As the sobs wreaking through her body subsided, the tears in her eyes finally dried up. Brishti closed her puffed and stingy eyes as she tried to find a comfortable position on the cold, hard bed she had been curled up on for the last couple of hours. Her mind drifted off to those early days of her college life when she had spent an inordinate amount of time noticing and taking in everything he would do. At the beginning he was just a part of her new group of friends at college. He was no different in her eyes from the other boys in the group or in the college for that matter. It was his unparalleled sense of humour that had caught her attention at first. He could take as much as he could dish out. Then came bunking classes, playing pranks and taking long walks into the natural beauty of the hills, Then she had unknowingly started to pay attention to his likes and dislikes in everything ranging from music to food. She started noticing how he was always there to bail his friends out of trouble, how he would be there to support his friends when they needed someone to talk to or just someone to sit quietly with. He would scramble down the dangerous slopes just to pick a flower that someone liked with the same enthusiasm as he would spend hours cooped up in a room to help someone understand the latest assignment from class. Even today, she could not point out the exact moment when she had fallen in love with Akash. But she knew that it had to be at some point before she had divulged her darkest secrets to him one night over the phone. Instead of saying how disgusted he was of her, he had told her of his fears. They had both cried in the privacy of their rooms, miles apart but connected by modern technology. She wasn't sure whether they had cried because of their personal fears or for the pain of the other. All she knew that she had felt both light and heavy in her heart at the same time. The fact that her secrets had not driven him away from her had made her heart feel lighter than it had been in years. Yet there was also a new ache -- for her dear friend. Something had changed between them that night. Now she could not help but wonder if that was also the moment she had turned blind to everything else that should have made her uncomfortable. Over the next couple of years they had been happy like none other in this world. They had hardly ever fought and their love had only seemed to grow. They weathered through the rough patches in their individual lives together. They even survived when times demanded physical distance of hundreds of miles between them. They celebrated their little triumphs and assured each other that time would only increase and mature their love for each other. After all they would always be friends first in their hearts. Their happiness had known no bounds and the people around them started to brand them as the 'Sweetest' or the 'Perfect' Couple. She remembered having so much faith and trust in him that she had fought for him when time had demanded, even against her dearest ones. She remembered standing up for him when somebody showed less faith in him. She could still remember experiencing that giddy feeling, the butterflies in her stomach and the out of body experiences that she had only read about in books before. She had heard the old saying that "Love is blind and Marriage is the eye opener" about a million times before and had always taken it as a joke. But something happened even before her marriage that made her wonder if it was a joke at all. For her all it had taken was both the families getting involved and them getting engaged. On one of the most important days of her life, when she had needed his support the most, he had let her down by not sparing even a thought about her. After knowing everything about her and her life, he had left her standing alone, to fend for herself when she was most vulnerable. She did not know how she had managed to smile and go about performing her duties as expected from her back then, but finding herself alone had made her stop and take a look around. That was when she had realized how blind he had been. The man who had promised to be her friend for life had never really kept his word. Her love for him had made her blind to all the instances he had invaded her life and had let her down in the past. For the first time she had stopped to take stock of all the times she had given into him because of her blind need to give him and to make him happy. Still it had been too late for her. She did not want to create a scandal by breaking off her engagement. She could handle the heat and the pointing fingers, but she was afraid of the hurt it would cause her mother. A mother who had given up so much for her, who had truly been her true friend and the one person she had spent so much time convincing that he was the one for her. She could not bring herself to do the one thing that would free her from a lot of suffering but would shatter her mother's dreams, hurt her and leave her only caretaker to face the aftermath of the scandal. She had then talked herself into continuing the relationship, convincing herself that it was the right thing to do - at least for the sake of her mother. Once reality broke through the illusion of her perfect love, she thought that she was ready to face the consequences of her follies. Surely now that she knew what to expect and what not to expect, she couldn't possibly be disappointed any further. But as if her realizing the truth was what he had been waiting for, his new promises increased as much as his deception. Every time she built a wall around her, he stripped her out her defenses even further.And for the last couple of months, it had come down to maintaining a perfect facade as much for the sake of peace at home as much for the outsiders. She tried her best to take care of her duties and responsibilities to the best of her capabilities and still take that extra step to take care of his needs, hoping that someday he would return her love with something more than empty words and promises. But every time she had been the first and only one to fall for the facade and set Herself up for more disappointments and heartaches. After being together for over 6 years, having her heart broken and trampled on she still tried to work it out with him. No matter what the latest reason she had come up with and convinced herself of, deep down she knew that she still loved him. No matter how many times she tried to explain her heart that she should hate him for putting her through hell, she knew that she still loved him. She did not know how or why, but she knew that she would always love him. Finally feeling comfortable, Brishti promised herself for what seemed to be the hundredth time, that this would be the last time she would cry herself to sleep over him and let her tired body and mind succumb to sleep in the spare bedroom of their flat. Her last conscious thought was that her love for Akash was something like Nicotine Addiction. Once you got addicted, your body and mind craved for it. And even though you knew that it is harmful for you, it was damn hard to give up.