She sat on a rusty old bench in the middle of the bustling market. Her head felt heavy, her heart heavier. The feeling had been with her for a while, ever since she found herself talking to him like a mature and responsible adult.
She told him she couldn’t go on any further. Her undying optimism had reached an unfortunate end. This relationship, she felt intuitively, wasn’t going to last.
He didn’t object. Instead, he solemnly agreed. Perhaps, surprised at his own ability to have an emotionally mature conversation.
“I understand”, he assured her and that did it. She was crushed beneath the weight of all those memories. The good ones and the bad ones. Under the debris of her delightful dreams. Once and for all, she stood face to face with her future. A future- having a close friend but always apart.
They really didn’t know what to say. Not that they hadn’t seen it coming. They did sometimes reach a very low point, but their level of endurance was significantly high that they always pulled through. They had screamed and stomped off. Laughed hysterically and cried stupidly. But nothing mattered now.
What did matter was that they were not going to end up together. Unlike what their love horoscopes had predicted. Damn those daily horoscopes. Damn those stars.
“I know you’re going to cry”, he said, trying to look her in the eye.
“No way! I am past all that. No more crying”, she retorted. A tear instantly rolled down her cheek.
He smiled as if he understood. Just like he had said.
She thought of all the possibilities. Maybe, they could give each other more time. Maybe, they could go on until it would fall apart one day. Inevitably. Or maybe…
While all those “What ifs” and “Buts” hung above their heads in mid air, the world around them moved. Tiny tots licked away at their melting ice creams and vendors screamed out their wares. The women stole a glance at her, from the corner of their eyes, as they dragged bags of vegetables. Some men stared open mouth, at the young couple who sat frozen in time and silence.
“Maybe, we could…”, she started
“Yeah maybe, but it would still not turn out all too well,” he completed her thoughts.
She wanted to strangle him and run away. She wanted to yell at those men leering from the side. She wanted to cry so badly. However, she could do none of it.
The heaviness in her head numbed her senses. She felt empty.
“You always knew, didn’t you? You know I never promised you anything. I could try my best, but I don’t want to hurt you.”
“But I thought…dammit, how could I be so stupid? I thought we could end up together… like… like forever!”
She stifled a sob. He shook his head in disappointment.
“It’s not that simple,” he said, his voice dull and low.
She straightened her shoulders and managed a laugh. She looked away. Only if things were actually that simple.
Damn religion, she told herself. Damn all religions who forbade people in finding happiness in each other.
The market was still bustling as ever. Nothing had changed in those fifteen minutes except that she felt different now. Strangely different.
“Oh, do you want one of those?”
He went up to a scrawny and hungry boy. In his hand, the boy held a pole around which fluttered a dozen paper wind fans. She didn’t know if they had any particular name. Those paper fans, circular in shape strung together with colour paper. The ones that made everything look so simple.
She smiled at him, knowingly. Many a time she had wanted to get one of those and run along with the wind. But like so many things undone, she hadn’t.
As she blew through it, she felt that strange feeling again. Everything seemed okay fora moment. The people, the chaos, the colour.
Her complicated adult life had suddenly given way to her old carefree childhood. It didn’t last longer than that moment though.
He tried to make her laugh. He called her, his “Best-est Friend!” He kept dumping on her the title ,” The World’s Best Friend”.
She wanted to puke. Puke out all those ridiculous syllables and hug him tight.
She wished everything would be alright, like it used to be.
The biggest mistake they had done was to fall in love in the headiness of their youth. They had fallen in love so badly that they couldn’t come out of it. But a lot of people commit the same mistake, she consoled herself. A lot of people repeat them too.
Nothing made her feel better. Nothing. Instead, everything fell into place.
They had spoken about burying their happiness and randomness of their young adult lives. Something which they had kept delaying for such a long time.
“I should have known better,” she muttered under her breath.
She smiled and offered her hand. He squeezed it hard, attempting his best to hide the remains of his broken heart.
They left that market, like two empty souls. She thought she would die on the spot while he gazed blankly ahead. As they walked, they made silly jokes and grabbed at each other’s hands.
They knew what they were walking into.
Everything hurt so badly. Absolutely everything.
There were too many memories to even start the act the forgetting.
‘We will be fine,” they told each other, very well knowing the truth.
“All we need is time,” he remarked.
That’s what they all say, a voice inside her said. That’s what everyone is going to say.
“I know I will take a very long time,” she told him, unable to stop her words.
She crossed the road and began walking home, with the fan moving fast in her hand. She took a few steps and stopped abruptly to look back, hoping he would follow her.
She walked ahead, her head heavy, her heart heavier.
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