Its 11.45 pm and Rajat and I are still stuck at office. This patch needs to be delivered to the client by 9 am tomorrow and I was the only one working on it. My eyes are drained completely and my body is slowly giving up. Rajat arrives with two mugs of piping hot coffee.
"I'm glad at least these coffee machines work at night." He says as he settles down beside me, offering me a mug.
"I'm so exhausted man. I cannot even see properly now." I say grumpily as I slowly sip the black coffee. I grimace immediately.
"What? You need more sugar?" Rajat asks.
"Of course! This tastes like an ayurvedic potion." I say with disgust as he offers me two sachets of sugar.
"Control your sweet tooth Mallika. Take tips from Nisha." He says proudly.
Nisha was his girlfriend of a year. He loved her like crazy but she hardly cared about him. He pampered and showered her with love and gifts and she was a satisfied recipient. She treated him like dirt stuck to her shoes and he bought her more shoes. Everyone apart from Rajat could see the reality of their relationship. He was my best friend and I had tried umpteen times to make him understand, but he was too blinded by love or whatever it was.
"Yeah right. Like she would even talk to me." I look away.
"Come on Mallika. Nisha is a very nice girl. Once you get to know her, you will like her I'm sure." He explains.
"No thanks. We all knew how nice she was the minute she walked into office a year ago. Only you did not see the obvious. No wonder you fell in love with her." I add another sachet of sugar to my coffee.
"You are only saying that because you love me and I love her. You are angry with me actually, not her." He raises his voice.
"Oh stop it. My feelings have nothing to do with her. At least I loved you genuinely, unlike her." I stare back at him.
Our argument is interrupted by a Skype call on my system. It was Mahesh, our on site team member. I look at Rajat as he grabs his coffee mug and leaves. I shake my head and put on my ear phones. The call with Mahesh lasts for thirty five minutes and he agrees to take the patch forward from where I had finished. After thanking him profusely I end the call and go looking for Rajat. A few employess are still around in the bay busy typing away on their laptops. A few look up at me with a feeble smile. I cannot help but feel sad for them. But that was IT life. Sigh. I do not find Rajat in the pantry and I guess that he might be in the smoking area. I slowly walk towards it and see him through the glass door. I open the door and a gust of cold wind hits me.
"Wooo... Its cold in here." I say as I rub my hands together.
"Here, you will now feel better." He hands me a cigarette and then lights it for me.
After two puffs I feel better and reach for his hand. He looks at me sadly.
"I'm sorry Rajat. I did not mean to hurt you. But I shall never be okay with Nisha. I seriously feel that she is using you." I say with concern.
"But she makes me happy Mallika. I think she is worth all the money I spend on her." He says.
"She is pretending to love you only for that. Why don't you understand? Or do you just want to ignore what others say just like the way you ignored my feelings for you?" I say with frustration.
"I did not ignore your feelings Mallika. Its just that I love Nisha. And she loves me too." He says without flinching.
"How can you be so sure?" I say feeling hurt.
"My life has always been bits and pieces of a puzzle. When one piece fits, the other doesn't. You showed me the clear picture I agree, but it is Nisha who is helping me put piece by piece together. She wants a luxurious life for us and is helping me get there." He says in between puffs.
"I can help you do it too, if you let me." I say welling up.
Rajat comes closer and wipes the tear of my face.
"I'm sorry Mallika. I really am." He says.
"The picture of your life has always been clear Rajat. It is us. You know it too. But I do not know why you are breaking it into pieces for Nisha." I say sadly.
"That's your take Mallika. I see a picture with Nisha. I know only that." He lights another cigarette.
"Then why are you here at 12.30 am. With me?" I ask.
"I'm here to take you home safely. You are my best friend and I did not want to leave you alone. That's it. Please do not read much into it." He says and looks away.
I butt my cigarette and try to hide my tears.
"Fine. I am done. Can we leave then?" I ask.
"Sure. You pack up while I finish this and come." He says pointing the burning stick at me.
He does not speak a word as he drives me back home. I stay mum too. He drops me home and leaves.
I understand Rajat's pride. When the entire floor was trying to woo Nisha, she chose him. His ego doesn't let him believe that she loves his money and not him. So be it. I loved the person he was before she came into his life. Now, he had turned into a person who was going out of his way to prove his love for her. I realized that I was a misfit in the imaginary puzzle of Rajat's life. I decided to move on with my life. Which I did soon. The picture of my life was clearly put in place when Sagar arrived. A distant relative and an awesome person. Before I knew it, I was in love with him and we decided to get married. For reasons best known to him, Rajat did not attend my wedding.
A month later Nisha dumped Rajat in front of the entire office crowd. Nobody knows what happened. But she was seen leaving the office premises with a senior manager later that night.
This post has been written for Write Tribe's Wednesday Prompt - 6.