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Was That A Favor?

I was in Metro Mall when I saw him in a coffeehouse. I saw him after almost twenty years. I looked at him from afar, but he didn't seem to have changed much. But when I reached for him, the brightness of his eyes looked a bit reduced, and he was wearing reading glasses. I went to his table. He got up and greeted me!

He was surprised to see me, "Rina, you here?"

I said, "After all, I found you. When did you come to India?"

He smiled and said, "I never went anywhere outside of India? That's all. I am a professor at a college in the village.

I laughed and said, "Well, so you didn't expect to meet me here? How have you changed so much, Abi? " He also just kept on laughing and saying sorry. "You used to dream of London from college time. Now you say you're at a local college, how come?

For me, it was really just a question. Abi was a lecturer at a reputed private college, and he played an important role in fulfilling the dreams of many students. The same Abi is now a lecturer at an anonymous local college. Abi deferred the matter and said, "Come on, I will not be able to tell you the details today." I will come back after a week. Then things will happen over a strong coffee in your favorite restaurant.

So has he never been to London? And his marriage? It was like a puzzle to me.

After Abi left, I sat for hours in the maze of days spent with him. He had asked me in the first meeting itself, "It seems that you have been preparing for the lecture by staying awake all night."

I asked how he knew. He said, "Seeing your dark, tired eyes, I know you didn't sleep last night, even for a moment." so innocent in the first meeting. I felt a little strange, but well.

After that, we started meeting. Our tastes and our views were similar. So we started to enjoy spending time with each other. Sometimes we had coffee together, sometimes an evening tea. Between tea and coffee, we could not understand how such a relationship had developed between us. A relationship we had no name for. A relationship that was definitely more than friendship, perhaps the beginning of a relationship. We just had trust in each other. I trusted him that if we ever faced a problem, we would be able to stand together for each other.

During that time, my parents wanted me to get married, but I had other plans. So, Abi would come to tell them that he wanted to marry me. That was true; he wanted to be my life partner.

One day, suddenly, Abi said that he was preparing for a job in London. When asked, he said that he had gotten some good offers in London. We were all very happy for him, although I had a strange feeling in my heart. I could not even meet him, but he left without even telling me.

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Then, finally, I got married. My husband was also a lecturer at the same college. After our marriage, my husband told me that he knew about my friendship with Abi. And then I forgot all about Abi.

But now that he was here, I kept thinking about him and making various guesses for the next seven days. My mind was moving very fast, so fast that even I was confused. Many times, my mind would blame me, saying that I too had made a mistake. I too got entangled in my children, family, and college, so I could never even get information about him. And then going abroad meant becoming a foreigner in those days. Over time, our friendship left 'just a sweet memory'. And today, it was like a puzzle that he didn't meet me even though he didn't go to London.

When my husband came home from college that day, I asked him, "Did you know Abi had never been to London?" My husband said, "He came to know about this only yesterday." He was in a hurry as he was to attend a seminar in Mumbai two days later. I also thought it was good that by the time he returns, there will be another meeting with Abi and I will be able to ask my questions.

After two days of restlessness, when the doorbell rang, Abi was once again standing in front of me. I said sarcastically, "So this time you have really come." I was thinking you had ditched me once again. You left without telling me the last time. I felt bad about my sarcastic laugh, though.

Abi said, "I don't lie, but did I say something wrong?"

I could just say, "I don't know."

She had just brought coffee for Abi when he asked, "What's the matter, Rina?" You look a bit angry and upset."

I said, "No"

Abi put his hands on my shoulders and said, "Why are you lying?"

I looked into his eyes and said, "Do you think only you have the right to lie?"

Abi realized his mistake. The biggest drawback to being a good person is that you are not able to hide your lies. That's why I didn't have to ask. He himself started explaining his lie, "Yes, I told a lie to all of you, and telling you the truth might have changed my decision at that time."

Abi once again tried to avoid me, but my eyes kept staring at him to hear his answer.

Keeping the cup of coffee on the table, he took a long breath and said, "You may recall that our college's management initiated an economic drive shortly after your marriage. Under that, it was decided to remove some faculties. It was decided in the meeting that junior lecturers in any subject would be removed. A member of the committee has already told me that one of our close friends will be removed. I knew that that junior lecturer was your future husband. "

I was surprised, "My future husband, what do you mean?"

"Abi said, "Yes, your father wanted you to stay back in India, so he had decided to marry you to him, and he was in the same college."

I was stunned on hearing this.

It was your dream to have your own house in this city. I could imagine living in that house with confidence and satisfaction. Then your father's image came into my eyes. Your future husband had taken out loans for a house and a car for you. With the loss of his job, the shattered dreams of your family. I was horrified at the mere thought of his face with the effects of loan EMIs and other troubles caused by not having a job. And you know, I wanted to save your father and future husband from all that trouble.

That's why I told the management and all of you that I was going to London, and I resigned. Management handed over my responsibility to Dev, your husband now. But, I must call it my destiny that I got into an argument with the management after leaving half the assignment, and that is why the college did not give me a good experience certificate.

It was difficult to get a job at a good college, so I changed my dreams. There were good students in my village college, but there was no one to prepare for a foreign assignment there. I took that job. I thought if I could make it my dream to fulfil their dreams, maybe I would be happy too. I am happy that I have been able to fulfil the dreams of many children over the years. Yes, one thing definitely happened. Engaging in all this, my age has passed and I did not get married.

Saying all this, Abi laughed. I kept looking at him in awe. Call him a good person or someone who has sacrificed his love for me. One who has found his success in the success of others. I did not want to belittle him by thanking him. If he had had his reason for this sacrifice, I didn't want to insult it by saying a few words.

Then he left. Seeing him leave, it was as if I was watching the god of love leaving after giving me his blessings.


#theinkwell prompt "Two people who used to be in love many years ago see one another across the grocery store. What then?"

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