The Cliché

Chapter 1 - Boy Meets Girl

"You asshole"

She didn't say that. I felt it when we broke up. We broke into two equal halves, one raged with anger and other mellowed with guilt. You know who I am. I am the man in the equation. The man with guilt filled to his throat. The guilt of two-timing. The guilt of falling in love again while I was in love with another woman. You know who I am. But do you know my story?

I met her on that beautiful afternoon.

Wait! I didn't tell you, who I am talking about. The first one or the second one? The one with

whom the relationship was tangled in strings or the one with whom the relationship was

blooming like a flower? I guess you will figure it out, just like I did.

I met her on that beautiful afternoon. I was sitting at my desk typing up some jargons on the

white background of my manager's PPT. I was dressed rather drab that day, if you ask me - with my blue shirt out of my black trousers. I wore a mismatched pair of socks, one black, and one white. My hair was frizzled as if had just woken up from the bed. While noticing all this, I realized my shoelaces were undone and I bent down to tie them up. That's when I saw her.

I saw her as she walked down that hallway. Perfect. What else can you say when you see a

beautiful woman, a woman like her in that spotless white kurti, spectacled, with a cat-like

beauty, contrasting with the innocence on her face, only made more perfect with her flawless

hair. I just looked at her for two entire minutes while she walked in slow-motion and then stared back at the white background of my laptop before it started getting creepy. I regained consciousness only to realize that my shoelaces were still undone.

I looked up at Mohan - my personal gossip columnist when it came to office affairs and also a part-time friend. I asked him - Ah Mohan, who is she? The girl you were staring for two

minutes? - he questioned as he typed his managers report at the speed of lightning with his face glued to his laptop. He is your typical IIT-IIM guy, the only difference being that he was neither from IIT nor from IIM.

I paused before saying 'Yes’ - Yes, I am asking you about the girl who I was staring at for two

minutes . He communicated all the details as if he was reading out a report. She was a new joinee in HR. That is the only thing I could understand from his two-minute long bio about her. How is it that all beautiful woman end up in HR?

Anyways, I went up to the coffee station, even though I prefer tea. I went because she was there, alone. Perfect timing to start off a little conversation - I thought to myself. I went near her and said 'Hi' . She didn't respond. I said 'Hello' . She didn't respond. She just kept adding biscuits to her plate while my anxiousness skyrocketed.

Priya - one of my colleagues also came there to grab a cup. I told her about this new joinee and about the ego that she carried with her. She just ignored my words - I complained to Priya. You're a dumb man. She is deaf & mute! She obviously won't respond to your lame words - Priya replied. Priya then tapped her on her shoulder and made introductions by writing my name on a piece of paper. She waved at me, while her bangles clinked. I nodded, while Priya took her away.

I saw her beautifully tucking a stray strand of her hair behind her ears, revealing her shiny

earrings as she went back to her workspace. I was dumbfounded by now, but not because she was deaf & mute. I was dumbfounded about how judgmental I was. When I saw her, I assumed that her beautiful face will only have a beautiful voice. I stood there for two seconds, then mumbled to myself as I walked back to my workspace without coffee but instead with a piece of paper with Priya's writing on it. 'Rohan - Junior Writer' - It read. I folded that piece of paper and kept it in my bag.

That afternoon was the best part of my day - I recalled as I rested myself on the cozy double bed in my home before going to sleep, hugging the lonely pillow by my side.

Chapter 2 - Boy meets girl again

I woke up from my bed, after a tiring night session. My double bed was finally put to use. It

surely felt great to have someone in your arms and waking up to the sight of their beauty. The beauty remained quite intact, if you ask me. She was as beautiful as the first time I met her.

I met her that beautiful night at a family get-together in my aunt's house. She was my aunt's

neighbour's daughter. I was sitting and stuffing my face with the delicious white sauce pasta that my aunt had mastered by then. Dressed rather handsomely, if you ask me. I wore black jeans with a casual white tee finished with my roommate’s blazer. My hair, slick back with a smooth French beard.

I saw her as she stood near the shelf pouring herself a glass of cheap wine. Perfect ... what else will you say when you see a beautiful woman like her in that little black dress, with her blue lenses matching the color of the stripes on her dress, only made more perfect with her flawless hair.

