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He felt the same lump building up at the back of his throat, as he attempted to gulp it down. He tried to look as unaffected as he possibly could. He couldn't let her see him like this. He didn't want her to think that he was still holding on to that hope. He didn't want her to think that he was waiting for her, expecting and hoping that she was doing the same. That little hope had completely dimmed now. He couldn't ask her anything.
Apparently, when she had sent him that letter for him, she had stripped him of all of his rights to ask questions from her. He looked away to control the bubbling anger that had replaced his pain. His breathing quickened, but he took deep breaths in an attempt to control his anger. To think that his long patience was running short right now, of all times, was irking him even further. He tried to distract himself in an attempt to subdue his anger.
He was about to turn around to exit out of the hall, when he felt a hand on his shoulders. He turned to see Karan stopping him.
"Hey I haven't even met with you yet. Where are you going? Aren't you going to congratulate the groom-to-be for the engagement?" Karan asked in a playful manner. Then he let go of Swayum's shoulder, and went to stand next to Sharon, waiting for Swayum's reply.
Swayum looked at Rey, who stood there on alert without meeting his eye. It was as if Rey was blaming himself for this whole mess. Swayum looked at the pair standing in front of him and attempted a small smile. The smile soon disappeared as he saw Karan putting his arm around her, pulling her closer to him. He saw her tense only for a moment due to surprise. Then, she eased into his arm with a genuine smile. His arm fit perfectly around hers, and something in his heart stirred again. The heart that had been numbed from pain for such a long time seemed to hurt again. How was that even possible? He was shaken out of his thoughts when he heard Karan speaking.
"Babe, do you know who this is? This is Reyansh Singhania. Remember the guy I told you about? The one I met in France?"
Swayum could just feel Sharon raising an eyebrow at Karan. He could just feel Rey returning the small smile that had spread across Sharon's face. He could feel everything about their conversation but he refused to look at anyone but Karan.
He felt Karan turning towards him, addressing him, "And this is his best friend, the one who he was dying for me to meet, Swa.."
Swayum's heart quickened. How long has it been since he heard her say his name. It was a whisper, but it was audible. She hadn't let Karan finish his sentence. He didn't want to turn to her, to address her, but his heart followed the voice. He looked at her, and for a moment everything seemed to disappear. She had remembered him? He looked at her, taking in her eyes. Those were the same eyes that he fell in love with due to the depth it held. That one moment almost left him spell-bounded. Almost. He had forced himself to look away. This wasn't his right anymore. A bitter smile spread across his lip as he restrained himself from closing his eyes to savor the moment.
Karan gave Sharon a confused look. "Ok. I guess you know him already? Alright then, let me introduce you to him!" he finished off enthusiastically. He turned towards Swayum, "Alright so Swayum, this is.."
"Sharon.." Karan wasn't able to finish when Swayum interrupted him and said her name instead.
Karan looked slightly surprised. He let go of Sharon and turned to look at her. "Wait you guys know each other? How cool! From where?"
Sharon looked taken aback by this question. It seemed like she couldn't think of the right answer. Whatever the reason was, she refused to look at either Rey or Swayum.
Swayum took a deep breath. "I think you're misunderstanding Karan. We don't know each other. In fact, we have never met before. It's just that I have seen her name on the board while coming in so I was just assuming, and she had heard you and Rey talking when Rey mentioned me. That's all!" He gave Karan a small smile in an attempt to sound as sincere as he probably could.
Karan looked at him confused, "Board? What board?"
Swayum shook his head, "Nevermind. It doesn't matter! Congratulations for your engagement. I am really happy for you." And he was. He was glad for the guy. They both looked genuinely happy.
"Thanks dude! You're just as awesome as Rey told me. Why don't you guys get some appetizer? Sorry man, the ceremony is running a little late!" Karan finished apologetically.
Swayum shook his head. "Actually thanks for the offer but I should really be going now. I am not sure if Rey told you but tomorrow is a really important day for the school, and I still have some important work left that's due tomorrow so I really should be heading out."
