argument with you. Fine. I’ll tell you. I love you. Okay? I can’t hide this anymore, because I can’t hide anything from you. You are not a part of my life. You are my life. I will walk away if you don’t want me anymore.” He was in tears. Maya had never seen a guy cry and she couldn’t stand it.
“Rahul. I love you too. But,” she couldn’t explain it to him. She had been hiding her feelings all the time. “I am scared I will hurt you. I have never been in a relationship before. This is new to me, and every time I try something new, it goes wrong. I don’t ever want that happening to us. Please. I just hope you understand.”
Rahul turned away. Maya could see he was crying. What do I have to ruin everything? She thought. “Hey. I can try something new. Let’s do this together. “
February 3, 2009.
“Wait! I am coming too. Mom!!!! Stop. I can’t run behind the car. I am not an athlete. Okay? Okay.” Maya’s mom was taking Maya to a mall in their area. As usual, Maya was late.
“The next time you get late, I will leave you all alone to fend for yourself. And trust me, you will regret it.” Mrs. Singh was a pretty woman. People used to tell Maya that she had got her mother’s genes. Mr. Singh on the other hand, was muscular. Their love story didn’t inspire Maya until she met Rahul.
Maya missed Rahul. It was over two weeks since she saw him. They had their study holidays going on. Next week, their exams begin. First year gets over after that.
Mrs. Singh entered Lifestyle. “Maya, come here. What are you thinking about? Look, get whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. But don’t come home and complain about the clothes you chose.” Maya pouted. “Fine. Aren’t you going to come with me? I thought you were. Shopping is two or more people stuff. Oh! Mom!! Please. I’ve had enough. You ARE coming with me. Now! Dad can do the provision shopping alone. Yay!!! Thank you mom.” She hugged her mom.
While she was picking up a beautiful tops, someone came and hugged her by the waist. She turned around with force. There was a stunned silence. It was Rahul. “What the hell, Rahul? You scared the hell out of me. Why can’t you ever stop surprising me? It gives me the creeps, you know. You being like this. Sorry.”
“Hey. Chill. How come you didn’t tell me you were here? I came here because my dad wanted me to chill out. He thinks I was “stressed out”. Like, ‘Rahul, you haven’t been doing anything other than studying. So, get out and have some fun. Come with me to the mall. Chill out. Just don’t stay at home always.’ “Maya was laughing so hard.
Suddenly, Rahul pulled her closer and kissed her.
September 19, 2011.
Final year of university was a mess. Just two months down the lane, and she was already screaming her heads off. “Sanjay. Where is Rahul?” Sanjay was Rahul’s best friend. “He was in the library reading some crappy book.”
“Thank you. Bye. See you in class” Maya rushed to the library, dashing into people on the way.
Rahul was engrossed in his book that he didn’t see Maya coming. “Hey. Busy?” Rahul jerked back. “Hey Maya. I am sorry. This book is pretty good. You have to try it. Why am I talking about books to my girlfriend? So, do you want to come over to my place today? Not like that! For dinner? I’ll cook your favorite. Please?”
The reason Maya was at the library, was to scream at him. But, she didn’t. Rahul was really good at manipulating Maya’s moods. He had realized she was there to yell, and he changed the topic.
“Yeah. Sure. I’ll be there. By the way, I’ve read the book you are reading.” Rahul stared at her in awe. I am so lucky, he thought. “I will pick you up. I’ve planned something else as well. No! Obviously not. I am not letting you know.”
Time flies really fast when you are with the people you love.
“I want to know where you are taking me. You haven’t told me where you’re taking me to dinner as well.” Rahul was smirking at Maya. He was full of surprises. He told her to get into the car without asking any questions. “Hmph… Always your way, Mr. Rahul.” Smirking again, she thought.
Finally, their destination had arrived. He stopped near the woods. “Get down. We have to walk from here. It’s a bit far. You’re going to love it.” This time Maya didn’t say anything. Rahul was right. It was a REALLY long walk. It took both of them forty minutes to walk to a place people didn’t know existed.
Maya brought her hands to her mouth. It was a beautiful sight. Behind them was the forest; in front of them was a lake, sparkling in the moonlight. And, right beside her was Rahul, kneeling down on one leg, and his right hand holding a small box. Maya was confused. She didn’t notice the box in his hand. “What are you doing? Are you planning to throw a pebble into the water?”
