She hurried her steps, not able to fathom her feelings on seeing Sakshar out of nowhere,
Sakshar : Hi Barkha.
Barkha : Hi.
Sakshar : How are you?
Barkha : Can we leave these greetings please? I am dying beneath a heap of questions!
Sakshar : I am happy to see you ‘too’.
Barkha : I am sorry, I am just surprised.
Sakshar : Shall we go to some place where we can talk calmly?
Barkha : There’s a café on my way home. I can spare some time.
They walked towards the café mostly in quietude, Barkha being quiet since she was still tangled in her reaction on seeing Sakshar and Sakshar keeping quiet, knowing that he has perhaps startled her.
Valentina’s café and bakery was Barkha’s favorite. She was even considering leaving the university job for learning baking at Valentina’s.
Barkha : Hola Valentina! Como estas?
Valentina : Barkha! Estoy bien, estoy bien! Que te gusteria tener hoy? Y tienes un hombre guapo contigo! (Barkha! I am fine, I am fine! What would you like to have today? And you have a handsome man with you!)
Barkha : El es solo un amigo Valentina! (He’s just a friend Valentina!)
Valentina : Si Si……amigo……(yes yes……..friend!)
Barkha : Tendre la usual. Café y tu tarta de chocolate especial para el. (Usual for me and coffee and your special cake for him)
Barkha : So……………please end my unrest now. Is everything alright? I am sorry but I am having a hard time in trying to figure out the probable reasons of your coming here unannounced.
Sakshar : Do you really need to ask these question?
Barkha : See Sakshar, the thing is that you came into my life as a ray of hope, which I took a lot of efforts to put behind, after you expressed yourself clearly in our last meeting in Gulmarg. I might sound harsh to you at this moment, but I really don’t see ourselves as more than acquaintances.
Sakshar : What if I say that to know you in any way will be like a blessing for me? I know you are full of doubts and questions and uncertainties on my being here out of nowhere. After you left, I went back to her.
Barkha : Shonali…….you can say her name!
Sakshar : Well, I went back to Shonali, I realized that meeting you had changed my life. The worst part was that I could understand it after you left. Maybe I needed a closure with Shonali and therefore I couldn’t say anything to you on our last meeting. It is you with whom I want to spend my life with Barkha.
Barkha : Oh please Sakshar, give me a break! I have had enough dealing with things I never anticipated I will have to. I am trying hard to find peace and calm in my existence. I am living for my son and that is the only part of my persistence that truly makes sense right now. I will leave you at this. And please do not try to meet me again!
She got up and stormed out of the café. As soon as she reached home, she scribbled something in her diary as tears kept welling in her eyes.
Days passed. She would receive an email everyday from Sakshar. He had returned to India, but promised her that he wouldn’t stop trying to pursue her. But her experience with Samay and then with Sakshar had in a way left her in a shell, wherein she felt safer than with people around. She kept ignoring Sakshar’s emails, not that she didn’t have feelings for him, but she was too scared to give her heart to anyone anymore. She never conveyed her affections again to Sakshar and eventually, after few months, he stopped sending any emails.
She took a break from teaching and started helping Valentina in her bakery.
Every night would pass in nightmares and with the sound of Sakshar’s voice ringing in her ears. And then life changed with Advocate Sahoo’s call. In no time they were all on their flight to Rome, the city she loved, yet wouldn’t dare to reminisce. Least did she know, that India wasn’t as far as she thought.