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It has been more than a week since her last text message appeared on my phone.

To date, I have not replied to that message.

There was no way of making her feel less disappointed, but I had to do it. There was no way I could think of to soften the blow. But my sole wish for her was that she enjoyed that evening, when I gave her all my attention.

I sincerely hope she finds the right man, someone who can make her feel more special than I did that day, for the rest of her life.

***

I can understand why she decided to remove any lingering bits and pieces of me from her life. After all, it has been close to two years of bliss followed by a whole decade getting stuck.

Although our relationship was never official, I was the giver when we first started. We could have gone further and would have had no chance of turning back. But she pulled the handbrake (note: don’t read it the wrong way please), citing a spiritual reason. We carried on with this unofficially until circumstances dictated that we had to be separated physically. The intent was to keep things going “as per normal” until she was done with her studies.

It wasn’t easy trying to get things going “as per normal”. Long distance relationships, especially unofficial ones, were extremely hard to maintain. We hadn’t the technological convenience that Skype could offer today. While there was no issue with trust, the differences between our lifestyles eventually
carved a wedge – a wedge that would pull us apart. I was looking forward to the first time we met when she got back. I could remember where we were, what drinks we ordered and the excitement bubbling within me about how we could get together now. We were no longer fettered by the issues about her having to concentrate on completing her studies or by the vast distance that separated us. I was eager. I was optimistic. I was ready.

The night ended on a sour note. We would neither see each other nor chatted for the next few months.

Because we didn’t have that “official” status, it didn’t hurt as bad. Yet, how that night ended led me to consider, for the first time, maybe we didn’t work because we just couldn’t.

A few months later, I received a text message out of the blue from her.

Something triggered a memory while she was clearing her room. She thought we could still be friends. Or perhaps, at that time, she might have thought about how there was a chance that we could put certain things behind us and start afresh.

For the longest time, I saved that text message. The embers of love were rekindled, but only just. Not when emotions and hopes were brought to a high and then, having to deal with all of that disappointment when they crashed – on that fateful night months ago.

We chatted again. We met a few times. By now, there were hints from her that she was now ready to go full steam ahead. I was held back by my own doubts. Because nothing was official in the first place, we never exactly talked about it. We were stuck in this weird friends-but-not-really-friends stage for the longest of
time.

We met for the last time two year’s back. I had no inkling then that she was pulling the plug, not only on our relationship, but our friendship. Looking back, I knew that she was tired and she had wasted a lot of her time. I might have made a mistake in not trying to put ourselves in the clear but I was not sure how to make things official when everything was unofficial in the first place.

Eventually she made a decision to go for a clean break. Her heart might be broken or like mine, doused by the lack of a clear direction. I knew that she lamented about how both of us had missed an opportunity way back then, when I laid my cards on the table only for her to turn them back and said, “Wait.”

The prerogative was hers to pull the brake.

I was jolted and probably never recovered from it since.

About a woman

We were newbies in the working world then. She was sitting on one side of the fence while I was on the other end. We were introduced at a corporate event and a few days later, she called me to ask if I could help her with something she was working on. I accepted her request.

She was slender, wore her hair short and the clothes she wore made her stand out from the throngs of OLs that I’d come across. She was bilingual and was deemed as a rising star amongst her peers.

“Don’t ever think about it,” my senior nipped it in the bud. “She’s already married.”

I’d never known what her exact age was but deduced that she could be around my age, or slightly younger. Since that call from her, the rare moments when our professional paths crossed, only smiles were exchanged.

Then, the winds of time meant that our paths would diverge for the next few years.

She rose through the ranks swiftly, while I had to deal with the chronic problem of career stagnation. I knew she was in a league of her own. We never met and I reckon, I was now resigned to a place in her memory where only a murky semblance of my name remained. For me, she was someone I had never forgotten.

It was only in recent months that our paths looked set to cross again. She was posted to an organisation that had close dealings with my workplace, holding a senior position. By chance, I managed to get her on my Twitter feed, where I remained a follower without being followed.

Waiting for the train home one evening, I was checking out some websites on my iPad.

(Digressing a little, it was around the week when almost the entire country was caught up in the elections fever. Through the twitterfeed, I learnt that she had attended a few rallies.)

Looking up from the screen for a moment, it startled me when I realised that she was standing a few metres from me, waiting at the same door. It didn’t surprise me at all that she didn’t recognise me. Or perhaps she was pretending not to.

I turned my attention back to my iPad. While my fingers were swiping the screen almost absentmindedly, my mind began to whirl. I thought about how she must have been happily married for close to a decade already; how her career had progressed so well; and her love for cats.

The train arrived, interrupting my chain of thoughts. We shuffled our way into the cabin and that was when I lost sight of her. Thoughts as I made my way home were centered on how she was the type of woman whom I would love to grow old with, the disparities of our career paths aside.

She was one of the rare ones.