The end or shall I say another beginning to the story of Neha and Ashish.
The email said Neha was nominated for an award for her debut novel by a literary organisation. Neha’s book had garnered a fair share of positive reviews. She had meanwhile shifted base to Delhi; the hot bed of many a literary activities in India. She was happy for her work but evidently there was the tinge of longing to share it with Ashish. It had been two years now without a call; without any communication between them.
Ashish on the other hand had completely engulfed himself into books. His practice started suffering due to his long absence from work. He had become a recluse literally; clearly the choice made by him two years ago was a blunder. He had with his own hands destroyed their lives together; yes he had realised his folly. He was living with the feeling of having wronged Neha and himself and believe me it wasn’t easy. No matter what he did; day by day he got miserable. He wanted to go back to Neha but how and under what pretext!
One day during a visit to a local book store; Ashish saw lying on the shelf infront of him Neha’s book. His hands involuntarily picked it up and he began reading it. There it was in the page about the author Neha’s picture. She looked the same only her eyes now had vacuum in them. Her smile screamed out at him; they were just a mask to the misery choking her from within. Yes Neha’s eyes gave it all away to Ashish. She was unhappy and he knew he was the cause of it. He flipped through the pages of Neha’s novel and saw unfolding infront of his eyes his entire life with Neha. He witnessed himself meeting Neha for the first time in their Physics class; he saw himself going out on a date with her; he saw their first fight; their marriage and their life after that. It was the last chapter which was the final straw where he saw himself making the horrendous mistake of leaving a sleeping Neha cuddled with their wedding album alone. He saw himself shattering their small haven into millions and millions of pieces. Neha ended her book by saying ‘I guess I never let you go because in the back of my mind I still believe that someday, we'll get our second chance.
’ That was it he had to meet her. He had delayed it enough and it was time he thought for him to make amends.
Ashish learnt from friends that Neha was in Delhi so he boarded the first flight available to reach there. Finally he landed and straight from airport took a cab to Neha’s place. But destiny had some other plans. Perhaps the moment hadn’t come for them to reunite. Yes fate played a cruel card and Ashish’s cab met with an accident. He was terribly injured and rushed to the hospital. Was that it? Would Ashish recover to open his heart out to Neha finally?
The phone rang at Neha’s home; somebody was asking for Neha her maid said. Neha thought perhaps it was her publisher with some information. She was wrong the person on the other side of the phone was somebody from the hospital where Ashish was; he had listed her as the emergency contact in his injured stupor. Neha was shocked and dumb founded; after so long she got news about Ashish and it was about his accident. She rushed to the hospital. There he was lying with wounds all over his body; he was unconscious. The moment Neha laid her eyes on him she knew she would stand by him till he recovers completely.
It had been six months; Ashish was recovering steadily; he was getting better day by day. The doctors were hopeful about him recuperating completely very soon. All this while Neha was always by his side. It was history repeating itself; afterall it was after Neha’s accident back in college that Ashish and she had gotten closer. Ashish had become completely dependent on Neha and why wouldn’t he be as Neha had done everything possible to get Ashish back on his feet. But would this mishap get them back together again? Only time would tell. They were perfect for each other; complimented each other beautifully but the heart works in mysterious ways and it doesn’t play by any rules or logic; does it!
Neha’s work had created a stir among the literati. Things were looking up for her; all she wanted to do was embrace the future with open arms but before that she had to make sure Ashish would be able to take care of himself. She had to bring this relationship to a logical conclusion.
It was finally time for Ashish to be released from the hospital as his injuries had healed. He had to go back home; back to work. Neha was now settled in her new career path; she was doing well. The equation between them both had also nourished. There was no hard feelings, no awkwardness which was a good thing. However there was one thing that was constantly bothering Ashish. The past few days they had again spent considerable amount of time with each other. Neha had done everything possible to get Ashish up and out of the hospital. In spite of all that transpired between them, inspite of the divorce; Neha had taken absolute care of Ashish. He realised even more that there was nobody else he would rather be with other than Neha. He was wrong before; it wasn’t habit and it was indeed love. He was disturbed after being away from Neha as he was still in love with her. His heart knew and recognised only Neha’s words. But was it too late? He knew what Neha wanted by what she ended her book with but he was apprehensive he didn’t want to force his decision on Neha again. Last time he had left without saying a word to her; he had decided to end things and it would be unfair if only at his beck and call things changed in their relationship. What would he do? Should he tell Neha what he felt but he didn’t want to put unjust pressure on her if he was wrong?
Neha too was anxious with the question of how to leave things between her and Ashish. Ofcourse she had always been in love with him, when he had left for the first time and even today. She knew from the beginning that Ashish was the one for her; wasn’t that the reason why she couldn’t be bitter towards him in the first place? Time was running out she had to make up her mind. Should she divulge her heart out to Ashish? Was Ashish still at the same point where he was three years ago or was there a possibility of him feeling the same way about her. Whatever it was she knew one thing she couldn’t jeopardise the friendship that they shared; atleast that way they could be together always.
While driving back from the hospital to the airport there was uncomfortable silence between both. They wanted to open their hearts out to each other but again didn’t want to hurt the other or jump the wagon. Ashish broke the silence but failed to bring the matters of his heart to the open. He just couldn’t bear again forcing his feelings on her; he was afraid of misjudging her feelings. There was pain in his eyes as he knew if he left without saying anything today; things between them would be left to serendipity. His heart ached and he cursed his decision of three years back.
Neha wanted to stop Ashish from going back. She couldn’t stop him the last time but if Ashish didn’t want to stay perhaps this time she wouldn’t be able to take things that positively. What did fate have in store for them? Every time she got remotely close to confessing her true feelings the ominous cloud of losing Ashish even as a friend managed to hold her back.
They reached the airport and as Ashish began to walk towards the gate; his heart kept urging him to go back to Neha. On the other hand all Neha wanted was to run and stop Ashish from walking away from her again. If it were a movie perhaps some miracle would happen and they would live happily ever after but it was real life damn it. It wasn’t easy; people are afraid of losing their loved ones over and over again and want to hold on to whatever they can get a grip on.
Finally it was the moment of truth; yes Ashish was about to enter the gate; he turned and looked at Neha. Both of them smiled at each other and waved goodbye. Yes things were again left to fate between them. But they were both positive people for whom the glass was always half full. As Ashish walked towards his flight he knew he would forever love Neha and perhaps someday his karma would bring both of them together again. Neha drove back to her hotel and knew that Ashish would always live in her heart and one day in some better time perhaps they would be together again till then she didn’t mind being content just with the friendship.
A divorce, a failed marriage doesn’t need to separate people for life. Ashish discovered his love again for Neha and Neha’s love for Ashish grew stronger. Would they end up together again; well certain things are best left to destiny. The story of Ashish and Neha vouch strongly for the fact that absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. But will they be able to find their way back to each other; that remains covered in the cloak of the unknown future. But for them we can safely say
‘A part of you is within me.
And in me it is you I see
we shall be together forever; never apart,
perhaps physically, but never in our heart.