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Normal courtesy is for me to ask if you are doing well, but am sure you are, nothing can go wrong with you, so I’ll just move on. You probably wouldn’t remember me . I won’t blame you, its been five years. We were in school together.
Five years is a long time, I tried to brush away my feelings for you by calling it infatuation, but after five years, I feel the same. The same as I felt when I saw you for the first time emerging from the biology lab door. Whenever I think of you I can still feel butterflies in my stomach! Just like when I used to while waiting to see you at the water cooler at lunch, sun shining on your maroon rimmed glasses. (You know the Sunlight made your eyes look maroon too!!). Or maybe I was just imagining it to be so. Don’t know if it was a coincidence, your scooter which you drove to school, your glasses, and your big deep eyes, all were maroon! I fell in love with that color too. To this day I have maroon rimmed glasses!
Were we friends? I still don’t know but we were always together, in debates, in elocution, in plays, in the parades, badminton and I was always there for your every volley ball match. And as if God had it planned, we were always in the same room for all our exam,with our seats next to each other.
When you helped me do my special assignment in biology for inter-school science fair, was the first time we spent together. Those three days were the best days of my school life. Just before the fair you gave me enough confidence to face all the judges. I won it because the strange enthusiasm I had with you by my side. I wish I had the courage to tell you then. I wish I had told you at least in our last year of school. Although I was relieved to know you were not in a relationship with anyone, your sister and I used to be real close that time. I nominated her to be the wise captain of my house which I was leading.
Maybe I never told you because I never had a threat from anyone. And I knew you were focused on your studies and were very career oriented. Maybe I never told you because I thought I would have enough opportunities later. But destiny had something else planned, I had to leave the city and practically be away from every link I had to you. A lot has happened in these five years. A lot has changed, but not what I feel for you. You must be with someone right now. I just hope this doesn’t bother you in anyway.
I think I am blabbering. Ahh, paradox to the word, how would I blabber in writing!!
Why tell you now? I really don’t know. All I know is I can’t go on like this anymore. I have to tell you now or i’ll suffocate. I know how career oriented you were and I wanted to make something of myself before I ever say anything to you. So now, here it goes
I love you.
I loved you when you were unaware of my existence in school. I loved you when you stood talking to your friend in the lobby every single day at lunch. I loved you when you smiled at me and asked my name on my first day at school. I love you even now, after five years, when you obviously would have moved on with your life.
and then I hit the send button.
I had to dig through my school’s old alumni records to get his new email id. This was a now or never situation for me. Although I never expected a reply or even an acknowledgement, I decided to send this mail to him. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to see him anyways.
I was lost in memories of him for quite some time after sending the mail. A phone call from Maa brought me back to reality. I got busy doing my packing, I had a train to catch in two hours to my home town.
As soon I settled in my seat on the train, I started thinking about the mail I had sent. I had mixed feelings, a part of me was happy that I did it but another part of me thought it was a stupid and impulsive move, five years was a long time.
I was supposed to join my new company in Delhi as an HR in 10 days. Most of which would be spent home lazing around and eating Mom’s world famous food (Of course I would say that she is my MOM). Every time I checked my email, my eyes would automatically search for his email. But a even a week after I’d sent the mail there was no reply. Although I was prepared for this, but I still felt sad.
I was leaving Friday evening for Delhi, would reach on Saturday. Since I was staying with a friend there I wasn’t worried about finding an accommodation.
On Friday evening, I headed for the station with three big bags. I took me awhile to arrange my luggage properly. Out of the three bags I was carrying the biggest was full of food stuff because my mom thought I wouldn’t get good food there! Although most of it contained the things my friend had asked mom to send for her. After struggling with my baggage I finally lied down to catch some sleep. Thats when my phone beeped.
It was an e-mail, the sender’s name displayed was ‘Ravi’. My heart skipped a beat. He replied! I was just staring at my screen for a few minutes and then I clicked on the message. It read “Are you waiting for a life partner?? Register Now!!”. I cursed those stupid promotional spam mails from matrimony sites. But I couldn’t help but smile at my state. It was high school all over again for me, his name was enough to make me all nervous.
