Vanilla and Raspberry 


I paused and stood staring at it for a while. It did look lovely. I could have it. I’ve been working out hard and deep down, that tiny voice from my heart screamed for me to give into temptation. It even bribed me with facts about how strict I’ve been with my diet for quite a long while now.

“It looks yummy, don’t it? ” the lady behind the counter said. ” Tell you what honey, you have those puppy eyes in you now. Have one, it’s on the house ”
I smiled and politely declined the offer. “I really do want to , but I promised my wife that I’d get into better shape. Sorry, I’m going to have to pass on that”
She understood where I was coming from. The marital bliss and conviction to holding promises true, all of it felt like pages from a campy cheesy adolescent novel of romance. Promises signify very different things when we read about them in fiction and when we make them in real life. A promise takes precedence in novels. It trumps everything else. A promise in real life is plagued by challenges. It usually gets extremely inconvenient to honour a promise. Today, it wasn’t going to be that day. 
With renewed pride of upholding a promise made, I sipped my sugarless coffee and walked to my work. The Friday was as colourful as far as Fridays were concerned. The general merry smiles were spread across an otherwise sober work floor. It was a day of plans and mental relaxation. The mind worked on a peaceful state on any given Friday. I stopped by the desks of a few friends from work. We exchanged a few laughs and the day had finally begun. 

“What plans for the evening dude?” the small window that popped , read. The younger ones at work were a fun bunch. They were always looking for reasons to get drunk silly and have a gala good time every weekend. I had joined them a few times in the past. It did feel good to be a part of that youthful enthusiasm. It did leave me feeling energetic and pumped. 

“Have a date tonight night man. Can’t make it” , I replied.

It wasn’t really a date of sorts. A bunch of us got together and we’d talk our way to boredom. It did help. It helped Eddie overcome his alcoholism. There were days where I wished I was one too. It seemed to be an easy walk in the part to combat alcoholism. Eddie had put up a brave fight. It was his second consecutive year of being sober. Eddie and I joined the group around the same time. We both were wrecked in our own ways. As a matter of fact, we both had our wives to thank for that enrolment. We both wanted to go through the program for our loved ones. 

The day wrapped up without a hitch. It was unusual for a Friday. Things always had a capacity to go wrong on a Friday and fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any surprises that evening. I made my usual roundup on the floor. Wished my friends a weekend of fun. Made plans for a pub hop with the recent hires. They were the fun blokes of the team. Rachel was busy typing away her last set of mails. I had made it a point to not bug her the entire day. Sunday was my anniversary and I wanted to invite Rachel to a dinner. 
She saw me approaching and hastened her typing pace. “And done”, she declared. 
She remembered my anniversary. She gripped me with a gentle embrace. “How are you doing?” she enquired. 
“Not bad at all” I sheepishly replied. I narrated the incident over the cake and she burst into a laughter. 
“Someone offered you a free cake and said you had puppy eyes!!!!!!!. You are shameless you know!!!!” she teased. 
I was conscious of the time. I quickly invited her to the dinner and bid my goodbyes. 

It was a short commute to the meeting hall. I knew I’d be late. I hailed a cab and hoped that it wouldn’t end up way too late. I pulled out my phone and texted Rachel. Thanks, couldn’t have gotten this far without you. 
“Awwww, we have a soft cuddley teddy bear here”, she had replied. 

I smiled at her reply and stared into the city’s evening. 
I reached the hall late enough. I had missed Eddie’s talk. Our host watched me walk in and introduced me to the gathered folks. It was my turn to talk that evening. 

I cleared my throat as I stood right in front of the microphone.
“Hi”, I announced. I went on to narrate the cake incident. It was received well. People laughed. The mood was light enough. 
I live with guilt, I continued after a huge pause. 
Three years ago, My wife and I met with an accident. It was my fault that our car crashed. I got to walk again and she…. I paused. She’s probably up there, watching over me. My life soon turned out to be a mess. I couldn’t deal with the guilt of being cursed with a life. My life deteriorated. I had sunk low, really low. 
Fortunately I had people to help me. My friend from work, Rachel, she beat some sense into me by slapping me hard. Damn strong woman , she turned out to be. She dragged me here two years ago. It’s been a difficult recovery. I’ve vented the scars of my heart , all my pains here in this very hall a few times. I’ve broken down a few times here. I’ve witnessed misery and pain in all of us here. You all helped me in giving me the courage to live. I stand here today, grateful and thankful. It’s going to be our anniversary day after. Wish she was here, I’d be busy shopping with her instead of making dumb speeches. 
But that’s life I guess. For the ones who have been here with us long enough, they already do know what I’m about to say. For the ones who are new to our group, LIFE IS MEANT TO BE LIVED. Don’t sentence yourself to a living death by killing yourself from the inside every single day. Do something while you are still alive. You owe that to the people you love, you owe that to yourself. 

I took a deep breath and walked off the stage. I sat next to Eddie. 
“How’s the wife?”, I asked him with a smile. 
“Everything is alright. We are expecting. I’m soon going to be a father….” He smiled with pride. Life, I thought amused. Always had a way about it.

Inspired by a cake that I almost bought!!! Wish I had eaten that cake instead of writing this blog!

Karthik 

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