The Encounter

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Aditya settled himself in the VIP lounge, with a cup of coffee and snacks, observing everything around with keen interest when he saw a bespectacled lady turning around, at the counter. He had an eye for the opposite sex, even at an age, as in the mid-forties and at a stage where he was the father of a kid. But this one seemed familiar and it took him a good few moments to place her.

“Smrity, Oh, god!”, he muttered to himself.

Smrity was his ex-girlfriend who had broken off their engagement 15 years ago. He was seeing her for the first time in all these years. Last he knew of her was she’d married a qualified but an unambitious guy, with average looks and income. He’d been shocked at her choice, not to mention the embarrassment he had to face among all those who knew them. Yet getting over everything, he’d moved on in life and was himself happily settled.

He stared at Smrity. From a young, petite, beautiful girl, she had grown into a full-blown fat yet an attractive looking woman. She hadn’t noticed him yet. Moving across to the sitting area in the opposite section, she dropped her bags on the table and headed towards the food counter.

In a short while, she arrived with a plate full of delicacies, settled herself and began looking around when she spotted him. For a moment she froze, looking dumbstruck but then averting her eyes, decidedly ignored him and began eating her food with a quiet discomfit.

He hesitated for a few minutes. Then deciding otherwise, he got up, moved across to her table and plunked himself down before her.

“Hi Smrity”, he smiled.

“Hi”, she gave an unsure look, but immediately controlled herself. “How are you?”, she quipped, determined not to give away her composure.

“I’m doing good.”, he answered with a cheer. ”How have you been doing?”

“As good as it can get. I’m doing great.” Externally, though she maintained that taut expression, she was extremely uncomfortable under her skin. An imposing handsome personality, he still looked the same and his presence had the same effect on her even today. His smile was enough to sweep her off her feet, but she stayed rooted and firm.

“So, travelling alone? On a business trip?”, he asked pointing out to the files lying beside.

“Yes, my husband is on leave to baby-sit our kid.”, she bit her tongue, regretting as to why did she have to give away that bit of personal information.

“You’ve changed.”, he remarked, musing.

“You mean my weight? Yes! all the result of motherhood, happiness and a break.” She bit back.

“Break?” his eyes widened. “You were resolved never to give up your career under any circumstance. You used to fight tooth and nail over being at home.”

“Yeah. Independence is important to me but how did you presume that it could override my need for joy of family and motherhood? Besides, I don’t like to be forced into anything. I would rather act in my own space and decisions.”

“What about you?”, she did not give up either. “Recently, I saw some pics of yours in close positions with female colleagues, uploaded on your company website.  Not that I was following you or anything. I was just researching on some companies when I came across these pics not knowing that you worked there. You are still the same. Not a bit of change. Doesn’t your wife object?” She knew he’d married someone unequal, who’d probably never question his ways. His happiness reflected his independence.

He shot her a sharp look but then replied. “No, she isn’t that computer savvy. Anyway, she never interferes with my work matters.” That explained things and she’d already guessed that. She fell silent.

“Do you still feel bad?”, he persisted again.

“Pardon me!” she exclaimed.

“About us, I mean. You broke off our engagement over my closeness with Natasha knowing very well knew that we were only friends and that she was going to get married shortly. Besides you went ahead and married someone, whom you’d have not willed to, under ideal circumstances. Did you never get the feeling that you mistook a rough diamond for a worthless pebble?”

She was amazed at his audacity, wondering if his question was because he was doing so well today. Pompous ass! She silently muttered inside. But after thinking something, she broke into a smile.

“Well”, she began her reply in a carefully measured tone. “I was young then. Maybe insecure…jealous…possessive…couldn’t bear the thought of my guy being close to anyone other than me. I therefore broke off the engagement in a fit of fury. But I have matured now. In the process, I have realised that some people never change, and which includes me.

So even while I broke this off upon an impulse, my decision to marry him has still proved correct. Space, mutual respect and care are the essence of any happy marriage which I ultimately gained. A partner who truly cares would never do a thing to hurt his other half. You were not willing to budge over your platonic friendship with Natasha even though it was troubling me, but my guy would never think of ever putting me in that spot.

I understand that you work for a film-based media production house and whatever you do is the culture of your organisation. However, the choices you make are only indicative of what you really want. I do not know how your wife tolerates this but I certainly cannot. Today I am happy where I am and thankful for the man, I have in my life.

Also, I cannot think of anyone as a worthless pebble, but I never saw you as a diamond either. We are different individuals in our own rights and our paths don’t blend but it’s great that we realised this early on instead of living life with regrets.”

“Ok then.”, he got up slowly and extended his hand. “ Have a good life.”, he said with a smile.

“You too”, she replied, accepting his hand with a smile.

Picking up his bags, he walked away without ever turning back whereas she sat there for a long time, heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Author’s note: This is a work of fiction.

 

 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

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