Once in a while, I indulge in writing a short story to pull something interesting out of my imaginary hat
t’s the early hours of yet another night. And it’s pouring as if the blanket of dark clouds has been retrofitted with multiple oversized showers. Amit’s Honda city caught in the usual city traffic is just about managing to brave the fury of this inclement weather. It seems to have been putting up a good fight with the twin assistance of efficient wipers and a new driver having a month old driving license.
Amit chooses to wait until he reaches his home to finish two cups of takeaway Chinese noodles that he was too happy to pick up on his way. It is one of the many habits that he ended up borrowing from his ex-girlfriend Natasha. Sometimes people and their habits take too deep a root within us to get overpowered by the bitterness of our relationship status. Somehow those habits seem to teach us a lesson or two about having a large enough heart and a small enough ego for symbiotic coexistence.
A knock on his sedan’s side window screen brings Amit back to the reality of being hopelessly stuck in an irritating traffic jam.
Out of nowhere, a young lady — who was so drenched that her clothes started to look like two hands clutching a wet soap bar — was trying hard to beg for the attention of Amit. She was holding her large pregnant bump with one hand as if to protect it from jumping out. And her other hand was engaged in making a simultaneous act of knocking the windscreen along with the gesture of begging for something to eat.
Before Amit could even blink his eyes, his hands did the simultaneous action of rolling down the window to pass on the two cups of takeaway Chinese noodles. Those tiny legs of her that look disproportionately undersized for that large pregnant bump disappeared in the haziness of that downpour.
Meanwhile, the serpentine and massive deluge of vehicular traffic behind Amit’s car decides to get themselves in a competition to outdo each other in the Art of honking as if the gap left between Amit’s car and the car next to him was sufficient to double park Boeing 777.
inally, what looked like a never-ending ordeal comes to an end when Amit manages to find its sedan back on a stretch of a road where he is as delighted to engage the third gear of his Honda as he was after finally discovering Sohan (his flatmate) to share the burden of his monthly rent.
While he was just beginning to enjoy the rain against the backdrop of FM music, he realized that he just happened to donate the modest feast of two hungry souls to a lady who had a pregnancy bump as big as the size of a football. Thankfully, Amit is in a position to make amends for his cardinal sin by placing an order for home delivery from the famous Chinese corner of his locality — the first and last destination of people who are as conscious about the hygiene of their food as they are mindful of their daily exercise routines.
Amit was not yet a confident driver to pull up the magical feat of making a call to the Chinese restaurant while driving, so he pulls his sedan on the side of a relatively empty road. Something he didn’t realize till he was parked in the dark.
After placing a home delivery order, Amit puts the sedan in first gear and takes a quick maneuver to bring back the car on the main road. While executing this simple act, he just manages to avoid a collision with a hatchback parked in the dark.
Amit had to dig deep into his limited driving skills to avoid kissing that hatchback. Even before Amit could put his car on neutral and check whether everything was alright both inside and outside, he heard a knock on his window.
Second knock on his window screen within an hour or so.
But this knock was different.
his was from someone who happened to knock the wind out of Amit precisely one year, 2 months, and 14 days back when she bumped her scooter into Amit’s bike. The moment she removed her helmet and pushed back her bunch of neatly straightened hair from the front of her face, Amit had a first-hand experience of losing two of his vital senses of hearing and talking for more than a couple of seconds.
For a person who never believed in an emotion remotely related to love, Amit was struggling hard to catch his breath for those couple of seconds. Every minute detail of that incident got flashed right in front of Amit’s eyes that too within a short space of two knocks made on his car window.
The lady was none other than Natasha, who decided to stop communicating with Amit without even saying a proper goodbye.
Natasha was knocking on the window screen in a hurry to avoid being drenched by rain. But as soon as she managed to have a glance at Amit’s face, she dropped the idea and rushed back to her stationery car, which was still blinking in a desperate attempt to grab the attention of any nearby motorist.
Amit didn’t want to lose this rare opportunity to have some conversation with Natasha. He immediately pushed his car’s door and made a maddening dash towards the blinking vehicle as if it was his only chance to get back his heartbeat. In a rush of things, he didn’t even bother to ask for Natasha’s permission before boarding the front seat of her hatchback.
I didn’t know it was your car, said Natasha.
But I learned it’s your car, and I couldn’t resist the temptation of getting inside a blinking sedan driven by the only girl in this world who had the potential to whack my pulse rate, said Amit.
How have you been, Nuts, said Amit?
Natasha’s reaction was that of a patient who seems to be recovering after retrieving her memory.
I presume you must have your reasons for not even leaving a message for me?, said Amit.
7 months, and 14 days, it’s been a long and harrowing punishment of living a life without you.
What did I do to deserve this?
Oh God, it feels so good to see you again.
After regaining her calmness & composure, Natasha said,
“How I wish I could say the same.”
“How I wish things were different.”
“How I wish you didn’t behave like all other men who couldn’t resist their biological urge to create necessary friction at all the right places with the next available girl so that you could leave your genetic imprint of having being born on this planet. That’s what my father did to showcase his worth, and that’s exactly how you intended to behave during our courtship period,” said Natasha.
“Whoa, whoa …that is one hell of an allegation! Would you please mind sharing the basis of that allegation?” said Amit.
“Now, please stop making a fool of yourself. I knew how you would deny everything; that’s why I decided to terminate our relationship,” said Natasha.
“Great, you just pronounce the sentence like that, without even letting the culprit know the nature of his crime. What an exhibition of fairness!” said Amit.
