This is the third part after
and the part before the last chapter on Neha and Ashish
Neha now had a new lease of life. She would be turning her passion into a book for the world to read. But in all that she missed Ashish every step of the way. She had been strong for so long; but what would she do of this heart which time and again wondered back to Ashish. Yes she smiled and tried to move ahead every time the thought of Ashish visited her. But no matter how strong one is; matters of the heart always manage to find their way back to everything one does. But Neha never believed in giving up; so no matter how painful it was she took on life in her stride. When she had decided to take up writing to move ahead in life; giving up a well settled career; little did she know that she would come so far. But she needed to go some place where she could devote her complete time to her novel; being in Mumbai meant being always cornered by family and friends more so after the marriage fiasco. Where could she go where it would only be her thoughts and her pen? She had always heard from Ashish about Shimla; yes the place where Ashish had grown up before meeting her. She had a certain fascination for that place. She had always wanted to go there but the strings of work had tied them to their desks and they could hardly ever plan a vacation. Today Ashish wasn’t with her any longer but she still wanted to see the Shimla she had often heard about in his tales perhaps it was her way of subconsciously still holding on to a part of Ashish. So it was decided that Neha would be going away for some time to Shimla; hence with a glint in her eye Neha began her preparations for the trip.
That night as Neha packed her bags for Shimla; she for the first time after Ashish walked out of their marriage was completely overwhelmed with emotions. She had been positive so far but she just couldn’t keep things mellowed that night. She had always planned to travel to Shimla with Ashish; with her Ashish. But today she was alone and Ashish wasn’t hers. She couldn’t even hate Ashish for what he had done; it would have been so much easier to move away with bitterness in her heart. But she just couldn’t. She wept and wept; how strongly she wanted Ashish by her side. How she wished Ashish to be happy for her; how she wished to be happy for Ashish in everything he did. There were days when just one tear from her eye would get Ashish worried; he would make sure to bring back that smile on her face. Who would do that now for Neha? She held on to Ashish’s picture and cried the whole time that night. It was like a flood of emotions; she crawled into one side of the balcony and cried her heart out all the while holding Ashish’s picture close to her heart. Love does that to you; no matter how much you deliberate with your heart it only longs for that one person who makes it skip a beat! Letting go is never easy as they say ‘I never let you go, because in the back of my mind, I still believe that someday we'll get our second chance.’
Ashish had already decided that he needed some time off. He needed to see Neha settled in her life before he made any headway in his own. But how would he approach Neha. What would he tell her? He didn’t want her to think that he was sympathising with her out of pity; not at all. He was genuinely concerned for her. Agreed they were no longer life partners; and it was Ashish who decided that but that didn’t mean they could wish well for each other. Much before they had become lovers and then life partners; they were friends and perhaps that was what was drawing Ashish towards her. Yes that is what he told himself. But was it friendship or was it the latent love that was forever in his heart which he had mistaken for routine or friendship. One could only find in due course!
It had been months since they had spoken to each other; granted there were times when one was almost on the verge of calling the other but it just didn’t happen. Neha was ready to go off to Shimla. It was strange she had always pictured visiting Shimla with Ashish. But today she was going there alone; it was sad. For a moment she wanted to let Ashish know that she had found time to finally visit a place which he loved a lot and which she had grown to love too. But as before she hesitated; what would Ashish make of it? So she left without making that call again.
Ashish on the other side of the city couldn’t ascertain the cause for the concern he felt for Neha. He attributed it to friendship but was it that simple? Several times he found himself picking up the phone to make that one call to Neha but then again stopped himself from dialling her number. He had taken a sabbatical from work as he was disturbed. First he thought it was due to the change that had crept in his life and due to worry for Neha’s well being as he knew Neha seldom opened her heart out to others. He feared she wouldn’t share her pain and that would affect her. But he knew in his heart that he had to give her space; and perhaps all he needed was to stop thinking about everything and let life take its course. Perhaps he was being too hard on himself. He wasn’t ready to go back to work; so he engulfed himself into books. Yes Ashish was an avid reader; he hardly found time to read anything in the past few years apart from case files and law books. So he took refuge in the world of words; in the world of fiction to take him away for some time from the reality which for some reason had started to bother him.
Neha’s heart still longed for Ashish though she ventured out into a new path but deep in her heart she only craved for Ashish. He alternatively was feeling the pangs of separation; but he didn’t know that yet. He thought it was change and concern for a friend. Was it really possible to fall out of love so easily and then again feel so much concern for a person? I doubt it but matters of the heart are never easy to comprehend. There are hardly any laws that love ever conforms to. Perhaps they had separated for good or perhaps they had to stay away from each other to be united with a far greater resolve than ever before as they say ‘What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose.’ Both felt the absence of the other in their lives which perhaps they had taken for granted somewhere down the line. Neha knew it was love and Ashish thought it was friendship but it mattered that they missed each other in their day to day lives because 'Only when one's absence alters your life, that their presence has meaning in it.'
Labels: Short Fiction