Immoveable Object, Meet Unstoppable Force!

My dear readers, this is the fifth chapter of the Siddhant-Ishika story. Here are the links to the earlier episodes: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3Part 4. I would suggest that you go back, read the earlier chapter, if you haven’t already done it and then come back to find out what happened next.

Siddhant, like a secure modern man (that he was pretending to be), gave Ishika her space. But inside his heart, not hearing from her was wreaking havoc. Whatever happened between them that night, was haunting Siddhant and Ishika had just withdrawn herself. He was thinking about the promise she had made to him, that she’d never leave. “What happened to that?” he asked himself? And soon, his rampant low self-esteem kicked in. “Have I managed to drive another person away from my life?” he asked himself, with a sense of dread creeping in the back of his mind.

That’s when he received a text from Ishika in reply to the one he’d sent. It read, “I just have been busy. I am not going anywhere.” While the words were positive, Siddhant was afraid things might never go back to normal. Ishika, on the other hand, had spent the day after the fateful night in bed, sobbing. She was feeling guilty, where she knew she didn’t have to. She wasn’t answerable to anyone and yet, she was ashamed of ‘having toyed with Siddhant’s feelings’. Even if Siddhant had been open to the idea of a casual fling, Ishika had never been the kind of woman who could handle that. So what she did, felt wrong. Even though, objectively, it had been a great night. If only she could reciprocate the emotions she knew Siddhant had felt when she was in his arms.

Siddhant had been tweeting these dark thoughts in the meanwhile, which were his attempt to cope with the sense of abandonment he was feeling. His tweets, while they were poking fun at his emotions, had an underlying suicidal tone to them and Ishika was beginning to get anxious about it. She still hadn’t made up her mind as to how she wanted to proceed with him. She was cowering from talking to him lest he brings up the other night. She was also kind of yearning to talk to him, because she liked talking to him. She wouldn’t admit it to herself but she she’d grown fond of their conversations, the sheer openness of it made her feel liberated and free. But while she wanted to talk to him, her conscience was telling her to give him space so that he could, driven by her absence, begin to move on. But his tweets were clearly indicating that he wasn’t moving on.

A few days passed. Time, the healer that it is, was starting to make things better for Ishika. She went to an office party one evening and finally felt lighter and relaxed. She was still not completely over what had happened but spending time with old friends and mentors felt nice. She even had a few glasses of wine with her old colleagues and momentarily, forgot all about Siddhant. Siddhant, on the other hand, was going nuts. He had tried all tricks in the book to get over the events of that night. He had tried keeping himself engaged at work. He had tried reading books, watching movies and even binged on desserts like crazy. When none of it had worked, he had installed a dating app and made a profile. But when the app prompted him to swipe on the women, he’d found that he couldn’t. It felt wrong, unnatural and sinful.

So Siddhant uninstalled the app and started marinating in his misery, and reminiscing about Ishika. The thought of that wide smile on her face made him feel alive. He kept obsessing about how those moments spent with Ishika felt so good and now they were gone. The more he thought about it, the more lost he felt. It perplexed him to think that merely a month ago, he didn’t even know Ishika. He kept beating himself up about it. And just to get a relief from the feeling, he started tweeting his thoughts in the form of little quips, poking fun at himself. The retweets and replied he got did make him chuckle a little bit, but his overall condition didn’t improve.

Later that evening, Ishika video called Siddhant. He quickly tried to set his hair and wash his face before picking up her call. She was lying in bed and asked him in a baby voice, “Why are you sad?” She was obviously drunk. He realized she had drunk dialed him. “Don’t you know why?” he asked, in a serious tone. She started ranting about how she hated it when he was, in a slurry drunk voice. “I want you to post happy thoughts.” She cooed, while struggling to keep her eyes open. Siddhant felt annoyed as well as relieved at her call. Annoyed because he had little patience for drunk people, but relieved because she was thinking about him, in this state of inebriation, which made him feel special.

After talking for a while, Ishika dozed off while on the call. Siddhant kept looking at her serene face as she slept. Then he blew her a goodnight kiss (like an idiot) and hung up. Later that night, Siddhant dreamt about Ishika. In his dream, she was reluctantly realizing that she too loved him. It was a good dream. He woke up happy, only to realize it was just a dream. He checked his phone to see if Ishika had texted him. She hadn’t. He thought about dropping her a “good morning, sunshine” but decided against it. For a change, he wanted her to text him. Even in defeat, Siddhant wanted to have some power over Ishika. Hours later, he got a text that read, “We talked last night. What was that about?”

So she didn’t remember last night’s video call. That was an official drunk dialing debacle now. So he told her what they’d talked about. She just shrugged it away. Siddhant wanted to gloat to her that in her subconscious, she thought about his well-being, but decided against it. He just told her that he’d missed her and the conversation died down a while later. Over the next few days, they texted sporadically, usually initiated by Siddhant. They talked a few times over video calls but Ishika always seemed dejected and distant. And that was making Siddhant sad. He couldn’t understand the pain that he was feeling. Was it because of the rejection? He wasn’t sure.

A couple of days later, Siddhant decided that he’d had enough. He called her up and told her that she had to listen to him. She obliged. He told her how her memory was etched in his eyes, how every time he blinked, he could see her, how he’d thought about approaching someone else and he couldn’t do it. He told her that while it was crazy how she made him feel, she was hurting him more by being distant. He could come to terms that his feelings were unrequited, but he couldn’t bear the distance. He needed her close, in whatever capacity possible. She was frightened by how Siddhant was getting emotionally dependent on her and advised him against it. 

Ishika knew how poisonous being stuck on someone unavailable could be. She was experiencing it, after all. She didn’t want the same fate for Siddhant, but he seemed to be hell bent on destroying himself. She couldn’t believe that he was asking her to be with him, even if she couldn’t love him. She asked him, “Do you think you’ll be okay with how I was that night? Would you be okay living with me if I behave like that every time we’re intimate? Because that is what you’re asking for!” She could feel a knot of distortion in Siddhant’s voice as he responded, “You have to understand that I can’t help any of it. I have tried to move on from this. But it is unprecedented. I have never felt like this for anyone. And…” At this point, a few tears rolled down his eyes and he was too choked to continue.

Ishika’s heart broke when she saw tears in his eyes. At this point, she knew she would always be there for him, just as she had promised earlier. She tried to cheer him up by giving him one of her wide eyed smiles that he loved so much. And while she joked around with him, she managed to get him to smile a little and deep in her heart, something stirred. It was like an echo of a feeling that she’d forgotten she ever felt before. She closed her eyes and let the warm feeling spread across her body, while she tried to identify the nature of it. When she opened her eyes, she got startled by Siddhant’s face which was close to his camera, making his nose seem too large. She burst out laughing. They ended up talking through the night, about everything else but love. I believe “love” is essentially contagious. Little by little, some of it was rubbing off on Ishika and she didn’t even know it.

Siddhant, on the other hand, was just trying to be consistent, without being overt. He had decided that her smile was more precious to him than his own heart and he was ready to break the latter if the former could be saved. But life always has something surprising in store for all of us. Let’s wait and watch what happens to these star-crossed lovers friends.


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