A Coffee in the Park!!
“Varsha, I’ll get you a coffee, stay here only, okay?” said Karthik.
She nodded saying “Ok, be back fast”.
She walked a bit and sat down in one of the benches in the garden. It was quite late in the night and there were not many people in her vicinity in a star-less night with the clouds covering the moon and the only source of vision were those lightings on both sides of the paths in the park and they were small enough to hide the tears in her eyes.
Her last four years flashed through her mind and she closed her eyes to let her mind talk with the breeze.
Varsha and Ananya lived in a rented house, in the a floor above the owners, another malayali family permanently settled here in Bangalore. Varsha worked as a clerical staff in the most glamorous and loved youth magazine of the town but those words failed to find a meaning in her life. For Varsha and her 3 year old kid Ananya or Anu, this house was their heaven and hell and all. It had a common room, a kitchen and a bedroom with a bathroom attached to it, and their common room and kitchen making up as their place to dine. Varsha left Anu in a play school while at work and often received a crying baby at the end of the day.
In the evenings they never had any TV to entertain them neither a computer to bring the world to their fingertips. Evenings were usually silent with Varsha busy on some books and Anu never really had the cute kind of life, usually any 3 year old had. Life was silent for them but the important thing was that it’s been sailing forward without much of troubles for the last 3 years.
A pat on the shoulder shook her. She was in this world, not of dreams or horrors, of her on life, the way it’s been for the last 3 years. She turned back to see who it was and found Karthik with a smile in his face, has he changed at all in the last three years? , thought Varsha.
Karthik saw the traces of wiped off tears down her cheeks and thought how no woman can quite hide the tears in their faces and the sadness in their hearts, even while trying to!! The tears in her eyes made him realize that she might need to spend a bit more time alone and so excused himself saying he had to go make a phone call from the booth.
“Hmm...Yeah, okay!” replied in a lame voice. She watched Karthik disappear into the semi darkness,
Karthik has never changed a bit, thought Varsha, he’s the same guy she has known for ever, the same Karthik with whom she leapt into the pond every single day while in her child hood days, the same Karthik with whom she went riding cycle for hours in their native place, the same Karthik who taught her Mathematics the night before her 10th class boards and the same Karthik who presented her with a kiss in her right cheek on her 17th b’day. Karthik had promised with another kiss on her 18th b’day that he would, till his last breath, be with her, and it was a love, which had no origin and which they knew will never have an end, a love story without boundaries.
Today the same Karthik has just become her most un-expected guest.
(Earlier in the evening…)
Even though they had a calling-bell at the door, it was never used as they never had any guests, unless when Anu used to make Varsha ring it, her fondness for the ting-tong sound, but today at 8 PM it was strange to hear the ting-tong again and Anu came running from the bedroom thinking Varsha rang it, just to put a smile across Anu’s face, only to see Varsha busy with her cooking. Varsha was equally surprised to hear the ring and called out ;
“Who is this?”
“Varsha… Karthi…Its Karthik…” was the reply from the other side.
The name had sent vibes through her body and she was nothing more than a statue for a few seconds until Anu enquired who it was! She took Anu by side and opened the door. Karthik was not shocked at the sight but Varsha was, not shocked, but sad and that was quite visible in her eyes and her face and the dullness in dimples proved it all.
Karthik came in, he wore a blue shaded jeans and a casual t-shirt with some crazy writings, he still had the look of a college-goer and look at Varsha, who was in her night dress, Anu clinging on to her clothes, yes she’s a mother!! Varsha found starting a conversation a bit tough, not because he’s a stranger, but because she knew him too well and she had done too many things, she should never have done.
“I got your address from one of your old class mates at Bangalore…” said Karthik while stepping into their house and Varsha nodded closing the door. Varsha went to the corner switchboard and switched on the fan.
“What’s your name kiddie…” Karthik turned towards Anu and asked just to break the strong silence that prevailed in the room.
“Myy! name isssss Ananyaa…” replied Anu in a childish-rhyming way. (My name is Ananya.)
“Anu…my………daughter” added Varsha in a slow, paused way.
Karthik responded with a nice smile and kept his trekking bag in a chair and looked around the house, another few broken moments of silence.
“So what do you do now Varsha?”
“I work at a Magazine office, you?”
“I am about to complete my CA. Magazine? You became a writer?? ” asked a seemingly astonished Karthik.
A smile slipped into her for the first time since the ring of the doorbell.
“No…not a writer, as a clerical staff” replied with an extended smile and the tensions eased out.
The conversation went on in a light way for few minutes while Varsha served him a cup of coffee.
