Raconteur #4: A Word of Caution

This is Part 4 of a six part series. I suggest reading previous Chapters for a better Understanding.
All chapters can be Found Here.

[Part 4 | 1271 Words | 6 Minutes (approx.)]

“Soham, I need to talk to you!” Shree’s assertive voice came over the speaker. Soham had not talked to her for two days after their chat on the phone that night. Shree had hung up on him a few seconds after he confessed his true thoughts to her. She believed there were a few things she didn’t know and she didn’t want to give any wrong advice to his already vulnerable mind.

“About what? You go missing for two days, and now you have the stuff to talk about.” His fingers slipped and he nicked his thumb on the craft knife he was using to cut the paper to exact measurements.

“Soham, I know you haven’t told me everything, and knowing you, I know you’re going to make a mistake there,” Shree tried to reason. “And to be honest, I believe you still don’t have any idea what you’re gifting her.”

Soham was quiet for a while. He knew himself to be reckless, and Shree bringing out the fact in a casual conversation, made him think about it even more. Just like always, Soham couldn’t just drop what she had to say. “Yeah, I think you’re right. Where do you want to meet?”

“After office hours, coffee shop?” Shree said at once, in the same clipped tone. Soham understood she was angry at him for something. But what it was, he couldn’t quite fathom.

“See you there.” Soham said, but Shree had already disconnected.

Soham looked inside the gift box he was working on. Three dark spots of blood had stained the bottom. ‘Problems of working with cardboard,’ Soham thought. He pressed the wound on his thumb and debated in his mind whether to cover the stains up with another sheet of paper or make a new box altogether. It was a gift he had thought of giving to Ishita. He knew it wasn’t enough, and he needed something else along with it. Still, he wanted to give her something hand crafted.

“Soham, I hope you know that I will never say anything rude to you unless I have a good reason behind it,” Shree said, holding the coffee mug in both her hands, looking hard into Soham’s half-shut eyes.

“Yes, I do know that.”

“Then I am going to ask you one question and I want you to answer it with all honesty, okay?” Shree’s voice was serious, and Soham felt it. He nodded. “Good. Soham, I want you to tell me exactly what it is that makes you think she lied to you about having a boyfriend. Because, if you can’t justify such an accusation to her in front of me, then you’ll never be able to know the truth from her as well. So, think and tell me what it is that makes you think like that.” She saw the trepidation growing in her and continued, “Yes, it was wrong of you to say something out of pure assumption. Have you checked everything before coming to that conclusion?”

Soham was not ready for a question like this. He had always had a knack to know his friends’ moods. He was mostly able to judge where someone was headed mentally. But, it was always an educated guess, a heuristic approach to knowing stuff. Being asked to explain it threw him completely out of his comfort zone. Still, he tried, because he knew Shree was right. This was like a mock interview, the real thing would be much scarier.

“She said she was sorry about whatever happened that week. I had talked to her after, and she told me that. All that closeness, she said she didn’t think it through and it just happened. Then there was her new job. She told me she had met someone at her new job and she had a crush on him. And she sounded quite distraught when she told me that this crush of hers was getting married. . .who gets such serious crush on people when they are committed to another?”

“Soham, let me tell you something, having a crush and falling in love are two completely different things. Heck, I had a crush on you during the first semester. That doesn’t mean that I’ll go head over heels for you!” Shree said, still in her calm tone, “sorry, that was rude of me. My point is, you were right about a lot of things Soham. About me in the fourth sem, about Sam almost losing his head, and about a lot of other things. But even Sherlock is allowed to make mistakes.”

“But he always checks, he always checks his hunches. I just cannot let this go, Shree. I don’t know why, but I just have to know. I need to know why she said it. It was early enough for a direct rejection. Why did she have to invent a story?”

“No, Soham. You’re looking at it the wrong way. You should not be going there to figure out why, you should be trying to figure out the if. You should be looking to know if she lied at all. Do you understand?” Soham looked up from his cup, his eyes were set hard. She clicked her tongue, “Call it a woman’s instinct, but I really think you are asking the wrong question here. Maybe she trusted you enough to tell you the truth early on.”

“Shree, people do not behave in that way, it’s just not logical.”

People are not logical, and Sherlock isn’t real! You have the facts here, and you’re choosing to ignore the right ones. You want to go there? Go. You want to have a good day? Enjoy it. But please Soham, listen to me, don’t go there with expectations. You want to show her the best of your world, go ahead, but don’t hope to become a part of her’s.” She held his shirt sleeve once more, careful this time not to say anything startling like last time.

They sat there in silence for a little more. Soham sipped his coffee as a chore, and Shree just sat there, giving him company, staying alert for anything that he might want to say. “Do you still want to help me choose a gift for her?” Soham asked all of a sudden.

“Yes,” Shree let out a slow breath, “let’s go and see what they have in the store.” They went into the gift shop on the campus. Looking around for a bit, Shree picked up a crystal and pearl necklace. She showed it to Soham, “It’s perfect for her. Simple enough, and beautiful enough. What do you think?” Soham nodded. “Listen Soham, whatever I’ve told you in the last few days, a part of me does want you to be right, and have her the way you want! I hope it was just a petty lie she said just because it was too early for her. But to be honest, I don’t want to raise any hopes in you. If you find a goodbye on that front by going there, make it a permanent one.”

Soham chose not to let her know that he had heard her completely. “Do you really think she would like it?” Soham asked as they were leaving the store.

“Yes, I think she’ll love it,” Shree said nodding, then she stopped Soham and turned him around to face her, “Don’t go splattering blood on your silver walls just because someone loves the beautiful rosy color of copper. You just cannot do it, my friend, you cannot mimic the copper with blood-stained silver, and you can’t make them love the silver instead!

To Be Continued. . .

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