It was New Year’s Eve. The streets were very well decorated with lights and appeared gleaming with life. The crowds were slowly filling up in the bar across the street. I peeped out through the window, moving the curtain with my hand. The window was right beside my work desk. I looked out for a moment, saw the streets filling up with couples. I let go of the curtain and looked back into my laptop, into that mail. It read –
for the last time –
I had read that mail a hundred times since she sent it five days back on Christmas Eve. No matter how many times i read it now my mind could only comprehend the first and the last three lines.
“How are you holding up champ?” Mike taunted me. He was in the bathroom shaving up and grooming himself for the wonderful night. He couldn’t see what i was doing but he guessed i would be stuck to that mail and he guessed right!
“He is doing good, he’s cried for 5 minutes now and that in itself is a 1000% improvement from the first time Jessica put the bomb on him ” John replied rather scholastically.
“Shut the f*** up” I shouted in a shaky, weepy tone. But i knew he was right. A brief pause of silence followed.
“What is Sam doing?” I picked myself up and asked. “Doesn’t he have to meet Kim tonight?”
Sam, Kim, and I knew each other very well since college. Kim was Korean. She and Sam met in History class and took god knows how many classes together. After college, Sam and I got into a software giant where we met Mike and John, our roommates for three years now. And it was here I bumped into an angel in the elevator – Jessica.
“Sam needs to get ready soon. He can’t blow it this time.” Mike came out of the bathroom. “Where is he?” He looked around the room.
Sam was in the balcony with his phone pressed to his ears. He had been like this for the past few months. This new project was sucking the life out of him.
“I can’t do this anymore!” Sam walked in through the balcony door and collapsed on his uber comfortable chair with the phone lousily hanging from one hand and the other hand to his head. “This ass of a boss wants me to work on his presentation and I want to meet Kim too. Life is so f***ed up”
“Dude, screw the presentation, this is New Year’s Eve and you have a hot date. I’m sure if you blow it a billion Chinese would be ready to pounce on her.” John laughed.
“She is Korean! Not Chinese”
“You are American, not Korean and you fell for her. Case closed.” Mike added.
“Stop the chat and get going” I yelled. Sam got up and walked lazily into his room.
“And leave you alone to rot in your misery? Why don’t you come with us like we had originally planned it. Dude, you are single and rich. Do you know what that means?” John said.
“Party till your ************** feels numb!” Mike was high already
I knew they were trying to get me into the mood but i needed some solo time to reflect on my situation.
“No, rotting in my misery does not seem to be a bad idea either” I smiled back at John.
“Okay, if anything changes just call me, we will give you our coordinates.” Mike said.
“Sure thing.” I waved back.
The three guys were ready to leave. Mike and John were heading to this huge New Year Party at the square and Sam had the perfect date planned out for Kim. Dinner at the lake view garden and then a to a classy Korean party.
In a few minutes every one left. Sam insisted that I go somewhere if not with them. I pushed them out and sat back at my laptop. I looked at the mail, started reading it word by word again. Half way through, every thing got dizzy, as if the screen was smeared with water. A second later I realized it was my eyes – they were filled with tears. I closed my eyes and lay back on my chair with my face towards the ceiling. As the explicitly phrased words in the mail crossed my head a hundred questions buzzed along.
“Everything she said was right. I am not the one I used to be. There was a time when i enjoyed life and her company…but…”All the chaos suddenly shut down. I screamed but couldn’t hear the voice. Silence, deafening silence filled my head. The buzz din’t die out for some time. The four walls of my room seemed to be coming closer and squeezing the space. I was trapped, in the walls of my mind and the four walls of the room. All i wanted then was to get out and catch some air. I pushed myself away from my desk and got up. Went into the bathroom and splashed ice cold water on my face and head. It felt a lot better. I pulled my jacket from my dresser and locked my room heading out.
“It is cold, chilly to be precise.” My inner voice spoke. “You should never have come out. Just look around, the whole world is celebrating. Listen to the music. You are the only ass who is alone tonight!” It yelled and it was true. I felt like a loner in the crowd. I wondered what Jessy was up-to but immediately striped that thought off my mind. I didn’t have a destination in mind when i started. I decided id walk to the View Point, the one across the lake with a beautiful view of the entire city. We all went there often during college. Now we dint have the time, I laughed a pitiable laugh at myself when i thought about it.
I reached the view point, it was filled with couples. “Ah! I knew it. I knew this would happen” cried my inner voice. “Its okay, we’l go to the corner, our usual spot” I reconciled. A few paces down towards the edge of the View Point, the crowd got sparse. I could really feel the chill now. “Who is there?” My inner voice questioned. There was a girl standing there looking into the waters. She was as tall as Jessy, dressed in white and was holding a small hand bag. My heart was racing. Destiny i thought. “Look there is a dude sneaking up” the voice screamed. I closed my eyes and prayed the guy wasn’t coming there for her even though i din’t know if it was Jessica. I opened my eyes and again saw her alone. I walked up-to her. “Go slow, not so fast…not so fast…” was the only sentence i could hear apart from the whistle of the wind. I walked closer.
“Kim? What the hell are you doing here?” I was surprised, a bit disappointed and more confused. “Where is Sam? Done with dinner already? And what about the part…?” All my questions were answered by a single look. Her eyes were filled with tears; I understood that she was holding on to a very fine thread. Her emotions were all in her expression. “What the f*** did that dumb ass do now!” My inner voice screamed into my ears. I did not ask her, I knew the answer already.