After reaching Delhi, I told my friend, Megha about the mail and also about the spam mail I got. She looked at me and then we both laughed our hearts out. This event however helped me reduce the anxiety I had about his response. A blessing in disguise I guess.
On Monday morning Megha dropped me off to my office building, which luckily was just few meters away from hers. Lucky as now I had a ride to office too.
It was an usual first day of work. Lots of paperwork, lots of handshakes. In an office of around 100 employees I hardly remembered any name at the end of the day which I could associate with correct face. The office had a very pleasant theme of light green and stripes of orange. Every department had a different layout of cubicles and a few cabins for senior managers. Since I had to work closely with our HR head, I was seated in his cabin itself. He was an elderly person, clearly with a lot of field experience. He was handling all the HR and Legal aspects of the company. He told me that I would be assisting him in both these areas.
In the initial week, I was getting familiarised with all concerned persons of respective departments and the policies of the company. It was on my fourth day that my boss called me to introduce me to our lawyers. Two associates from our law firm were visiting us, the senior associate Mr. Alok Tripathi gave me a brief about what all they were doing for us and told me that his colleague had to step out to take a call. After formal introductions we moved out to have lunch together. Thats when his colleague (junior associate) came back. I almost lost my balance when I looked at him. It was him.
Ravi was standing in front of me. Not much change from his old self. Well of course he was more mature and prim now. He recognized me too! And let out ‘Hey!’. My boss introduced us and then we proceeded to lunch. At lunch we spoke about the work and also about me settling down in the news office and city. We kept stealing glances of each other. I was a bit embarrassed because of the e-mail and that maybe the same reason for his discomfort! Anyways, after the lunch he gave me his card and then they took their leave.
I couldn’t concentrate much on work that day. Thankfully the day ended. Back at home I was taking something from my bag when I noticed his card. There was something scribbled at the back. He wrote his personal number at the back of the card. I felt a weird sensation. Does he want me to call him? Or he just gave his number in case of any work emergency? I was confused, but quickly saved him number on my phone all the same.
I told Megha about the day’s event and that he never said anything. She thought I should forget about the mail, as he clearly didn’t wanted to talk about it. And the fact that if I make any mistake it could affect my work. I couldn’t eat that night. Just had some milk and retired to bed. I wasn’t sure what he expected of me. I typed and deleted a number of messages for him, at last decided to just sleep on it.
It was around 11PM that I received a message. It was from him. ‘Hi’
I was surprised. But also glad that he messaged. I replied. ‘Hi’
Him: It was nice seeing you after so long
Me: Same here
(I could actually visualize his smiling face )
I was waiting with my fingers crossed for his comments about my mail. After a few more minutes his message ‘Good Night N2O’ brought about a flood of emotions.
In school during the inter school fair, he named me N2O, the formula for laughing gas, as I used to laugh a lot and make other around me laugh too. I was extremely delighted that he remembered but this just increased my confusion. He remembers me, he remembers our time spent together and yet he is not saying anything about the mail. I just thought its better to forget about the mail as Megha said it could affect my work.
I went about work as usual. We had occasional chats through SMS. It was almost one month of my joining and now I was settled in my job profile.
On one Saturday I received this message at 7AM in the morning. The loud beep of my phone woke me up.
Ravi: Can we meet? for breakfast?
I replied ‘sre. Whr!’ in half sleep, rubbing my eyes.
Ravi: Bubbles? at 9? Its close for you.
I hurriedly left my bed and freshened up. Put on a simple trouser and a T shirt, I left for the cafe. It was just a few minutes walk from my place. I left a message for Megha that am meeting him for breakfast, so that she doesn’t look for me when she wakes up.
He was already waiting outside the cafe when I reached. He gave me a smile which I felt was forced.
