This is the nineteenth part of a long story.
Eighteenth part of the story: Long Story 18
Vishva; India; 2001
“Are you coming?” Vishva asked with irritation-laden voice. “Yes! can’t you wait a little? Why are you this impatient?” Devyani whined. Vishva sighed heavily and went to stand in the balcony. He asked her to be ready by 3:00 pm. She wanted to go shopping in T Nagar. He was to go for a cousin’s wedding in Anna Nagar. She knew that yet insisted that she go today. Sometimes he felt like a sugar daddy. The girl met him exclusively for shopping. He got to know every women’s shopping center in Chennai. He sat down on the floor. She was not like this in the beginning. She used to behave like a puppy, who lived for him. He started to feel it was all an act. He was tired. His semesters were coming up and he had to prepare for them. He did not have time for dating now.
“Shall we go?” Devyani said, as she walked past Vishva and started to pick out a slipper. Vishva went out the door not bothering to wait for her and went straight to his car. Devyani loudly sat down in the passenger seat near Vishva. “Do you hate coming out with me?” she asked with palpable anger.
Vishva sighed. “I am tired. That’s all. I have a lot of work to do and have this wedding to attend.”
“Fine!” Devyani said, “Just take me to Naidu Hall in T Nagar. You can go after that. I can come home.”
Vishva gritter his teeth, “If you can come back on your own can’t you go on your own too? Why do you have to call me to take you everyplace you to go?” he shouted.
Devyani’s eyes clouded with tears. “I can’t ask my boyfriend to come and take me to places?” she said and cried.
Vishva rested his head in his right hand. “Look! I am your boyfriend, not your chauffer. Learn to go about yourself. I cannot be your beck and call,” he said and started his car.
As he drove towards T Nagar, Devyani was now crying. “Great! Now my eye makeup is ruined.” She said. “Look! I just want you to be a little independent. Is that too much to ask?” he said, feeling sorry now that he’s made her cry. “I do not see anything wrong with asking my boyfriend to pick me up.” Devyani said as she tried to adjust her makeup; she was looking into a small mirror. Vishva sighed. This inturn increased her anger. “Stop it!!” Devyani said. “What?” startled Vishva. “Stop sighing. Look! I am not Prabha. Stop comparing me with her all the time.” she said and turned to her mirror.
Vishva distracted himself and denied the fact that he knew was true. Then he saw Prabha. She was in the traffic signal on her Scooty. Deepika was sitting on the backseat. Deepika was saying something and Prabha was nodding. The signal turned green. Prabha started her Scooty and Vishva followed her. Prabha stopped in a signal. She showed a hand sign to the drivers behind her to stop. Deepika was laughing and probably Prabha was too, inside her helmet. It has been 3 months since both of them broke up. He’d told her that she was too strong for him. That he was not ready to settle with a woman who was not woman-like. He wanted to remove the steering wheel and hit himself on his head. “Can we play some music?” Devyani asked, diverting his attention. He turned to look at her. He’d forgotten about her for few minutes. This always happened when he looked at Prabha. He wondered if this habit will pass.
Vishva; India; 2019
Prabha was explaining about the delivery process to Max and Alejo. She was standing and explaining with pictorials and drawings. Vishva was listening, but not absorbing what she was saying. He was mesmerized by the way her hair moved as she turned her face. The way her lips moved as she talked. She was wearing a long metal earrings. It danced on her shoulders. She was wearing a red kurta and blue leggings. It was perfect. She was perfect. “….. Vishva can handle,” finished Alejo and everyone looked at Vishva. Vishva felt like he was pushed out of his dreams. “Huh!?” he asked. Mitch rubbed his face; he looked tired. “Alejo said it was nothing you could not handle. He said the process though is new and will need time,” Shalini filled in. Mitch looked at Shalini appreciatively. Mitch was coming to like the XMR manager.
“Yeah!” Vishva said. No problem. I will handle it. He turned to smile at Prabha who had an “pull yourself together” expression. Vishva sat straight and said, “Alejo! We’d already discussed this. The process will involve Mitch and I on the vendor side for 2 months. We can handle it. No problem.”
