It’s been ten years now since I opened this old cupboard, which I have locked soon after my 10th grade examinations. While cleaning up today, I found an old greeting card; Valentine’s Day card. I had managed to write down something on the card, but didn’t have a nerve to give it to the person I have purchased it for. It was covered under the dust for years, I never realised that something was lying in the cupboard that was once an important part of my life.
I was occupied practicing for my annual day drama, just when I heard my favourite track of Akon being played in the auditorium. I rushed, and tried to sneak in through partition between the doors. The singer’s back was towards me, all I could see was a head with black bouncy hair, checked shirt, baggy pants; definitely not the uniform. He was moving with the rhythm of the music.
Finally, after 15 minutes I succeed in seeing the face of the singer, and for some strange reasons I was not able to take my eyes off him; my eyes got struck on him and they forgot to move or even blink.
The only thing was on my mind was him, I wanted to know who he was, and what is he doing in our school if he is not in our school uniform. All I could think was him; it looked like he has stolen me from myself, something just similar to what takes place in Indian Bollywood Cinema. I could feel him everywhere around and was dying to know who that man was…..
During Mathematics class one day, I saw him pass by my classroom. Though mathematics was love of my life but that day, everything was different; it no longer interests me. I could not concentrate on what Ms. Neelam was teaching. I kept gazing at the window, waiting for him to pass by again, I like looking at him. All I was praying was, please one more time; please again.
After the lecture got over, I rushed out just to see if he is still around; but I could not find him. Though there was a point of relief that, this time I saw him wearing a school uniform which means he is from our school and if I try hard I can find out; he belongs to which class. So my new task was to find out who this boy is, and which standard?
Finally I got to see him again in the basketball court; he was talking to one of my classmate. So the luck is with me now, I quickly approached to the place where they were standing …..
“Nitin, Ms. Kaya is calling you for some work”, I said randomly.
“Yes Aavi; just a moment, well hope you know Arjun?” Nitin enquired.
“No, well…. Hi Arjun, I am Aavi” and we shake hands.
“Hi, I am in 12th standard….. And you?” he asked politely.
“10th, she is my classmate Arjun” Nitin replied hurriedly and then asked me to accompany him to staffroom. I felt like killing him; but had no choice. I never wanted Arjun to feel my desperation or even sense that I like him. I left the place along with Nitin just by giving him a gentle smile.
I often wait at bus stop and let a number of buses to pass by just to be with him for some more time, I like watching him, I like his dimple cheeks, his black hair and round face. We never talk, as we used to stand on opposite side bus stops; but I was always filled with admiration. I don’t really know why, but even he used wait at the bus stop till I take a bus.
“He is two years senior to us, and yes he sings well; in fact awesome he sings. He stays at Bandra.” Nitin said abruptly. I was shocked when he gave me this information.
“Did I ask you anything?” I asked.
“Oh! Please, even a dumb can see and understand what’s in your heart and mind; so now please stop hiding it from me, and yes buy me a dairy milk chocolate for giving you such useful information.” Nitin giggled.
“Get lost! I don’t care” I replied.
But I still kept on gazing at him when he wasn’t looking and I kept waiting for moments when I can catch his glimpse. I always kept my eyes outside my classroom’s window instead of the blackboard; I never wanted to miss a chance to catch an eye on him. Though I don’t think he ever caught me staring at him, most of my friends do and understood my feelings.
During one get together party with my friends, all of them questioned me repeatedly about him. I confessed, I think I love him. All of them said we all knew it from the beginning, it’s only we wanted to hear from you, in fact they mentioned that even Arjun is aware of my feelings. I was astounded; I asked them how can they be so sure about it? Then one of my friends, who was also known to Arjun said that he has noticed that Arjun always stood in a position that made it easier for me to look at him. This statement of his made me really happy; I have something positive to look forward too.
Comes December, we were writing our respective semester exams; they were important because these help us to check how well we are prepared for the final exams. For both of us these exams were very important and it was necessary for us to score well. Though my mind was all engrossed in the preparation and studies but my heart was still beating fast for him. During our second examination, his seat was next to mine “Hey! How are you?” he asked.
“I am fine, hope you are doing well in exams?” I enquired.
“Yes! Quite well, can you lend me a pen?” he said softly.
“Why not; sure”
Time passed; so does exams. We got our results which were quite satisfying. I was happy that at least once in examination I got a chance to sit by his side. After all we were together for whole three and half hours; even when we had conversation for a minute only. It was like a jackpot for me.
After results, reshuffling of classes took place; students scoring fewer marks were given more attention so were separated and put into different classroom. Same did happen in Arjun’s class as well. This introduced us to new students and new curriculum. Among them was Anamika, she was everything and I was not; beautiful, intelligent, smart and a rock star. Within a month Arjun and Anamika became friends, after all they were classmates too and I was just a junior.
Some of the students in the school said they were going around, while others who were my friends said she tried to woo him but he ignored. I had no clue what to believe and what not. When the rumours became prominent I stopped looking in his direction, I kept myself occupied with studies and other activities so that I have no time to think. Either way it was getting difficult as our final exams were about to come, and focus was on them.
I dint put much of my effort to crosscheck who was right, was Arjun actually dating Anamika or they were just good friends and their relationship has turned out the other way by the school kids. Earlier I thought why not go and ask Anamika about it, since I have known her a little during school activities; but then I realised if the answer will be yes, my heart will break in no second and I wasn’t sure how much time will it take to repair. Exams were on head and just for this I can’t spoil everything else around me. I thought it’s good to be in confusion.
In due course of time two months passed, it was the time to bid good bye to our friends at school. It was the last day of our school, and the only chance to tell him how I feel. I purchased a Valentine’s Day card and wrote a beautiful poem on it; expressed all my emotions on it. I gathered all the courage and went to school with that card.
“Hi! Arjun” I said.
“Hey! Aavi, where have you been?” he responded.
“I want to say something”
“Say what? Tell me?”
“I …. I …… I think u still has my pen that you borrowed in last exams” I said abruptly.
“What? This is what you wanted to say? That’s it?” he looked disappointed
“Yes; that’s it”
“Aavi; you see that pen is very lucky for me, I think I am going to keep it forever. I will write all my exams with that pen. So sorry, I hope you don’t mind me keeping it?”
“No, it fine. You can have it. All the best for future.” and I left.
I didn’t say anything more; I don’t know what stopped me that day. I came home kept the card in the cupboard in the old store room and locked it.
I have to clear the thoughts in my mind which have gathered like dust. Childhood memories were flashing in front of my eyes; it looks like I was reliving those moments.
I have to empty my mind and heart; just like I have to make space in the house to accommodate the guests who are coming to attend my wedding next month. Then I decided that I have to clear this cupboard from the storeroom, and memories of past from my heart. I have to make space for my fiancée in my heart and life. I have wondered million times, what would have been my fate if I had confessed my love for Arjun that day. Probably we would have shared some sort of relationship; maybe we would have settled down or could have regretted being together. But something on that day made me decide that I have to keep my feeling of love to myself and never open them up in front of anyone.
I wasn’t grown enough, but was not a child even; maybe I was grown enough to fall in love with someone but wasn’t grown enough to confess it.
The time for final closure has come; I closed my eyes, and erased the past from my mind and from all the corners of heart. I put my mind at rest, no questions but just one simple answer. I love the man I am going to marry, and I am looking forward to my new life, new beginning.