Monday, December 30, 2013

Love Until the Sun Grows Cold- Part II

Hello, beautiful world! The coming of a new year calls for a celebration- and one of the best ways to celebrate is the exchange of gifts. Well, what could be a better present than a story? So here is my gift to you: the final part of 'Love Until the Sun Grows Cold'. {To read the previous part, click here.} I am hoping you all will enjoy reading this, and will gift me with your feedback! :P Wishing each one of you a wonderful new year! Happy reading!

  Guilt seared his heart but he knew he wasn’t the only one responsible for what happened. It was so difficult to explain something like this, especially after so much time had passed. Would Tara understand his reasons? Were they even justified? There was only so much he could have done, and he had suffered every day for God knew how long because of the decisions he had made- the decisions that were perhaps preordained; something that Tara could not understand, and Seher would not recognize.

"You never gave me a chance to speak to you about it,” he said. “When Seher moved abroad, you refused to talk to me for months. I got an email from you, telling me exactly how ‘despicable’ you think I am. I knew that nothing I said at the moment would matter anymore.”

   What he didn’t mention was that he had thought of a hundred different things to say to her then, to hurt her as much as she had hurt him. But he knew what would bother her most- silence on his part. He never replied. After Seher left, Tara seemed to have become a different person. She looked like she carried some secret with her; something that she would guard jealously, like treasure, but which seemed to give her some sort of masochistic pleasure.

He knew she was furious with him, and anticipated a terrible fight with a lot of name calling, and throwing things on her part. Instead, she had been so cold towards him all this while; that was a side of her he hadn’t known. Ignoring the way his gut clenched at the thought, he continued. “I am not denying that I was at fault. I just don't want you to think that I did not love her, because I did." 

  “All you had to do was give her a reason to come back. The Uday I thought I knew would never have let something go by him without doing whatever he could to make things right!”

“And I had never guessed that you, of all people, would leave me to my ‘misery’ without even hearing me out first!” He snapped back.  Several people turned to look at them.

  “You didn’t reply to my mail. It made me think I was right about everything I accused you of,” she hissed.

He frowned at her, weighing his next words carefully. “She is the most beautiful person I have ever known and she loved me even more than I could have hoped for. She had been there for me all those years, giving me the strength to go on, to have something to strive for. I still can’t fill the void she has left behind. And yet you thought I was trying to get out of the relationship because I was just not into her anymore?”

   “I never said it like that-”

“- but that’s what you thought, isn’t it?” He said, with a shrewd look. Tara’s eyes were glistening; she blinked rapidly and looked away. His gaze softened and he said gently, “I know that she was one of your best friends and you loved her; it’s bad enough to see good friends fight and it must have been even harder watching the two of us fall apart.”

  “It was.”

“But I had certainly not expected you to let our own friendship suffer, especially not after you saw what Seher’s absence did to both of us. I needed you to be there for me. But all I was left with was my own guilt and the pain of losing two of the most extraordinary people in my life. I loved her, Tara. I think I still do.”

  “But you gave up on her.” She said softly.

“And I still stay up at night sometimes, wondering if I made the correct decision. You have no idea how often I mistrust my choices; there’s always this fear inside me that I made a huge mistake.” He swallowed. “At the time, I did what I thought what was best for us- best for her. But every other day, I look back at the past and wish I could have taken the easy way out, by holding on to her for as long as possible until we had no other option but to stay apart. Your resentment added to my own disappointment. I didn’t need that- I blamed myself enough for both of us, I think.”

  Tara’s stomach turned over with guilt. She couldn’t even look him in the eye. “I was too heartbroken to see it that way. I am sorry, Uday.” She looked miserable. “I shouldn’t have made things worse for you. Seher has been like an elder sister to me all these years, and all the suffering that came with your break up with her was too difficult for me to deal with...She wouldn’t talk to me because I reminded her of you. You have no clue how hard that was for me to hear. And every time I would see you across the street, I would just be reminded that you were the reason she chose to leave- not just the country, but me too.”

“I’m sorry, Tara. I really wish it didn’t have to be that way.” Uday looked at her sadly.

  It was a while before she spoke again. “She was the first friend I made in the neighbourhood. When I was just about ten years old, she moved to the other end of the city, and your family came to live in her house instead. I was so unsure about having you as my next door neighbour. You were the evil guy with the dorky glasses who took over my friend’s place. I was so young that I thought she had to leave so that you could stay.”