Alejo nodded. Satisfied to find that his fellow BA is still wide awake. “So! when the development of the features in phase 2 start, you two go to Mumbai. Alright! Prabha… send the request for one more resource in Development. I will pass it over to the higher-ups,” Max said and got up to leave. “See you guys! Good work,” Alejo said and joined Max.
“Chai?” asked Shalini to Prabha, as they were packing their stuff. Prabha nodded. Shalini and Prabha went out of the meeting room. Vishva kept sneaking a peek at Prabha. Mitch hit him with a folder on the back of his head. “Awwwwww…” Vishva cried and lifted his hand to hit Mitch, which startled him and he moved back. “Dude! You are practically drooling when you look at Prabha. What the hell man!!” said Mitch.
“I AM NOT!” shouted Vishva, took his laptop and walked out the room.
“You are too.” Mitch said in a much lesser volume as he followed him.
Vishva; India; 2002
“Hi!” Vishva said to Prabha. They were attending their friend Natraj’s sister’s wedding. He had invited more than half of the college, much to the dismay of his parents. “Food is good!” Vishva said to Prabha. She nodded. She was busy checking her phone. Aircel has announced that 1000 SMSs were free every month. Prabha and Kavita were typing away happily. Vishva angrily pulled the phone form Prabha’s hand and instantly regretted it. “Sorry!” he said and gave it back to her. Prabha and Kavita were looking at him with a shocked expression now. “Dude! You alright?” asked Kavita. Vishva got up to leave. Prabha got up to follow him. “Vishva! Vishva!” she called after him. He was walking fast. And Prabha was running after him. Vishva weirdly felt happy that Prabha was following him. He smiled to himself. She still cares. Vishva turned towards the entrance and bumped into Neeraja, his girlfriend. The present Neeraja was holding fell to the ground. Vishva bent down to take it; so did Neeraja. “Vishva!!!” Prabha called again. They were behind the reception bunk and Prabha was not able to see them. “Prabha!!! Prabha!!!” Vishva heard Natraj’s voice. “Hey! Come! my parent want to meet you.” Natraj said. Vishva got up suddenly and bumped Neeraja’s head as he did. “OMG! Sorry dear,” he said. He immediately turned to look at Prabha and Natraj. They were walking towards the bride and groom. Natraj’s parents were standing by the groom’s side.
Why the hell is Natraj introducing her to his parents? Thought Vishva. He became furious in a second. What? Now that she does not have a boyfriend, he thinks she is potential girlfriend material? How childish! Vishva turned to walk towards them, when Neeraja caught his hand. “Vishva! You told me to come here. I do not know anyone here. You did not even call to check if I reach here properly,” she said. Neeraja was Vishva’s sister’s friend. She was a doctor in making. Vishva’s head was overflowing with useless thoughts. Why is Prabha going with Natraj? Why did she come after me? Now she is leaving! I hate this. He had gone to Prabha’s home the other day to give back her Madhavan pencil box. Her mother was very friendly. She gave him her trademark filter coffee. He wanted to go to Prabha’s room. He wanted to ask about Prabha. She hardly talked to him nowadays. But he just left after drinking the coffee.
He changed his place in college and was sitting with Dharma nowadays; so, he could see her. It has been a year since their breakup. Why is he behaving like this? He wanted to get out of this state. “Are you even listening?” Neeraja asked. Vishva turned with a guilty expression towards her. “I am sorry Neeru. I am really sorry.” Neeraja put the present she had bought on Vishva’s hands. “I am sorry too,” she said, turned on her heels and walked. Vishva just stood there and saw her walk away. Someone else was pulling him in another direction. He turned to look at Natraj and Prabha. He saw Prabha laughing. Natraj holding her hand and leading her away from the stage. His hold tightened on the present. Vishva wanted to punch Natraj. He knew his anger was irrational. He knew he had no right being angry now. He knew all of this. Yet! He felt angry. The fact that Prabha moved on and did not pine for him was eating him alive. Because he was pining for her. In his own weird way, he was. He turned to the only medicine for this horrible love sickness. Vishva turned to follow Neeraja.