I went up to her in the smoothest way possible and said ... 'Hi' . She responded with the cutestsmile possible and said - Rohan, what are you doing here? Yes, I had the same question in my mind. How in the world she would know my name? I said 'Yes' nervously and enquired how she knew my name. She said - I don't, it was a fluke. 80% of the men I know have the same names - Rohan, Rahul, Ajay etc. she said in a mocking tone similar to what North Indians aunties use when complaining about food at wedding receptions. She added - I looked at you and the first name that popped in my head was 'Rohan'. So, you are neither special nor famous, so chill. You are just ... common , she added with a smirk. I replied with the cheesiest line possible - Common is quite in plenty these days, maybe the 'exciting' can take them out. I know, I know ... it was straight up the bottom of the shit pile of bad pick-up lines . She asked - How many times have you used that line and got slapped? - She said as she made a disgusted face. In counter, I asked - How many times have you used that smile to kill men? But she got the better of me. She replied - You belong to that category of men that - "They are so bad that they are good" . I don't know whether it was a compliment or something else, the line still reeled in my head. Before I could process anything, she grabbed her jacket and asked - Walk? And I obliged.

So do you fall for such pick-up lines? - I asked her this question, which was actually a question in disguise to test my flirting skills. No, I will never fall for those lines - she said shrinking her face. So why are we walking in this lonely night at your request? - I asked inquisitively. I am just tired of men - she replied with a straight face. I am also a MAN - I exclaimed in a manly voice as the words echoed from the trees. Oh, so bad ... That you have to exclaim that to prove me that you are a man .

'A person is respected by his behavior and not by his gender' - she made a statement. I stopped walking and looked her in the eyes and said 'Wow ... You should also be a writer or something’ - in a sarcastic tone. She laughed as I said that. So can I ask a dumb question? - I nervously asked as we continued walking. Sure - she replied confidently. Are you those feminist types? - my question echoed in the street. Yes I am - she replied. I would have slapped you if you were not self-aware while asking that question - she smiled and said as she kept her hand on my shoulder.

We started off like this and then talked about life, love, get-togethers, my aunt, my parents, her parents etc. Leave it; I don’t want to bore you with all that. What you should know is that - "We kissed under a huge tree under the twinkling sky and lay under that very tree that lovely night".

That night was the best part of my life - I recalled as I sunk myself in the cozy double bed in my home before going to sleep, hugging the same pillow by my side.

Chapter 3 - The Cry Baby

"I love you Aisha"

I screamed as she merged in the darkness of that Old Delhi street. Let me playback what

happened there. We met at a Cafe to discuss what went wrong in our relationship, to be rather precise what went wrong with me that I had to bring another woman in 'Our equation'. Being the honest man that I am, I told her about the other woman in my life in a text message attached with a request for a meet up at the Cafe.

She slapped me first and then we sat on the wooden chairs which were a bit damp from

yesterday's rain. I thought about telling her about the damp chairs but decided to keep quiet to avoid the possibility of another slap. She sat there quiet, while I tried to find her eyes in the maze of her beautiful brown & golden locks. I noticed the new golden shade in her hair and again stopped myself from enquiring about it.

I noticed she had brought a full bunch of printing paper with her. I forgot to bring my set of

sheets - I cursed myself as I realized the blunder I had just committed. Asking for sheets was

never this fearful, I spoke to myself as I recalled my school days. We had decided that I will not learn sign language and we will not message each other to interact face to face, for at least a year. She felt writing on paper would help us communicate better and there was also a possibility that I could improve my handwriting and match her beautiful handwriting one day. I would not take away the fact that it was a bit romantic to pen down your feelings to your loved one. But today, the romantic aspect was far away in that corner of the world nobody has seen.

She took a page and started writing. I moved my fingers to grab a sheet from her bunch. She

stared me in the eye with her red sharp eyes. I moved my head as if I said - Please let me take a sheet . She moved her head as if she said "You little cheat you can't even get your own paper" and then kind of nodded, giving me the permission to take a sheet. I looked at her and felt that I was looking at a beautiful version of hell.

She wrote - 'What did we miss out on?' . I wrote with shaky hands 'Noth..' as my pen stopped. I felt a lump in my throat as her red sharp eyes met my pair of visionless buttons. I asked for a pen from the waiter. He gave a cheap 5 Rs. pen and looked me in the eye as if he said 'No pen will help you, brother' . I continued writing and completed the word 'Nothing' in 2 minutes, half in blue and half in black ink. She wrote - ' Then what was the problem?' . I didn't write anything, I just showed the same word again cutting a sorry figure. She continued - 'Who is she?' . I wrote - 'Ananya' . The enquiry committee was set and I replied to her questions in a rapid-fire mode. I wrote at a pace as if I typed a report. I wrote - 'Ananya is a girl I met at a family get-together', 'She works at a marketing company', 'She is a team leader there' to her competitive questions.

But then she asked the question that you all wanted her to ask so badly - 'Do you love her?’ . As soon as I read that question, I was brain-dead for a millisecond. The guys will relate to me, ho we feel when women are angry & they mean only business. No sense of humor, cute stubble or perfect jawline can save you there. I wrote as slow as possible, hoping someone to call me - waiter, any old friend please? No. Maybe it was time I answered her question. I wrote - 'Maybe' - Maybe I love her. She stared at the sheet and broke down. She wiped the tears off and closed her eyes for 10 seconds. She then wrote - ‘Why did you do this?' . I was tired & hapless by now. I couldn't and didn't want to write anymore. I mumbled to myself with a teary eye - ‘I am sorry' . She read my lips but she didn't respond.

