Aditya moved on easily without me. I wish I could say it was the same with me, but it wasn’t. I craved for his attention even though I knew it wasn’t going to come my way. I lapped up the sympathy that my friends offered me. Darshan, being the nice guy that he was started dropping by every evening to cheer me up.
Of course, I wasn’t upset all the time, but left on my own, I used to turn broody and gloomy.
A couple of weeks into my new relationship with Darshan, I became aware of his feelings for me. I knew I had to put a stop to it then and there. I knew I wasn’t ready to be with any one. I wasn’t even sure whether I would ever be ready to be with anyone. But Darshan was there for me to salvage my broken pride and my broken heart and I played along.
I played my part perfectly. The batting of eyelashes, the shy smiles, the seemingly innocent text messages.
Suchitra and Meghna weren’t happy with the way things were progressing.
“Why are you doing this Anagha?” They asked me. Only Ann understood. I was hurting so bad inside, that I had to pass it on to someone else. It wasn’t selfish as far as I was concerned. If someone could use me and then cast me aside, why was I expected to bother about some one else’s feelings?. I wasn’t proud of the way I thought but it was all about self preservation. In this game, someone had to get hurt and I was going to make sure that it wasn’t going to be me. I had built a wall around my heart, so thick that even I couldn’t pierce through it.
Vikram watched quietly from the sidelines. Every weekend without fail, we would meet at the bookshop which was followed by coffee. Never did he once, offer his opinion on my relationship status. And I was grateful for that. I was already been judged by a million people in my college.
Each time they would see Aditya walk by with his new girlfriend in tow, heads would turn and look at me to capture my reaction. Our little romance wasn’t such a secret after all.
Darshan and I didn’t last very long as expected. There was one thing I absolutely hated about him, he wasn’t Aditya. I picked on him constantly, stood him up regularly, never called when I promised I would. Initially, being horrid to him gave me a sense of relief. I was in control of this relationship. I called the shots.
Darshan, patiently bore it all.
But soon, Darshan’s feelings started getting to me. I could no longer avoid the fact that I was hurting a friend.
The next day, I told Darshan I couldn’t be with him anymore. I will never forget the look on his face as he heard me blabber an explanation for my erratic and often terrible behavior.
“But Anagha, I’m prepared to look past all that. Can’t we start afresh?” Couldn’t we? I couldn’t. I knew that for sure. I knew I didn’t want to be with Aditya, but I also know that I couldn’t be with anyone other than Aditya.
The hurt, disbelief and anger on his face mirrored what I had felt when Aditya had backed away from me. I knew then, that I had lost a friend and nothing was going to make it alright. Ever.