Last Chapter: THE MAGIC OF VALENTINE’S DAY
When I woke up today, I told myself that I will be happy today. At least I will smile and make it believable. This was because I was tired of all the pity looks thrown towards me by my colleagues in office, not to mention all my friends looked at me like a small puppy that walked with a limp. It is hard enough to be ugly, but when you are ugly and single, you are everybody’s pity case. To put salt on open wounds, I was ugly/single/and with no social skills which just made me the lowest form species available. The hierarchy was, there were (1) happy people, after them came (2) good-looking people, after them were (3) the singles, below them were (4) dogs, cats, and all the animals, and finally (5) after 50 feet of dirt and shit came my existence in the world.
The silver lining in my dark clouds of dismay was that Sagar too was having trouble in his relationship. They were constantly fighting and he found my depressed company more appealing than that of his girlfriend. It was not that we talked about each other feelings, but we just played video games, watched movies, he told me what happened and I offered him beer. I was a perfect date. Nevertheless, as soon as he left, I would start to think about Pooja, but these days my sadness was turning into anger. She had totally blocked me out of her life, there was no way I could contact her, which is to stalk on her activities. She stole my right, the rights of being an ex-boyfriend. She should know this: according to the laws of a breakup, the person being dumped has to right to wallow in self-pity and stalk on the dumper till some other poor soul is dumb in enough to date him. And you don’t take away a man’s right.
I decided to burry myself into work, because that’s what successful people do, and it had nothing to do with the new girl who had recently joined. Her name was Sakshi and she sat in the cubical just opposite to me. Only things that were in between us were a computer and a thin white wooden partition, remove that and we were almost on a date, without her knowing. Each day I would come early to the office and wait for her to arrive with her adorable round face and huge cheek bones. Her presence lit up what was a dull office filled with boring and unappealing people. I kept thinking of clever ways to start a conversation and would come up with blank. Not like normal people, just go and talk to the girl, I needed some elaborate plan.
That was the first night that I did not feel sad and deserted. I had something to look forward to the next day. But as I lay on my bed looking at the ceiling of my dimly lighted room, I started to feel as I was cheating on Pooja. She was miles away, we had few oceans between us, and we hadn’t talked for a month now, yet still I felt like we were together. I couldn’t let go of that connection we had and the way her smile made me know that everything will be alright. She would get angry at me, but wouldn’t say anything just look at me with those big jewels like eyes and wanting me to understand. I turned over in my bed and stuffed my face into the soft pillow; I don’t remember when I fell asleep.
The next morning, as usual I went to the office before time. I figured that she would not go out with a stranger to get some coffee, why not bring some coffee to her. I felt proud and patted myself on the back and went to the cafeteria and bought two cups of coffee. I raced back to my cubical maintaining my posture trying not to spill the two cups of coffee in my hands. I sat in my cubical, trying to look relaxed and not like a serial killer waiting for his victim, and mostly trying to control the huge grin on my face. After few minutes, she finally entered through the squeaky aluminium door of our office. I think she knew there were many eyeballs on her as she entered as she walked straight and restricted, almost defensive. I quickly realised that and started staring at my computer screen. I waited for her to be seated in her armchair. After a minute, I thought it was good as time as any to tell her, I got some coffee for her. I stood up with great confidence like I just won a medal for my country and looked over the white partition. She was not as beautiful as Pooja, but even without the makeup and cool dress she was pleasant to look at, a small town girl who looked like someone you can take to your mom. As I drooled over her face, my eyes suddenly went to her table where sat a coffee mug which was already full. With the intensity I stood up, I sat back, hiding my face and realised that God hates me and putting all his energy in making me miserable.
