One Last Try
On Monday, I decided to contact Vikram.
“Try once,” Miki had said. “Don’t expect anything to come out of it, but give it a go, so that you don’t regret not trying.”
So after lunch, when the rest of my team was still in the cafeteria or off for an after-lunch smoke or walk, I pinged Vikram.
“Hi,” came the reply.
“How are you?”
“I’m very well. How are you?”
“Great, thanks. So how was the weekend?”
“It was nice. A friend had come over, so I was showing him around town. What about you?”
“Nothing special. Got some much needed rest.”
I waited for a few moments, my fingers poised over the keyboard, willing more words to appear in the small window.
“Is that it?” cried Mandakini. “He’s not going to mention our last meeting? Suggest meeting up again? Why is he behaving like a stranger?”
“Well, I tried,” said Miki. “I initiated the conversation. If he had anything to say, he would have said it.”
“I can’t believe he’s ignoring me like that!”
“Well, I didn’t expect anything better. But… at least I tried.”
“Oh, what am I going to do?”
“Don’t think about it. It’ll go away. Don’t think about it.”
So I pushed it out of my mind and concentrated on work. I found excuses to stay at work longer, having dinner in office, so when I went home I just pulled off my clothes and slept. As soon as I got up in the morning, I put the radio on, loud. I didn’t want to be able to think. I didn’t want to hear Miki and Mandakini going at it in my head.
About a week after that short chat conversation with Vikram, I went into the cafeteria for an evening snack. I was hungry, and dinner was still a couple of hours away. I bought a puff and went over to the coffee machine to pour myself a cup, when I saw them.
Vikram was sitting at the table in the corner by the window, with his back to the room. Next to him was a pretty young girl from his department. She was looking at him and smiling. He was sitting close enough to touch her. As I watched, he placed his hand on her arm, just below her shoulder. His fingers rubbed her skin while she smiled warmly at him.
I heard someone behind me and jumped. The guy standing there smiled apologetically, waving his mug. I grabbed my cup and moved out of the way so that he could get his coffee.
“Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think,” chanted Miki.
I took my coffee and puff back to my desk and ate, reading some blogs at the same time. Once I was done I went back to work, checking on each of my teammates and chatting to them on how things were going. Each time my mind conjured up that picture of Vikram with the girl, Miki chanted, “Don’t think, don’t think.”
But finally, once I talked to all my team mates and cleared out my work for the day, when the area around me emptied as people went home or walked to the cafeteria for dinner, I couldn’t not think about it anymore.
I couldn’t stop that picture from forming in my mind then, of how Vikram had sat so close to her, as he’d never done with me in public, and how he’d touched her arm…
I wanted to puke. I went to the bathroom, locked myself in a stall and cried. I could hear voices outside, and doors opening and closing. I waited until the sounds died down, and came out and washed my face. It was time to go home.
Late that night, I lay in bed with my eyes wide open.
“Why is he behaving like that?” cried Mandakini again. “I thought we were friends. I thought we were close… Did it mean nothing to him, the time we spent together?”
“Maybe I’m reading too much into it,” said Miki. “Nothing much happened, after all. We went on, what, two dates? We talked for a few hours, shared a few intimate moments. That doesn’t make us best friends. That doesn’t make us soulmates, or even lovers.”
“But why does he not want to talk to me?”
“Maybe he realised this wasn’t right for him – that I wasn’t right for him. In fact, I suspect he’s right.”
“But why didn’t he talk to me about it? Why did he just pretend nothing had ever happened?”
“I suppose he didn’t have the courage to deal with it. Well, at least he moved away before things had gone forward, before I had become more involved.”
“That’s just my ego. It hurts to have a guy so quickly move on from me to someone else, again. But I never really wanted Vikam, did I? He was for me too, just a diversion, an attempt to cure my loneliness.”
“So I used him as much as he used me?”
“I suppose you could say that,” Miki smiled. “But it was a mistake, anyway. I wish I had found a nicer guy, someone I could at least have remained friends with.”
What could I learn from this mistake?
I remembered Smriti’s rule: never date anyone from work. That might be a good start. Then you wouldn’t have to face the person every day after you had broken up.
But work was the biggest part of my life. It was where I spent most of my time. I didn’t party much, so I was unlikely to meet men that way. If I ruled the office out, where was I ever to meet the right guy?
The rule needed amending. Be very careful before you date someone from work.
But what about someone outside of work? Shouldn’t I be careful there too? Even more careful, because I would have less chance to observe him in neutral ground and learn what he was really like.
Be careful before you date anyone. This was better, though rather vague.
I should have waited to become better friends with Vikram. That might have told me earlier what he was really like, and I wouldn’t have put myself into this awkward situation.
But how do you decide whether you know someone well enough? And wasn’t dating a good way of finding out more? How would I have known how Vikram would treat me if I hadn’t dated him?
Screw rules. I would take it as it comes.
Maybe one rule: enjoy the journey.