Karan made a face, "Oh yeah I have heard of this school from Rey. Well alright I won't force you to stay since you have important work, but you have to promise me that you will definitely come to the wedding. Also you won't leave until the very end!"
He fisted his hand in an attempt to restrain his emotions from coming out at that moment and nodded, "I promise.." With that, Swayum walked out.
Swayum Shekawat knew what a great deal it had meant. He had just denied his past with her. What he had just said had left a void in him. Why did he say that? He wondered. Her discomfort had always meant great deal to him. If she didn't want their relationship to be known then he wouldn't tell anyone about it. He would keep quiet and leave. He would be lying if he said that it didn't pain him to see her standing so comfortably, side by side, with Karan. He had never seen her so much at peace before. It's true that her peace had momentarily left her when Karan questioned their past relationship but it had seemed to return now. She had refused to meet his eyes, just like he had refused to meet hers.
He heard Rey call his voice as he followed Swayum out. "What are you doing man? Why aren't you talking to her? This is your chance Swayum. This is possibly your last chance?"
Swayum took a deep breath and waited until they were in the parking lot. He halted and looked at Rey. His eyes hardened as he simply asked, "Chance to do what? What exactly is it that you want me to do huh?"
Rey looked shocked. This isn't what he had expected at all. "What do you mean Swayum? Talk to her!"
Swayum gritted his teeth, "Talk to her? Talk to the girl who's standing in there beside your friend, ready to get engaged? You want me to go talk to the girl who most likely doesn't even remember the fact that we may have had something together. You want me to question a girl who's not even mine anymore? You want me to question the girl who had refused to even acknowledge the fact that we knew each other? That girl doesn't even remember her best friend Rey. Do you think she would remember me?"
Rey looked away, "But she did remember you.."
Swayum was taken aback for a moment. Then a slow smile spread on his lips. "Yeah she had. But not for the past we shared, but for a disgrace that she had to bear. Did you see the way she had looked so horrified for a second? No Rey. How could I have destroyed her happiness like she did mine? It's not like I can beg her to fall in love with me. I tried though. It didn't work. Love doesn't work that way. I don't have any right over her now. She is over me, and now I am finally going to be over her."
Rey chuckled, "Over her? You can't even think of her with someone else! The way you looked at her when she said your name. It was so obvious that you had forgotten everything! You don't have any right over her? Are you kidding me! You have given her 4 years of undeniable love. Even when she wasn't with you! I think you do have some right to question her!"
Swayum smiled sadly, "Rey if loving meant having a right over someone then we wouldn't be here.."
Rey raised both of his hands in frustration, "Swayum! What's wrong with you? This is not the Swayum I used to know!! What happened to the Swayum that would do anything for her? What happened to the Swayum who would follow her around until she heard him out? What happened to the Swayum who always took everything she said in, until she was ready to listen to him?"
Swayum started walking towards the car, "He's dead Rey. She doesn't owe me anything. And just like that, I don't owe her anything either. From today onwards, the old Swayum is dead. That past is dead. She means nothing to me. I have only few important people in my life now and I would like to keep it that way."
Rey followed, "Soch lo Swayum. This is the last chance."
He saw a look of finality in Swayum's eyes as he continued, "It's liberating in a way. It feels like a huge weight is lifted off my chest. She is happy, and so am I. I mean, doesn't that mean that I am over her now? I guess I was just feeling guilty that she had left St. Louis because of me, but she seemed so content that I am relieved now."
His eyes had bored into hers, and she had shamelessly stared. Those were the eyes of the man who had haunted her from the day she had left St. Louis. His eyes held so much care back then. However, his eyes seemed to harden as soon as he met hers. He was fighting something. She wasn't sure what exactly. At first, she had thought that it was confusion but she realized that she had been wrong. She had expected him to blast her with questions, but he had just stood there, standing at a distance while breaking eye contact. As soon as he did that, she had snapped out of the trance that he had put on her. However, when Karan had attempted to introduce him to her, she couldn't help the name slip out. It had shocked her to a great extent to say that name again. It had been such a long time since she had said his name. It seemed to bring an unusual thrill through her body.