I don't know who do I love, I don't know who do I love more or less. I need time - Yes, a typical female dialogue in a relationship. But it was me who needed time and lots of it before I get drowned in the flood of unknown that was coming towards me. We stopped after an hour-long session where we had discussed Ananya more than 'Our future'. I recalled this meeting as I sat in my drawing room going through the handwritten conversation we had at the Cafe. I also had her pen with those sheets. The sheets didn't account for the end I realized while revisiting them. But we all know how that meet ended. It ended with me screaming 'I love you Aisha' like a Romeo as if I wanted her so badly to be the Heer to my Ranjha.

Chapter 4 - Let’s end it then

'I guess it's the end, the end of the path that I started to saw - for both of us, holding hands and daydreaming in the twilight' - I messaged Aisha as I lost hope of getting her back. I accepted my defeat after sending her variety of 'sorry' texts till the last minute - all just a sham to get her back. The message was the final nail in the coffin of our so-called relationship. I am sorry, but I felt a sigh of relief after I sent that message. It was as if a burden was off my shoulders which I was never meant to carry. I deleted our chats and her number. I just closed my eyes for 10 seconds, trying to remember all the memories I had with her and then just forget them all at once. As I counted 9, I felt a hand on my shoulder as Ananya brought me the much-needed coffee at 12 in the midnight. I had nowhere to go and I remembered Ananya telling me her parents going out for a month. I needed a shoulder to cry on at the end the day. Right?. So here I am.

'So you won't ask me why I am here at midnight in your house?' - I questioned as she sat far away in that chair. 'I guess you will be telling me any second now' - she said with smirk. 'I broke up with my girlfriend' - I said as I looked down. 'Oh!, you didn't tell me you had a girlfriend that night' - she stammered while hiding her face behind the cup biting her lips. ‘Ya didn't cross my mind that night' - I said. 'Did it cross your mind anytime after that night?' - She said staring me in my eyes. 'Aisha I am sorry ... I screwed up okay' - I said with a dejected face. ‘Ananya’ - she said correcting me. I just closed my eyes and crunched my teeth as the mess in my head found a way in my words.

'Do you really know whom did you screw up, Rohan?' - she said in an irritating tone. 'I don't need any moral science lecture right now please' - I copied her tone on that. 'You are talking as if I have made a mistake. Rohan you screwed up, you screwed big time. Ok!' - She preached. 'Don't talk about things you don't know ok' - I replied. 'Oh wow, you know everything right?, So tell me a few things. Why did you approach me that night, if you had a girlfriend? Why did you go out with me, if you had a girlfriend? Why didn't you talk to me after that night ... if you had a girlfriend?' - She questioned her lungs out with a tear in her eye. I just sat quietly looking down on myself. 'Mr. Rohan do you have any answers? Ok agreed. You came here, we just went out casually. We fell in the moment, a few things happened. What after that? You could have told me the next day, bloody it was mistake. You could have told maybe … 'I love you'. You could have told ... something ... Rohan.' - She paused. I didn't move an inch. 'It's my fault, I have been stupid enough to wait for a response from a guy after a random night ...' - she said as the tears made her


'What do you want me say?' - I asked in a bland voice. 'I want you to speak to me. That's it. I

don't want to know about your girlfriend or anything else. I want to know about you' - she said as her voice softened. 'I have just one question please. Answer that truthfully. Will you?' - She left her chair and sat next to me on the sofa. 'Yes' - I said limiting my words. 'Do you love me?' - She asked raising the pressure. I paused and grabbed her hand and said ... 'Forever Now '. She smiled, cried and then hugged me tight as I felt comfort after many days now. 'Do you want more coffee?' - She asked as our hug came to an end and a few strands of her hair stuck to my face. I just pulled them away from my simple face and tucked it where they belonged, just right behind her soft ears. 'Ya sure, two cups please ...' - I said with a smile.

I just realized however complicated and tangled life maybe, it will untangle itself one day. For me that day was today. My phone pinged as I stretched out to get it. Just then, Ananya came with my cup of coffee. She just hugged me as soon she entered. 'Are... At Least let me check my phone, I have applied for a few jobs maybe something has come up' - I said as I blushingly smiled trying to look at the screen while hugging her tightly. I opened my phone to see an email notification - 'You have been selected for the post of Head Writer @ The Hindu' and below that a message from an unknown number 'Can we meet?' ...

~The End~

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