“I’m not sure about this Dave,” Sarthak said sipping his coffee.
“Don’t fret. It’s just a blind date. Besides, I know Jaz is gonna be perfect for you,” Dave said with confidence.
Dave and Sarthak had known each other for over four years now. They had worked together in the same company and would often party together. Recently, Dave moved to a new company and met a girl whom she considers perfect for Sarthak. So much so, he basically pushed Sarthak to meet this girl without so much as showing her photo to him. “It’s a surprise,” Dave had said. Sarthak hated surprises.
“There she is,” Dave said looking at the door. Sarthak’s heart stopped.
“Hey, Jaz,” Dave said and hugged Jaz. Jaz smiled warmly looking at Dave and then turned to Sarthak. Her smile froze and confusion and then realization started taking shape on her face.
“This is Jaz, Sarthak. And Jaz, this is Sarthak. He’s one of the best guys I have ever met and she’s one of the most amazing person I know. And trust me, you guys have the same taste in almost everything. I’ll leave you two now. Have fun!”
Sarthak and Jaz continued to look at each other without saying a single word. Dave was too excited to notice the expressions on their faces. He pushed Jaz on the seat in front of Sarthak and left.
Sarthak didn’t say anything but kept staring at Jaz. Jaz looked at the coffee and would take a glance at Sarthak’s face which had anger written all over it. After over five minutes had passed, Sarthak looked at the watch and said, “Dave would have left by now. Bye Jasmine!” and left.
“Sarthak!” Jasmine said feebly but Sarthak had almost dashed out of the coffee shop.
If someone asked Sarthak to describe his journey to his home, he wouldn’t have an answer. All he could think about was six years ago when he had met Jasmine for the last time.
“I need a break,” Jasmine had said.
“What do you mean?” Sarthak asked.
“I can’t handle all this – relationship, career, my family,” Jasmine said.
“You can tell your family about us. I’m sure they will like me.”
“No! I’m not ready yet. I… I… I just want some peace of mind. Can we please take a break? Three months. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Jasmine, there is no such thing as a three months break,” Sarthak pleaded.
“I need it. Please. Let’s not talk for three months. I want to gather myself.”
Sarthak was about to oppose but the look on Jasmine’s face told him everything. He simply nodded.
The three months passed. Then six months, one year, five years, and now, it was six years later that they saw each other for the first time. Sarthak spent every single minute since then building a career that could give him pride and drowned himself in his work, hobbies, and other activities that could help him forget about Jasmine. He checked the calendar and realized that six years had passed. He looked at the mirror. Did he look like this six years ago? Surely not! There were a few streaks of gray but he was definitely fitter now.
“She is not seeing anyone,” Sarthak spoke and was filled with a mix of sadness and joy. He didn’t know why he was feeling either. Neither did he know why he was so angry right now. Life had moved on, he had moved on, right?
Jasmine paid for her coffee and got up. She also picked Sarthak’s coffee and threw it in the trash can.
Six years and he still recognized her in a second. Her heart had exploded when Dave told her about Sarthak. At first, she thought Sarthak wanted to meet her but when Dave told her that he is keeping the photo a surprise for both of them, she realized that Sarthak had forgotten about her. Her heartbeat had been like waves under the full moon when she got out of the cab to meet them – going higher than she wanted.
And then, he recognized her in a flash. She wanted to smile at him but his face scared her.
“I should have said something. It’s not like he left immediately. I had five minutes.” Jasmine lamented.
She reached home and washed her face. She had been crying the whole way back. Not the loud crying of pain but the somber tears of loss. A feeling she hadn’t felt in the past six years. Her breakup with Sarthak had been the exact turning point that she had needed to push herself. She worked hard for three months on a project and was promoted and transferred. Life got crazier and it was a month later that she realized that she had to talk to Sarthak. She kept delaying it, partly out of fear and partly because it was pointless now. They were in different cities, doing different things in their lives. And then, it was too late. He never messaged her either.
Then, her thoughts moved to the good times she had spent with him and she couldn’t understand why they had broken up even though looking back, her life had been better after that. Her thoughts muddled and mixed among themselves confusing her further. Thankfully, they didn’t last long and finally, she dozed off.
The next morning, she woke up and saw a single message on her phone.
She was wide awake now.
‘Tonight. Coffee. Same place. Same time.’
Sarthak saw Jasmine’s message and smiled. He had spent the whole night wide awake, all his suppressed emotions overwhelming him in one short burst. He remembered all the good times they had spent, reading each others’ minds, spending hours talking about nothing, and helping each other build their dreams. He went through all that and came out of that tunnel with only one thought – Dave was right. She was still perfect.
He replied back – ‘Ok.’