Trisha glanced at the mirror one last time. The pear-green sheath dress, that she had so carefully picked, justified her curves perfectly. She smiled satisfyingly at the way she looked today. She has always believed some kohl and lipstick could go a long way. But today, she wanted to put in some extra effort. Before leaving her office, she had touched up her neatly done make-up and hair.
Rishav has been pretty distant for the last few months. He has cancelled so many of their date nights. His messages have become more minimalistic. Trisha knew that he could not receive her calls when at home. That would make his wife suspicious. Over the last four years, Trisha has gotten used to the idea that she has to wait for him to call or message first.
Trisha had met Rishav, four years ago, at party thrown by a mutual friend. She could not avoid noticing that Rishav had such sad eyes. By the end of party, she realized she has fallen for a married man. Trisha has initially hated all the hush around the relationship. But Rishav had promised to separate from his wife soon. I feel so trapped in this marriage, Trisha. He would say. I know, this does not justify my cheating on her or hiding our relationship. But I do not how to end this marriage without hurting her or our families.
She has been patient. It was not that she has never had a breakdown. Not being able to open up about the relationship to her parents or best friend made it all the more difficult. But she would put aside all her insecurities, every time she got to spend time with him. She knew hers was a complex relationship. But she was willing to work for it.
And when he messaged last night to spend the Valentine’s Day together, Trisha was over the moon. And there she was, waiting at his favourite restaurant, eager to spend the evening with the man she loves so dearly.
Rishav was late. Trisha went over the menu once again. She loved the Mango Cheesecake there.
Hi. Trisha? Trisha looked up to the stranger’s voice. She smiled with recognition. It was Akash. They used to go to the same high school.
Hi. What are you doing here? Trisha was overjoyed.
Waiting for my girlfriend. I guess same applies for you. I mean, you must be waiting for your boyfriend. Or not. You may dine alone. I don’t know. Akash rambled nervously.
Trisha laughed. She remembered how Akash has always been a little edgy around her. Nikita and the others would always tease her with Akash. It seemed so long ago, now.
It seems both our partners are late. Why don’t you join me for the time being? Trisha interjected.
It was a reunion after 10 years. Over two glasses of mojitos, Trisha and Akash were reliving their high school days.
You know, I had this huge, silly crush on you during our senior year.
Akash’s sudden confession had taken Trisha by surprise. She managed a quick smile. You did? Why didn’t you ever say anything? We could have been something!
Akash laughed nervously.
Because, I was scared of a failed relationship. I was scared of hurting you and myself, in case we broke up. And I was not sure whether I was ready for it. Akash smiled. Sometimes, we are so scared of how the destination would be that we forget to take part in the journey. And we end up not knowing how the journey could have been.
He paused momentarily to glance at the restaurant door. Somebody had come in.
Hey, Neha is here. It was so great meeting up with you after so many years. And I am so sorry for talking about my crush. I am so glad we both have found our happy places.
Trisha nodded silently. Akash has gone back to his reserved table, with Neha.
Happy place, he said. Has she found her happy place?
Trisha checked her watch one last time. She picked up her purse and strutted out of the restaurant. Akash’s last sentence has been playing in her head over and over again. Has she been too scared of being alone? All these years, she has been so terrified of breaking her heart, being vulnerable, of living without Rishav, that she has forgotten to be happy. Would she be able to fall in love again, the way she loved Rishav? What if the world judged her for loving a married man?
Rishav might have been in an unhappy place. But he had to fight his own battle. Just like, only she could look for her own happy place. The rendezvous with Akash has made her realize that she has take the risks-all of them. She has to go out, break her heart, experience the pain to reach her happy place. And the world may judge her, but one person would understand. And that is herself.
By the time she reached home, Trisha was smiling. She changed into her favourite pajamas and tucked into her bed. The slice of mango cheesecake stared at her appealingly. She knew she deserved one, so she had ordered one to go. It was Valentine’s Day, after all. And she had found her perfect valentine.
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