What do you do when you see the person who broke your heart, sitting at the table next to yours in a restaurant? Cool as ever over cheese fondue.

a. Hide.
b. Scoot.
c. Walk over ultra-cool and strike up a conversation.
d. Pretend that they don’t exist (and hope they do the same).

Frantic thinking. You can’t do a. since they’ve spotted you already and are trying to figure out if you really are who they think. Hence b. is ruled out as well…besides you’d have to pass them when you walked out, thus giving them a perfect opportunity to confirm what they’re thinking.

You wonder if you could pull off c. but your feet refuse to move and you desist out of fear of doing something incredibly unpardonable like stammering, blushing furiously – or worst of all – starting to cry, right into that silly cheese fondue.

And you suddenly know that you can never meet their eyes because just locking gazes with them will make the tears start….all of those that have been blotted away, disciplined behind years of defense mechanisms….will all start once they look at you. Why is it that you’re the one being embarrassed over what happened and unable to meet the gaze of the person who performed the heinous crime of breaking your heart?

In an instant all the years fall away. The person you’ve built yourself to be, all of a sudden vaporizes before your eyes. And once again you’re back to where you were years ago….feeling small, unloveable, weak and helpless.

Some scars continue to itch, long after the wounds heal. Distance may prove to be some balm but when that’s gone, you’re back to bleeding. Back to bewildered, hurt, confused, scared. Back to wondering whether the years in between were just a figment of your own imagination and learning to live and laugh and love again was just a dream. Back to the horrific moment, breath stuck in your throat, forgetting how to be happy, forgetting about anything mattering at all, forgetting how to live a half-life like you’re still you but with some vital organs missing.

Then somehow, slowly…you remember how to breathe. Exhale. Out with all the bad stuff in your head.

Life, one breath at a time. Love, one memory at a time. Cheese fondue in time too.

And finally when you get up to leave, you notice the table next to you is empty.

That’s it, the trick is…to….just…keep… breathing.

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26 thoughts on “Encounter

  1. DC May 31, 2007 at 22:58 Reply

    Yeah but who knows whether the person isn’t thinking the same?


  2. Ashish June 1, 2007 at 10:13 Reply

    ‘Why is it that you’re the one being embarrassed over what happened and unable to meet the gaze of the one that performed the heinous crime of breaking your heart?’ Has been a million dollar question in my life….they say time heals, but at such moments, all the time that has passed since the emotional holocaust seems mere a fraction of second and we are back to where we were left! I always wish we would have had some mechanism to know what the other person is thinking at that moment…I’ll bet my life-time salary on it 😉


  3. Sense June 1, 2007 at 15:58 Reply

    erm… Maybe we’re built differently, but My options would be:
    a: Hide & scoot
    b: Curiosity getting the better of me, go up and ask how he’s been, and flaunt my wellness in his face (look whatcha aint never gonna get, you loser!)
    c: Look, smile, and continue with fondue, and be a scintilating conversationalist, so he’s the one who comes up and strikes a conversation.


  4. Shreyasi June 1, 2007 at 16:28 Reply

    I’d probably muster courage to strike up a conversation outside while my inside will burn and carve in.


  5. Deepika June 2, 2007 at 01:13 Reply

    I think it IS love. Never thought I’d be on the other side of the fence to be saying this, but yeah it is.


  6. Brad June 3, 2007 at 00:13 Reply

    Yeah, I would go and eat Sense’s cheese fondue! (In reality, I hate cheese fondue. Yuck!)


  7. julieluongo June 3, 2007 at 11:26 Reply

    Ignore him. Peon. Let him eat his cheese like the lowly peasant he is. If he’s lucky, one day you might deign to glance his way. And on that day, you will meet his eye and think, “whose’s that poor, bloated fellow?”


  8. ideasmith June 3, 2007 at 16:53 Reply

    @ DC: In this case, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t.

    @ Ashish: Actually I don’t even want to know anymore. I don’t want to remember that he exists.

    @ Sense: Nope, you wouldn’t. Not in this situation. You do know who I’m talking about, don’t you?

    @ Shreyasi: This isn’t one of those times or people, trust me.

    @ Deepika: Then it’s the kind of love that’s a dirty four-letter word.

    @ Brad: And I’d dunk your face into the cheese fondue (especially if you don’t bring me chocolates!!!!!)

    @ JulieLuongo: Actually he was pretty chubby even when I last knew him. 😀


  9. Pack of atoms June 3, 2007 at 21:03 Reply

    *shudder* *shiver*
    WHO are you? Are you me? Do you live in my mind or did you once take a grand tour of my mind? You’re the ONLY blogger who’s been far too close, far too many times. No wonder then, I HAD to comment. Its not just “Encounter” or “Love Actually”, you know. All of your posts. Think I shud pay you to write my blog too – you’d do an infinitely better job of it, provided you didn’t SCARE me away first 😛

    Me…I was dying silly to go over and talk. But luckily there wasn’t any cheese fondue (read temptation) in sight /)

    p.s. he was chubby too… *wail* Why do I think we might be alter egos or doppelgangers or whatchamacallits

    Defense mechanisms depend on distance, I feel.


  10. Tupur June 3, 2007 at 23:14 Reply

    Well my options would have been:
    1) eat
    2) eat
    3) eat
    4) eat
    sparing a “dekho” (or even a thot) for some weirdo (read loser and more) during my meals??? not worth it.
    My (unsolicited) advice wud be, get going, njoi yur meal (n maybe some tiramisu to top it all). Burp!!


  11. ideasmith June 4, 2007 at 10:21 Reply

    @ Tupur: Hmm, actually talking to a friend at that moment helped. And yes, there was some good food around too. 🙂


  12. Grey Shades June 4, 2007 at 12:46 Reply

    You said it lady! Some things jus never fade away…


  13. Melody June 4, 2007 at 18:45 Reply

    hmmmm… is this how it goes? I guess it must be, because so many people identify with what you’ve written.

    I on the other hand am great friends with everyone I’ve ever gone out with, so the only thing I would do is go over & give/get a great bid hug. Friendship simplifies things somehow. Just my op though.


  14. ideasmith June 6, 2007 at 17:04 Reply

    @ Melody: I’m not surprised. But then we are different.


  15. 'nonnymus June 9, 2007 at 01:00 Reply

    Distance is such a double edged sword isnt it? When its there, it hurts like hell. When its gone it reopens old wounds. Maybe time follows the same principle. and the entire theory of time being a healer just sucks….


  16. Anonymous July 5, 2007 at 16:00 Reply

    Well this happened with me once, what i still do not know is …. does the love of another woman/man cures this chronic condition … or will the deep crush/love haunt someone forever inspite of what has happened after that


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  18. greekalphabet October 28, 2007 at 19:03 Reply

    brilliant stuff….

    the trick that works for me is to think what the poor sod missed by missing out on me and then mentally showing him the finger in my head (basically summoning up all the defence mechanisms you can ever find).

    yeah… still there is a chance that might not work…

    some people are like that. Damn.


  19. ideasmith October 30, 2007 at 14:51 Reply

    @ greekalphabet: Ah, you know how it is…some things are better written about than experienced.


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  25. sippu rout (@sippurout) November 17, 2011 at 00:30 Reply

    If I were there, would just reach for my guns 🙂
    actually I would reach for the fondue, look into her eyes from across the room, give her a “Joker” smile, and the next thing she would feel would be the cheese on her face.
    actually I won’t really do that. I never hurt women, but then again, cheese on face doesn’t hurt, does it?


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