Eleven years had passed since I saw her last. So much had changed since. In fact, everything should have changed but didn’t. Isn’t that how time is supposed to work? I still wanted to know her.
I would appear a different person to those who knew me in school. Now, I talk more, fighting hesitations for good. I had amusing stories to fill conversations. More importantly, I realized that if you just listen to people they’ll feel the conversation was great. Humor was my best friend. Sarcasm helped say things while keeping a guard on feelings. I preferred facts over opinions. Actually, I avoided saying what I felt, until that day.
I had geared enough courage to ask her to meet. We were strangers acting as friends. She didn’t like me. Nothing close to a certain boyfriend who kept calling her. While she talked, I wondered what to say next. Kept reminding myself to not startle her with questions. We took turns asking and answering. Bouts of awkward silence threatened to bring an abrupt end to the meet.
“It was nice to see you,” she said.
Here it ends, I panicked, “Really?”
“Yes!” She shouted.
“Would you have preferred to spend this time with someone else?” That silence lasted for an eternity or two.
“I still remember your house and phone number. Those days, phone numbers were six digits. But even if they were twenty, I would have.” As I spoke, with little doubt and exacting details, she looked puzzled by this turn of events. I knew I had a couple of minutes.
I still remember her birthday, school bag and details which I decided not to mention, fearing it’d sound creepy. Back in school days, if you liked someone you wanted to know everything about them. You had to rely on your ability to memorize, there was no Internet. If you didn’t have anything to note, you kept repeating it until you can’t forget. This is how alphabets and number tables were taught. Perhaps, that is how I remember all this about her. Sadly, nobody taught how to forget. I miss not memorizing things now. However, these days I can start forgetting by deleting them from my computer or a website. Out of sight, out of mind. This couldn’t be done for this case.
“When I won my first debate you congratulated me. Since then, anything I write had to be good enough to deserve that handshake. By the way, I won a lot of them. Remember the Annual Day at school? We were made to do those stupid drills, everyone wanted to skip. I’d go to the art room. Once you sneaked in there. I was making giant red letter boxes for a play. I made you glue them together. You couldn’t notice but I had written your name on them. Clearly, the silliest thing ever done. Life isn’t half that fun now.
When you broke the net in tennis court. You kept crying while Kajal smudged all over your face. The stupid sports teacher shouted at you and called your parents. I wanted to hurt him but couldn’t decide why.”
Like always, I had no clue what she was thinking. So I continued.
“One day, we’re stuck in traffic. Then I saw you, standing on the scooter deck, in a blue saree. Must have been the first time you wore a saree. You looked wonderful. Later, when someone asked what my favorite color was, I’d say blue. I’d come up with these excuses to call you. Genius excuses by my standards. While rehearsals went smooth, calls met a fate worse than death.”
Finally, she smiled.
“I remember this day when stuck in traffic, I kept staring at you. You noticed and waved goodbye. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around as if looking for the person you were waving to! You made me act stupid. But pretending to look for someone that I wanted to be, I figured what I didn’t want to hear from you.
That is exactly what I came here to say. Goodbye!”