‘Hey,’ a soft voice hit my ear. I looked up hesitantly, and to my fear it was Sakshi leaning over to my side. ‘You wanted something?’ she asked with a smile like she was trying to control a burst of laughter. I kept staring at her and suddenly realised the question was directed towards me. ‘Ah-no’ I stuttered. She continued, ‘I know you dorky guys have trouble speaking to a girl’. Who the hell she is calling dorky! I said to myself. ‘Hey I am not dorky,’ I replied quickly. ‘Oh sorry, I meant you handsome hunks with your big muscles,’ and then the burst of laughter came which she was trying to control for so long. She had a beautiful smile. Her cheek bones raised and lips spread wide and her small eyes almost hid under her cheeks. I couldn’t help it as I smiled along with her. ‘So what was it you wanted to say?’ she asked. ‘Actually, I brought you this cup of coffee and I thought I would introduce myself, but I saw you already had a mug with you, so I sat back down.’ I was still smiling. ‘You can get me coffee tomorrow.’ She said as she seated herself back in her chair. ‘One spoon of sugar and no milk,’ a message blinked on my computer screen. So God doesn’t hate me that much after all, I thought to myself. We started having small chats on our instant messenger all day, but I don’t know why I kept checking Facebook to see if Pooja’s profile was activated or not.
It was the month of February, and winters have started to ease a bit. Each day I had to carry a jacket as I would feel warm in the afternoon, but at the time of going home, winds would start to get a bit chilly. Sakshi had become a good friend and each day I would get coffee for her, one spoon of sugar with no milk. She loved to talk, and during our lunch hour, she would go on and on about anything and everything. She talked liked the old sailors who had travelled the world; just she was in a hurry to tell you all the details. Often she would be so engrossed in telling her stories that she would forget to eat, and I had to remind her that we were in the cafeteria to eat our lunches.
It was 13th of February, and I was in a pathetic mood all day. I came late to the office, and also avoided talking to Sakshi all day. She pings many times, but each time I told her that I was busy. During lunch she caught hold of me sitting alone in the corner staring at my food. ‘What happened to you, don’t tell me you are in love with me!’ she said looking amused with herself. ‘Yes, everyone is in love with Sakshi. Right,’ I retorted. I think she heard the sarcasm and the annoyance in my voice. She took her plate, and placed it on the table in front of me. ‘Look. I made puri aloo today.’ I envied her cheerfulness, and I wished to be like her always happy and smiling. However, I was badly missing Pooja. I wanted to go to U.S.A. and search for her like U.S.A searched for Osama. ‘Listen, I am not in the mood,’ my voice trailed off. She looked at me, with her small eyes, examining and analysing like I was a mathematical equation. ‘A girl problem,’ she said. Her voice was sure and somehow I was happy that she knew, and honestly I didn’t even want her to leave me alone, on the contrary I wanted a big hug. ‘How did you know?’ I enquired. ‘And here I thought you liked me,’ she said and then she sighed.
I ended up telling her everything about Pooja and how, she dumped me. She sat there listening to me, with her emotions clearly all over her face. She had trouble keeping quiet, and many sometimes I could see her wanting to tell me what she thought, but I found her to be a great listener. As soon as I finished my story, she stood up angrily and shouted at me. Everyone in the room started looking at us, and then she realised what she had done. She sat down slowly with her hands covering her lips and her eyes closed, it was clear she was too invested in my story. She apologised for yelling at me, and then she started thrashing me with words. According to her I was an idiot to let such an amazing girl go, as she didn’t want to go abroad and the only reason she went was because I didn’t stop her.
Lunch was over and we came back to our seats. I was not able to do any work because (1) Sakshi kept messaging me and because (2) I was beginning to think she was right and finally because (3) now I felt guilty to how I treated Pooja and how much she must have suffered.
I went back home, and all evening images of Pooja and voice of Sakshi kept messing with my head. I wandered around, watched some television but still, I couldn’t get them out of my head. Sakshi words were like a splinter in my skin and how much I tried I was not able to get them out of my head. She wanted me to apologise to Pooja, and tell her how much of an ass I was. I told her that I had no way of connecting to her to which she told me if I really loved her, I would find a way. It was easy to say, but I had no clue how to get in contact with her.
