It had been over a year now since the fateful day when Ashish left without saying a word to Neha. Life had taken a different course for both of them since then. Neha, though hurt, had decided to look for the positives from that chapter of her life. It was hard; it was damn hard as she had never imagined a life without Ashish. But Neha was a fighter; she was not the one to give up without a fight. Ironical though as that was the very quality which had drawn Ashish closer to her in the first place!
The first few days after Ashish left; Neha spent a lot of time in retrospection. She had to figure out where she would be headed from there on. The good thing was she wasn’t bitter; hurt yes but definitely not bitter and that helped her take one step after the other towards a happier life. Neha was a lawyer yes, but what she loved more than anything else was to write. In all the toils of day to day life, she had left behind this passion of hers somewhere. How once upon a time there was nothing more she wanted to do but write. But due to pursuits of a settled life she had chosen a profession which was safer. But as life would have it, everything that she wanted didn’t pan out. Ashish was also a safe bet, she loved him and he loved her too; that’s why they married didn’t they? But now what, he was gone. Safe or not, the choices now seemed wrong. So Neha eventually decided to leave her practice. She wanted to live her life without guarantees; she wanted to face life head on. No safe bets, no more calculated decisions; she decided to follow her passion of writing and see where it takes her. Neha decided to venture out and for once not lose her today for tomorrow!
Ashish on the other hand continued with his life; the same court cases, the same office; only now it was without Neha. Was he happy now that he wasn’t in a relationship with Neha which lacked love, well that was a question the answer to which even he couldn’t fathom? But then he had to see his decision through; it wasn’t like he had taken that step out of the blue. He had thought for days before acting on it. It wasn’t a whim; it was a well thought out move in life. He missed Neha but as a friend; atleast that’s what he told himself. The two of them were now headed to different directions, once travelling together in life they had now become strangers. Life is strange that way!
Neha had taken up the role of contributing editor for an online journal. She was happy; she spent the days doing what she loved. She started healing; it was good for her. The calmness of her face began to resurface. She looked at peace, she looked contented. Ofcourse the scars would always remain; but that didn’t stop Neha from embracing life with all the zeal and zest possible. She was doing well; her articles for the journal were being appreciated. She was receiving small assignments from various dailies; though they were few and far in between but nevertheless they came her way.
Sure enough everything was returning back to normal for Neha; but would this be how she would live her life? Isn’t a partner needed to share the wonderful experiences of life? Wouldn’t she be missing out on a very important attachment in life; that of being with someone special? Wasn’t Neha lonely? These questions obviously perturbed Neha too but she would brush off these concerns for she didn’t want to go through the same cycle again. It wasn’t worth it according to her to invest herself in a relationship again.
Ashish was doing well in his career; why wouldn’t he? He had always been really good at work. But something was amiss; inspite of all the success he was missing something. There was something lacking in his life. He couldn’t figure out what it was; but it definitely lacked something. Was he too feeling the pangs of life without a companion? Perhaps but he wasn’t ready for a relationship too. He didn’t end things with Neha to get into a relationship with someone else right away. He felt something was missing in their rapport and that was the logical step to take. If that was true then why was he not truly happy from within? Was there still unfinished business between Neha and him? Even if there was Ashish certainly hadn’t realized it yet.
Days turned into months; but inspite of the accolades Ashish received in his professional life he decided he had to go away from everything he knew for some time. Ashish was always a good man. He always wanted to do what was right. Perhaps the uneasiness in his heart was due to questions in his mind about his decision. He was concerned about Neha ; whether or not in a relationship with her he wanted Neha to always be happy. Perhaps he needed to see her settled for him to actually start living without any regrets.
Neha on the other hand began giving wings to her dreams. Her articles reached new heights of popularity. She became a known name in the online fraternity of fiction lovers. Her stories were warm, inviting to read. Then came the day when Neha got a call from a reputed publishing house. Yes they wanted to sign a book deal with her, considering her talent and the audience she had established for her works. Yes good things do happen to good people it only takes time. Neha had a new lease in life; she had a definite direction. She was happy and instinctively picked up the phone and began dialing Ashish’s number; but stopped with a sudden realization. Why was she calling him? She stood there dumbfounded; as always she wanted to share this good news with Ashish; for a moment she had forgotten that they weren’t together any longer. She smiled ; kept the phone down and went out to that very balcony; that day when Ashish left, the whole city that lay in front of her seemed unknown to her; she felt like an outsider who had to fit in; today that very city seemed inviting again towards her. Perception and state of mind made the difference between the two. Her resolve to not feel sorry for herself got her this far and she knew it would take her ahead too.
Sometimes in life it’s better not to think about the future; sometimes even the well thought out and balanced paths fail to take us to our destination. They say ‘The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts.’ Sometimes unknown, untouched paths take us right where we always wanted to be. Surely those paths are long and strewn with the unknown but they make life what it is – an astounding voyage!
Both Neha and Ashish felt the twinges of loneliness; something still bound them together. All the years spent together certainly couldn’t be flushed out of their minds in a matter of months. Something took them apart; but there was also something that still held them close. Would they find their way back to each other? Even if one of them did would the other be ready for it only time would tell as they say “Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.”