Contented Remorse

3rd April 2010, wasn't a typical Saturday afternoon. There was an air of discomfort and yet the day was a special one. Being a football lover, I was waiting for that day since many weeks, if not months. On that day, Manchester United were going to play against Chelsea. The championship had more or less been a 2 horse race from the beginning and the two sides were going neck & neck. The football pundits had predicted that, that match would decide the fate of the championship and so it happened.

Given the gravity of the situation and the fact that the match was scheduled for an early kickoff (5.30 pm IST), I almost fought with my boss while telling him a not-so-real story about an imaginary friend meeting with an unreal accident requiring me to leave early. Call it karma or the usual bad luck that I carry around, my not-so-imaginary friend Alok with whom I was going to watch the match over one too many beers, screwed up the plan at the 11th hour stating some excuse of him visiting an imaginary relative in some unrealistic hospital.

Nevertheless, I went ahead with the plan, as my house was getting renovated and there wasn't any possibility of watching television at home. Hence, I reached the Sports Bar and hopped onto one of those stool thingy they have at the bar and ordered first of many pints I had that evening. In fact, going all alone proved to be in my favor, as I got the bar stool, right in front of the screen. Had that bastard Alok been with me, we would've struggled to find a table with a good view of the screen as most of them were taken. Now, this is what I call, ditched yet happy. *ding* Two opposing forces!

Barely few minutes had passed in the first half, Man United missed a close chance to score.
"Dammit!!!", I exclaimed out of rage, banging my fist on the bar almost spilling whiskey of the guy sitting next to me.
"Sorry.", I said. He was still perplexed. Turned out, it was more 'cause of the fact that we missed a goal than my physical exclamation.

"Shit, just missed.", he said.

I asked, "What the goal or the drink?" We both had a laugh over the pun. As a matter of fact, guys easily bond like chaddi-buddies over drink & sports. Being ardent Manchester followers, both of us started enjoying the game together with hi-fives over goals and "ohhhs" & "ahhhs" over missed chances. The match ended in a disappointing loss for Manchester and a big blow to their title hopes, which Chelsea went on to win at the end of the season.

While finishing our drinks, Vivek & I got into a typical post-match analysis like boys generally tend to do. Conversation moved from football to cricket and later to F1; to which he told me, he was planning to watch Abu Dhabi GP that year. That's when I learnt, he's basically from Dubai and he's here on a personal trip.

Just then his phone rang..."Hello". "Oh, you're here, already? Great! Come inside, I'll finish the drink and we'll leave in 5-10 minutes." Not being the nosy kind, I never bothered asking, who it was. Just then a gorgeous yet familiar face walked towards us. He got up and gave her a warm hug.

Introducing us he said, "Remember, I told you, I'm here on a personal visit? She's the reason I'm here. My fiance, Khushi. It's her birthday today!!!"

Dumbstruck I became. Of course, I remembered it was her birthday. How can I ever forget? Her birthday was the very reason I was disturbed since morning. 2 years back, on the exact same date, she was holding MY hand at the time of cake cutting. Till 1 and half year back, she used to be in MY arms at parties. The hug that he give, I used to gave thoat to her every day at the college. An avalanche of memories overloaded the heart.

Even she looked stunned. I guess she too couldn't believe her eyes that I was standing in front of her. With the amazement, I could also sense her discomfort and fear.
In the mean time, Vivek finished the last sip of his drink and said to her, "Give me just 2 minutes sweetheart. You just wait here with him, I'll quickly go to the restroom and then we'll leave."

As he left, Khushi looked at me and asked, "How you've been?"

"How do you think, I've been? Alive, I guess.", I replied angrily.

She asked surprisingly, "Why are you talking like this? You used to be one of the most ambitious & positive guys I've known. Now look at you. You look a pale shadow of your ownself. What happened?"
I answered shockingly, "What happened? You of all people should know what happened?"

Khushi: "Please don't tell anything about us to Vivek, we're going to get married soon. Besides, it was all in the past. It's been more than a year, since you and I..."

"Irrespective. Love & feelings are not bounded by time frame, my dear. Sadly you'll never understand those things," I said angrily.

Khushi: "You mean you still...??"

The conversation was broken by Vivek's arrival. "So what are you guys discussing, huh?", asked in a happy & curious tone.

Silence, all around. Neither of us, said a word.

Vivek broke the silence saying, "So we'll leave now, it was nice meeting you buddy!"

We shook hands. I moved my right hand towards Khushi and said, "Happy Birthday".

Her trembling hand met mine and with a deep nervous voice, she said, "Thank you."

At that moment, I looked into her eyes and everything stopped. Seemed like, I was thrown back in time. She was struggling to maintain eye contact. Out of nowhere came out the words, "I'll miss you, Khushi. I still do..."

These words are hard to digest for any guy who loves his fiance. "Hold on", said Vivek. "You guys know each other?" he inquired in a strong voice.

Khushi, "No."

Some how I garnered the courage and said, "Yes, we do." All the trauma and sadness that I've gone through because of her, pushed me into a state of trance and I yelled out the bitter truth, "Apparently, we dated. We, correction, I loved her. She...ummm...she only passed her time. Your beautiful fiance at that time was only looking for a companion to pass her time till graduation. I was ready to do anything to be in the place where you are right now, but she would never marry her college sweetheart. She only wanted a boyfriend to enjoy the college years, and later on go and marry a rich NRI businessman to enjoy material pleasures of life. Money over Love. You over Me. That's her. And if you think, I'm lying, maybe you should try to search for truth in the tears that are rolling down her cheeks right now." Stunned silence. She couldn't believe that I told Vivek everything. Even Vivek couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Vivek, I've been wrong only once in my life in recognizing a person. And from our interaction today, I can tell that you're one of the nicest guys around. So, whatever you do with your life, think about it once again. All the best."
I looked towards Khushi and said, "I request only one thing from you, whatever you do in your life never break a man's heart. You wouldn't know, but it hurts. It really does. Really badly. Take care." and I stormed out of the bar, hoping never to see her again.

I don't know if they're still together or not, but as I walked out, there was an indifference on my face and peace in my mind. The restlessness brewing inside me since 1 & half year was all gone. I was surprisingly calm.

There was guilt of probably ruining someone's life but also a contentment of paying back to someone who almost ruined mine. I still don't know if I was satisfied or filled with remorse, I don't know if I did it out of love or hatred, I don't know if what I did was correct or not...nonetheless I did it. No looking back now.

This post is written for Close Up "Fire-Freeze" Contest on Indibloggers.

I suggest everyone to log on to Close Up fan page on Facebook and Like it and post similar stories of yours where you had experienced two opposing emotions at the same time.

Also, if you liked, what I've written and if you have lil time, you can go my contest entry on Indibloggers and vote for it there. Here's the link. I hope you do this as I don't like to ping (spam) friends individually with my blog link asking them to vote/comment for me. Thanks in advance.