CHAPTER 7 – A New Beginning
Edward smiled and extended his hand towards Amanda, saying, “Nice to meet you. It’s been a long time since college, right ?”. Amanda kept looking at him, her eyes not blinking for a second. She didn’t move, nor did she try to shake Edward’s hand in response.
“So you know each other?”, Mr. Ross asked Edward, smiling.
“Oh yes ! We know each other pretty well”, Edward smiled at Amanda while saying this. He added politely, “Can you give us a few minutes, Mr. Ross? In the meantime, you can go through the files I’ve left on my desk. I will call you once we are done talking”. Mr. Ross nodded and left the room.
Edward walked up to Mr. Ross’s side of the desk, and pressed his palms on it, then leaning forward, he asked, “So Amanda, how are you doing?” Amanda stood still, shocked as she was from the very beginning. She did not utter a word. He asked again, “Why are you so shocked to see me? I thought it would be a pleasant surprise for you” . He laughed saying that, because even he knew that wasn’t true. Amanda did not like him since college days. And …… the reality , pained him.
He sat down on the chair, and looked into her eyes. “I knew, you would never join us”, he paused, and then added, “If you got aware of the fact, that this is my company”. He paused again for a few seconds and continued, “Look, I just happened to come across your profile by chance or you can say, it was destiny’s call. I never knew about your whereabouts. So don’t think please, that I have some motive behind offering you, a position in our new project. It was absolutely unplanned.” Taking a deep breath , he continued speaking, “Initially I couldn’t claim with certainty,….despite the similarities you shared with the profile I was looking at, …that it was you. But, when I found out for sure, I couldn’t deny myself of an opportunity to be in your presence, for some time. And I assure you, I would always keep it strictly professional. I would bring no personal issues during your period of work here. So, you still would like to work with us Amanda? ”
Amanda kept looking at him in utter disbelief. The terrified look in her eyes softened, her eyes started filling up with a pool of tears, that slowly trickled down her cheeks.
How can someone be so nice, so forgiving? He didn’t ask for once…. why did she go away, abandoning him in the middle of the street, when, he needed her help the most ? He was severely injured, profusely bleeding. Chance of survival ? There was no surety about that. His only hope was ‘she’, when she left him. Then, why did he not stone her with accusations and words that would break her from within? Why did he show no signs of vengeance in him? Why was she not punished ? Why did he not tell the police about her? Too many questions. And these questions exerted massive pressure on her brain, as much as would make her brain explode. She pressed her hands on her head from both sides, and dropped down on the chair, crying.
Edward quickly walked up to her, and gave her a glass of water. And then pushed a box of facial tissues towards her. “Please don’t cry. I didn’t intend to make you cry. If you are not comfortable, we will take steps to terminate the contract, I promise. There’s no pressure from my side. I just wanted to spend sometime in your presence. Like I always wanted. You know that from our days in college. And you would have never met me if I wanted to meet you privately. I just felt, that if you come for work here, I will see you regularly for sometime. I never expected any private conversations. Today I met you, just to make you feel comfortable in my presence. As you know, I would keep coming here, and that shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable. That’s all”.
Amanda looked into his eyes. She couldn’t hold back her tears. She tried to control her breathing and slowly managed to speak, “Why Edward, why did you not ask a single question ? You must have been dealing with so many of them all this while. How could you live so peacefully with them, buried deep in your heart, like thorns cutting into your flesh”, she closed her eyes, sighed and continued, “Ahhh ! so painful, so painful it is for you, to bear the burden of these questions. And for me, what I did, has become the most disturbing fact to accept, in my life. I wanted to meet you, believe me, but, I didn’t have the courage. I would have never pushed you , please believe, if I didn’t smell the drugs that was all over my face, and I …..”, Amanda was about to say something when Edward interrupted, ” You pushed me ? No, you never did. You don’t remember? I slipped. I was standing on the rim of the sidewalk. I lost balance and fell in front of the oncoming traffic. That’s how the accident happened. Don’t blame yourself please “.
Amanda was shocked . Why was he lying? She might not remember a lot of things, but, pushing Edward was one of the few things she remembered so clearly. ” Why are you lying Edward ? I remember pushing you”, she said in a low voice. Edward replied, “Oh no ! They are your hallucinations . You can never harm anybody”. He added, ” Let’s not talk about this anymore”, and turned his back towards Amanda for a while.
Edward grew up without his parents, who died in a car crash when he was just 6. His uncle and aunt took care of him. And he counted them as his blessings, since an orphaned boy has already been deprived of the heavenly love that only parents could shower. So any show of affection was precious. His aunt and uncle doted on him. They never had any children. He filled up the void in their lives.
