The only person from whom I derived strength had suddenly deserted me. A sense of unworthiness filled up inside me. What’s the use of living? The one person for whom my heart beat seemed to barely care about me.
Tears trickled down my face uncontrollably.
Nearby, on the table I saw the sharp edge of the knife glistening. I made up my mind and stretched my right hand towards it…
Timeline: Two hours back
It had been 15 minutes since I had ordered a drink. Nothing was going right in my life. There were rumors of recession hitting my company and equations with my boss had touched the lowest bottom. Somehow my manager had taken a liking to criticize every action of mine. The same job, the same dull and boring faces, the same dull machine, nothing was exciting about life. The only bright side was the paycheck at the end of the month.
The world seemed tasteless and lifeless. Until I met her.
We had got to know each other in our first workplace. We had an employee social group and both of us were enthusiastic members. Since, we were active volunteers; we worked closely on many assignments. Eventually, we got to enjoy each other’s company. Not only did our friendship bloom, our feelings for each other bloomed as well. I proposed and she accepted. Those two years were the best years of my life. We started to make plans for making our relationship a permanent one.
Things don’t always go the way we plan it.
We both got better career opportunities and we had to make a tough decision. I relocated to Hyderabad and she moved to Bangalore. We promised to keep in touch but the heavy work load and late night shifts spoiled the plan. Days would fly by and we spoke over phone only during weekends. After planning for three months, were we able to make time to meet in person.
The ‘Hangout’ restaurant was our favorite spot. I had arrived early and was waiting for her. The place brought back so many memories with her. Our first date, our first kiss!
The clinking of the wind chimes brought me back to reality.
"Sir, Normal Water or Mineral Water?" asked the waiter.
"Mineral water without ice" I said.
"Waiting for Madamji, Sirrr?" He asked with a mischievous smile.
Just then, I saw her enter the restaurant. She was wearing a black tops and jeans. Her favorite. She came and sat in the chair opposite to me. Usually, she would sit beside me so I was surprised why she decided to sit across me. I wanted to tell her about how much I missed her and how I longed to see her.
"I missed you a lot" I said.
She didn’t say anything.
Usually she won’t miss an opportunity to say that she missed me too. Something was off.
So, I asked "What’s happening?"
"Life is good. I am getting to meet many interesting people", she started eating her food. After sometime she said "You know there is a guy who I met".
My heart skipped a beat. A guy! Who is he? I asked.
"Well, he is amazing. He makes everyone fall for him. The way he speaks, the way he moves, he is the perfect guy", and on and on she went. She recollected the times when she had gone out with him on weekends and he made her try stuff which she wouldn’t have done normally. He has freed me, she continued.
Of all the things I had dreamt, this was the last thing I needed to hear. She had been seeing the guy every weekend!!
The only bright light in my life flickered. It was clear that she had feelings for this guy. Surprisingly all these were the words which she had used to describe me, during our initial courtship days.
We finished our dinner as she continued to share instances of how good the guy was and how she was discovering new things in life. With every statement, it felt like a knife was being thrust into me.
We bid adieu and I rushed back home.
I entered my apartment. The lights were off and I slumped on the chair in the middle of the room. I couldn’t control my emotions. Tears started trickling down my face.
The only person from whom I derived strength had suddenly deserted me. A sense of unworthiness filled up. What’s the use of living? The one person for whom my heart beat seemed to barely care about me.
Nearby, on the table I saw the sharp edge of the knife glistening. I made up my mind and stretched my hand towards it.….
"Giving up so soon?" I heard a voice behind.
Shocked, I asked "Who are you"?
"Someone who cares enough"
The voice sounded familiar yet I couldn’t figure out who it was. A man wearing a black coat gently walked forward and stood before me. His face wasn’t visible as he stood in pitch darkness. However, the light reflected from outside through the window illuminated just enough to catch a glimpse of his cloth and a shred of twirled hair in the front which moved every time he walked.
What do you know about what I am going through? There is nothing in my life to live for. My life is a mess. And the only person who I thought loved me has abandoned me, I cried.
He listened patiently. He took something shiny from his long overcoat pocket and tossed it over to me. It was a metallic watch. However instead of the clock dial, it had concentric circles. The inner circle had revolving area and the outer circle had twelve tiny dots.
What’s this? I asked.
This is the watch of Destiny. With this, you can go to any moment of your life, once to past and once in future. However you will have only an hour to spend. Then you will return back and after five minutes, you get to visit your future.
Did he say a moment of my life which I can change!!
One moment came in particular. During the dinner Sneha had mentioned that when she was settling down in Bangalore, she was going through a tough phase at home and there was no one to support her. When she was struggling, she came to meet the new guy and liked him since he had been there for her. If only, I could go back and support her in the time of her need. Maybe, then she will still love me. Initially we had planned to meet once she had relocated to Bangalore. However, I had to cancel my plan last minute since something else had come up. But now, nothing else seemed more important than meeting her. So, I visualized the scene and touched the inner dial. The tiny dots blinked for twelve times and I felt a tingling sensation.
Timeline: Two months back
I was standing near her apartment. I found her flat and knocked on the door. She was surprised to see me. She jumped on me and started crying. I hugged her tightly and comforted her. We didn’t speak but I could understand that she was going through a tough time and that she was happy to have me with her. She shared about her struggles and we discussed about how we plan our future together.
