An uncontrollable urge to cry had taken over me. I was alone, maybe I should do it and get over with it. But then if someone sees me, four years of AWESOME impression would go down the drain. I was the strong, cheerful one! Crying was weakness and stupid. But this time, I had to.
And just like that, tears rolled down. No warning. No room for thoughts. Things had changed. I was passing out of college and then there was a weird world out there. A daily routine involving smiling to people whom you hated, keeping your vocabulary in check, no one had your back and more importantly, W.H.Davies’ words coming true- ‘No time to stand and stare!’ Friends seemed like a luxury and fights were another laugh.
“Hey! You are crying!”, a deep -recognisable voice stated the obvious. Dammit! I thought I was well hidden!
‘Yeah…” I wanted to go all-You Don’t Say-on him, but instead wiped my tears and presented myself a clearer picture of the blurry intruder.
He was in my year, some other department and we used to casually say Hi a few times. What nobody knew was, I used to find him cute, specially the brown eyes and that half smile. But nothing would work for now, my brain shouted.
“Ermm…here…” he gave his handkerchief and sat down beside me.
Privacy Invader. “Thanks. But seriously, you do not have to stay. I can take care of myself”, I said, accepting his generous but unwanted offering.
He sat there silently. There was no expression that showed any interest in wanting to know the reason. He just sat there, looking ahead. Deep in his own world. Awkward!!
“Hey! Ermm..thanks”, I said trying to undo my rudeness from before,” And can you do me a favor?”
“No problem. I do not usually do any favours but.. okay… shoot!”
“Ok. Just please try not gossiping about it. There is a reason I am sitting in the corner here. People ask unnecessary questions.”
“Hmm…My best friend might know. Can’t guarantee really.”
Gaurantee?! What is this? Some kind of bargain? OF COURSE NOT!
But his subsequent nervous laugh calmed me down.
“So why are you crying?” he asked, his tone preposterously casual.
“Excuse me?! I am not telling you”, I said, startled and shocked with the direct approach. It felt good to speak my mind, finally.
“Finally speaking our mind, aren’t we?”, he chuckled to a stunned embarrassed me.
“Good, that is good actually. I asked coz telling me won’t do any harm to you. I may not meet you again, ever and you do not have to worry about what I’ll think about it. Also, no sympathies from my end. You clearly do not need that”, stating the facts, “Trust me! It’s a win-win.”
The library was closed.
All my efforts down the drain, in vain. Nobody could understand my pain. Uh-huh,uh-huh. My rapper mind was in a good mood today. I hear a sob, away from the mob…tears rolling, there was definitely no lol-ing.
No. Wait. I actually heard a sob. A girl was sitting there in the corner. CRYING! Maybe I should run!
But it was HER.
I had never told this to any of my friends but I kind of found her cute. You could hear her laughing in lunch breaks and there was a fixed smile. A little annoying, cause there seemed so much happiness. An annoyingly happy head she seemed.
I walked towards her. She looked up. Her black eyes flooded with tears. Those tears were raining like the weather outside. And that puckered little nose had turned a shiny red. What should I say?
“Hey! You are crying!”, I said, stating the obvious. WOW! Genius! You Don’t Say!
Now what? Why didn’t I leave her alone? I should have just ran!
Covering up the stupidity by offering her my handkerchief, I did something even more stupid- Sat beside her!
Err…HEART! HULLOO! Brain and I are running away, come with us you idiot!!
“”Thanks. But seriously, you do not have to stay. I can take care of myself”, she said.
A little rude, don’t you think Miss Princess Diaries?? But okay, benefit of doubt- You are “UPSET”! Get rude again and I am out of here.
She said thanks and returned the handkerchief and a very unexpected favour was asked from me. Hmm…my best friend will be knowing about it, either ways. So I’ll have to let her know.
“Hmm…My best friend might know. Cant guarantee really.” I let a nervous laugh find a way.
Gaurantee?! Oh My God! It’s her emotions! Way to go buddy! Screw up as much as you can.
I expected her to get rude again. But her nonchalant response got the better of my curiosity. I had to know now!
Be casual! Be casual! “So, why are you crying?”
Her startled expression was cue enough for me to leave. But our eyes met and her gaze held me on. Whatever she said, she desperately wanted a heart-to-heart about it.
“Excuse me?! What makes you think I’ll be telling you?”, she said, her voice definitely quivered this time.
You want to. And that reply was definitely a good start.
“Finally speaking our mind, aren’t we?”
The sudden urge to laugh at her embarrassed expression was priceless. But obviously I didn’t.
“Good, that’s good actually. I asked coz telling me won’t do any harm to you. I may not meet you again, ever and you don’t have to worry about what I’ll think about it. Also, no sympathies. You clearly don’t want that. Trust me! It’s a win-win.”
She looked at me. There it was again. And little did I know, that hard blazing gaze was going to haunt me for the next few months.
Come on say it out loud now. That was a really good reasoning.
And just like that, with a heavy sigh, she began,
“I want to be 17 again. I want to be in my first year again. I want to be innocent and make new friends. I want to be in college. I want to fall in love with someone who loves me back. And I wish FOREVER exists here. I don’t want a job. I don’t want to smile with people I don’t know. And when I step out, the worst thing, I’ll be alone. And it will be a start all over again. Start to making first impressions. Start to a change. Start to an era where I’ll be stuck in forever. I wish I had something of this past time to hold on to. But I am leaving with memories. They are strong but not enough.”
Should I say? I looked at him. The reasoning seemed alright. But there was that boyish expression again. The half-smile. He wanted to know. He wasn’t leaving. And I didn’t want him to leave. It felt a lot calmer with him around. But little did I know, the yearning to feel the same again was going to give me sleepless nights for the next few weeks.
Deciding against my pride, I let it out. Tears were rolling down miserably this time around. But it was fine. I was to never see him again.
“….. strong but not enough” , I finished my first ever ramble. The slight possibility of a solution to my 17- again unreasonable demand had rekindled. I waited for an answer.
What he did next was far from my expectations and better than the time machine solution I had anticipated.
He offered his handkerchief, again. Then with an enthusiasm, he got up and stood in front of me, offering his hand. I gazed at him but almost immediately caved in. He had a plan. And I was smiling again.
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