I sat down on the couch with my laptop sitting in front of me and phone in my hand. I felt determined; I clinched my fist and pushed the call button. As the bell started to ring, my palms began to get sweaty, and my thoughts flustered, I didn’t know what I was going to say. A low female voice came from other side. I had called her home, and apparently her mom had picked up the phone. I was glad, as asking her father for her number would have been a colossal task for me. ‘Hello auntie, this is Arush here, can I have Pooja’s number?’ I said trying to remain calm. ‘She is not at home,’ and she abruptly hung up the phone. I was surprised by the way she acted, then I realised, Pooja must have mentioned my name to her mother. I thought about my foolishness, but wondered if her mother could have seen my state, then she wouldn’t be so rude. I had already tried calling her best friend before, but she didn’t pick up my call, and when I tried again I got the same result.
All my determination had slowly slipped away. I check my mobile for time and it was almost twelve. In few minutes it was going to be another sad valentine’s day for me. I called up Sakshi, but her phone was busy, I figured a pretty girl like her must be getting calls from various guys proposing her to be their valentine. I felt a little jealous and threw my phone on the couch. I picked up my laptop and started looking at all of our pictures together, I had hundreds of them. With each click, I felt like crying, and looking at some my eyes began watering, yet somehow I controlled my tears. After looking at all the photos, I buried my head in my hands as I rubbed my eyes with them. I wished if I could talk to her once again, I just need to talk to her, hear her voice, I just wanted to know what was going on in her life, and if she is okay.
I looked at the screen of my laptop, and I thought to myself: I will write how I feel. With each press of on the keyboard I wrote about my feeling and how my life has become. I apologised a thousand times and told her I loved her a million times. Whenever I paused, I thought about how she made me feel, and then wrote about it. It was like a pain relief medication, and I was getting addicted to it. I wrote about everything before we met and everything after she was gone and finally I wished if she would just talk to me once. After the last words which came from my heart, I looked at the screen. There were many red marks with spelling mistakes, but those red marks were like the blood from my heart. I wanted her to show her this, and I wanted to see her reaction. I wanted to hold her once again, and kiss her silky soft lips. I could not imagine my life without her in it.
As the clock hit twelve, I imagined how every couple must have been wishing and telling each other how much they love them. I wished I could talk to her once more, and I started to close my laptop lid. Suddenly a notification rang; I quickly opened the lid again, hoping somehow my wish may have come true. There was a message on my Facebook, as my heart started to beat out of my chest. I clicked on the message notification, and it was Sakshi with a long message about who all had called and wishing me happy Valentine’s Day.
I closed my eyes and wanted to kill Sakshi for giving me hope, I even killed her in my thoughts. Then it happened again, another message. And this time, my enthusiasm was curbed in half, as my heart couldn’t take another hit of so much excitement. I looked at the screen and kept looking at it like I have seen a ghost. I sat there as I stared at the screen without blinking; it was Pooja. Blood rushed to my head and suddenly I started to feel hot, I quickly started replying.
‘How are you?’
‘Where have you been?’
‘I missed you so much’
‘I Love you’
Maybe some wishes do come true. We both talked for hours, and she told me that it was 1:30 pm in USA and it was still 13th there, but it hardly mattered. It was the greatest Valentine’s gift I could have received. I apologised to her and she also told me that she was sorry. She was just angry, but she missed me a lot. We both were crying, we sent hundreds of kisses to each other and told everything that happened to each other while we were away. I told her never to leave me again and also if she could come back to India. She had a contract, and she could not come before the end of six months. I was a bit sad after hearing that but at least I was talking to her again. I asked her to promise me that she will never block me out of her life, and we will always figure out a way to solve our problems.
The next day I told Sakshi, about everything that happened and she just jumped with joy. I could see she was genuinely happy for me. Now there were two girls disturbing me while I tried to look like I was working.
After a month, I surprised Pooja by a visit to the States. I stood outside her apartment, and as she got out of the cab, I got down on one knee and proposed to her to marry me. I don’t know what is wrong with the girl, but she said yes. Frankly looking at the ring, I wouldn’t have said yes to me. An ugly guy, ugly ring. Sagar and his girlfriend are still together, they keep fighting all the time, but I guess that the drama which keeps them together. As for Sakshi, she was the one who suggested me to give her this surprise, she is now my best friend and a good thing is Pooja isn’t jealous of her.