Rahul smiled a big goofy smile. “Maya, these four years with you has been the most splendid time I’ve ever had. From a stranger, to my friend, then my best friend and now, my partner; you have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I will always cherish the moments I’ve had with you, and I want to have more. The idea or ‘more’ makes me feel complete. You are an angel, Maya. Will you marry me?” Maya was speechless. Stunned completely. She didn’t expect this.
“This place is beautiful. Thank you so much. Where are we going for dinner?” She acted as though he hadn’t proposed. She just wanted to hide her feelings all the time. “We are going to have dinner here. I prepared dinner for both of us.” Rahul knew her. So, he was playing along.
They finished dinner at 8:40 pm. “Rahul, it’s getting late, don’t you think?” Rahul smiled again. Maya wondered, why is he smiling so much today? “Don’t worry. I told your mom we’ll be back around midnight.”
“Hold on. What are we going to do until midnight?” Maya was entirely confused. There it is, another smile from him.
“Rahul, before we do anything else, I wanted you to know something.” Rahul was scared. He was really scared. ‘I shouldn’t have proposed. Now, I am totally screwed.’ Thought Rahul. Restraining his voice, “Tell me,” he said.
“Yes.” Maya said, controlling her urge to laugh. “Yes what?” Rahul asked curiously.
“Yes. I will marry you.” Now, it was time for Rahul to be stunned.
Maya woke up. She was smiling. But, she remembered last night, and her smile vanished. She remembered that ‘To love, is to hurt’. This made her stronger. Tears stopped running down her cheeks. She knew she had to face it. Life is like a heartbeat; there are ups and downs. But, Maya always changed her downs to ups. An optimist, she was.
She called Sanjay. “Hey Maya.” He was surprised. “Look. Where is Rahul? And, where is that girl? What’s her name, by the way?”
“Shreya. Her name is Shreya. Rahul is at work. He is currently staying at my place, because of you. You don’t know the truth. Just don’t get angry for everything. Rahul is the best guy, EVER! You are damn lucky, you know. He changed you. And you changed him forever. He still loves you. Don’t lose him.” And Maya realized Sanjay was serious.
‘When someone comes into your life, it’s like they’ve been in your life forever’, thought Maya. It was very true. “Then tell me the truth. I want to know what’s going on. I don’t care if it hurts me. I just want to know. And I know Rahul is the best. I just want him back. But, I don’t because of Shreya. Just tell him to come home. And tell him to remember that I won’t be talking to him. So, let him deal with it.” Maya and Sanjay knew she was hard hearted. She was being cruel. That was all she could do. Be rude to the only guy she ever loved.
Next day, Maya was at the front door of Sanjay’s house. She had no clue why she was there. She turned and started to walk to her house. But, “Hey Maya. I am so sorry. Please, listen to whatever I want to say. Please. I love you. The same way, from when the first time I saw you.” She turned. And stared into Rahul’s eyes. She knew only his eyes could see into her.
“I don’t have the heart to listen to your pleas Rahul. It’s over now. I still love you. But you chose her over me. It hurts me even more than it hurts you. All of us make mistakes. We made it in love. It doesn’t matter anymore, does it? We’ll get over it. Goodbye.” She was crying. Rahul realized he made a strong girl cry over him. He was feeling guilty for no reason. And he was determined to tell the truth.
Just stop it Maya! Stop it! I’ll tell you the truth.” Rahul started to explain, “Nisha is not my girlfriend. She is my sister from New York. The one I always talk about. I just didn’t tell her real name to you, that’s all. The first time you saw us together, it as the day she arrived here. Sanjay told you that it was healthy flirting. No, it wasn’t. He didn’t know it was my sister I was talking to. I am sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused. You might’ve thought we slept together. I am sorry. I know I caused you a lot of pain. I was staying with her, because she didn’t know the place. Do I have a second chance? I promise I won’t do this again.” Maya was crying even more now.
“Why didn’t you tell me your sister came over?” Now, she was angry.
“I knew you had all sorts of assumptions. And I knew you were in pain. I didn’t want to make it worse. I am sorry.” Rahul was staring at her. “Let’s go home! I love you. Don’t you dare do this to me ever again. Promise?”
“I promise.” He loved her so much.
“So, where do we go tonight?” Not another bar, thought Maya, feeling insecure.