CROSSROADS – III

 Shifting from the North to the East was actually a knee jerk reaction for Riddhima – a decision that she took in a jiffy and made sure that it materialized. After all that had happened, she just wanted to be as far away from Delhi as possible.

She had been in a live-in-relationship for close to three years much against the wishes and counsel of her parents. A carefree bird that she was, she found nothing wrong in sharing home space with a man whom she loved and who claimed to love her. Moreover, she never wanted her wings clipped by nagging in-laws and bugging children. So, marriage was a term she had struck off her dictionary since her college years.

When she joined TRANSCO – the MNC of her dreams, life took a rosy turn. Not only did the job make her economically independent, but also brought Suyash into her life. Suyash was her Team Leader in one of the projects that she had been assigned and had already had five years of experience in the company.

One thing led to the other and soon they could not wait to take coffee breaks to see each other. Within months, Riddhima was sure that she wanted to live her life with him. Nevertheless, she wanted a second opinion. And who else would give the go-ahead if not Avinash!

Animatedly, she picked up the phone and called up Avinash.

“Hey, Avi, can you spare a few minutes?”, said an excited Riddhima as soon as Avinash answered her call.

“At your command, Riddhi. Tell me what’s eating up your already half-existing brain”, he replied amidst splits of laughter.

“Listen, I think I have found him, Riddhima said emphasizing the last word.

“Who was lost and whom have you found, Riddhima?”, said Avinash continuing with his humour.

“Be serious a bit, will you? I know I am right. I just want to be sure”, Riddhima said thoughfully.

“If you go on beating around the bush this way, how do you expect me to know what it is that you are talking about? Shoot straight”, replied Avinash switching over to a more moderate tone.

And so Riddhima narrated the whole thing right from day one, adding a line of apology in the end for having kept the secret even though she exchanged messages or calls with Avinash every other day.

Avinash was silent for some time.

“Come on tell me, what you are thinking”, pleaded Riddhima in desperation.

“Well, first, you owe me a Café Mocha on my next trip to Delhi – your penalty for hiding such an important slice of your life from me this long. And then, as far as my opinion is concerned, I have always believed in your choices, though not on your life principles. As far as your Suyash is concerned, having heard what I have heard from you, you have my go ahead. I mean you have already made up your mind, and I haven’t met him. So, what more can I say other than agree with you? But, about the question as to whether you should move in with him, you know my answer. We have had enough of our marriage vs. live-in-relationship debates for years. Not any more at this juncture”, replied Avinash at one go.

“Hmm . . . diplomatic reply. But, you wait, I’ll show you how a live-in-relationship ensures more happiness than the bondage of marriage. Ah! Ok . . . you don’t believe it is a bondage . . .”, Riddhima said with a giggle.

“So, Riddhi, all the best and you have my back at all times – never forget it”, said Avinash.

“I know and that’s why I chose to call you first. I’ll introduce you to him next weekend over video call”, said Riddhima with excitement back in her voice again.

They hung up.

Avinash went back to his cubicle.

And, Riddhima started spinning fabrics of gold in imaginary looms.

Suyash and Riddhima moved in together to a well furnished plush 3 BHK flat overseeing an artificial pool and park.

But, things started changing quickly – much sooner than Riddhima could have ever imagined.

No, Suyash wasn’t abusive. He wasn’t the possessive type either.

It was just that he kept himself away from the house as much as he could. They worked together, and that meant they left for and from work together most of the times.

The free bird that Riddima was, she desired a personal space, but she also wanted the warmth of the man that she was living with.

That was not to be.

Riddhima found it strange.

She had a heart full of emotions, but no one to pour them on.

Did she make a mistake?

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