The first part of this story was written 2 years ago. Read that HERE before you proceed.
“I hope you realise that all the alcohol in the world can’t bridge it.”
I almost fell down. After a yearlong tumultuous uncommitted, unspoken relationship she had finally broken the barrier.
“Bridge what?” I asked, trying to seem unaffected.
“This chasm of unspoken emotions between us.” came the reply. “Come, let’s take a walk.”
As we exited our cubicle and walked towards the door, I could sense eyes shadowing us. But all I could see was her lustrous hair, her supple skin and oh those eyes. I always knew I was in love but today was the first time that my denial had taken a backseat.
We walked into the neighbouring coffee shop (the same one where she avoided eye contact) and took a seat.
“One Cappuccino for me, with 2 sugar sachets and an Americano with milk on the side with no sugar for him.” she said to the server.
I was taken aback. All this while I’d been deducing ways to tell myself that this woman didn’t know me and didn’t love me…and here she knew my exact coffee order like the back of her hand.
After what seemed like a long silence of around a minute she took my hand in her own.
“I like you. A lot. And I know you share the same feelings. But what you don’t understand is how difficult it has been for me to accept this. Since childhood I’ve been ridiculed and poked fun at due to my dark skin. At an early age, I built a cocoon around myself and never let anyone in. It may not be the best defence mechanism but it worked. And then I met you. It took a lot of courage to come to terms with the fact that someone could like me for who I am. In a society obsessed with the notion that women should be fair, it seemed like an impossible dream. Especially because you’re fair. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and didn’t want to take a chance for fear of being hurt. But I cannot see you drink yourself to death just because both of us were too afraid to be open about our feelings.”
A small tear escaped her eye and her grip tightened.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve been extremely judgemental about you in my mind. Yes, I like you a lot. But I lacked the courage to approach you; and then as time passed I interpreted your behaviour as a ‘stay away’ sign. Never did I try and understand how you actually felt.” I croaked. I could’ve sworn that my usually confident voice had got stuck somewhere in my gut.
As we sipped our coffees, we spoke about the coffee shop episode, the accidental nudge at the water cooler and a lot of other previously unsaid things. This time too our eyes met…and spoke…but the language had changed.