He had refused to look at her, and she knew it was because she had deeply hurt him. Of course, he couldn't look at the one girl that had caused him great grief. It was completely understandable, yet it had hurt her deeply. However, a wave of relief spread through her as she heard him say her name. She looked at him briefly to see what his expression was, only to be disappointed at how unreadable it was. Despite all this, it felt so surreal. She couldn't believe that he was in front of her. He seemed like a completely different person now. He still hadn't forgotten her! However, her excitement disappeared as soon as it came, as she heard him deny anything they shared. Of course, she had become nervous when Karan questioned her past, but it was not something she would have hidden from him. So, when he denied their past, it wrenched her heart. Had she given him so much pain that he didn't even want to acknowledge her existence? Who was she kidding? She gave him more pain than this. She deserved this.
His voice troubled her the most. It was steely and indifferent. He refused to meet her eyes, or express himself, when he had told Karan that they had seen her name on the board. Wait a minute! Board? What board? She didn't have any name on any boards! She looked at him, confused. Was that a quick save on his part, or was he actually being serious? She was still contemplating what the correct conclusion would be when she looked up to see him leave.
She had seen his back, followed by Rey's. Rey, her former best friend, who was now Swayum's best friend. How she had wished that she could engulf him in a friendly hug. It had been too long. She had lost everything when she decided to leave. She really had needed him by her side, encouraging him, all these years. However, she knew that making any contact with him would mean inviting trouble because Swayum would eventually come to know that Rey had contact with her. She was even against her decision of sending Rey both of the letter, 4 years ago but she knew that Rey was the only one who would sincerely keep the letter in Swayum's locker without looking at the contents of it.
As her past memories flooded in her mind, her eyes traveled to the board as it widened in realization. Is that what he meant when he said that he read her name on the board? She had excused herself from Karan's presence and ran outside in a hurry. No!! Swayum needed to know! He had the right to know. It wasn't what he was thinking at all! He just took it all wrong! She needed to make this wrong right! She needed to tell him.
She was taking determined steps. She asked around about them, and was pointed towards their direction. After several minutes of pointless walking, she had finally spotted them. She hurried towards them as she saw them nearing the car. A relief came over her as she slowed herself down in an attempt to calm herself. She slowly approached them, but stopped in her tracks as she heard him say, "She means nothing to me. I have only few important people in my life now Rey and I would like to keep it that way."
What had she heard? Were they talking about her? She took another step towards them in order to listen more clearly.
She heard Rey say, "Soch lo Swayum. This is the last chance." She waited for the answer as her heart thudded in anticipation.
"It's liberating in a way. It feels like a huge weight is lifted off my chest. She is happy, and so am I. I mean, doesn't that mean that I am over her now? I guess I was just feeling guilty that she had left St. Louis because of me, but she seemed so content that I am relieved now."
Her heart sank listening to this. All these years, she had been a burden on him? The breath she was holding turned into quiet sobs. Wasn't this what she had wanted? For him to be happy without her? Shouldn't she be satisfied now that he is relieved? Instead of crying, she should rejoice that he had finally gotten over her. She should be happy that he had finally gotten a closure with this engagement. So what if he didn't know that this engagement was not hers? He didn't need to know that, as long as he is happy. After all, that's what she had always wished for from the day she was forced to leave him by her circumstances.
I would like to apologize for any typos or errors as I am typing really late in the night and I am tired. The next part will elaborate a little, possible a lot, more on Sharon's side of the story. Don't worry, I won't extend their separation for long since I would never want them to suffer. I really hope this part came to your expectations and please do comment. Your beautiful comments are the reason I continue. "
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