‘Did you sleep here itself?’, I tried to crack a joke. He just smiled and led me in.
Once we settled on the couch and ordered our coffee and sandwiches. We sat there, quietly. I was getting all uneasy.
I: Is everything okay? Or you are quiet just because someone woke you early on a Saturday morning?
I cursed myself for trying to make a joke again. Clearly it wasn’t working on him.
Ravi: I read your mail.
I thought he was just being dramatic.
I: You called me here to tell me got you got my mail? I get acknowledgement on my outlook for that you know. (Curses again!)
Ravi: the mail you sent before coming to Delhi.
Now it was my turn to be quiet. I was shocked, surprised. Just couldn’t say anything else
I: why are you telling me now?
Ravi: because I just read it last night.
I: What? Come on. I know it was an impulsive move from me. But you don’t have to say all this now. I can understand that you don’t want to talk about that, and that’s why I never mentioned anything before. But this is just too much, after a month you are telling me about the mail. It was an email not a snail mail you know. Even snail mail would have reached you faster if you are not living under a rock. (Damn! Curses again!)
Ravi: would you just listen to me? I understand that you used the e-mail address I mentioned in my school records. Well, I created that just for such purposes and I seldom check that. That’s why I never got your mail before.
I was just shocked. I kept staring at his face in disbelief.
Ravi: It took you five years to do that? Do you know how many emails I have sent to you? You didn’t get any of those? When I didn’t get any replies I thought you wanted to move on, and didn’t wanted to be friends after school. And now you are telling me all this? What should I think? I tried contacting you after school. You moved from the address in your records, your neighbours said you guys left the city. There was no phone number. I only had the email address. I would have sent you a number of mails. But you never replied to any one of those. Yes you were right, five years is a long time. I moved on too. I met someone. What did you expect? Huh, what did you expect?
He almost shouted saying that.
I was shocked. With tears glistening eyes I was still staring at him. That’s when I remembered that the email address I mentioned in records was the one I forgot the password of and never bothered about.
I: I never used that email address. I am sorry. I never got your mails. I left the city with my grand parents because of sudden demise of my father. In that course I forgot to leave my new address in the records. (tears rolled down my cheeks. I wiped them quickly and continued). But why did you go to my house? You never even talked to me. Why did you mail me then? Why?
Ravi: Because I liked you. What else do you think? (he said with mixed emotions. His eyes were red, I couldn’t make out, whether it was anger or anguish?)
I: Doesn’t matter now. You are with someone. Lets just forget I ever sent you that mail and just move ahead. We have to work together, it shouldn’t affect our work.
I tried to change the course of conversation. As it was too late for any realisation of past feelings for each other.
Ravi: I was with someone. We broke up couple of months ago. She left me just like you did and went to US. I have suffered enough. If you plan to go away again please do so now. Not after rekindling my latent feelings for you.
This was a new side of him I was seeing for the first time. I felt choked up to say anything. I just took my phone and sent him a message
‘I wouldn’t lose you for anything. I wouldn’t have lost you in the first place if it was in my hands. Please don’t make me cry in a public place 🙁 ‘
He let out a subtle laugh after reading this message. Held my hand and asked if I would like to go for a drive. We left the cafe with our coffee and sandwiches sitting their cold as ice, untouched.
The sun shine was brighter than usual that day. Or it just felt so to me.
We walked to the parking quietly, holding hands. After getting in the car, he just looked at me and said, ‘So, you were at the water cooler everyday for me! And yes, I didn’t knew my eyes look maroon in the Sun.‘
And he slid his hand onto mine and gave a light squeeze. I suddenly felt the blood rush to my cheeks. OMG! I was blushing. For some reason I was finding it difficult to look at his face, I kept my gaze at our hands, fingers entangled with each others.
And when I looked up on him. He had the same smile that gave me butterflies in the stomach. I just thanked God for this. As we moved into the not-so-busy-morning-roads of Delhi, we had a feeling of togetherness. We were together, together at last.