The Healing Hug
Veer and Diya worked in different departments at the workplace and there never was any need for official interaction between them. What started off with a harmless exchange of niceties between two colleagues soon progressed to a steady friendship. Diya had met Veer during a very disturbing phase in her life when her unhappy marriage was coming apart. Veer’s patient, listening ear helped her vent to him and drew her closer to him and very soon they went on to connect more deeply with one other.
They made use of every possible mode of communication to keep in touch. Work, even on the busiest of days, was interspersed with an exchange of views, thoughts, and experiences, on almost everything under the sun. The two were simply inseparable.
Weekends were not the same anymore; with the two of them planning well in advance how they would spend time together. Veer was all alone, and Diya with her family. Both the families knew of this friendship, yet they ignored the likelihood that the two of them would love to be partners for life.
Through all their togetherness moments though, Veer seemed to approach their relationship very cautiously appearing very uncommitted by laughing away any reference to marriage. He seemed intent – although clandestinely – on marrying a ‘first timer’ as compared to the divorcee that Diya was. Whenever confronted, he hugged her close to himself and planted a kiss on her forehead in an attempt to arrest any further discussion on the topic.
When they were into the eighth year of their “friendship”, Veer’s family urged him to settle down in marriage. The next few days saw a flurry of activities. Veer first met Meeta along with his uncle and approved of her almost immediately. Then the families met and the two got engaged in a simple ceremony. There was no looking back after that.
Veer who could not imagine a day without Diya earlier had forgotten how close they were just a few days ago. He now met Meeta daily. They spent their evenings together in passionate moments which Veer disguised under the garb of “getting to know each other”. He no longer seemed concerned with how Diya returned home on a rainy evening or what she did on her birthday. His forthcoming marriage with Meeta excited him a lot, notwithstanding Diya’s emotional dependence on him, or the mental anguish she was going through.
Veer progressed surprisingly fast from the newly married to the ‘settled’ stage. The initial euphoria wore off too soon and those close to him could sense the disappointment in his eyes. Meeta was oversensitive, suspicious, short-tempered, and the other extreme of the jovial, sweet-tempered, helpful man that Veer was. The agony in the relationship was more than obvious on his dull, haggard face within days of marriage.
Through the freshly bitter experience of his unhappy marriage, Veer sought to find solace in the companionship of Diya and their forgotten twosome. Suddenly, he appeared very opportunistic wanting the best of both worlds but Diya detested it. She literally pushed him out of her cabin whenever he tried to have a cozy time with her. Diya’s mind had been made up right on the day Veer had consented to the marriage with Meeta. He was no more hers; he meant nothing more than a colleague to her.
It was around Christmas time of the year and festival frenzy was in the air. As people were exchanging greetings, Diya was in her cabin, hurriedly trying to complete the day’s work, so that she could step out to wish others. When Veer stepped in to wish her she good-naturedly accepted the greetings. He then offered to hug her and she yielded, again in a sheer festive spirit.
What happened next was shocking, to say the least. Even as Diya was trying to wriggle out of his hug, Veer forcibly kissed her. The office decorum and her personal grace held Diya back from slapping Veer for his misdemeanor. She could hardly hear her words to him “Stop it Veer, I don’t like it.” Veer walked out with a faint “sorry”.
That was the last straw and the last hug too. Thereafter, Diya refrained from even smiling at Veer. Unknowingly, she developed a sudden aversion for hugs because they reminded her of that gory gesture of a person who called himself her friend.
A few months later, Diya met Sumeet their new training manager. Initially, she hesitated even to shake hands with him although she knew it was unfair to carry bitter memories into all her interactions. Meetings and workshops often brought Sumeet and her together. Sumeet was lively, very friendly and quite charming. Strangely enough, Diya developed a liking for him which soon developed into love which she kept under wraps – or so, she thought.
Soon it was their annual day and all of them were gathered on the sprawling garden of their office. Small groups got busy discussing the latest fashion, food, vacation plans, rising prices, and so on. All of a sudden, their office peon Shyam enthusiastically lit a cracker, the deafening sound of which startled everyone including Diya. As she trembled and fell back, Diya could sense someone holding her tenderly. She faintly opened her eyes and found herself in Sumeet’s arms. She was trying hard to loosen herself out of his soothing embrace, when he softly said, “I love you Diya, don’t you love me? We both need each other, don’t we?”
That evening, as Sumeet and Diya lost to each other in a tight hug, oblivious to people around them, tears welled up in her eyes. Diya could feel her heart melt in the warmth of their new-found love; she also realized something else – the hug had healed her.