The only other time he felt, that he met his family, was when he saw Amanda. For the first time, in college. He kept looking at her for the rest of the time he spent there. He felt a deep connection with her. Her presence would just light up his world suddenly, even in the darkest of hours. Her smiles and giggles would give him hope – to sail through all odds. Once or twice, he felt her touch. Her hands accidentally hit his, while they were crossing each other too closely in class, and the other time was, in the auditorium, when she took a seat right beside him. She rested her hands on the side bar of the seat, where he already had his hands rested. The soft touch of her hands against his , was a feeling that continues to give him a sense of security, that she is there with him. Yeah on that day, on realizing his touch , she did shake her hands off suddenly, and glanced at him quickly, just once. Later, she changed her seat. And never looked back again. But the feeling of her touch was still so fresh in his mind. That gave him strength. Everything about her gave him positive vibes. She considered her to be one pure, beautiful angel who made his life so special. But, she would never look at him or even consider him to be a friend. And how would she ? Edward blamed himself for that. Whenever he saw her, his eyes would get frozen to a gaze, and an intense one, that surely made her feel uncomfortable. And he couldn’t help it either. He loved her so much.
Amanda was out of words. Not knowing what to ask. She couldn’t understand why was he denying the fact that she pushed him. She should have been behind bars for the crime. Edward turned back and faced her again. “So you need to forget what happened, and forgive yourself because, I never held you responsible for anything”, he told Amanda.
How could he possibly let her live with the guilt? He knew Amanda was so pure at heart, she has been suffering badly all these years. He could see that, he could feel that. She would never ever forgive herself, he knew. His life was she, herself. Without her, being alive meant nothing. Her smiles should not fade. The peace he felt when he looked into her eyes, should remain. Her lips like two petals of rose should not become dull and lose it’s color. Stress should not take her charm away.
She pushed him hard, he knew. But, for sure, it wasn’t her, it was the drugs. And she was betrayed. She was hurt. She could never harm anyone. So why should she take all the blames. He promised to stick by the statement he had given to the police years ago, about how he met with the accident. Never in this life of his, would he ever confess the truth, not even to Amanda. And whoever knows Edward, ….is aware of his compulsive nature, to abide by the promises he make. He was determined to relieve Amanda from the pain she was going through. He knew, she would believe him gradually, since her state on that day would make her doubt her memory.
Amanda started speaking, startling Edward, who was lost deep in his thoughts for a while, ” So you want me to believe what you are saying ? And I know the truth, I clearly do. I have always known the truth, about you, even before the incident happened. But like all others, in our class, I never considered you to be someone good enough to present as a friend. Everyone said you were strange, you never mingled with a lot of people, was studious, dressed weirdly and had all your attention on just one girl in college. And that girl still, is me, right ? “, she wiped tears rolling down her cheeks, and continued, ” Why do you love me so much? I have hurt you like none other. I should have been the person you despise the most. I don’t deserve your love”, she looked down and sobbed.
Edward quickly walked to her and held her shoulders tight. He said, ” Not one more tear should fall from the eyes, that I love getting lost into. Not one more word should you say against yourself. That hurts me”, He suddenly realized that he was holding her too tightly, and removed his hands from her shoulders, ” Ohh! I am sorry, I didn’t mean to hold you. Your tears take my breath away. As long as you are with me, I will try to give you all the joy I have. Yes, you know my feelings, I have loved you and I always will. And I know, you will never love me back. But, I will always respect your feelings. And now, since, this is not the right place to talk so much about these personal issues , let’s just decide on whether to move on with the contract or not”.
Amanda nodded her head and said, ” Yes, I would love to work for you “. She smiled. She has never seen a man so good, so decent. She hated herself for being so judgmental before. She was standing in front of the best man she has seen so far. And her respect for him now knew no bounds. The person whom she always avoided, even when there was no bad memories to blame, would become someone whom she would begin to feel for, sounded almost impossible to her, moments before this meeting. But, now, she was feeling so special, with him around her. Her stress faded, she started feeling good, strong, happy. This was the first time she kept looking at Edward, with love in her eyes, and it was her turn, of counting him as her blessing. Since, to be loved so much in this world, by someone, is a blessing indeed. And, this feeling was special. Edward smiled and extended his hands again, “So welcome to the team “, he said. Amanda shook his hands promptly.
She was showed her way to a beautiful cabin, where she would work for the contract period. She walked in, she was never so happy and content before. As she prepared to sit, her cellphone vibrated. She quickly answered Jessica’s call. “Hey Jess, there’s so much I need to tell you sis”. She shared little bit of her conversation with Edward. Jess replied , ” See, I told you. He would never accuse you. As much as I’ve known him, or rather heard of him, he loves you a lot. I can bet on that. Now you see, you worried for no reason all these years. Edward didn’t even accept your belief to be true. So how are you feeling now ?”
Amanda smiled and replied,”Am experiencing the most special feeling in my life now Jess. I believe I have made it a habit to live with him mentally and now his presence would slowly become my habit too. I wish to give ourselves a chance to build a relationship. This moment is treasured. Edward always seemed strange to me. And now strange is all I want, and, I guess , am……falling helplessly,….. in love with him”……
And then, A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS……………………………………………………………..
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After acquiring an honors degree ( Major) in Accountancy from the University of Calcutta , made a career in Company Secretaryship (CS), from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
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