Shreya watched the little drops of water that splashed upon the glass and trickled down. Café Coffee Day was the best during the rains. Wrapping her hands around a warm cup of cappuccino, Shreya had spent many a rainy day here with Krishna. The outlet at Adyar was their usual meeting place. It was far away from his hospital at Nungambakkam and her college at Anna Nagar. So, no known faces are likely to spot them.
Shreya toyed with the locket around her neck. It was a pure silver one with an intricate pattern of the Lord Krishna as a chubby crawling baby. Krishna had gifted it on her birthday. “Wear it always. Will you?” He had asked. “I want to be touching your heart always.”
‘How could he have done such a thing?’ She wondered. As she sat with her chin resting on her palm, Krishna entered the place. Her lips had another sip of the cappuccino while her eyes caught sight of Krishna. Before she could stop herself, her entire face smiled. It was only Krishna who could do that to her. He could make not just her lips but her eyes, cheeks, hair and everything smile.
The entire world seemed brighter and more cheerful to Shreya. Krishna oozed confidence right from his dark brown eyes, broad shoulders, muscular arms and shining black shoes. He had enough to make a woman swoon and he seemed to know it.
Krishna’s eyes spotted Shreya and he beamed. ‘She is so beautiful,’ he thought. ‘Wow. I am lucky.’ Shreya wore a simple pink cotton salwaar kameez that accentuated her fair translucent skin. Her lovely long black hair came down in wavy layers and framed her face. Even her beautiful long earrings seemed to be yearning to touch and caress her white shoulders.
“Hi darling,” Krishna said. “Good morning.”
‘He is smiling and happy while I am burning. The idiot!’ She thought. In a sarcastic way, she said, “it has not been a good morning for me.”
“How can you do such a thing?” Shreya asked. Her eyes widened in anger.
“What did I do? Disturbed you in your dreams again?”
“Don’t act all so innocent. You went out with Nalini yesterday. I saw you.”
“Really! Then why didn’t you join us?”
“Don’t… don’t… Your parents want you to marry her and now, you are going out with her too. So, have you fixed the wedding date yet?”
Krishna laughed out. “Don’t be so jealous, dear.”
“Jealous… you call me jealous… not just Blue Diamond, I saw you seat her on your bike too after that. Can you deny that?”
“No. why should I?”
“You lied to me,” Shreya said.
“You never told me of your secret outing yesterday,” Shreya said.
“Hey, it was a sudden plan, Shreya, and my mobile conked out. I couldn’t call you.”
“So convenient,” Shreya said. “You know that I don’t trust her single bit. Then why?”
“But now it seems like you don’t trust me. Tell me, do you trust me or not?”
Shreya thought for a moment. “Men are undependable.”
Krishna lost his smile. “Don’t generalize. Do you trust me or not?”
“After yesterday, I am not so sure. Why did you go out with her yesterday?”
Krishna sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “I don’t give explanations to people who don’t trust me.”
“Then there is no meaning in prolonging this thing,” Shreya said. With that, she picked up the locket along with the chain above her head and removed it. She pulled Krishna’s hand, pressed the locket in his palm and left the place without another word.
As soon as she stepped out of the Café, she got into an empty auto rickshaw. “Anna Nagar,” she told the driver. “Andal College.”
The auto sped across the terrain splashing drops of rain on her feet. She pushed aside the rubber screen and peeped out. She closed her eyes and allowed the rain to mingle with her tears. Her heart beats normalized.
Krishna’s handsome face came to her mind. His dark brown eyes had glistened when she had removed the locket. His smiling lips had frozen. His strong shoulders had drooped. Maybe, it was she who was wrong.
‘I never gave him a chance to explain. After two years of being with him, he deserves at least that,’ she thought. “Sir, please, can you turn the auto to Nungambakkam? I need to go Life Trust Hospital,” she said to the driver.