She dint speak a word for a while. “No its all fine” she tried to hide her tears “Its nothing”
“I know you too well and I know Sam too well for..”
“No Eric, this time you don’t. I have been waiting for this day for so long. I was there at the lake view gardens 15 minutes early to surprise him and half an hour later he calls me and… and…” She gasped for breath. “He says his boss called for an important meeting and said he’ll be late. I waited for another half an hour and walked here to find some peace. I can’t take this anymore, its been six months since our engagement and we haven’t spent six hours alone since then” She lifted her left hand to show me the ring. “I can’t take this anymore Eric, I just cant.” She put her forehead on my chest and broke into tears. She suddenly pulled herself back probably realizing my situation. “I’m sorry Eric, I…”
“I have always been there for you, why do you hesitate now?” I smiled. “Yes, you are always there for your friends but never for your love. Is it because all the problems she has are because of you?” My inner voice was messing me up. I was in no position, mentally, to console someone else. But I somehow felt this was not the small fights they had. The occasion was big and so was the screw up.
“He loves you, you know” I said.
“Love is not our problem Eric. He does love me, but that is not always enough”. She looked more in control now as she spoke and she spoke like she meant it.
“Kim, i have known Sam his entire life. He never had any aim in his life, but now, he has something to do and for the first time he has the courage to chase his dream just because he believes he has you by his side. If you leave him, his dreams will crash along with him. I am not asking you to compromise, just give him more time. Men are feeble creatures. They appear strong only because of the women behind them- their mother, their lover and their friends. Life is nothing for us without you.” I paused. I knew somewhere i was talking to myself and not Kim anymore. I continued, “Men might be insensitive, but they are not senseless. We know what is more important but sometimes our vision gets clouded. Sam loves you more than anything he ever loved. Just remember the days you spent together. Isn’t that worth the wait of another month? six months? If you ask me, I say it’s worth the wait of a lifetime. Believe me girl, he will be back for you. Please don’t let him go, don’t let him lose faith in you or this once in a lifetime thing called love.” tears rolled down my cheeks as i spoke. Kim realized that I was talking not only for Sam but also myself. I wanted to see Jessica at that moment.
“I am sorry Eric, I got so angry that I forgot what Sam and I actually had. I hope Jessica comes back to you.” Kim smiled.
“Kim, is it you?” A shout tore the silent skies. It was Sam. He came in running and panting, gasping for breath. “I am so so sorry babe…” Kim pulled him close and hugged him. Sam was shocked, this was not the reaction a man would expected from his girl who waited for an hour on such a day. But he welcomed the pleasant surprise. I wiped my tears and walked away slowly escaping their notice. I walked a few paces and looked back. Kim had her arms around his neck and he held her by her waist.
“Love!” my inner voice spoke. There were a few more tears. I walked to the nearby bus stop and luckily a bus came by soon. I got in. It was quite empty. I picked a corner seat and made myself comfortable. “You might be an ass sometimes but you are miles better than many guys out there. You know what Jessy is really missing one of a kind, or wait, may be the winds will take your words to her, like in that book Alchemist” my inner voice tried to soothe me. It is the only true companion one has in times of distress – his own self. I took the cell phone from my pocket and read the mail again. This time i did not cry. I kept the phone back in my pocket and leaned on the window looking at the beautiful view. I felt a lot better for Sam and Kim. And at once as if the winds had carried my words, my cell phone buzzed. I was scared. I pulled it out and saw that playful caller pic – the one with her tongue hanging like an emoticon. I held the phone close to my chest. I felt warm inside. I didn’t open my eyes for a minute. There was a text. It read – “I am sorry Eric” and just as i was about to read further another text came in. It said “Where are you? Can I see you?”
It dint matter where i was till then , because i knew where i would be in a few minutes. I got down the next stop and got into a taxi and in five minutes i reached her apartments. The elevator was out of order. I raced to the stairs. “Okay, seven floors, seven minutes. Don’t you f****** stop now!” the inner voice screamed, as if I was going to! I reached her floor, gasping. Something told me the door would be open, I just barged into her room. She was in her room, facing the mirror, wearing the blue dress i gifted her. She heard me rush in, stood up, and looked at me. I was at the door, panting. She smiled, and her smile turned into a soft sob. She raised her arms asking for a hug and crying loudly. She fell to her knees and wept like a baby. God! She was beautiful. I slowly walked in towards her. Picked my baby up, she was still sobbing and trying to calm herself. “It’s okay you know, crying is okay.” I hugged her and she clutched onto me tightly, very tightly as if it had been an eternity since we last saw each other. And in fact five days was a bit too long. She was still sobbing, now less in pain but in joy. “I am here honey, and I will never let go of you” I said and kissed her on the neck. “I am still mad at you” she said softly pinching me on the arm. I squeaked and said. “I know, to compensate, can i please buy you some dinner and take you to a dance?” “And we’ll get drunk?” The naughty glimmer in her eyes and smile on her lips returned, that very beautiful smile I first fell madly in love with. “Yes we’l get drunk like hell darling” and i hugged her tightly.
It has been two years since then. I got back with Jessica and Sam married Kim on the next Valentine’s Day. We still have the regular fights, Jessica and I. But all that matters is love and the faith that I will never let go.