This is the final part of the story. You can read part 1 and part 2 here.
Making her a large mug of coffee, Gauri sat on the couch by the TV. She switched it on, randomly surfing a few channels before settling on a cookery show. The hostess, a voluptuous lady in her 50’s was teaching the audience how to properly massage a chicken with butter. Absentmindedly, Gauri kept looking at the show, as though enthralled by the whole act, nearly forgetting that she was vegetarian.
Suddenly, she jerked out of the trance and took a long sip of the coffee. Setting the mug on the table, Gauri pulled out her mobile and hit redial. ‘Are you better now?’ asked a voice immediately on the other side of the call. ‘Yes, Resh!’ said Gauri sounding exhausted. A few minutes into the conversation, Gauri dropped the bomb. ‘Listen, I want to talk to GS. Give me his number’ she said. ‘WHAT! ARE YOU INSANE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?’ screamed Reshma in complete shock.
Gauri explained, amidst a lot of resistance from Reshma, that she only wanted to talk and meet him once, return that jacket. She assured her friend that there was nothing else to it. Reshma found the whole idea silly and very risky. She reminded Gauri that her life was perfect in all ways and that this phone call could tilt a lot of things wrong. Despite all her attempts to prevent the call, Reshma saw the old G resurface, stubborn and adamant to do what she wanted. After the call was over, Gauri received a WhatsApp message with the phone number, followed by a line ‘babe! Be careful <3’.
Gauri knew that any minute that she wasted contemplating her action would only deter her thought, so she immediately dialed that number. Her hands were colder than her coffee at that minute when after three rings, a hello left her mouth dry. ‘Gauthum’ she said nervously. ‘Oh my god! Is that you Gauri? How are you? What a surprise?’ boomed the familiar voice that had been her favourite back in the day. ‘I am good. How… how are you? Where are you these days?’ said Gauri, trying to regain her composure. ‘I am fantastic man! Ma and I are in Bangalore these days! Where are you? How are your kids and your husband?’ he asked. Gauri let out a small laugh. He knew everything about her but she knew nothing about him? Her heart was fluttering in excitement. ‘They are all good! We are in Bangalore too. Listen, I have your jacket. I want to give it back to you sometime’ she said and all she heard was Gauthum laugh out for a good minute or so. ‘Are you kidding me? You still have that jacket? I totally forgot about it! Ha ha ha! This is just wow. Sure sure. When do you want to meet?’
The two decided to meet the next evening at the same Starbucks at the mall. GS said that he would pick her up, but she refused. She couldn’t risk it any further, could she? The next evening at 4:30, she sat at the same corner table with bated breath, waiting to see that man who had turned her life around in an instant. A white Zara bag with the jacket inside it, sat at her feet. Ten minutes later, he walked in and Gauri held on to her espresso cup so she wouldn’t faint again. His smile hadn’t changed, but the man was so different from the guy she knew back in college. Gauthum walked up to her and gave her a side hug. THAT was something she wasn’t ready for. Immediately, Gauri’s eyes welled up with tears and she dove under the table to reach out for the bag. Fumbling with it in her hand, she handed it over to him hurriedly and said that she had to leave. ‘The kids will be home in some time and I really must go. Lovely meeting you’ she said as he looked at her in total surprise. ‘But, G! One coffee with me’ he said as she hurriedly paid for her coffee. She was obviously shaken and he wanted to do something to calm her. Catching her by her hand, GS grabbed her back and held her in a hug. Her feet melted into a puddle and she didn’t care that probably the whole coffee shop was watching this drama. She could smell that aroma all over again and she stood there soaking it all in. Slowly she released her from the hug and gave him a weak smile. Patting him gently on the chest Gauri said ‘Bye. Take care GS’ and left the shop.
Back in her car, she sobbed hard. By the time she was home, Reshma was already there to comfort her. Sobbing harder on her friend’s shoulders, Gauri was like a heartbroken teenager. After about ten minutes, she got up, went for a bath and scrubbed herself so hard as though to ensure that no trace of that scent lingered. Tossing her clothes into the machine, she added some disinfectant and went on to make coffee. As the two ladies sat on the couch, her husband walked in. Gauri weakly smiled at Gautam and Reshma caught up with him on how work had been. ‘I got this at work today. Some internal thing I had won. See it na. I will quickly have a shower and come back’ said Gautam, thrusting a small brown package in her hand as he went into the bedroom. As Gauri began to rip the package open, a familiar scent filled the room and tears started rolling down her eyes. The brown package came apart to reveal a perfume bottle with the word ‘Boss’ written on it. Reshma understood immediately and grabbed her sobbing best friend. Some things are meant to stick with you forever after all.
I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge