Why Me! (6)

“Excuse me, Sir! It is time to close the cafe!” the waitress interrupted Erin.
He raised his head slowly and smiled. My heart smiled a million times in that moment.
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“Oh! We’re so sorry! Cmon Anna, let’s leave!” He said while he rose from the chair.
“Noooo!” I shouted out. He looked at me confused. “I mean, not until you promise me that you will tell the rest of it! Tonight!”

He was certainly amused at my behavior. I didn’t care. I had a terrible tendency, impatience. I was not someone to wait for the next episodes so I rarely watched the soaps and dramas on television. Even the books I read, were usually completed by me in a day or two, maximum.

And this, the Story of Erin! I couldn’t wait for it. And with Erin, I was always nervous, any moment he could turn into that Unbearable Mode of his.

“Alright Anna! Let’s move from here,” he said taking long strides towards the exit. I followed behind him quickly.
When we were outside, the night had gone darker. The ambience was as serene as it could be on a Friday. The day the world waits eagerly for, to welcome two days of relief and dread another traumatic week ahead.

When we walked a few steps, with me striding along him, I asked,”What happened that day, Erin?”
He looked at me, gestured towards a bench inside a children’s park.
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I walked with him and we occupied the bench. There were other couples out, having a romantic moment. We quietly sat. It looked as though he was testing my patience. He smiled and finally began.

“That day,on the 15th of April, when I saw her walk in that beautiful white laced gown, my heart jumped from its place. Her dress was as delicate as the strings of a music instrument. Each sequin added its shine to make her look divine. The chiffon and netted full sleeves, her long white trail, with small soft white flowers attached, the diamond necklace on her white skin, her blond hair, with its big curls falling on her shoulder. Ohh Anna! She was the epitome of divinity, of beauty, a dream woman of any man.
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When I saw her walk down the aisle, her thin arm interlinked with her father’s, a huge white flowers bouquet in hand, I knew I had been the most foolish man who walked on the earth. I had just taken her for granted. I had been running behind the fake glittering pieces of plastic, and lost out on the diamond which destiny had given to me. Sometimes we are so blinded, we lose that which heaven has bestowed on us.

Watching her move towards Alan, her good looking, handsome groom, made me break with each step she took. She was smiling, but I knew her pain now, as the same pain was now in me. I could hear my heart call out to her, and suddenly my eyes were unable to see her clearly. When I blinked my eyes, tear drops fell which had clouded my eyes. I wiped the tears off.
I looked at her. She was surrounded by all and she had a smile on her face. When suddenly her eyes landed on me, I could see her expression change. The pain which her eyes had and which I felt only now.
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It was too late. I couldn’t even think of confessing my feelings to her now. It was delayed awakening of love in me and I was equally surprised about the feelings that had overwhelmed my heart. I watched the woman, with whom I had spent the most memorable times of my life, the woman who knew me so well, the woman who had told me that she loved me even before I had felt anything, that woman, today would become another’s. And I was a mute spectator. As soon as the priest announced them husband and wife and Alan walked towards her for the ritualistic kiss, I turned and walked away.

Never to see her, whom I had lost even before I knew her in the best way. Now I knew why she was so upset in the days that followed her engagement. Now I knew why she was all disturbed. Now I knew about love. Everything made sense while I had been the most insensible. I lost her and then realized her value.”

“After that, I left the city and relocated here, on the pretext of career opportunities. And the rest is left, doomed for being hidden forever.”

“You’ve never met her again?” I asked curiously.
“No! We communicate by mails or messenger but I don’t want to get near her,” he replied calmly, and continued, “I don’t want her to know that my heart had felt the same, but it was too late in doing so. I don’t want her to regret, that we could have had a future together.”

“That was madness! You should have said it! You should have stopped the marriage!” I exclaimed.
“I couldn’t Anna. It is not so easy. I was confused already, and I was unaware of the feelings that had creeped into my heart. When I was not so sure about it, how could I convince anyone about it. I didn’t even know if Janie would believe. It could be just my jitters as my companion of many many years was moving away. I didn’t want to stop her marriage, just because of my impulsive feelings of love.”

“Hmmm! That is really sad Erin. I feel for you!” I said softly.
“It has passed off Anna. Been two years and I have moved ahead. But you know, I realized, how strongly women feel things. You people are so clear about what your heart says and wants. It is a strange gift bestowed on you. We men, specially ones like me, usually are late in understanding and realizing matters of the heart!” He smiled and said as though it was my accomplishment.

“That is because we feel before we think Erin, and what we feel we don’t deny or refuse to accept. Most of the times, given the chance, the situation and the opportunity at hand, we listen more to the heart. Guess that is why, we are emotional ones!” I winked and got up feeling all proud of my species. And then I blurted the question always in my mind.
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“Though I understand the confusion you feel when I am around. Yet, Erin, why this kind of torment for me? Please enlighten me!” The sequence of events tonight had revealed a new pathway, a new bond between us.

He smiled, got up from the bench, and came closer to me. Somehow I didn’t feel threatened by his proximity now. But I wished he wouldn’t enter the unbearable mode now.

He looked into my eyes. Those grey eyes were like the abyss where I was falling unaware and unscathed. They were so serious and yet so confused.
“You remind me of those beautiful moments I shared with her. Those times when we were so close and so careless. You remind me of my pain and my regret at being such a lousy lover. I am scared when I see you. I am nervous with you around. I feel like I am looking for Janie in you!” he said.

I was surprised. This was as unexpected as everything tonight. I kept looking at him, not knowing what to say. Finally, I spoke. “Erin, I am not Janie. Neither do I want to be her. I am your subordinate, we work at the same place. We could become friends, or cordial accomplices, or colleagues, whichever suits or seems better. If you search someone else in me, you would be disappointed. For I am me, I am Anna. And I am happy being myself!”
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He smiled again. He stayed silent, and looked at me for sometime, then he thrust his hand out and said, “So?” he paused, “Friends?” I smiled and placed my hand in his.
“Friends!” I said.

But deep within my body, within those bones and flesh, my heart fluttered and I knew, like Janie, I was bewitched by this man.
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Unbearable Erin, I hope you don’t repeat it all with me! With wishes and hopes, I waved him goodbye while I walked into the building where my apartment was. Unbearable Erin, why and when did you become Lovable Erin! I never knew!

**THE END**

So that’s it folks. Thanks for reading a longer story. Hope you all enjoyed it.

S.F.R.

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