Lost decade ~ short story

The only thing Anita particularly disliked about local shops was when the service guy or the store owners gave suggestions as to which product to choose and why. She found that extremely irritating in as much as the entire reason she preferred departmental stores over the local grocery shop was because in the former she could linger at a section for quite sometime perusing the products, turning them, weighing them without any intervention; a privilege which she usual lacked in the grocer’s shop.

But that’s not the only reason she liked these stores. Not only did they serve their function of providing the necessary daily requisites, they also acted as a place of meeting your friendly neighbours. And the present one in question (the departmental store), being the only one of its kind in a two mile radius, most of the town folks could be seen there on their weekend mornings.
So finding Taniya stand in the cash counter of “9 to 9” should not have been a matter of surprise. After all, the latter was just living up to its expectation. However what it failed to take into consideration was that it’s not everyday you meet someone who had once been a good friend but whom you would very well try to avoid just to save face. So when Anita stumbled upon Taniya, a chain reaction followed; a flicker of recognition, followed by a surprised yelp and then the immediate recollection of the past and a sudden urge to hide behind the cereals stacked in the corner shelf. Deciding to work upon her impulse, she hurried her way to take cover.
Taniya, distracted by the sudden commotion turned around and saw an oval face which she found very much familiar. Leaving the queue, she made her way towards the stacks, making it all all too conspicuous that she wanted Anita discovered. 
Knowing that shelf could no longer provide her the protection, Anita stepped out.
“Mmm..excuse me!” Taniya started apprehensively which she would later remember as the ice breaker.
” Sorry for intruding..But have we met before..You look so familiar.”
” Hmm-”
“… Anita..its you right?..you remember me? Taniya!?”, she exclaimed
” oh..hi..yes of course ..Taniya…hey.”
“..it’s been really long? Almost like 10 years?” 
“Yeah…Wow, actually a decade..You are right..hmm..I still can’t believe this..When did we last meet? Department get – together, no – graduation day right?”, Taniya smiled recalling her bygone days.
” Yes..yes”..Anita confirmed still uncomfortable with the whole situation
The fact was she had not forgotten. She just didn’t know how to deal with what’s going to ensue next.
” I couldn’t meet you to say goodbye. It was just too much for me to handle with Papa’s illness”
Anita never meant to lose contact with her. That also all over a boy whom neither of them eventually married. She was young and naive and she didn’t know any better. In her state of anger, based on account of a common friend, she said many things, true and untrue, to random people which as a friend she shouldn’t have. She still didn’t know if Taniya knew that she was the reason behind all those rumours.
At that time she was expecting Taniya to call her up and apologise for what she thought Taniya did. But neither did Taniya call nor text for next few weeks. When she did, which was a month later, Anita didn’t pick up. She was too angry.
Then the calls stopped. It was as if Taniya vanished from the scene. No one heard about her for long. Few months later, someone confirmed that Taniya’s father had been ill for past few months and they have moved to the States for further treatment. It was then it hit Anita and she felt very ashamed. Her friend needed her. She was still upset with what Taniya did but that was too small an incident compared to all Taniya was going through. She called. It didn’t get through.
At some point of time,Taniya again came up in a conversation which Anita had with the common friend who years earlier insinuated the “incident “. The friend in common then casually mentioned that she was fortunate to have overheard the juniors gossipping in the washroom about the Taniya and the ” boy in question” else Anita would have had to still be stuck with backstabbing friend. This was four years ago and six years from that fateful night.
To say that Anita was surprised would be an understatement. She was appalled at herself that she allowed washroom gossip of silly teenagers mar her years of friendship. She never confirmed what happened that night with her best friend. She was angry, jealous and she ruined it. Ten years changed them from friends to acquaintances and then mere strangers. By that time, she felt it was too late to recover lost bonds. They have both moved on.
“Its been too long..

So, how are you now?Are  you married?”,quizzed Taniya .
“Yeah. I am good..married for five years. What about you?I heard you all moved to the States”
“Yeah..we live in Texas now. Just here for vacation.”, she smiled.
“Ma!.Ma..I want to go home.. Please”, Anita’s three year old came running through the front door of the shop. Anita looked over to find her husband standing on the other side of the window waving at her to make it fast.
” I guess you need to leave..may be we could catch up sometime “.
“Yeah..we should meet up..”
“I am here for the next three weeks,will give you a call-00908040687,that’s my no.
Anita pulled out her cellphone and typed in the no. and dialed her number to be saved later.
” so until we meet again”
“Yeah, bye”.
As she returned to her car, Anita wondered what actually happened that night. This meeting at the store of course did nothing to ease her of the guilt but it did reconnect her to an old friend. May be all is not over yet. She decided she would call her up next weekend. 
A week later, they met. After an hour long talk, Anita decided to bring in the topic which was long overdue.
“Taniya,do you remember Sid?”
“Sid?..who Sid?”
“You know the guy from Physics department,who used to hang around with Tej and his group- Tej, you know, Mansi’s husband.”
“Oh I do!”, Taniya grinned,”the one whom we used to tease with you”
“Did you get a chance to meet him during our graduation day”
“I don’t know..may be..I don’t know remember. Why?”
” Just…it’s something someone said about him. Nothing of much importance. Leave it. By the way have you visited Mansi? She is also in town”, and she continued.
——————-the end ————————

5 thoughts on “Lost decade ~ short story

  1. Thats nice, so u linked back to your series in the end with Tej and Mansi. I thought it was a new story until reaching the end. Your series is turning interesting with every page turning. Lovely, keep it up.

    Should ‘usual’ be ‘usually’? And also remove ‘the’ before Taniya in one of the sentence which appears a typo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked that you didn’t give in to the temptation of describing the “incident” in detail, but just hooked at it – really captured that the cause of misunderstanding was frivolous, not important at all. Nice read!

    Liked by 1 person

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