Tuesday, 5 November 2019

OS : Love Lost, Love Found: If We Meet Again.. Part (b)

It was weird when I walked back into that same place, those same passages, where I had found him, found the one I loved, and the same place where I had seen him last. It had been 11 years since I said goodbye to this school where I grew up, which was somewhere responsible for the person I was today, and here I was today, back again, for a school reunion, something we would always joke about when we were 16; we all always wondered where we would be 10 years later, what our lives would be like, and the main question - whether we would be part of each others' lives'At that time, the answer to this question had been simple - 'Of course! We're friends forever! Burger anyone?', but obviously, not all our prophecies come true'People always move onto bigger and better things. I hadn't. I had never been able to find anyone like him, and somewhere in my heart, I knew I would never. Did I even want to?

I drove back to the last time I had seen his eyes,  his dark grey-blue eyes, which had haunted me even in his absence. It was the End-Of-Year Ball, the Farewell party for us seniors, where I had realized that I was in love with him, and the very next day, I had realized that I had lost him'

The morning after, I had rushed to his house, which wore a deep look of despair and anguish; I has shuddered under its roof. I had rushed to the door, hit the doorbell a couple of times, until an old lady who was passing by had told me that the deceased family had moved. From the sad smile on her face, I knew she pretty much knew the Malliks'; they were filthy rich after all.

After she had gone, I had tried ringing the bell, hoping against hope that somehow, he hadn't left, hoping he had stayed behind, hoping he would let me say goodbye if nothing else. After repeated tries, I had finally given up, and sat on the front-porch crying silently. I had lost him.

Over the years, I tried with all my might to try and catch a glimpse of his name, of his being, of his existence, anywhere - from Facebook to our common friends, but no one had an idea where he or any of his family members were. It was as if he had disappeared. I still hadn't given up, I still hoped that maybe one day he would return to his home, return to his memories - until I saw the 'For Sale' sign in front of his house, 5 years later'.

My love long given up on, but not forgotten, I moved to the main city after that, after burying all my memories of that fat, chubby boy I was in love with in a deep corner of my heart.

But coming back here had rekindled my hope, and I felt excited at the thought of him being here tonight. But I knew chances were bleak - what had this school given him anyway? And even if he did come, what would I say to him? Was there anything left to say? I wouldn't be surprised if he hated me, or worse, didn't remember me at all - and here I was, madly in love with him since 11 years!

Sighing, I stepped into the hall, the banner read 'Reunion of Rangers: Batch of 2000-2001', with the Rangers symbol beside it. I smiled, drowning in my nostalgia and looked around at the crowd. There wasn't one face I recognized; how would I - I hadn't bothered to keep in touch with anyone after graduation.

And all of a sudden, I began to feel nervous, wondering if my black skirt and white shirt were right for the event - I could see other girls wearing way more glamorous things than me! I looked around, for at least one known face, one face which I could rely on tonight amidst all these known strangers!

And that's when I saw them, caught just a glimpse of them - those same dark grey-blue eyes; I could recognize them from anywhere - I had been dreaming about them since 11 years!

Smiling widely, I ran in his direction, but got pushed back when I bumped into someone hard.  I glared at the person angrily, who was smiling down at me excitedly. Did I know him?

"Riddhima? Is that you?" The familiar voice asked me.

"Oh my God! Sid!" I smiled, and hugged him. "Oh my God!"

"Its been so long! Where have you been?" He asked. I shrugged, not wanting to tell him that I had conveniently lost his number, I had conveniently forgotten the way to his house, and I had conveniently forgotten all about him. "So how are you?"

"I'm fine I guess! What's up with you?" I asked urgently, my mind stuck on his eyes, trying to look behind Sid if he was still there. I let out a disappointed sigh when I realized I had lost him yet again.

"Nothing great! Just life going on! Hey, we should hang out sometime! You know catch up? Over coffee, or dinner?!" He said slowly, looking at me expectantly.

I looked at him questioningly before realizing he was asking me out. Smiling nervously at him, I wondered how I was supposed to turn down my ex-boyfriend; I had been the one to break up with him, and I wondered if he would hold a grudge this time if he hadn't till now!


"Are you already seeing someone?" He asked me, looking slightly dejected.

"Uh'Kind of'I mean'"

"I'm so sorry! I was just'Too overwhelmed to see you! But anyway, it was nice seeing you again! And keep in touch!" He grinned at me, his same cheeky grin and I smiled back; at least he had matured if nothing else!

"Sure!" I shook his hand and sighed as he walked past me.

"Awkward!" I mumbled under my breath, and began my search again. I cursed my luck for the umpteenth time when I found no sight of those blue eyes again.  Were they just a trick of the light? Well, then God was just playing real bad with me!

"Remember me?" A sugary voice asked behind me and I turned, and I didn't need a guess to know who it was!

"Jen!" I said, smiling forcibly, and rolled my eyes as she pulled me into a bear hug.

