My Past Dates with Priyanka-V

This evening, I was wondering what shall I write next in my blog. I was searching my hard disk for articles that I had written or collected. Then, I found this article which my brother Sachin had extracted from the novel “One Night @ the Call Center” by Chetan Bhagat. I had read that book a long time ago so I re-read the article to revive my brain cells. I found it really nice again. So I thought of posting it in my blog.

She came on time that day. After all, she was coming with a purpose. This was not a date- we were meeting to formally break up. Actually, there was nothing left in our relationship to break anymore. Still, I had agreed, if only to see her face as she told me. She also wanted to discuss how we were to interact with each other and move forward. Discuss, interact, move forward- when you start using words like that, you know the relationship is dead.

We chose Pizza Hut only because it was, well, convenient. For break-ups, location takes priority over ambience. She had come to shop in Sahara Mall, where half of Delhi descends whenever there is a public holiday.

‘Hi,’ she said and looked at her watch. ‘Wow! Look, I have actually come on time today. How are you?’ She held her shirt collar and shook it for ventilation. ‘I can’t believe it is so hot in July.’

Priyanka cannot tolerate awkward silences; she will say anything to fill in the gaps. Cut the bullshit, I wanted to say, but did not.

‘It’s Delhi. What else do you expect?’ I said

‘I think most people who come to malls just come for the air-conditioning-‘

‘Can we do this quickly?’ I said, interrupting her. Consumer motives of mall visitors did not interest me.

‘Huh?’, she said, startled by my tone.

The waiter came and took our order. I ordered two separate small cheese ‘n mushroom pizzas. I did not want to share a large pizza with her, even though, on a per square inch of pizza basis, the large one worked out way cheaper.

‘I am not good at this break-up stuff, so let’s not drag this out,’ I said. ‘We’ve met for a purpose. So now what? Is there a break-up line that I’m supposed to say?’

She stared at me for two seconds. I avoided looking at her nose. Her nose, I had always felt, belonged to me.

‘Well I just thought we could do it in a pleasant manner. We can still be friends, right?’ she said.

What is with women wanting to be friends forever? Why can’t they make a clear decision between a boyfriend and no-friend?

‘I don’t think so. Both of us have enough friends.’

‘See, this is what I don’t like about you. That tone of voice…’ she said.

‘I thought we decided not to discuss each other’s flaws today. I have come here to break up, not to make a friend or get an in-depth analysis of my behavior.’

She kept silent until the pizzas arrived on our table. I started eating a slice.

‘Perhaps you forget that we work together. That makes it a little more complicated,’ Priyanka said.

‘Like how?’

‘Like if there is tension between us, it will make it difficult to focus on work- for us and for the others,’ she said.

‘So what do you suggest? I have broken up already, now should I resign as well?’ I said.

‘I didn’t say that. Anyway, I am going to be in this job only nine more months. By next year I would have saved enough to fund my B.Ed. Therefore the situation will automatically correct itself. But if we can agree to certain terms and conditions-like if we can remain friendly in the interim…’

‘I can’t force myself to be friendly,’ I interrupted her; ‘my approach to relationships is different. Sorry if it is not practical enough for you. But I can’t fake it.’

‘I’m not telling you to fake it,’ she said.

‘Good. Because you are past the stage of telling me what to do. Now, let us just get this over with. What are we supposed to say? I now pronounce ourselves broken up? Then we say, I do, I do?’ n

I pushed my plate away. I had completely lost my appetite. I felt like tossing the pizza like a Frisbee to the end of the room.

‘What, say something,’ I said, after she had remained silent for ten seconds.

‘I don’t know what to say,’ she said, her voice cracking…

‘Really? No words of advice, no last minute preaching, no moral high ground in these final moments for your good-for-nothing unsettled boyfriend? C’mon Priyanka, don’t lose your chance of slamming the loser.’

She collected her bag and stood up. She took out a hundred-rupee note and put it on the table-her contribution for the pizza.

‘Okay, she leaves in silence again. Once again I get to be the prick,’ I mumbled, loud enough for her to hear.

‘Shyam,’ she said, slinging her bag on to her shoulder.

‘Yes?’ I said.

‘You know how you always say you are not good at anything? I don’t think that’s true. Because there is something you are quite good at,’ she said.

‘What? I said. Perhaps she wanted to give me some last-minute praise to make me feel better, I thought.

‘You are damn good at hurting people. Keep it up.’

With that, my ex-girlfriend turned around and left.


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