Uday smiled at that. “I guess that’s a good thing then, because if you hadn’t felt that way, Seher wouldn’t have tried so hard to get us all to become friends.”

  “It sounds so incredibly stupid, but my little girl grudges against you came rushing back after she left. You really did seem to be the one to make her go away. It was immature and juvenile, but it soothed my ego because there were times when I used to think that I hadn’t tried hard enough to make things better either. I could’ve tried to help her understand that she couldn’t just leave everything to you; that she had to take things into her own hands because that was the only way out. But it was just so much easier putting the blame on you. I am so sorry.” It was incredible, how all of their lives were altered from that moment on, because of one person’s decision and another’s indecision.

“Well, I can’t really blame you. I know I had some part to play in hurting you too.” He said.

  “She just wanted you to approach her parents and get engaged. They would only have allowed her to live in the city and work if they knew she had someone to take care of her.” said Tara. “They were anyway in such a hurry to get her married. You knew there was no way she could convince them to let her wait a few more years once they all left for Oman.”

Uday leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his hands clasped together. “You need to understand that I did every possible thing I could to make sure Seher and I would end up together some day. I put my dreams aside so that I could make the ‘sensible choice’. I worked day and night to make myself capable enough.”

  He looked up at her just then, willing her to understand. “But don’t you see that her parents would inevitably have thought that I had not yet proved myself worthy of her? No matter how much they appreciate me as a person, they would never have agreed to let their only daughter marry a guy who did not yet have a stable, well paid job.”

“I know you asked her to stay. She told me so, on the day she left.” said Tara. “She was too scared to live away from family just for the sake of a guy who couldn’t promise that he would marry her.”

  “But she wasn’t willing to stay for your sake, either.” He said quietly.

His words pierced her heart but she didn’t let it show. “She would have, if you two had gotten engaged. Because then her parents might have felt better about leaving her behind-”

  “-Or not.” He finished for her.

Well, he was right about that. There was always a chance that things might not have turned out how Seher had hoped. “She was sure she wouldn’t be allowed to remain there. I wish she had the courage to choose the difficult, but better option- convincing her parents to let her stay, at least so that she could build her own career. She would not have had much to lose.”

  “And she could have bought us more time.” He sighed. “Seher said she couldn’t do it, so I must propose marriage and make sure that wherever she ends up staying, our relationship would stay alive. But I know her parents would have felt cheated because of being kept in the dark about our relationship all these years. You were the only one who knew but they wouldn’t have spared you either. You know they’d have been furious and she would anyway have been forced to leave.”

“Except that it would have felt a hundred times worse.” She finally understood.

  “This was my way of giving her a chance to make a fresh start. I owed her that much.” He couldn’t go on. Seher might have hurt him at times, over the years, and she might not have gone that extra mile for him when he needed her to, but Uday knew he could not hold her responsible. She deserved better than that.

“I thought you should know…that she did start over.” She said, in barely more than a whisper. His head jerked up at that. “She got married a year ago. She’s fine.” Tara had been staring at him, which was why she did not question the truth of the words he spoke.

“I’m… glad.”

   The change in him was hard to miss. He sighed deeply like he had been waiting with bated breath all this while. And somehow she knew what he had been waiting for- something which mattered to him above all else: finding Seher happy. It was then that she realized just how much he had loved her. He had already been living with the memory of her all this time. He had grown used to not to have her around in person, that was true. But she was always at the back of his mind like a song that keeps playing in our heads from time to time; one that we might not listen to anymore, but we never really get over it because it is special, because it made a difference.

  Each person holds a special place in our hearts. The imprints they leave in our lives remain etched into our memory, and while we learn to love again, the love we share with someone is always unique and can never be the same for another. She would never be his to claim, but he also knew that no one else could claim the part of her that belonged to him. He had already found love, but that day he found something more, something that he hadn’t known was buried deep within him. That which helps lessen the pain that inexorably comes with the course of true love: forgiveness, meant for her and also for himself. He could now live without the guilt, the pain, the sense of loss.

  When they said their goodbyes a quarter of an hour later, Tara watched Uday walk away, beaming at her, the bright sunshine illuminating the happiness on his face. She smiled back at him, thinking that perhaps she was right in not telling him that the friend she was visiting that day was Seher...But was she right, she asked herself? 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     *************The End************* 

PS: The pictures have been taken from Google. :)

1 comment:

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