3 months back…..
Veena was ecstatic. Her best friend Nisha had called in the morning. So, she was finally convinced to meet this guy who might just be the right knight in shining amour. Nisha was a widow. She had lost her husband Adwait, three years back in a car accident. Thereafter, she had sunk into depression. After a lot of counseling and emotional support from her family, she had finally come back to self, accepting the reality. And now, she had given in to her parents’ wish of entering a remarriage. She had met Jeevan through a matrimonial website a few months back. After a couple of pleasantries exchanged over mail followed by a couple of friendly conversations over phone, Nisha had agreed to met Jeevan for the first of all times. Parents of both Nisha and Jeevan had been looking forward to this alliance and were anticipating that the first meet culminates into a pact soon. As all parents would wish, Nisha’s parents wanted her to move on.
Veena was happy for her best friend. She wished her a lot of happiness. At least, she wished Nisha to get a life partner who would be the perfect gentleman, unlike her’s…..and her thoughts trailed off. She had never discussed her personal life with anyone. Not even Nisha. Just when she was about to ask her the name, Nisha had hung up as she had a call coming her way. Nisha, on the other hand had then just thought about giving her fiancee’s name to Veena but then dodged the idea thinking it would be better to surprise the latter when she came down to meet her. And the phone kept buzzing. Of course, it was Jeevan.
Nisha recounted her first meeting with Jeevan. Even thinking about him made her smile. They had met at Bristtos, a coffee shop that was just five minutes away from Nisha’s home, for the first time. The conversation as expected, was going just the way it should. Nisha found Jeevan very warm and jovial. He listened to her in rapt attention as she opened up in a way like never before. She had never interacted with anyone much in the past three years, since Adwait’s untimely death. She found herself laughing heartily after a long long time at the funny anecdotes Jeevan shared with her. A lot indeed, happened over a cup of coffee and some cheese corn sandwiches that day! They talked about anything and everything under the sun, including careers, their likes and dislikes, about their family background et al. And it was almost three hours of intense conversation after which Nisha felt a warm gush of love and security. She had not believed that her first meeting with Jeevan would convince her of a remarriage. But now she was sure, she had found her match in him. She was in love! Cupid had struck! Nisha had excused herself for a while as she proceeded towards the washroom. She had called up Veena.
Nisha: “I don’t believe I could fall in love so easily! Veena, I think I have found my soul mate!”
Veena: “Girl, I am so so happy for you! Would like to meet you both together when I fly down to Delhi next time. By the way, what is his name? What does he do?”
Nisha: “I am not disclosing anything over the phone! Move your bum here and you will know J”
Veena: “3 months for me to touch down there. So be it! And all the best, sweetie! Bye”
The door bell rang. Nisha woke up with a start. She opened the door to find Veena standing right outside. She was overwhelmed. The childhood friends were meeting after a span of five years. A lot had happened for both of them. They were in touch frequently. And yet, there were many things they had not shared with each other about their personal lives, over the long overseas calls they had. Both had hidden a lot from each other. Yet, nothing had changed between them. They caught up with old times, school and college days and a lot more. Over the long uninterrupted conversations, Nisha came to know that Veena had married and separated too, from her husband, citing irreconcilable differences. The friends found solace in each other’s company and time flowed like water.
Veena: “Ok! Tell me about him, now! To start with, at least name please!”
Nisha: “No easy way! I have a test for you. You will know him, if you pass the test! I have asked him to come to Bristtos today at 4 PM. And I shall not accompany you inside. Let me see if you can spot him without my help. After all, no one knows my tastes better than you do.” Veena could only nod.
At 4 PM, Veena entered Bristtos. She took a quick glance around. The coffee shop was crowded as it was a Friday evening. Her eyes scoured through the crowd. And then, as destiny would have it, her eyes fell on a tattoo on a wrist of a man sitting with his back towards her. A sense of deja vu engulfed her. He was drumming his fingers on the table. A habit she felt she knew too. But more familiar was the tattoo, she saw – ‘Regret Nothing’. She had seen that tattoo before! If only she could remember where.
The words – ‘Regret Nothing’ were inked on his wrist. And listlessly, she proceeded towards the table to take a closer look. That is when Nisha jumped from behind,
“OK, girl! You got him right! Meet Jeevan, my soon to be fiancee. And, Jeevan, this is Veena, my best friend, my soul sister and my partner in crime!”
Veena almost staggered. Her eyes recoiled in horror as she saw the man. The ruggedly handsome face that she had once fallen for, only to know later how he camouflaged the dark sadistic side of him with an infectious lopsided smile, shot back a grim look that appeared menacing to her. His cool demeanor hid the ugly ill temper that surfaced when his contempt grew, feeding on the fear of his victims. And, Veena was jolted by Nisha as Jeevan extended his hand, “Hey Veena! Nice to meet you!”
The same lines that she had heard five years back, when she had met him in a conference in New York. The memories were fresh. The wounds on her psyche were fresh too, even after half a decade. For the first time, she felt stranded in a situation where she had no control. The shock took its time to sink in. Above all, Jeevan had not shown a flicker of recognition.
Should she tell Nisha about this man who happens to be her ex?
Should she expose the Hyde side of this Dr. Jekyll?
Will Nisha believe her? How would Nisha take the shock of having trusted a man, she believed she truly loved, after having been bereaved of one, in the past?
What if Jeevan is a changed man?
What if he is playing a game?
The questions kept popping up. And, Veena knew for a fact, nothing would ever be the same again.