He got out of his office and walked towards his car. He paused a while, thought something, then took out his mobile and dialled her number. He saw his hands shivering. He couldnt bring himself to talk to her and was about to cut the call. Then she answered.
” Hi. How was your day ?”
” Hello. You Fine?”
” Okay. Good….”
” Anyways.I reached here. See you soon.”
” Bye. .. And am sorry—“
She hung the phone.
He shuddered at the very thought of seeing her. For some reasons he was even scared to see her now. From morning he was thinking about her. That was some inexplicable fear. He never intended to be so. For a thosandth time he just wanted to get rid of everything. Everything that happened. But he couldn’t.
He started the engine and drove the car. It was a ten-minute drive from his office to the Highway Garden restaurant. There was not much traffic, yet it was difficult driving in that lane. His mind was pre-occupied with her thoughts. He still could vividly remember her soft yet hurt tone. “I’m Sorry for Everything.”
she was standing near the parking-space with her usual smile. He opened the windows, waved at her and got out of the car. She was the same person. There was no change in her usual self. They walked into the restaurant. Since it was their regular Eat-out, everyone knew them well. They took a table and she sat opposite to him. He kept looking at hew wrist-watch. It was his Gift for her last birthday. she was reading the menu.They sat in complete silence till a waiter came for order. She ordered a Plate of rice and curd and he a coffee. It was usual of her to have curd and rice. There were no other thoughts that he could now think about her. She sat in silence thinking about his deep contemplation. He sensed that she was staring at him. suddenly it was all strange for them to be sitting there. It was all difficult for him to sit silently in her company. Silence was not an Uncomfortable disturbance between them till yesterday. He wished that she could better speak anything.
He looked at her and uttered the same words that had been his mantra from yesterday evening.”I’m Sorry-“. All she could do was to smile at him. Her genuine Smile. She patted his hands and spoke. Her tone was soft and low yet firm. He strained to listen, “I know that you cannot think about anything else. And I can understand how it is to be you now.”
“But It is not that-” she gestured him to listen to her by placing her hands on his and squeezing them gently.
“If you cannot feel guilty about anything and can still afford to be the same friend. I wouldn’t have stopped you and I would have yielded to you. But how complex and unfortunate human mind and relationships are!” She continued. “If You are mature enough not to regret for any ‘Untoward things’ that happens between us and still remain yourself. I wouldn’t have objected. But I know You. So I had to tell a positive NO.”
He Looked at her with tears welling up in his eyes. she patted him and he fell on her Shoulders and broke down uncontrollably. “Listen Ram, I don’t want to hurt you or make you feel guilt about anything. Whatever happens, I can only be your Friend. Nothing less or nothing more.”