"Ri! Oh my God! Its been so long! You little devil, you never bothered to keep in touch!" She said in her squeaky sweet voice.

"Uh, yeah'Sorry!" I mumbled, indifferently, but then kicked myself when I realized how rude I was being. But she probably hadn't noticed the sarcasm in my voice as she was still smiling.

"Can you believe how much everyone's changed!" She said excitedly.

"Obviously not everyone!" I mumbled under my breath. "Yeah, I know right?" I faked and said to her.

"Oh, look that's Daniel Hope there! He's lost his charms now!" She muttered and I followed her eyes. I didn't recognize the guy she was referring to at all!

"Really? That's Daniel? Doesn't look like him!" I said uncertainly.

"Oh that's him alright! I just talked to him! No longer a charmer! Can't believe I ever dated him!" She said. I rolled my eyes. "And oh, have you been in touch with Sasha? She's been behaving so bitchy all evening! I couldn't stand even looking at her!" She continued.

"Sasha? Who Sasha?" I asked, scrunching my nose.

"Oh you remember Sasha, that wannabe chick who always used to copy you, the one who would try her best to be with Sid!" She said, her eyes wide. I had the urge to laugh. Had she ever looked at herself? She would always tail behind me wherever I went, and would copy the styles I would wear!

"Oh! Her!" I said nonchalantly. Jen nodded.

"And of course! How can we forget them!" I followed her gaze. "The Geeks who are now Greek Gods!" She eyed them up and down and I frowned, confused. Who was she talking about? The word 'geek' was very close to my heart for obvious reasons, and any reference to them was enough to catch my attention.

"Who?" I asked curiously.

"The fat chubby boy! Armaan Mallik!" My eyes zoomed to where he was standing, he had his back to me. I waited with bated breath for him to turn, seconds passing like eternity, and finally, he did. And I found what I had been looking for since the past 11 years! I felt my heart doing somersaults, and my pulse picking up pace. I smiled seeing his face. He sure had changed, and I almost couldn't believe it was him. But at the same time, I felt stupid to have not recognized him before! The same blue eyes, the same dimpled smile, the same guy I had known, the same guy I am in love with.

"He sure is an eye-candy now! Tall, check! Cute, check! Smile to die for, check! And oh those gorgeous eyes, check, check, check!"I heard Jen say seductively, and I held onto my glass of wine tightly to stop myself from punching her. "You know what? I'm gonna go and talk to him! He's just, too hot to miss!" She winked at me. My instincts getting the better of me, I pretended to fall and dropped the wine on he dress before she could make her move. I stifled my grin when I saw her eyes widen in horror.

"O-M-G! Jen, I am so so sorry! I didn't mean to! I tripped! I'm so sorry!" I said in a fake, guilty voice. I saw her let out a half scream and rush out of the hall, probably rush into the nearest washroom. I rolled my eyes, and then turned, to see him still laughing and talking to everyone else.

I smiled, and made baby-steps towards him, wondering what I would say to him. And the fears came rushing back. What if he really didn't remember me? Everyone else surely did! But he wasn't everyone! He was Armaan!

Who cares if he doesn't remember? I'll remind him then, big deal! He's the one who's changed anyway! Determined, I began to walk faster and finally stood behind him. I tapped his shoulder, and with my breath stuck in my throat, I waited for him to turn.

I almost felt like I was in some lame romantic movie, and almost hoped for drum-rolls. But unfortunately this was no movie!

If not drum rolls, I surely felt fireworks causing mayhem in my heart when I saw his dark blue bore into mine.

I saw a grin spread across his face, and that smile of recognition put an end to all my fears. He did remember me. Grinning, I hugged him tight, making sure this was no dream.

"Armaan!" I muttered, hugging him tighter, and felt his arms around me tighten their hold. "Its you! Its actually you!" I mumbled, feeling tears pricking my eyes.

"Riddhima!" He said, his voice still the same.

And I didn't know what compelled me to do it, or rather, what gave me the guts to do it, I kissed him, right there, right that second. I saw his eyes widen as I deepened the kiss, not paying attention to the howls and cheers surrounding us, and I smiled, almost laughing at myself and his reaction.

"Sorry, been waiting too long!" I whispered against his lips, and saw a grin forming on his face, his face going red, in embarrassment or because of me, I didn't know.

"How long exactly?" He asked.

"11 years!" I whispered, feeling a tear trickle down my cheek.

"That is a long wait!" He nodded in agreement. "Say we take this some place else?" He asked in his unforgettable cheeky voice, with his unforgettable cheeky grin.

"Yeah!" I said, almost laughing, and felt him take my hand in his, and amidst all those surprised eyes looking at us, we walked out of the hall, hand in hand.

The questions could wait, I knew we had a long time with each other, probably a lifetime, and the answers could be given then'What was more important was to actually believe that this was real, and not some fairy-tale. But then again, was this anything short of a fairy-tale? It was love lost and found after all right? But, fairy-tale or no fairy-tale, this was surely a happy ending, or rather, a happy beginning! The end was yet to come!


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