Life is a compendium of moments. Moments can sometimes act as tutors, jokers or jailors. However, this collection also features moments which can embarrass you. Moments that should go where old roses and broken bicycles go. Moments that should never resurface. Moments that reminds you of your gaffes. Meeting your ex girlfriend can be one such moment.
A few months back I was at a friend’s wedding. Amongst the grandeur, glamour and glitter, I noticed a familiar face. For a few seconds I couldn’t recall where I had seen her before, so like any bemused student answering an exam I continued to stare at the question. And then the question stared back. Unlike the bemused student I wasn’t excited at getting the answer. She was my ex girlfriend. A woman whose life I had walked out of.
Our eyes met for a few seconds and then our vision was obstructed by my friend. He told its time for the Borjaatri (groom’s convoy) to leave. My faith in the Almighty was restored. Quickly I left with him. Since I was the groom’s best friend I had the privilege of sitting next to him in the car. While she was with the other members of the family in a bus.
As soon as we reached the venue a strange palpitation began in my heart. I knew I would be seeing her. But the fact that quite a number of my friends would be there somehow comforted me. Like every Indian wedding it didn’t start on time and like every Bengali wedding it was meant to go on for quite some time.
By midnight the bride and groom had exchanged the garlands. In Indian films this is how a wedding ends, but in an Indian wedding this is how the film begins. And with that my friends began to leave. Apparently they had offices the next day. Apparently I was the only one who had taken a leave the next day. Well, not the only one. In a few minutes it was revealed that she and I were the only ones amongst friends who would be staying back to witness the entire wedding.
Our eyes met again. Ideally a conversation should begin with a hello, but we left it at a smile. Guilt crept into my heart. We were at a wedding. Four years back we had discussed wedding. We were both excited about the wedding. We were so confident about the wedding. Today while we are attending our best friend’s wedding what are the chances that this magical moment is filling her heart with anguish.
I got back to clicking pictures. The official photographer obviously had the best position to click pictures. So I settled for the second best. Suddenly she called my name. Four years had gone by. This voice never called my name. I looked at her. She was calling me. I walked up to her. “You might be able to get better pictures from here”, she said. I smiled and got back to clicking. The ice was broken. A conversation had begun.
I asked her about her job and her family. She answered all my questions. We even passed lewd comments at the couple. My friend was pretty surprised at our re-union. For a few seconds his focus was more on us than his wedding. But like all good things this too came to an end. I asked her if she could step out for a smoke. She refused. And then as if she had flashbacks of our break up, she left my side and seated herself next to the groom’s family.
The next two hours were filled with unwanted eye contacts, Sanskrit rap and failed attempts at trying to act guilt-free. Remorse can really make a man desperate. I noticed that I still had her number. I tried calling her, only to realise that she didn’t have that number.
Guilt can strike at unexpected occasions. I hadn’t seen her for four years, didn’t even think about her for three years, and in the last there hours I had felt like apologising some three hundred times. For a mistake I couldn’t even remember. I didn’t mind saying sorry. But what if she asked me why I was apologising. Was I really sorry for what I did? If someone reset time four years back would I make a different decision? No. I would have made the same choice. Much before I walked out on her, love had walked out on us. People part ways for a reason. Sometimes the reason is good enough to not give it a second chance. Sometimes it’s better to move on than to hang on.
My mind was engulfed in such thoughts when suddenly she came to me and asked me whether I could drop her home. It was three in the morning. Not the ideal time for a woman to travel alone in Delhi. I agreed. She called for a cab which would drop me back to the venue. We sat in the car and my most awkward journey started. The journey from Pitampura to Gurgaon was quite a long one. It became longer when every second felt like a minute.
She – so are you still with the same woman, or do you have a new girlfriend
I ignored her taunt and politely replied “we are going strong. Guess I have finally found the right woman
She – good for you
Me – what about you? I heard you were dating someone after we…..
She – I broke up with him a year back.
Our silence was noisier than our conversations. Even the driver was disappointed. For a strange reason I felt better that I wasn’t her last break-up. May be its human psychology or some misplaced sense of comforting oneself, but knowing that you weren’t the last person to hurt someone is quite a respite.
Me – So do you have the house keys?
She – No my husband will be awake
Me – What??? You are married?
She – Why are you shocked?
Me – I didn’t know about it
She – I asked our best friend to hide it from you. And we don’t have any other common friends anymore.
In a flash my mind was cleansed. Every inch of guilt had been cleaned. All this while I had been feeling awkward and guilty for no reason at all. I can understand the reason for awkwardness, but why the guilt. I couldn’t answer myself. In my books I hadn’t made a mistake. Yes I had hurt her, but it was a tough decision for me too.
Guilt is an honest feeling. You can lie to people and even lie to yourself for some time. But in your most private moments when you ask yourself a questions, at times you don’t like the answer your heart gives. Maybe I had been dishonest to myself all this while. Maybe I was more to blame than I thought. Maybe I left her before love left us.
The cacophony of my thoughts irked my beliefs. Thankfully we reached her home before the noise could reach a crescendo. As she got down from the car, I stepped out too. I walked till her gate. And then as I was about to say goodbye, my lips uttered the words “I am sorry for everything”. She looked and me, smiled and said “don’t be, it high time you move on.”