(This is an extension of the first part: (Love lasts forever), so please read it before you proceed.)
“What work do you have in this place-comm thing? What makes you spend all the nights away from your room all the time? Why are you never accessible? Why can’t you talk to me? Why don’t you love me anymore?”
His words entered her ears like someone has poured a hot, molten iron on her heart. She couldn't believe them. She kept reading them again and again, on the phone that was shaking wildly in her trembling fingers. Her other hand was clutching the edge of her study table, while she was trying to grasp a breath and stabilize herself. He had never used such words in the entire course of their relationship, and that's why they hurt her more. The words were shallow, but she could see the internal volcano brewing under them. The words were direct but laced with the hidden poison of mistrust and loss of love, which had spread like a wildfire, burning her entire belief system. She has never felt this before, this pain in the heart, paralyzing her entire body and mind, numbing her soul to its core.
He had become an integral part of her life, for past 3 years now. He would always wake her up in the morning. And she'd fall asleep, in his arms, while listening to his stories. She just loved listening to his stories; Stories of his life, his friends, his adventures, and the stories he'd weave, out of the blue, and connect it to their lives. But the stories she'd love the most were the ones painted by him, on a blank, empty canvas, filling it with new life; the ones who were impressed on the canvas of her heart, filling it with a new life as well. Her favourite painting was, "A Walk in the Night", and he had made it only for her, which she had carried to IIM A as well. She loved every aspect of that painting: the greyish, silvern road divulging into the green woods; the sole, blue lamp-post emitting yellowish light on the backdrop of a death-black night, just like a sole warrior of light fighting the army of darkness; fighting and winning, which was evident through the aura it had created around the couple taking a walk on that road, and the their shadows that were immersed in each other like they were a single entity. The hands were held together, highlighting a link between their hearts, which were already connected through some inexplicable medium. But tonight, the warrior seemed to lose the battle, the darkness was taking over, the connection was lost. She felt like the girl in the painting had pearls accumulated in her eyes, which were reflected and channelled through her eyes as well. She stood up and came to her balcony. She needed fresh air, the painting was suffocating her.
But balcony was not a relief either. It reminded her of the balcony in the house they had shared during the last year of their graduation. Living with him was the most enthralling experience she ever had, and she loved every moment of it. And their balcony had been a witness to a lot of those memorable moments. They had a swing and a bean-bag in that balcony, and both of them would fight for the swing. He'd always let her win, and she knew that; but she'd still pick up the fight, coz every fight would end up with he pulling her cheeks, and she just loved that. That would always be the best part of the day for her. And then they'd sit in the balcony for hours, sipping hot tea made by her, talking about the rosy life they'd have in the future. She has always been a coffee person, but she'd drink tea only for him. The evenings would often culminate with she sleeping on the swing, and then he'd lift her to the bed. But tonight, the swing was only in her head, rotating between multiple emotions, from anger to disgust and from frustration to sadness, colliding on the walls of her heart, creating echoes inside her head, resulting in a headache that was as unbearable as that balcony at that point in time.
He has always been a childish person, but she considered him innocent. Rather, she loved his small goof-ups and the charming ways in which he would cover them up. When he had forgotten her birthday, he had created a lovely painting of a small child begging for forgiveness. And when they had a fight the last time, and she had left their room in frustration, he created a graffiti on the door of her room with just sticky notes. She loved his ways of apologizing so much, that she secretly prayed for the fights and goof-ups; but this time, he had crossed all the limits. This time, an apology was not enough.
"After so many years of unconditional love I had for him, that's what he thinks of me? How could he not have the basic elements required in a relationship: Trust and love?" Questions kept repeating in her head. She walked out of her room and started moving towards the placecomm hall, where everyone was waiting for her. The angst on her face was clearly visible, but her fiery eyes stopped everyone from asking any questions. She opened her phone, deleted his number and simply started working. The echoes in her head had blocked every feeling for him. She had reached a point, where work was the only thing that could save her. Work was the only thing that she needed now.
The situation didn't improve in the entire week. She had answered his calls and heard him beg and sob like a child, but her heart was not ready to forgive him. "How long has he been doubting my love, my character? And how could he manage to speak so sweetly during this period? Does he even mean what he says?" Questions had pulled a curtain on her feelings for him, and she wasn't sure if she even wanted to talk to him anymore. Her sister had warned her about him, but she has always stood up for her love. She knew that her family won't accept a person who is considering painting as a full-time career, but she was always sure that the person inside that cloak will definitely mesmerize them. But now, she couldn't differentiate between the mask, the cloak and the real person. Sobs seemed synthetic, promises plastic and dreams deceptive.
Suddenly the calls stopped. She wasn't sure about the reasons, but she was in no condition to seek them. She had completely immersed herself in her work, trying to stay away from all the feelings for him. And this technique seemed to be working for her. Her life was stabilizing. She was getting over him.
About a month later, she received a call from a common friend,
"Hey, I heard the news, I am really sorry for your loss." the friend said.
"What loss? What are you exactly talking about?" She asked.
"Oh, you didn't know? Arnav is no more. I just got an invite for his funeral."
Her phone fell from her hands. Her legs gave up, and she sat down on the bed. Her entire body was shaking. She looked at the painting, which she couldn't force herself to remove from her wall.
The night looked colder, death was smiling through the darkness, and the man in the painting was drowning inside the water in her eyes.
A painter disappeared in his painting.