“Varsha…why don’t you come back, to home, your grandfather had asked me to search for you and persuade you to come back, at least once. Forget all that had happened…” said Karthik
“No Karthik, I never even expected to meet you, and I am sure, and particular, I am not going back, I can’t go back, no one will ever forgive me for my mischiefs” replied Varsha.
Karthik on hearing those words felt distressed and readied to leave. Varsha persuaded him to stay with them for this night and once Anu was off to bed, asked Karthik if they could go out for a walk.
(Karthik is back after phone call)
She heard the sound of approaching footsteps and turned back to see him, it’s been about 5 minutes alone. She thought if Karthik had gone to call her grandfather to tell him that he had met Varsha at last!??
Karthik came near her and handed her a bottle of Orange juice. She took it but never opened the cap.
“Karthik, can I say something?” said Varsha
“Yes, you said you wanted to talk to me while at home and haven’t spoken a word yet” said Karthik
“Karthik, I am sorry for what had happened, and what I have done to you, I was so out of control at Bangalore…” she paused and glanced at Karthik’s face. Karthik didn’t utter a word, but indicated her to continue speaking and Varsha thought, Karthik has really matured over this 3 years.
“Actually, it all happened during our second year, we were just playing games, we were playing tricks on a guy, I acted like I had a crush on him, but he was an innocent guy and………I don’t know what happened ……I changed a lot, used to drink with girls……” she paused over and again and checked the expression on Karthik’s face. His face was calm and pleasant and the look in his face made her feel a bit more comfortable.
“ I fall in love with him…and decided to get married, but … but he died in a bike accident the day before our register marriage, it was a few days before my graduation…”
“ Then why didn’t you return to home or call me?” interrupted Karthik.
“ I was pregnant…” she was looking down and went to the bench and sat down there covering her face, as if to hide the tears.
“ But Varsha, how could you…, I haven’t seen you for 4 years…… and not for one moment have i thought about anyone else… and you…from college…it was shocking when I heard this news from your friends and I was angry and made up in my mind that I will never ever check for you again” Karthik spoke this time and Varsha was looking into his eyes, she sensed the pain in his eyes and touched his palm, symbolically asking for an apology.
“Karthi…” she called him but he didn’t reply.
“ Will you accept me now?” she never planned to ask such a question, but it just came out of her mouth.
“ But you don’t love me anymore, and if you didn’t care to even make a call in the last 3 years, why now?” asked a seemingly shocked Karthik but in a stern voice.
Varsha remained silent. Karthik continued
“…you said you won’t even come home with me, even to meet your grandfather…then why now all of a sudden?? ”
“Karthik, this is not about if I love you or not, this is about life and the reality of it. What I want at this time is safety ……. Security ….. Care …. I want to be ensured a life, where I know I have something to look forward to every evening, when I know I need to wake up early in the morning to prepare food for my family and serve my husband a cup of bed tea, someone to look after and guide Anu…… something like life and family ” replied Varsha with her eyes meeting that of Karthik’s.
“But you never thought all these 3 years ago…” said Karthik who now stood up and took the Orange juice bottle from her hand and took a gulp.
She didn’t have another word to say but enough was conveyed in that single mention of Karthik …the pain in her heart…the support and the care she and Anu missed…the loneliness in her life…everything.
Karthik sat down in the bench just as Varsha had stood up to join Karthik; Karthik took another gulp of the juice and looked at his watch. He said it was 12.10 in the midnight and enquired when she had office the next day. She said she would take a leave if Karthik stayed back. They decided to go back to her home, which was just 15 minutes’ walk away. They walked slowly and in silence, often looking into the other one’s face and in an instant, Karthik grabbed her hands and asked
“ Varsha, we have been inseparable for the first 20 years of our lives, unfortunate moments occurred and all these 3-4 years were the price we had to pay for it…” he paused , with a smile and continued “ … I will go back home tomorrow and talk to grandfather and convince everyone…”
Those words were spoken as if he had prepared them in his heart beforehand. Varsha had tears rolling down her cheeks and Karthik smiled at her with a widely open mouth, she wiped off her tears and stood there for once, it was just 5 minutes from the building.
Karthik looked surprised and stood back too. Varsha came near to him and kissed him gently and murmured in his ears “ I am sorry for …”
Karthik didn’t let her finish the sentence as he closed her mouth with his hand and said…
“All that happened yesterday has disappeared with the setting sun, I am glad I found you out at least today, all these were our fate, which just had to happen, which just had happened and this is also fate, now all that remains is us. Me, you & Anu”
Varsha was relieved to hear those words and she held on to his hands and felt the warmth and they walked silently to her, to their house.
A story about love, hatred, emotions, feelings, relationships…A story of Life! The most important things in anyone’s life is the safety and the security of their life, the belief that someone is there for them, always.