Roses Will Bloom Again : Chapter 1 - An End and Another Beginning

Anbu

Anbu's phone was vibrating relentlessly. He fully recognized the numbers flashing on screen though it wasn't already saved in his contacts. He knew who the caller was but he deliberately let it ring. It was bad timing and he didn't want to answer it. He was in a rage. His anger and hatred towards all things in the world just went up a notch higher.

Damn you. Fuck off!!! 

His mind was screaming. Yet, he was trying to maintain a calm composure.

It had just started to drizzle and the weather was cold with the intermittent breeze. The food court was brimming with people out to pig out on flavorsome hawker cuisines on a cold night. Asia Cafe was well known and preferred by patrons around this city.

The entire cafe was engulfed in the sound of people's chatter and loud music. 

He glanced up to look at a young woman sitting across him, sharply. She looked away with a guilty expression on her face. His angry stare was punishing. Her large, honey-brown eyes were reddish and watery, hinting that she might have been crying for quite some time.

He was mad. He felt as if his fragile heart was being crushed by ten thousand pounds of weight. He wanted her to feel the same.

"Please, Boo. Don't be mad at me. I love you." Shruthi pleaded to him.

"Oh, my God, Shruthi! Don't be mad at you? And it's angry by the way, not mad! Angry!," Anbu blasted back at her.

"Listen to what you're saying. Do you even mean it? And I have a good reason to be angry with you! You can't do this!"

"I messed up, Boo. I didn't think through about the consequences then. My past mistakes are haunting me now." Shruthi tried to justify her side of the story.

"I'm disappointed you kept all this away from me. I thought we had that trust between us," replied Anbu slamming hard on the table.

"I'm sorry, Boo" she started weeping. "I have to call it off. I can't go through with it. It's hurting."

"Oh, no. You don't get to make that call. You're insane!" Anbu yelled at her. "You clearly deceived me. You've told me about Omesh before. But, I thought that chapter was over. But, you've never even told me about Prabhu. Who is that guy?"

Realizing people around are staring at them, Anbu calmed down a little and sat back on his chair. Then, in a quiet tone, he continued.

"None of that matters. We're gonna go through with it! I'm gonna make you go through with it! What am I saying? We're not going to go through with it because you don't want to go through with it.
And you know what? Neither do I! I hate you. I fucking hate you, Shruthi." Anbu could feel his eyes getting wet. He was contradicting himself. He was breaking down from within.

Tears gushed down his cheeks like a stream.

"I am confused, Boo. I don't know what to do. I didn't realize he was this much committed to me. How do I say no to his face?"

She wiped her tears while still sobbing.

"And I wasn't committed? What are you saying, Shruthi? You're making me the victim for your selfish reasons. Is that what this is?," angry Anbu lashed out at her.

"No. No, Boo...Please understand," pleaded her.

"Shut up, Shruthi. I'm done with you!!" He shouted at her. She was shocked speechless.

"Did you really loved me?" he asked her in a disgusted tone. "You know there's another term for people like you." He realized he went overboard with that.

"I did, Boo. And I still do. I really love you..." Shruthi was weeping uncontrollably.

"You can leave now, Shruthi. Don't worry about me. I'll live. This is not the first time someone stabbed me in the heart. But, I want you to make up your mind for good. Let's call it off."

"I'm sorry, Boo..." Shruthi apologized. She knew no amount of apology will heal the scar she placed on his heart.

Anbu didn't respond. He knew he lost in this war. A moment of silence persisted.

The phone in his pocket started ringing again. He thought for a while and then decided to answer that call.

"I'm gonna take this call, Shruthi," said Anbu as he stood up from his seat.

"If I don't see you when I return, I'll understand that you moved on. I won't bother you again for life," he said and started walking away in the opposite direction without looking back.

Lots of thoughts were running through his mind. He stopped near the entrance and took the incoming call.

"Hello," he greeted.

"Anbu," echoed a brittle voice on the other end of the line. "Sorry to bother you this late. Are you free to talk?"

He broke out cold sweat. It's unmistakable. He would recognize that voice anywhere. It was one voice he vowed to never hear from again. His head was already spinning.

"Urm. This is a bad moment. Can you call some other time?" he tried to end the conversation before it even began. He wasn't bothered about the exchange of pleasantries. He simply wasn't in the mood to entertain anyone right now.

"Please...Wait. Don't hang up. I...I... I have nowhere to...," the voice cracked and wobbled.

Shit!

Without warning, the mysterious woman on the phone broke into tears.

Anbu stood speechless. He felt exasperated. The seconds passed like minutes without exchange of words.

The sobbing came to an end, eventually. He heard her snorting on the other end.

"Sorry," she began by apologizing. "Would you do me a favor, Boo? For old times sake? I know it's a lot to ask. Would you?".

"I don't know," Anbu hesitated. In fact, he was unwilling to do anything for her.

"Could you please come and pick me up from TBS? I'm all alone here. I don't know whom else to call."

Are you f*****g kidding me?

Anbu was furious when he heard her request. It was beyond ridiculous. Why would he even bother to entertain the person whom he despises the most?

"I'm sorry, Ila. I'm afraid I can't help you.-," It was the first time in many years he uttered that name.

Ila was short for Shree Ilakkiya Devi. It was a classical Tamizh name. For convenience sake, she had it shortened to Ilakkiya. Closer people call her Ila. He once belonged to the latter group.

"Please, Anbu. I'm begging you. I don't know who else to call. You're the only person I could think of right now," She begged.

Anbu took a glance at his watch. It was already half past nine. The sky looked like it was going to start pouring at any moment. The open-air environment wasn't so appealing anymore. People have already started running towards shelter.

He remembered Shruthi and wondered what she might have decided. He hung up on Ila without replying and started running towards his table. When he returned, she wasn't there anymore.

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