The Unanswered Question


They both, from a long time were waiting to sit together somewhere and talk. Talk to each other, sort out many things, express their emotions and get relieved. Clara and John were friends from a long time. They knew each other more intensely. They were everything else, but not lovers. John liked her and loved her too. But as she was in another relationship, she couldn’t accept John’s love. His sincere and devoted love had to be denied by her, but he never left his hope too. He hoped that someday, she would accept him. John though he had few girls who had approached him for starting a relationship, could never accept them, he could never like them nor could he love them because, it was on Clara whom he was determined into. Being with her, his eyes soothed, his mind settled and his heart comforted. Each time he saw her, he fell in love with her over and over again. They were far more than friends, holding each other’s hands while walking, exchanging with each other the food they were having, drinking a juice with the same straw.

   A couple of days ago, Clara had to conclude the relationship she was in. She quit it because she was unable to tolerate her lover’s arrogance and possessiveness.

Since the breakup, Clara had been looking for an ideal time and space to discuss these concerns with John. Before when they used to be together, she would always talk to him about her worries in her relationship, but now she decided to inform him that she was free from all those complications.

Today was a fine day. They had finished their classes early and planned to meet near the chapel in their campus. Both, after their classes walked towards the chapel, reached the spot and found themselves comfortable to sit on a cement bench under a tree. It was around four p.m. in the evening, the scorching heat of the sun had lessened and it was sort of cool. They both sat there and were caressed by the mild, cool evening breeze. Clara untied her hair by removing the hairclip, groomed herself and retied it back. “After a long time, we are sitting together”, said John. “Yeah” replied Clara with a smile. 

John: Are you hungry?

Clara: No, No I feel, I had my lunch a little late today, just two hours ago, and I’m not hungry yet, but I’m thirsty, do you have some water.

John pulled the bottle from his bag and passed it to her.

John: You were not to be seen online yesterday, on WhatsApp. What happened? Evening, you spoke casually when I had called you to inquire about the assignments, but then we didn’t have the usual chat at night, and I didn’t even have your ‘good night’. What’s the matter?

Clara: Ahh. No. Nothing, I slept early. No, my phone was out of charge!

John being very sensitive, knew Clara very well. Even the slightest lies that she said could be noticed by him. John held Clara ‘s hand gently and pinched her on it slightly. She stayed silent and was concentrated on a child that was walking into the chapel.

John: Dear!

Clara: Mm

John: My dear! Tell me, what happened? 

John held her hand firmer and moved close to her.

Clara: We broke up!

John: What? Who?

Clara sighed.

Clara: We broke up… me and Nitin broke up. Have I not said you about him?

John: Hmm. Oh, Hmm. Yeah you have. I do know him, through you.

Clara: mmm. Everything is over. I’m free now.

John: But what happened. Why did you break up?

Clara: I don’t know John, we were very close to each other and I loved him so much. Though he was in Trivandrum, distance was not a problem amongst us. I used to call him daily, text him so often and cared him a lot. He was the love of my life and me too, his.

John interrupted in between and asked, “then why did you break up”.

Clara continued: There was something conflicting between us, even though we were lovers and loved each other, there was some form of friction in the flow of our love life. He always got frustrated over trivial matters and the relationship didn’t go smoothly in many aspects.

On hearing this, John grew upset, and sighed.

Clara: I too am a reason for this separation. I was not satisfied with the way he loved me; I would always lament over tiny problems and get disappointed. So, the day before yesterday, for some reason, we had a fight. I called him later and tried to resolve the issue. But he was like, looking for a reason to end this relationship, and he easily said, “Let’s end this now itself”. And he also said that four years of his committed life with me was a disaster. More grief-stricken and desperate were all his days with me, he said. He was waiting for a reason to dump me, and saying this, in anger Clara punched on the cement chair they sat.

John moved close to her and put his arms over her shoulder calming her. 

Clara felt empty and was going to burst into tears at any moment, but she wasn’t crying.

John: Cool Clara. Everything will be alright.

He didn’t know what to tell her, how to console her and therefore remained confused and dumb.

Clara: Yes, everything is fine now, I am alright. I slept to the fullest on these two days and managing to forget everything and I’m now recovering. Erasing the memories which we create, is a very stressful task.

She put her hand over his neck and came close to him. With tears dripping from her eyes, she smiled at him. He got confused of whether those tears were of happiness or sadness, but then understood that it was a blend of both. He also smiled at her and was confused on seeing her blended expression. He too moved close to her and she could feel his breath on her face.

For some time, they sat in silence, both looking at the pigeons that nested on the roof of the chapel.

I have something for you”, saying this John broke the silence, took his bag and took out three toffies from it. Clara was extremely excited and cheerful seeing them. 

Clara: hey…! Hurray…! Choki 

It was her favorite toffee. She grabbed it up from him, placed one in her mouth and began to chew.

John: Toffee addict. Don’t eat it alone, pass me one.

Clara: No, I won’t. Saying this she laughed aloud.

John chuckled as he saw her childlike behavior, and then they both laughed. John came close to her again and their arms touched each other’s. 

John: I wanted to ask you something Clara. 

Clara: Yep ask. 

Clara, chewing the toffee was looking at a sweeper sweeping the chapel. John was in a state of uncertainty on whether or not to question her. But she always gave him the freedom to talk about anything and everything. Bearing this in mind John chose to ask.

Clara: Hey idiot ask, what were you up to. What’s the matter? Will you please ask.

John blushed.

John: Clara, you once told me that you liked me, and you also told me that you would consider my proposal if you were not in another relationship. Now that, you’ve broken up and you’re single and lonely, can’t you now think of having me as your… may not be lover at first, but anything closer to it, can’t you consider my suggestion at least? I’m not asking you to turn yourself on to me now and start loving me. But!

Clara: Hmm!

She said nothing else but remained silent, keenly looking at the chapel and the sweeper sweeping and left John’s question unanswered.

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