He walked towards and the time stood still. I had seen him exactly after 42 months. Yes, I remembered the last time he left my sight and how painful it had been for me to see him go away. All this while, till it lasted, I failed or rather refrained from believing it wasn’t true. My story with him didn’t exist.
Amit and I had been friends for a long time, the school friendship which had no expectations and boundaries as such. This phase of our lives didn’t need regular reminder of our relationships. We are friends with all 60 people in our class but still had special bond with those named few amongst the sea of students. For me that was Amit.
I couldn’t point out or qualify the exact reason for him having a special place in my heart. But he still was the special one. We spent good twelve years of our lives besides each other. Not much needed to be said and understood.
The words just flew between us with that one glance. I knew when he had not done his homework and he needed rescue. Years went by. Till it was time to choose the bigger world to the existing one. They say our present defines the future but for me, I wasn’t sure if my presence had any place in my future. My family had chartered a future educational path for me which needed me to move away from the city. My chances of skewing the decision in my favor were bleak, almost negligent.
As planned, I had my bags packed and was ready to go and start on a new life as they would say. I was always confused and questioned when they said that, what was wrong with my present life that it needed to be changed. Leaving it to be the grown up talk, I never interfered or put in an effort to understand the true meaning of it.
With days transcending to years and now at the finality of it, I had started asking the question to myself, if Amit was my true love and if I was sent to earth by God, to find him. Momentarily I had started manifesting it because the pain it had caused thinking. I would not be able to see him or meet him on the daily basis. With the confinement of my imagination, I thought to myself how it is wrong and how the world has conspired against us to make us apart. I believed in this and made no qualms about expressing to Amit.
We had this meeting place when we were not in school. It was an old railway station in our town where every soul of the place would descend to travel. It was the only place which had life early morning and just when it was about to get dark. The railway station had a unique and significant place in history as the elders would regale as to how the English army used it as transit. In the small world that we had in that phase of life, us kids truly believed in the story and looked up to the place. Hence, it became our special place to meet. We called it as our ‘Safe Haven”.
Amit and I had planned to meet at safe haven that evening and bade our farewells for better tomorrow and make promises for future. Amit’s family had settled in Dharna for over two generations and he was going nowhere from there.
As we walked up the railway bridge, my heart was racing. I wasn’t able to hear my thoughts as my heart was pounding and ready to pump out any moment now.
We exchanged greetings as if we were to meet for the first time ever on a blind date. I told him when I was scheduled to leave. Sheepishly he puts his right hand forward and holds my hand. With utmost calmness, he gets his left hand forward and hands over a small gift box which was laced with red ribbon. He had got me a farewell gift and my heart sunk to my pit.
We had never exchanged gifts in all those years we knew each other, never felt the need to give one. This was a special one as it had a subtle message to it, it was a totem of our special bond and it was to be remembered and cherished for times to come. I almost had tears as I opened the small box of love. It was a dancing couple that would start to roll with a twist of a key and music to complete the romantic feel. I accept it with my utmost feelings.
The day arrives when I leave the town. He comes to see off but wasn’t too loud to make his presence felt. He comes to the station to see me off but stays away from me and my family, not to raise doubts with them. The clock was ticking and the lady announcing the arrival of my train, that will take me far away from home, was making herself heard loud enough and clear. How insensitive of her, can’t she see my world is falling apart. Everything was wrong for me then.
I wave my hand for one last time to my family and him standing deep in the corner, holding back tears. I had this huge urge to push all away and run to him for that final hug just like they show in movies. And just like that, he left my sight and I could no longer see anyone, my family or him.
As I was settling in the new city, Amit and I exchanged numerous letters and through them emotions and our daily chores. I start my new life and got busy with the daily hustle bustle. My studies kept me busy from falling back on memories of my hometown. Again days passed through years and with that the flow of letters became thinner. As they say, we had maybe moved on and started looking at life with new eyes. The pain I had in my heart on the day we parted ways wasn’t there anymore. We weren’t trapped in the emotional guilt towards each other. I had coped well with the new city and had made friends who were nice to me.
My course was getting over in six months of time and we had leaves in between our mid-term. I decided to go home and visit my parents. It had been long I saw them. I book my tickets and start packing for the day to travel back home.
My train is about to reach my town’s station and as it had to be, memories came flooding to me as if I had never left and I was still stuck in time here. I had written to Amit as well that I would be coming home for holidays and would like to meet him, needless to say, the place was Safe Haven.
It had been long that I was gone. After 42 months away from home and this town, it was good to be back and see and feel the familiarity of the place. It had an unsaid love it showered over you. The same old faces bright up when they see you. Everyone wants to know how the life in the big city is and how happy they are to see you.
Amit and I as decided, meet at our place. He looked the same is what I gather. I was happy to see him and I could see him beaming and trying his best not to jump on seeing me. Never the less we were just more than happy to see each other. He started telling me more about his life, things which we missed in each others absence and recounting our days together. It was nice to see him settled and his nonchalance added to his whole demeanor.
It wasn’t difficult to see the change in him and to say that we had both grown up. We stayed with each other for over 3 hours and didn’t notice the clock ticking by. I had to rush home and start packing again to go back. As we begin to leave, I notice it isn’t as painful as it had been few years back. Guess the distance had brought in unsaid understanding between us and we had accepted it without any remorse.
As I walked back home, I notice something had changed within me. It was nice to see and be close to Amit after all these years but, at the same time, it was also a feeling of satisfaction. I was satisfied that we spoke freely without any contention, I liked we respected each others distances and space. We didn’t have to explain ourselves and most importantly we weren’t sorry. We elegantly had said our byes and had no discomfort in going back to our present lives. We were now finally living in present.
As I boarded the train to go back, waving yet again to all my beloved people, I see yet another familiar face in the crowd. Amit had come to give his regards. He was there holding his hand high up and waving ferociously at me. What was different this time, he had a huge smile on his face and so did I. We bade each other our farewell yet again to better future and no pain in our hearts. What I had come to believe as love in our younger years was just a brooding deep friendship. I had run against time to give it a name, a finality to it. Today, I understood, he was my greatest friend and always somebody who would have my goodwill in his heart.
I matured a little that day. It’s not always important to name relationships. It’s not always important to brand it and test its existence.