“I know I can’t compete with you. Because you seem to have mastered the art of displaying your love to girls who are not even legally qualified to drink,” said Natasha.
“What’re you talking, Nuts? Where is this coming from,” asked Amit?
As if you don’t know what I am talking about.
Yes, you got it right; I don’t know.
In that case, let me just jog your memory. Do you remember the night when we were supposed to meet for dinner, but I couldn’t commit because my flatmate was supposed to arrive that night?
Yes, of course, how can I forget that night because that was the night you unanimously decided to end our beautiful relationship.
Exactly, that was the night when after receiving the message that my flat mate’s train was running four hours behind schedule. I thought of spending some time with you before picking her up from the railway station.
And as far as I remember correctly, you didn’t turn up and choose to vanish from my life.
Yes, I did vanish. And I choose to break our relationship after what I saw that night at your place.
What are you talking about? As soon as I got the message from you, I canceled my meeting with an important client and was waiting for you at home.
Of course, you were waiting but not for me, but for that friend of yours, whom you were hugging so passionately that I could hear the love song playing in your heart even from your open window. I thought of confronting you but changed my mind after hearing you both laughing hysterically. I didn’t want to go through the pain of exposing an unfaithful partner who decided to follow in the footsteps of my father. So I left without creating any scene.
Wow, you’re such an idiot. It would have helped if you could have used a little bit of your brain to find out the truth.
What do you mean? Of course, I did. With some help from my friend, I got access to your call records, and I came to know about Neha. She seems to be in constant touch with you for the last six months. And I had no desire to get myself involved in an adulterous relationship.
Are you Nuts? Grrrr…Of course, you’re!
What do you mean?
Forget it, because I don’t think you are going to believe me. And yes, one more thing…As long as you’re hell-bent on allowing your personal experience with your father to color your perception, I’m afraid no one can help you, not even that smart brain of yours.
I don’t think I need advice from someone who’s in the habit of violating the trust in a relationship. Anyway, I’m not interested in hearing one more story of lies.
Well then, I guess it would make more sense to show you the truth.
What do you mean?
Have some patience, Natasha; the truth is just 10 minutes drive from here.
Whatever it may be, I’m damn sure I’m not falling for it.
The long stretch of silence between the two former love birds had become so thick that it would have taken an army of people to dismantle it. However, it got interrupted by occasional thunder and lightning as if trying its best to reignite the lost spark between the two.
nce they reached the destination, Neha was visibly surprised to see Amit with a girl at this odd hour!
Without wasting much time on exchanging pleasantries, Amit introduced Neha to Natasha. And told Neha that Natasha, his ex-girlfriend thinks that they are having an affair.
Amit continued, “The night when Natasha was supposed to meet me at my flat, she saw you in my flat and caught me hugging you. Based on that visual, she presumed that we were having an affair of this century and decided to opt-out of our relationship like someone opting out of any Tata Sky Premium offer.
Now please tell her the truth about our relationship. For God’s sake, please tell her exactly what happened that night so that this misunderstanding could die its natural death.”
Neha was all silent as if she was taking time to reboot her system to process everything shared by Amit so far.
Meanwhile, Amit was getting as impatient as someone who had to wait for an OTP to process an important financial transaction.
Neha made a slow and measured walk towards Natasha. After reaching a distance where she could smell Natasha’s fading body fragrance, she tried to establish eye contact with her. Natasha wasn’t expecting this, which made her a bit uncomfortable, evident from her fingers’ fidgeting.
Neha said, “you know, Natasha, we women are blessed with a very sharp sense of intuition & more often than not, our intuition doesn’t fail us. But I am afraid you got this thing wrong”.
Amit had a sigh of relief!
Neha continued, “It’s true that Amit and I never had an affair (pausing a bit to give undivided attention to Natasha’s fingers, it stopped its involuntary movement), but it’s also equally true that I had to terminate my pregnancy just a few months back.
Let me show you my medical reports.
And she rushed back to the other room to fetch the reports.
“Wait, don’t you look at me like that. I have absolutely no clue about this pregnancy story,” said, visibly puzzled Amit.
But despite that, Natasha kept looking at Amit with a thousand queries.
After going through many medical reports and prescriptions, Natasha couldn’t understand anything because, as per the information and prescribed medications, Neha was a stage 4 cancer patient struggling for the last eight months. There was no report of terminated pregnancy in the medical file.
Neha said, “Natasha, as you can look for yourself, I’m battling cancer, as we speak, and all the pieces of evidence are in front of you. I wasn’t pregnant with a baby, but I was technically pregnant with a tumor of 2.4 pounds in my stomach. Doctors successfully removed it, and a huge credit goes to Amit for being such massive support during those difficult times.
I am an orphan, lost my parents in a train accident. I was pursuing my second year of engineering when I discovered this gift. Doctors gave me an outside chance of lasting beyond 18 months. So there was no point in continuing with my studies. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to the upliftment of slum children. Coincidentally Amit was associated with this incredible NGO, and he proved to be an amazing mentor to me.
Sorry to disappoint you; I couldn’t manage to have an affair with a man missing his heartbeat.
What you see here is a man with a malfunctioning heart because it used to beat for you.
If that man with the missing heartbeat could pour in so much care & love for a terminally ill orphan like me, can you even imagine the amount of love he is capable of showering on you?
Do you know, Natasha, the worst distance between two people is A Misunderstanding? And life is too short for affording that distance with people you love the most.
Originally published on Medium.