For those of you have missed the first part of this epic tale, please read it here before you proceed.
When your world comes crashing down, you automatically assume that the same applies to life around you. Sadly it doesn’t. I go back to work on Monday after my tear-filled sabbatical and realise that the emails in my Inbox were still piling up, the printer was still low on ink, and that I couldn’t hide behind my misery for the rest of my life.
Colleagues approach me with guarded hello-es and how-you-holding-ups. I was ‘holding up’ well enough in front of them until about 2 pm when I feel a familiar lump in my throat swell up.
The one place that would be empty at the time would be the pantry. So off I go, with a heroic mission to sip and cry into a cup of coffee. But as luck would have it, there is somebody else there already – a guy who has joined the company a few months ago. I have passed him in the hallways and our interaction has never gone beyond nodding in the lift, or queuing up behind each other at the office cafeteria. He starts a bit as he sees me, then recovers and smiles.
I busy myself measuring coffee powder and sugar slowly, hoping he leaves soon. But he intends otherwise.
“Hey I heard. Sorry about what happened.” he says.
“That’s ok; I guess it was not meant to be. So ummm…tell me how’s things at your end? How are you finding the office?” A question with a counter-question. Best form of distraction.
“Good…good”, he says. He places his coffee mug on the table beside me and stretches his legs as he sits down. Oh boy! He didn’t plan to leave soon, did he? “I’m still getting to know people here. The city is new to me also. So I guess it’s kinda lonely.”
“Oh, then you’re not married?” I blurt out and regret it immediately. Why on earth did I have to bring up the institution of marriage in a perfectly straightforward colleague conversation? The one thing that I have just failed massively at?
“No”, he said. “Not yet. But I think I have met someone special.”
NO, I think. Please spare me the details of your rosy love life, while mine crumbles into nothingness. Can this get any worse?
“Really? So, is this someone in the office then? Haha…” I can’t help keep the sarcasm from my voice. I offer up some half-hearted laughter to lessen the blow of my question.
“Actually, yes.” and he smiles.
Now these kind of conversations can prove to be very tricky. They can go either way. The better way is he pours out his heart to me while I tear a napkin to shreds and bitterly think about why everyone except me can find a man.
The worse way would be I ask who, and he says he’s not ready to divulge that information…blah, blah. Followed by awkward silence, scraping back of chairs and end of cosy coffee scene.
So instead I don’t say anything and wait. I peer into my coffee. I can feel him looking at me. Probably waiting for me to ask who? So in the end, I do.
“So you mind if I ask who she is.”
“I don’t. But I’m not sure if she would mind. Not yet anyway”. He’s still looking at me.
Ah, I see where this is going. He needs a bit of coaxing to get this out and to be honest, I am curious now. Mentally lining up all the single, eligible girls in the office. So I go ahead and ask.
“So she doesn’t know about your feelings yet?”
He rubs his jaw and grins.
“No, I believe she has no idea whatsoever”.
At this stage, I don’t know how to respond without being intrusive. So I go back to peering into the murky depths of my coffee cup.
A strand of my hair falls onto my eyes.
He suddenly leans forward and in one smooth motion tucks it behind my ear.