He waited with a bated breath for her to betray a glimpse of that unflinching storehouse of utmost affection that she had once showered on him. His condition, he felt, was like a moth ready to char itself to death in the devastating flame of the candle. He loved the heartburn more than ever. Inside him, his heart was creating a deafening ruckus. To his surprise, he realised that the lively Ananya had lost the spark she carried effortlessly as a young undergraduate in Delhi University. Prominent dark circles showed beneath bewitchingly demure eyes which had perhaps, in the last couple of years known a lot more pain than a tender soul as hers could carry. She looked so fragile and helpless. Ishaan felt dizzy, as if an ocean of emotions wrecked havoc within him. It ran in his veins with terrifying ferocity. He felt a sudden desrire to take her in his arms and let the expressive eyes tell him her story.
Ananya’s thoughts, on the other hand, were going through a turbulent storm in which incessant memories hurled themselves against her calm demeanor. They threw in front of her whatever had, at one time, passed between her and Ishaan. They had once again ignited the desire to be loved. She regretted having stopped.
But as destiny would have it, distrust and agony reigned supreme in the end, thus taming the wild turbulence her mind was racing through.
‘You must restrain yourself from trying to make amends now, Ishaan. You know that once anyone loses my trust, I’d rather not have anything to do with that person if I can help it. I’m surprised, though, that you even dared to shamelessly ask for an apology for an act that has, lets say, deleted you from my mind.’
Ishaan looked on listlessly.
‘Is it not enough, Anu, that I’ve come home to you? Now I know that it’s not Riddhi but you that I want to be with in the end. Does it matter so much that this realisation comes a bit later?’ He looked at her squarely.
Ananya shook her head in desperation, concealing the disappointment that he wasn’t able to see how much his actions had hurt him. How he had said things that would stay with her throughout life, pinching her conscience. She stood up, pushing the chair behind her with such a noise that Mrs. Rosy, the assistant librarian, looked up, eyeing her sternly. ‘Silence please!’
Embarrassed, Ananya apologised and turned to Ishaan, leaning forward and said, ‘Considering how tactless you can be at times, Ishaan Sharma, let me get my point straight. I’m just sick of your trial and error method of finding out which lucky girl takes you home. Do you think I even give a damn about who you’ve zeroed in upon? You should’ve known better than sleeping with her.’
Ishaan was too shocked to react against her tirade. Ananya softened a bit. She was struggling hard to gulp down a lump that was weighing down on her and tried to keep herself from clying. She must be strong.
‘This is my life, for God’s sake! It isn’t a fucking TV show! You are never to contact me again. I’m going back home next week…
…and that ends it.’
She stormed towards the checking out counter. Ishaan rallied behind, trying to talk to her.
‘Anu, please listen to me once naa.’
He overtook her and fixed himself between her and the exit. ‘Lets talk things out. Give me a chance to explain.’
Anu lost her temper and glanced around. Quite a number of heads had turned towards the two. She almost found herself shouting.
Get out of my way.’
Mr. Shantanu Ghosh, the History Professor noticed the commotion and stepped in, throwing an inquisitive glance at Ishaan. ‘Is there a problem here?’ Ananya shook her head and answered in a composed tone.
‘Still, would you two consider taking your personal issues outside the library?’ Ishaan walked out and stood in the corridor, leaning against a wall.
Ananya walked past him and stopped short. She turned to face him.
‘I hope I never see you again.’
Ishaan pursed his lips and nodded.
‘As you wish, Ananya.’
Back, in the market, Ananya didn’t let even a hint of her emotions show on her face. She gave a cursory glance with no approval of recognition, turned, and walked away.