The driver nodded and turned back the auto. While the auto purred and panted through the traffic, Shreya prayed and hoped that Krishna was there.
The auto reached the gates of the hospital and Shreya jumped out and walked towards the watchman. “Is Doctor Krishna back? Has his car come in?”
“No madam,” the watchman said.
Shreya’s eyes started watering. ‘Krishna must be still in the café waiting for her to come back. I should rush to him,’ she thought.
“I need to go to Adyar urgently. Please,” she said to the auto driver.
“What is this madam? You are running from one corner of the city to another. I have some other work.”
“Please, please sir,” Shreya said and her voice cracked. Tears poured down her cheeks. The auto driver decided not to ask any more questions.
Shreya reached Café Coffee Day after 40 minutes of zigzagging through the heavy traffic. She ran inside and looked around. One of the waiters, Vijay, who usually served them, waved out to her.
“Has Krishna left, Vijay?” Shreya asked him.
“Yes. He has gone to Anna Nagar to your college. He told me that he behaved like a fool with you and that he is going to apologize.”
Shreya hit her forehead with her palm. “It was my mistake. My entire mistake,” she said.
“Good. Very good,” Vijay said. “You both are made for each other. Go catch him.”
Shreya’s mobile rang out just then. It was Amrita, her college classmate.
“So finally we have seen him. And, wow, he is so smart. So tall and so muscular. Hmmm…”
“Amrita, is he there now?” Shreya asked.
“No Shreya, he just left. He told me his patients will be waiting for him. He asked me to tell you to meet him at 10 tomorrow morning at your usual place.”
“Thanks Amrita,” Shreya said. “Catch you later.”
“Hey, you coming to college now?” Amrita asked.
“No. I cannot wait till tomorrow to see him.” Shreya cut the line and turned around. The auto driver was standing behind her.
“Please pay me, madam. I have to leave.” He said.
“You have to take me to Nungambakkam now, please…”
“And you will cry if I say no. I should have known this journey has not yet ended,” the auto driver said.
Vijay showed her a thumbs-up sign and waved out to her. She waved back to him and left.
As the auto grunted into the traffic once again, Shreya’s heart beat madly. ‘I love him and he loves me back. That’s all matters.’
The rains seemed to have eased up. She rolled up and pinned the rubber curtains allowing the strong wind to throw her hair around. Every passing second increased her guilt and agony. ‘So what if he had gone out with her? It might just be a spoof to fool his parents. Even Krishna’s parents are doing the right thing. How long can they wait when they don’t even know that we are in love with each other? Just six more months for college to get over and then they needn’t keep the engagement a secret.’
Shreya touched around her neck searching for the locket of her favorite God. She always held him whenever she was scared. Now, she missed it. ‘My mistake,’ she thought. ‘If Krishna wanted to just fool around me, he wouldn’t have hung around for three years. He could have easily ditched me long back. Even now, after I made a fool of myself, he still wants me back.’
The same watchman stood at the hospital gate. Shreya ran to him. “Is Doctor Krishna back?”
“No madam,” he said.
The words struck like a blow on her head. Her knees gave way and she was about to swoon on the ground. A strong pair of arms caught her.
The voice felt familiar to Shreya. ‘If only I could open my eyes. Is that…?’
A bottle of water was pressed to her lips and she sipped on it. Slowly, she opened her eyes.
“Shreya, what happened? The watchman tells me that you were already here before.” Krishna’s eyes were filled with concern.
“Krishna, I am sorry,” Shreya said. “I love you and I don’t want to know anything more.”
“Idiot, you came all the way to tell me that. I know it and I love you too. In fact, Nalini called me out yesterday to tell me that she too is in love with someone else. She wanted me to break it gently to my parents and cancel whatever wedding plans they have. Now, nothing stands between us except your last semester exams.”
Shreya jumped up in joy and hugged Krishna tightly. Suddenly, a voice disturbed them.
“Madam, will you pay me at least now?” The auto driver asked Shreya.