The Last Hours of Togetherness

Mira is married with Arohan for the last three years. She has given all that she could to Arohan, in these years of marriage – love, loyalty, commitment and all the possible understanding.

Recently, Arohan had to leave for London for a year. Of course, being a busy entrepreneur he has loads of assignments to work upon. His assignments have kept him awake whole night on many occasions. And with him, they also kept Mira awake, as she couldn’t sleep without Arohan by her side.

It’s been a week that Arohan is away and Mira has already started feeling lost and lonely. She finds nothing interesting. No kids at home (as Arohan didn’t want kids so early), no work to do (as she is a house-wife) and no household chores to finish (as there are two maids looking after this).

She waited whole day long for Arohan’s calls, which generally came at nights. They spoke about food, weather and household finances and the call ended with that. Days and nights were never so boring.

One day she decided to re-activate her Facebook account that she had deactivated long time back after a small quarrel with Arohan over a small matter (Mira has this habit of destroying her priced belongings when she is angry, and her Facebook account was a priced possession too!).

She was happy that she could now reconnect with old friends. She started typing the names of some of her old friends. She felt incommensurable happiness at heart on finding a few of them. Then she typed a name inadvertently – Rajiv Ratan Mishra. There popped-up a face, so known, so dear and so memorable.

Rajiv was Mira’s first love, a friend and a soul mate. She truly adored and respected him while they read in college. A beautiful example of ‘platonic love’, her feelings for him were so pure. But, Rajiv never knew about her feelings for him and still didn’t know.

She couldn’t stop herself from sending him a request to connect. And to her surprise, her request was instantly accepted. This meant that Rajiv was online! Her happiness knew no bounds.

They started chatting. During their conversation she got to know that Rajiv lived in the same city. They instantly decided to meet the next day.

It was 6pm. Mira was all set to meet Rajiv after years. She stood in front of the mirror, looked carefully at her image. She sensed a strange happiness, after ages. No evening was so exciting as that day. She could feel her heart miss beats at the thought of meeting Rajiv.

She stepped out of her house and drove down the road that took her to a cafe’ where they had decided to meet. She stopped the car just in front of the cafe’. She looked around searching for the face that she had almost forgotten in all these years of marriage.

And finally, she spotted Rajiv in the crowd of young faces flocking into the cafe’. He looked as calm and poised as he was in college days. He looked young, smart and vibrant. Mira stepped out of the car and walked towards Rajiv. He was looking for her, with his face turned on the other side. Mira went and stood near him. She whispered: “Raj..I am here.”

Rajiv turned to find her standing next to him. Mira could clearly see the joy of reunion on Rajiv’s face. He said: “Hey Mira! You haven’t changed at all! You look as pretty and nice as ever!”

Mira said: ” Oh! Come on. Can’t you see my greying hair?”

“Oh Shut up! Now don’t act humble. Let’s go and sit out there”, said Rajiv.

They pulled two chairs, and sat facing each other. Mira couldn’t stop smiling. She said: “So? Are you working here? Are you married? Where do you stay? Is aunty, I mean your mum also staying with you? Why didn’t you come on my wedding?

As Mira rapid-fired Rajiv with questions, he kept gazing at her with a smile. After she finished, Rajiv said: “Girl, hang on! Take a breath! Let me answer all your queries. Yeah, I work with an MNC out here. Nope! I am not married still. I stay just 4 kms away from here, at R.C Nagar crossing, and yes, all alone. Mum is in Mumbai with Navya di. Remember? My eldest sister?

Now, the biggest question: Why I didn’t show up at your wedding? Welllll…I don’t know!”

“What do you mean? I did invite you at my wedding and Mr. Busy, you were in the same town. Weren’t you?” said Mira.

“Forget it na. Tell me how’s you and your hubby? His name is Rohan, right??”, asked Rajiv.

“Hmm..I am good; super happy with Arohan…not Rohan”, answered Mira. (Both laughed)

They ordered for two cups of coffee.

Mira said (in a slow tone): “How time flies! It seems only yesterday when we were in college. I miss those days Rajiv. Don’t you?

“Yeah, you are right. Time just flew away. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mira. I also miss those college days – carefree and fun days,” he added.

“Life has given me so much. Yet, I feel that I haven’t got that I wanted so desperately”, said Mira (she appeared tired and sad).

“And what’s that?” asked Rajiv.

“The sense of fulfilment”, replied Mira. Rajiv was sipping the steaming coffee served to him, while Mira’s coffee lay on the table, untouched. She looked engrossed and engulfed by thoughts that Rajiv couldn’t read.

“You know Rajiv, I feel that I have lived my life, just for others. I haven’t lived it for myself. I want to smile, love, travel and live freely, just as I always wanted to.”

Rajiv could now sense that Mira was trying to hide something from the world around her. She was in trauma that she hid even from her “self”. She appeared pretending to be happy, but she was not!

“What’s bothering you Mira? You may tell me if you please! We are old freinds. Aren’t we? You can confide in me, all that is pent up.”

Mira looked into Rajiv’s eyes, smiled and said: “Nothing! I am just a little tired and wish to go home now.”

“Oh! Sure. But, I will drop you home. Is that okay Mira?”

“Thanks Raj, but I have brought my car. I will drive down myself. Thanks a bunch for meeting up.”

