Seema saw him coming in. A smile developed on her face, she knew he would be here today. He stopped to speak to someone at the door. Seema stared at him. He had lost a little weight, and his hair was cropped. Dressed in a complete black suit, he looked gorgeous. He caught her stare and she felt embarrassed. He was just about to walk towards her, when someone held his arm. Seema felt a deep pain down her gut. The lady by Dev's side looked stunning in a little black dress and complemented him perfectly. She held his hand in pride and looked around.
Seema looked away. So, Dev really had got married. To someone else. Seema and Dev had been in love for four years, but when the time had come for Dev to commit, his parents had stood in the way. They did not want a girl from a different caste in their family and Dev had to give in to the emotional blackmail of his aging parents. Dev could not commit and hence Seema had left him a year ago. Dev had vowed to stay single instead of marrying someone else, but later had to give in to his parents drama. Seema had not believed it when she had heard of it first, but now the truth stood in front of her. The love of her life Dev, with his wife.
Today was the wedding party of their common friend Tej and Seema had decided to come. She wanted to meet Dev and tell him that she still loved him. She still was single and was waiting for him. But now looking at him and his wife she felt broken. She rushed to the wash room to dry her tears.
Meanwhile Dev was searching for her in the room. Tej walked towards him.
"Dev! Hey buddy." Tej screamed.
Dev hugged him.
"Congrats Tej, I'm really happy for you." Dev smiled.
"Won't you introduce me to... Ehm..." Tej winked.
"Of course.. Meet my wife Nina. Nina, this is Tej." Tej and Nina shook hands.
Seema slowly walked out of the washroom, hesitant to meet Dev now. How would she react? What if she breaks down in front of him? No, she decided. She would be strong and pretend that it did not bother her. She went back to the washroom to correct her make up. She re-did her kohl and applied fresh mascara. Her eyes were her best feature and she wanted to make sure she looked normal. Having touched up her lipstick, she brushed her hair and walked out of the washroom confidently.
She walked to the bar and got herself a drink. A couple of other friends joined her and they made small talk. With the corner of her eye, Seema looked around. She saw Dev talking to Tej with his hands firmly around Nina's waist. Seema's heart ached and she tried to hide the tears waiting to drip down. The pain was unbearable and she regretted coming here today. She gulped down her drink and ordered another. The vodka some how seemed to help her and she remembered the first time she had tasted it.
"Not much Seema, you might not be able to handle it." Dev had said.
Today as she saw him across the room with his hands around another woman she felt she would need it, to get past this evening. With the glass gracing her bright red lips, she looked at Dev intently. He looked really happy as he showed off his new wife to all his friends. Nina looked like a poised woman. She greeted everyone with a smile and people loved her instantly. Dev and she kept smiling at each other as she tightened her grip on his arm. Something within Seema was breaking as she drowned drink after drink to help herself. Dev turned and looked at her. Her eye caught his eye. She wanted to look away but couldn't. She could hear her heart beat loud. Dev excused himself from the group and walked towards her. She just sat there, simply watching him approach.
"Hi Seema." He said and ordered a whiskey at the bar.
It took Seema all the strength she had to put up a facade. Every part of her was hurting, but for Dev she was smiling.
"Hello, Dev." She said nonchalantly.
He did not reply. He just kept looking at her face as if drinking in her ambiance. She kept looking at him too. The bartender interrupted their moment.
"Your drink, Sir."
Dev took it thanking him.
"So how have you been?" He asked taking a seat beside her.
"Good. What about you? Great, I'm sure....." She cursed herself for saying those last three words.
He just smiled.
"So what are you up to these days? Still with the old job?" He took a sip of his drink.
"Yeah, I like it there. Peaceful." Seema signaled to the bartender for another drink.
"Hey take it cool Seema. You might not be able to handle it." He said sounding genuinely concerned.
Seema raised her eyebrows in awe.
"The last time you said that, I had a whole bottle." She laughed.
"You sure did." Dev nodded.
"Your wife's pretty." Seema said pointing towards Nina.
Dev looked at his wife for a second too longer. Seema was turning green inside.
She was the total loser here. She left him because his parents did not want her to marry their son. He did not fight for them and instead stopped all contact with her. She stayed single, in his thoughts hoping destiny to turn somewhere in her favor. But what had he done. He had married someone else within six months of their split and looked totally smitten by her. She had lost him a year ago, but today she had lost everything. She felt empty inside. The pain was unbearable. She grabbed her drink from the counter and gulped it down.