I felt that since I was being with her during her roughest phase, she would continue to love me. Eager to find, if it worked, I fast forwarded the side dial to the time when I was waiting in the ‘Hang Out’ restaurant. Hopefully, the final thirty minutes would end in a romantic way!
"Waiting for Madamji, Sir?" the waiter asked with a mischievous smile.
I saw her enter the restaurant. I was eager to hear what she would say.
Has her love remained the same for me?
Does she yearn for me the same way as I yearned for her?
I was getting excited with each moment as she came nearby.
To my shock, instead of sitting next to me, she came close and sat opposite to me.
She started sharing about this guy who she had met and who had bowled her over. The only difference was that this time, she quoted different reasons for getting attracted to him.
My heart skipped a beat. Even after changing an instance in the past, when I was with her during her low phase and in-spite of discussing our future, she found other reasons for getting attracted to him.
I couldn’t stand it. She went on talking about how impressive the guy was.
Why didn’t she love me anymore? I am not fit to live, I cursed myself.
Meanwhile, the watch dial’s light blinked brightly. The one hour time was getting over and I saw myself lift up and found myself in the dark room slumped in the chair.
So, how did it go? the Man asked.
Life is nothing but lie and betrayal. I loved her and was there for her. I felt we were made for each
other and will be together forever but she didn’t feel that way. She still chose the other guy over me.
Well, there is another perspective. Sometimes, for some people, love is limited to their need of you. Once their need is fulfilled, so is your presence. There is nothing wrong in what you did. You cared for her with all your heart. If she couldn’t realize that, it’s her problem; not yours, the Man said.
I started breathing heavily. It was extremely painful and unbearable to see that the girl who I had loved so much saw all this as a transaction. I felt used and thrown.
If this is what I get in return for caring for someone so dearly, I don’t think I deserve to live.
Before you decide to end your life, don’t you want to try out the dial one more time? Another few seconds and you get to see how your future will be? The Man prompted.
Saying so, he turned and moved.
I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven..."
And clicked on the dial…
Timeline: Ten months later
A cool breeze blew across my face. I was sitting under a sun shade near a swimming pool.
I wondered what I was doing here.
A beautiful lady came and gave me a peck on my cheeks. Then she came and sat close to me and kept her hand on mine.
"What do we buy for Ma? Her birthday is coming up next month, isn’t?
I didn’t have a clue whom she was referring.
Who Ma? I asked cheekily.
Your mother, stupid! Her birthday is coming up next month. We said we will buy her a nice sari.
How did such a beautiful girl end up being my wife! I felt on cloud nine. She not only cared about me but also thought of my mother. Sneha rarely used to be concerned about others, forget enquiring about my parents.
Another thought struck me. What if this affection was short lived? Sneha too in the initial days had appeared loving yet in due time, all that had changed. Why not confirm it by visiting the future and seeing if this was a permanent. I clicked on the second square once more.
Timeline: Two years later
I was driving in a hurry, horns blaring around me. Sitting in the car, all I could hear was commotion. I drove across few streets and parked my car.
Happy Anniversary darling! I heard a beautiful voice as I entered the door.
A woman dressed in elegant blue and green sari approached me. She was carrying a baby. As soon as
I came close by, the baby had a big smile on his face and held out his arms towards me.
Seeing her and the child, I felt blissful and loved.
A sweet family which I had always dreamed for.
After freshening up, we went out for dinner. Being a special day, she had planned a candle light dinner. We spoke about how the years had passed so quickly and how Aryan had grown too.
Time just seemed to fly. We came back and after putting Aryan to sleep, we went to the terrace. A gentle breeze swung by and her face glowed beneath the moonlight. I clasped her hand and pulled her close to me. I brought my face close to hers and said "Promise me, you will always be with me. You are the light of my life".
"I will be there for you for the rest of my life" she whispered.
And we hugged. All my worries of finding the right person disappeared.
So, a wonderful life exist, a new life exist. I felt my body outline becoming thinner and looked at my watch. The last dial was flickering indicating that the time was coming to an end. Time had just flown.
I opened my eyes and found myself in the chair again. This time, I was relaxed and was feeling better.
I was reflecting on the experience I had since the two visits.
The Man walked to the front and stood with his back to me and said:
"I hope you got what you were looking for. Just remember. In life, nothing happens to you. It always happens for you."
Meanwhile, his outline had become semi-transparent and I saw the logo on his coat. It looked familiar. It had a symbol on the front pocket.
Where have I seen it?
He walked a little further and vanished into the darkness of the room.
I was taken aback.
This man… If he hadn’t come at the right time, I would be dead now. I didn’t even get a chance to thank him.
Then it struck me.
The front pocket! The logo "A". It was my valediction coat.
It was gifted to me by my parents. I had asked ‘A’ to be stitched on the front pocket.
I rushed to next room and unwrapped the coat. I put it on & walked towards the dark portion of the room where the Man had disappeared.
As I stepped forward, I hit against something.
I looked at it & smiled.
I saw the man with a black coat and with a shred of twirled hair on the top.
I was standing before the Almirah mirror!