He was waiting for his flight at the airport and reading a business article as a sudden chill passed through his veins. The fragrance of perfume from the back seat reminded him of someone. Someone he had forgotten long time back. It could be anyone, he thought as he couldn’t gather the strength to look back and find out. As he was trying to make up his mind, he felt a kid’s hand pushing his hair from behind. What happened next, took him years back in his life. The memories he tried hard to hide in the closet were fresh in a blink of an eye. He was again a 23 year old boy trying to hide his affection.
“No beta, don’t do that, uncle will get angry” the lady sitting behind him told the kid.
It was her voice. He didn’t know what was more painful; her memories or the fact that she was with the kid? He never thought they would ever meet again and so did she. They both froze for a moment when they looked into each others’ eyes. And then she said those words “Oh my god, you are fat!” That was enough to break the ice. And just like old friends who meet after a decade, they started talking about the good old days.
Coincidence can be good or bad, but sometimes they are neither. As they were waiting for the same flight they decided to move to the coffee lounge. The child was fast asleep and they were having a nice talk. “I have to say, you have changed a lot. I remember you being childish and irresponsible. You sound mature now” she said. “Oh! Really? The way I recall it, you, were arrogant and boring, snapping on silly things” he replied. “That was because of you, everyone in the office except you, knew you had a crush on me. And you used to act crazy, well, as I said childish”. The last statement opened the pandora. Both of them felt a breeze of memories they couldn’t hold to themselves.
He said “Hello, you use to ask me for lift all the time”. “You use to stare at me all day in office” she replied. “You use to come to my seat to talk, at least 5 times a day” he said. “That’s because my best friend was sitting next to you”. “But you called me at midnight to wish on my birthday, when you were on a family trip and you gave me a separate birthday party” he reminded. “Because you asked for it and why did you mess only with my face on your birthday cake cream?” She asked. “You used to accompany me for lunch when I got late” he continued. She did not stop either. She continued “You used to pay for my favourite ice-cream after that. Also, why did you walk me to station after office every day and take a bus back home? “I can see you are still arrogant and stubborn just like old days, didn’t change a bit, did you?” He asked.
She smiled and replied “if that’s true, how is it you always came back apologizing, even when I was wrong and convince me to talk with you? And tell me something, where were you when I was getting married?”
The last question brought him back to his conscious. He remembered how he could not digest the news of her getting married to someone else and quit his job. He moved overseas and avoided being in touch with everyone he worked with, just to run away from it. He opposed arranged marriages ever since. Everything was crystal clear now. He knew what he had to do to come to terms with this part of his life. He did not have to hide it in the closet anymore. This was his opportunity to overcome the regret; to express what was unsaid and most importantly, know, the answer.
His smile was calm and composed. He leaned back on his chair, folded his hands and took a deep breath. As he was feeling the rising chill inside him, and confessed; “Actually, you are right, I did have a crush on you. It was the first in my life and I did not know what to do. I acted crazy, childish, and I am sorry if that bothered you or created embarrassing situations”.
Surprised by the honest reply, she did not know what to say. There was pin drop silence in the coffee shop. He finally struck the conversation, “I need one more coffee, and do you want one?” She nodded in reply with a mild tongue-tied smile and he went for coffee.
I really don’t believe it, you are accepting it. I mean you? “Yes” he replied with a smile. “I wasn’t mature enough to accept it then. But as you said, I am a changed man now”. “Of course you are. You are too fat now”. As both of them start sipping their coffee, their flight was announced to depart in 20 minutes.
They were about to complete their coffee when he popped the question “Can I ask you for a favour, for old times’ sake?” She had one of those smiles which said she knew what’s next, but nevertheless was curious about it “Yes, why not?” she replied.
“After you left, all my life I regretted not telling you how I felt for you. Not because I didn’t move on. I did, I have a fiance. But, I would never know how you felt about me. I was a friend, fool, crush, enemy or a compulsion as we were in the same office. You were my first crush and I don’t know what was I to you? I am tired of asking myself. What if, I would have acted differently? I need to come to terms with that part of my life. Even if the answer would mean that I was a fool; I need to know. It’s like a part of life is still left incomplete, and that make me restless”.
“I can understand if you are offended. You are married, have a kid. This might not be the right thing to ask but I am not sure if our paths would cross again! If you can just, if you can’t say it, may be write it? I just don’t want that incompleteness in my life anymore and only you can help me out, please help me out”.
He was looking at her with frustration, not knowing how she is going to respond. She took out a pen, with an angry expression on her face, wrote something on a tissue paper and left with the kid without saying anything. He looked at that tissue paper. It was an end to his sufferings; just a peek and he would never regret not knowing the answer. He slowly lifts the paper from the table and read what was written-
“One thing you are right about, you are indeed a fool. You always have been. I wonder how a dumb ass like you scored a girl. It must be arranged from your family side I think, but yes, I did have a crush on you. If only you hadn’t quit office, or kept in touch with your friends. You would know that my fiance ran away with his girlfriend on the night we were to be married. The incident taught a good lesson to my parents. They stopped forcing me to get married. I am single. This kid is my nephew and I am talking him to his mother. Wish you a happy married life. Goodbye”
He could not believe what he had just read. His eyes were filled with tears of joy; he could not control his feeling and shouted “O my god! I am a fool”. He ran out of the coffee shop searching for her. The steward shouted to remind him of his luggage, but he couldn’t care less.
All he wanted to do is find her, show her his fingers and shout loudly, “you are a bigger fool than I am. I lied. I never scored anyone. I am still madly in love with you and I think both of us can live a foolish life with each other, happily ever after, will you marry me???”