“Nothing doing! (Rajiv said authoritatively) I will drop you home. You look unwell. We will leave the car in the parking area. Aright?”

Mira smiled and said: Okayyyy!

Rajiv opened the front door of his car and said: “Madam, please honour me by sitting in my car!”

Mira smiled and sat comfortably. Rajiv also sat and started his car. He turned on the AC. Mira switched it off and said: “It’s breezy outside. Let’s open our window glasses?” Rajiv smiled and drove his car.

The car raced down the open roads. It was 10:30 pm. The cold breeze kissed Mira’s face and blew away her hair. She said: “Raj, why don’t you play some good music?”

Rajiv smiled and turned on the radio. The famous Hindi song “Tumse hi…”, from the film “Jub We Met” played. There was a complete silence. Neither Mira said anything, nor Rajiv spoke a word. He drove the car and looked a little lost. Mira looked at him. She was about to say something when her cell phone rang. It was Arohan’s call.

The phone went on ringing. Mira looked blankly at the phone screen. It read: Arohan calling….Rajiv said: “Pick the phone Mira.”

Mira said hessitantly: “Oh! Yes, I will.”

She picked the phone and said: “Can I call you an hour later? Yeah, I am with an old buddy. She smiled and said: Thanks! She hung up the call.

There was silence again. The song playing in the background and the cold breeze made Mira happy. She felt light at heart. No stress, no expectations, no regrets and no worries. She felt like a free bird.

She looked at Rajiv and said: “Rajiv, thanks for coming along. I am loving this drive, this breeze and the song. Can we drive a little longer?”

Rajiv smiled and said, “Mira. I am happy that “you” are happy. I like you smiling. Stay happy always. Okay, lets go on a longer drive!”

The car zoomed through the deserted city roads. Mira was lost in thoughts. She had a strange feeling. She was in a battle of conflicting thoughts. Her heart couldn’t forget Rajiv as the first love of her life, and meeting him at the juncture of her life when she was very lonely, made her feel for him all the more. At the same time, she had a sense of guilt for being “in a way” disloyal to Arohan, who trusted her a lot. She wondered: “Am I getting carried away by treacherous emotions?”

Rajiv looked at Mira and said: “Mira, I have a flight tomorrow morning. I have been transferred to the Chicago office. I will remember you and this lovely meeting of ours.”

Mira looked sadly at Rajiv. The song played in the radio then, was so reflective of what Mira was feeling at that moment of separation. The lines of the song went:

Do pal tujhse juda tha
Aise phir rasta muda tha
Tujhse mein khone laga
Juda jaise hone laga
Mujhse kuch mera

Tu hi meri liye ab kar dua
Tu hi iss dard se kar de juda
Tera hoke tera jo main na raha
Main yeh khud se kehta hoon

Tujhe bhula diya

Mira felt a sharp pain in her heart. But she smiled and said: “Raj, I will miss you buddy. Will you stay in touch this time?”

Rajiv smiled and said: “Yes Mira! I will.”

Then happened that Mira had never even dared to even think of. She said: “Raj, I wanna confess something to you. I can’t live with this burden in my heart. Will you listen, just listen without reacting?”

“Ofcourse Mira! Please share.”

Mira looked out of the window, it had started raining. They raised their window glasses. Turned the AC on.

Mira said: “Rajiv, I am having a strange feeling.”

“What is it?” Rajiv said.

Mira continued: “This meeting took me back to our college days. The days, when I dreamt of just one thing – getting you in my life, being your love and being with you for life. I know, you must be finding it weird to hear from me, who is now married to another man. But please allow me to lighten my heart. Rajiv, it’s not that I now want to have you in my life or leave Arohan. It also doesn’t mean that I do not care for Arohan anymore. But, it’s the vacuum in my heart that has grown deeper ever since you left last time and that is now pricking me. I don’t wish to know your reactions Raj. I know you will move away from me after this.”

Rajiv didn’t say a word. He turned the radio off and said: “Mira, I respect the purity of your feelings and its sensitivity. I am happy that you confessed that so honestly. I deeply appreciate you for that. I just hope that you stay happy with Arohan. May you get all the love that you deserve.” Then, Rajiv smiled and said: “So..? Feeling better?”

Mira smiled vaguely and said: Thanks Raj! Please turn left, my house is nearby. She then directed him to her house. They drove down the narrow alleys of a posh locality and finally reached.

“Madam, here we are! Your ‘home sweet home’ is here!”

He got down the car and opened the door for Mira to get down. Mira stepped out sad, but feeling light at heart.

Rajiv said: “Okay then, stay happy and stay in touch. Bye dost!”

He didn’t turn back, sat in his car and drove away.

Tears rolled down Mira’s eyes. As she turned to open the main gate of her house, her cell phone beeped. There was a message from rajiv.

Thanks for being so honest in our freindship. I have never met anyone as transparent and pure at heart as you are. I also have a confession to make. I also loved you always. But never dared to say, fearing that I might lose your freindship. But, that is how life is beleived to be. It gives you pleasent and unpleasent surprises. You get what you least expect and lose that you dearly desire. I accept it as it is. You do the same. Love your life Mira. Accept it, as it is. Expectations only make it killer. I may not see you again, but I will miss this meeting and the lovely drive with you. And above all, I will miss you in this lifetime