Vish looked forward to those few times in a week, where he would match his wits with his close friend Shanky. When both have time off from their worldly worries, they would typically get together with their better halves at one of their places – chat for a while on the general 'state of the universe', do a community-dinner after which Vish and Shanky would retire to play their favourite game – “
Hari was a typical bachelor living in the IT city working on one of those typical and huge companies that had just moved out of city onto the typical outskirts location. Usually, he rode to work on his bike; but for the past couple of days his bike had given up on him and both his friends Vishwa and Shankar were out of town on an holiday – so hitching a ride was ruled out. He was left with no option but to take the company bus for just this day, after getting permission from the transport-coordinator in the company. He was waiting in the bus-stand – he saw several of his colleagues that he couldn’t even recognize. The bus was arriving and Hari just went along with the human flow and got into the bus – as he got in, he looked for empty seats and found one in the center of the bus. As he sat down near the window, he saw someone, three rows ahead, looking at him – it was Shilpa!!!! The very same Shilpa that he met through a common friend nearly two years ago, the very same Shilpa that he went out with, the very same lovely girl that he had built his dreams of his life around; and unfortunately the very same girl that he broke up with and they drifted apart. And later, which made him look back with what might-have-beens and although in denial, a tinge of regret, sometimes. Shilpa had turned around and smiled at him. He smiled back, tentatively as she turned away. He could not figure out if she was glad to see him… As he sat there wrestling with his thoughts, his mind went into shades of sepia flash-back.
He found a great amount mental fulfillment and a sense of completion, in Shilpa’s company – that was very much true in their discovery phase. After, the initial meeting a friend’s place, he soon they found that they liked to be in each others company; that started into meetings without the friends. Then slowly, it became a standard practice of going out regularly. The thing that Hari liked about Shilpa is her simplicity and a certain refreshing openness. But, as they say, familiarity breeds, well, familiarity. In that, Hari also found that, on the other end of the spectrum, she was quite fixed on a few things – like some of her interests and goals for life and Hari’s had no common ground. At that time, neither of them wanted to make the compromise and gradually they came to see the differences to be far greater than what they enjoyed together. And without citing the standard irreconcilable differences, they broke up. Shilpa had also moved out of the town on an assignment for about 6 months and that made the break a bit easier. But there were times that Hari always wondered of what could have been. As he grew up in his job, he now believed that those perceived differences between them weren’t that great and there could have been compromises and meeting mid-way. He often wondered if Shilpa felt the same way, but never did take the initiative to call her; as there was another inner voice that told him otherwise and it will be headed towards another heartbreak.
He was broken from his reverie, as the bus slowed down to the next stop. He looked at her direction and she was looking at him. She signaled to him, imperceptibly, to come join her in the space next to her. As Hari was getting up, few more of the employees had gotten onto the bus. He found that a fat person, occupying the space next to him, blocking his path out and at the same time, another guy, who seemed to know Shilpa well occupy the seat next to Shilpa. Hari was disappointed; he imagined he saw some appear in Shilpa’s eyes, but quickly she turned and started talking to the person next to her, as the aisle got crowded, with a few folks standing and line of sight to Shilpa was blocked. Something told Harish that would be the last time he would see Shilpa for a long time; and what-might-have-been would remain intact!!
Vish looked at Shanky – Shanky had skillfully used all his pawns to thwart Vish. Vish gave up for this day and conceded to Shanky – but his time would come. Looking up from the large board game, they found that their wives had also joined them in the game room watching the scene unfold. One of them sighed, “You two should really stop playing with people’s lives – that was a near-miss. Poor those-two !!!”.
Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva smiled at their consorts benignly.