"I'll be right back." Dev muttered and went back to join his wife.
Seema wanted to scream out. Asking him not to leave. She wanted to tell him that he could never come back to her now. Never. She wanted to run away. She wanted to die. She looked at the empty seat next to her, wanting to cry out loud. When she looked up, she saw Dev approaching her with Nina on his arm. Seema was startled. She turned back and drained her eye drops on her tissue and steadied herself.
"Seema, have you met my wife Nina?" Dev voice filled the air around her.
With a proud look she turned and gave a bright smile.
"No, I haven't. Hi Nina, nice to meet you." Seema said without any emotion.
"Darling, Seema is an old friend of mine. We used to work together." Dev said and planted a kiss on Nina's head.
A hiccup escaped Seema and she wished that she was dead at that minute.
"Hi Seema, nice to meet you too." Nina said with a pretty smile.
Dev asked Nina to sit on his empty chair as he stood next to her with his arms around her shoulder. Seema's head was throbbing now.
"A drink, honey?" He asked his wife.
"Wine please." Nina smiled.
Dev asked for a glass of wine and a refill for himself.
"So Seema, are you alone tonight? You haven't brought a guest?" Nina asked rather inquisitively.
With blurry eyes Seema managed a smile.
"My fiance had to work today. He shall be picking me up." She lied.
"That's nice. I'm glad we get to meet him. Isn't it Dev?" Nina said.
Dev was lost in his drink and did not reply.
"Isn't it honey? Dev?" Nina repeated.
"Oh, of course. Yes, yes. Sorry love, didn't hear you before." He slightly bent himself and gave his wife a hug.
Nina brushed him off and sipped her wine. No one said anything for the next two minutes. Seema hoped that the earth would just swallow her.
"What does he do?" Dev blurted out suddenly.
Nina looked confused. "Huh?"
"Not you darling, I'm talking to Seema." Dev said.
"Hmm.. He has his own business. Automobiles." Seems lied confidently this time.
Somehow this lie was giving Seema a hold within herself as she kept spinning tales in her mind. It was easy to lie and get away than too accept the truth and look like a loser.
"Arranged marriage right?" Dev snickered.
"No, love." Seema said proudly.
Dev coughed and spilt his drink on Nina.
"Oh, I'm so sorry darling, let me clean it up for you." He said and started wiping the drink spilt on her thigh.
Nina felt uncomfortable and excused herself to go clean up in the washroom.
"You need to have a control on you drink, Dev. You are a married man now." Seema said angrily.
"Ah, Nina doesn't mind. She's an awesome woman you know. I love her so much." Dev said ordering another drink.
It was too much for Seema to handle. She excused herself and walked away as Dev stared at her back as she walked.
When Seema entered the washroom she heard sobbing. She turned to see Nina perched on the couch, blowing into a tissue. Her eye makeup was spread all over her face. Seems rushed towards her.
"Its okay Nina. It was only a mistake. Nobody noticed, don't worry." Seema said with concern.
"Thanka Seema." Nina gave a pale smile.
Seema sat next to her and patted her shoulder.
"You're a lucky lady. Dev loves you a lot." Seema said sadly.
Nina burst out laughing. She stands up and continues laughing through her tears.
Seems looked confused now.
"How stupid are you Seema? Can't you see through it?" Nina said in between laughs.
"See what?" Seema asked angrily.
"Dev still loves you. This is the first time ever he has touched me. He gives a damn if I'm alive or not." Nina said sadly.
Seema sat quietly, completely startled.
"We have been married for six months now. I know he married me out of pressure from his parents. I loved him, so I married him. His parents died in an accident a month later. And now he's stuck with me. He doesn't want to admit that he made a wrong decision by listening to his parents. He wants to show you that he's happy. Its all a pretense." Nina sobbed.
"I'm sorry." Seema said.
"No, no. I'm so glad that you have moved on Seema. Perhaps Dev will do the same now and maybe he will start loving me some time. Trust me, if you were not engaged, I would have given up Dev for you. For his happiness. But now, I have hope that he can be mine someday and that is enough for me." Nina said and walked out.
Five minutes later, Tej's wife entered the washroom and heard someone sobbing.