This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘I’m glad to meet you too. You’ve not changed at all!’ she pauses to collect all the energy she can muster and says, ‘I have moved on in my life and I’m in a relationship; I’m afraid we don’t have anything to talk about’ she says. Abhinav looks in her cold eyes, not able to get any hint about the truth in her words. Arpit shrieks in agony, ‘Are you kidding me?’
The flight lands at Pune. It’s 7.30 PM. Arpit and Abhinav collect their luggage and head towards the exit. Arpit books an Ola cab and they get in quickly to reach Kalyani Nagar – where Latika stays.
Abhinav collects a bouquet of flowers from a florist en route. As he writes her name on the card, all he can hear are his loud heartbeats. He can see her dreamy eyes, her face jovial with laughter and her hair still untied and messy. His thoughts bring a smile on his face.
They reach her building residence at 8.15 PM. Kalyani Nagar is 8 kilometres away from the airport and is well connected to major IT parks in the city. It is the best place to rent an apartment, given the proximity to commercial spaces. They sit down in the lobby, waiting for Latika to reach home.
Latika leaves from her office in Koregaon Park at 8.00 PM and drives her Etios Cross back home to Kalyani Nagar. She reaches the building at 8.30 PM. Abhinav watches her drive inside the premises – she parks her car, turns off her headlights and unbelts her seatbelt and gets out.She opens the second door to pick up her laptop bag and purse and locks the car.
She is wearing a pencil skirt and formal shirt, with impeccable heels and a dark lipstick. Her hair is bound perfectly in a french bun; that’s the only plus point given how she has messed herself up otherwise. She has hidden herself beneath the layers of superficial perfection. She walks past the lobby towards the lift checking messages on her cell phone when a voice stops her. A chill passes through her entire body. Her frantic attempts to calm down don’t work. All she can hear is the Coldplay song ‘Shadow of the Day’ playing in the background – like the day of farewell – when he broke up with her. Four years have passed, but she is still stuck there; unable to move ahead.
She takes a deep breath and braces herself to face him; she turns around to see Abhinav after four years – He is still the same, maybe his eyes have become more intense; but there is no sign of visible struggle on his face, unlike hers.
‘Latika, hi’ He pauses, the sound of lobby fan suddenly feels like an irritation to what he has to say. She notices Arpit along and is glad they both have finally patched up. ‘It’s great to see you after so long!’ This is the only thing Abhinav can come up with along with an innocent true smile on his face.
She steels herself from his charm and tells what she had decided she’d say if he ever comes back to her.’I’m glad to meet you too. You’ve not changed at all!’ she pauses to collect all the energy she can muster to go on, ‘I have moved on in my life and I’m in a relationship; I’m afraid we don’t have anything to talk about.’ Abhinav looks in her cold eyes, not able to get any hint about the truth in her words. Arpit shrieks in agony, ‘Are you kidding me?’
Before she can say anything further, the elevator doors open up and she gets inside it, closing them from within. Abhinav tries to stop the elevator but in vain. As the doors close, she catches a final glimpse of Abhinav, trying to keep the door open.
She breaks down into tears, clutching her stomach the moment the doors close and kicks in the air, angry on herself for the tears flowing down her cheeks. She is strong, what is she crying for? She can never forgive Abhinav for what he did to her, although she understands what his state of mind was.
Abhinav starts walking back out of the lobby, when Arpit pulls him up. He catches his hand and they run up the staircase to second floor. Latika has already opened her house door and got in; she closes it with a bang as she sees them approaching.
Arpit can listen to her shrill cries in the midst of her efforts to calm down. ‘Latika. I know you’re on the other side of this door. I want to apologise for what I did to you two guys, it’s because of my fault you both couldn’t be together. All I ask today is you stop punishing each other and open the door. I request you to calm down and open the door. Please talk to me. Punish me, not yourself and Abhinav.’ Arpit keeps saying as he bangs the door for mercy.
Abhinav stops Arpit from banging the door further. He leans on it with the help of his hands and tries to listen to Latika. Latika is observing him through the peephole – she tries to touch his hands with hers on the other side of the door in desperation.
She feels like tearing herself apart – there’s a part of her which wants to break open the door and kiss him and there’s another which has been trained over years to despise him forever. She is stuck as the two parts keep fighting internally.
‘Latika, I love you. I’ve loved you throughout these years – there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t think about you in Berlin. You left an abyss in my life which nothing could fill – not even a new country. I miss you and want you back in my life, forever.’ Latika’s sobs stop. She is listening to what he has to say – it is slowly making an impact on the huge walls she has built around her.
Abhinav kneels down in front of the door and quotes a proposal from Latika’s favourite TV Series – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. ‘I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realised the only thing that matters is you,’ he pauses to wipe tears from his eyes, ‘You make me happier than I ever thought I could be;’ a frenzy grips his body as he continues speaking, ‘and if you’ll let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way. Latika, marry me.’
Unable to repress her emotions further, Latika decides to end her self-indicted pain and opens the door to a kneeling and teary eyed Abhinav; she kneels down and kisses him. She finds herself blossom back to life with him by her side.
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