Everything seemed to have changed for me after that night. It was more of living in a dream, and I wondered how I could make it go on forever. I still remember how surprised I had felt that morning when I realized we had to go back from Golconda. In those few hours, it seemed as if I had never wanted to go anywhere else, as if that perfect moment would continue and nothing could make it get over.
Somewhere inside I feared with the usual ‘what ifs’. When everything goes like what we have imagined, there is an unexplained anxiety, a fear of seeing things go wrong. Lucky are those who never experience it, but I was not the one among those few lucky people. Back to that time, I wish to relive some moments; though they have brought sufferings as well.
It was 5 A.M. when I realized I had spent the whole night, by his side, without saying anything. It was not so difficult to say something, but I did not want to spoil the mesmerizing feeling that had come to me, by using words that did not matter. He was all that mattered around me. I was drowned into his feeling completely.
I had never wanted to fall in love, and there I was, finding myself in the love that had suddenly made me open the doors of my heart to someone whom I had barely known. I didn’t know why I had done that; but then love is actually always unexplained.
I’ve never understood how people can give reasons for loving someone. It happens unknowingly. There are no reasons for falling for someone, and if anyone tries to explore them, that one is surely fooling oneself by something, that can’t be love.
I had closed my eyes, hiding myself in his arms, embraced by him. He had held my hand for that long, and that touch seemed so known to me, as if it was always meant to be that way. I had not even wanted to go anywhere else. When the breeze touched my face, I felt lucky to be there with him. It was soothing, and somehow everything about that night, got connected to him.
My heart had been so close to his, that I did not feel my own heartbeat. They had blended and I could hear that one sound of both the hearts beating together. There was no other sound than our breathing, and I heard them in a synchronized manner. Such was the beauty of that night.
I opened my eyes. He was looking at me. Although I blushed a lot, but I looked into those soft black eyes. He had tears in his eyes too. I did not want to tell him that, but I wanted to make him smile and do anything for that one smile on his innocent face. I took his hand in mine and entangled my fingers into his.
He held me closer and whispered into my ears, “Mishti, don’t worry”.
He had read my eyes too just like I had read his. I did not know what to say but I wanted to tell him that he was all I wanted.
“I won’t Aryan”, my throat had a lump of fear,” Till you are with me”.
“I will be there”, he said softly and I closed my eyes again. Somehow, only listening to his words seemed like a music to my ears. I opened my eyes and saw him coming closer to me. I closed my eyes again. He kissed my forehead and let go of my hand.
I did not want to open my eyes again, but I knew we had to go. I looked at him again and got up. He got up too. Neither of us wanted to leave, though.
“Good morning”, I said to him, smiling. His eyes seemed to smile at me. Yes, it was a morning after all for me. I came back to my room.
I was not feeling sleepy for sure. I was wondering if I had just got up from a dream. I sat in amazement for what had happened. I wondered how he felt. I wondered if I should have talked to him about it. I wondered how I had been so lucky.
I was interrupted by Ratna’s sleepy voice, “Is it morning Mishti?”
“Yeah, now it is morning”, I replied thinking about him.
“What time did you get up?” she asked opening her eyes.
“Some time back.…”, I lied, “ Good morning. Get ready now. We have to visit some more places and then…leave from here“, I added after a pause.
“ Yeah good morning. Are you okay?” she looked at me confused.
“Of course”, I replied looking away from her. I carried a secret in my heart which I did not want to share with anybody.
She still gazed at me. Not being able to make out anything, she got up at last.
The day went in visiting some historical galleries over there. I was fascinated by the atmosphere around me, but I was still into the aura of the previous night. At the back of my mind, I was still outside that room, beside him.
He was accompanied by Mr. Rao and some batchmates. In between, he often looked at me, and I couldn’t help blushing at the instance he did, and looked away from him to seem normal. I didn’t know if it was normal or not, but having accepted the love between us made it a little scary and embarrassing to face one another.
Our journey back to Hyderabad was different from what it had been when we’d travelled to Golconda. Ratna was unaware of what had happened between me an Aryan, but she could sense that something had happened. I often saw her looking at me from the corner of her eyes when I looked out of the window. She did not say anything but she had probably understood it.
Aryan often looked back at us and kept talking to her about the tour, trying to glance at me, and so did I, although I couldn’t stop smiling.
We reached Hyderabad around 8 at night. The bus left us back in the college campus. Everybody had to leave for their respective places from there. Ratna had already left with her brother. I was wondering whether I should wait for my father to take me from there or I should leave by some other means, when I heard his voice from behind.
“Are you alone for your locality?”
“Yeah, but may be I can wait for dad to come and take me, or probably get some other means to go back home”, I replied looking at the ground.
“It is getting late. You might not get some conveyance for your area. Plus, it will not be safe to wait for him over here”, he said looking at me, “If you don’t have a problem, I can drop you home”, he said after a pause,” If you want, that is”, he added.
I looked up at him. I wondered about it. I thought it would have been my oversmartness if I had denied it.
“Okay. I don’t have a problem”, I finally said. He started walking with me outside the campus.
“Phew! Thank you miss Sengupta”, he laughed. I looked at him surprised.
“What happened?”, he asked, confused.
“Ummm…actually, will it be okay for you if you call me by my first name. I like that more”, I replied, saying the last four words, looking away from him.
He stopped, took a hold of my hand. I turned around, looking at him.
“I like that too. Getting to hear my first name in your voice, Mishti. And why can’t you say that looking at me?”, he asked.
I continued looking into those soft black eyes, as if mesmerized by his spell. His face was too close to mine, and I could feel his breath on my eyes.
I closed them, smiled and said, “You know it is obvious Aryan”.
He hid me in his arms. “You behave like an innocent child sometimes, and I love that too. I love everything about you. Actually I love you”, he said stressing on the last ‘you’ more.
“I love you too. I am blessed that you fell in love with me”, I whispered to him.
He held my hand and I didn’t ask him to leave it. We walked till the road appeared to us. It was getting cold. The chill was more than the previous night. The breeze seemed to touch my face reaching my soul, and the best part was that he was near me.
I don’t know whether the reason was his love or his presence, but that chill seemed to bring an unexplained warmth to me. Yes, that chill didn’t scare me. It was more beautiful than any other kind of weather, that I felt had come for me, to feel the bliss with my eyes closed, in that silence.
“Are you feeling cold?”, he asked me as I opened my eyes.
“No, it is beautiful, not chilly”, I replied, smiling at him.
“I thought the same, but so are you”, he winked at me.
I blushed and looked away, smiling at his words.
We got a bus for my place thankfully, though I would have loved to keep walking with him forever.
We did not speak much on the way. In between, though, he asked me questions about my experiences of travelling in Hyderabad earlier. I didn’t know if that was natural or an attempt to hide what he felt because probably he too felt a little shy.
I have always wondered why people tend to lose on words with the one they really love. Every moment would be spent thinking about the loved one, missing their presence. There is so much to be told about everything that is felt. But on being faced in reality, at times like those, there are no words. It is either silence or small talk about random things that occupies the time. Once that time is gone, we miss to go back and say all that we couldn’t.
Though I seem to be saying so much about this, I had been similar to every other person in love. He still said at least something, but it was so hard for me to face him and say anything that I felt. Though, I could easily write it on a lifeless piece of paper. It seemed easier to me.
We reached my stop in about half an hour. There was silence all around as we stepped down from the bus.
“Will you accompany me upto my place?”, I asked him.
“I was going to do that any way”, he replied.
“Was that needed?”
“No, it wasn’t. It is just habitual”, I giggled.
“Not with me. Not any more”, he smiled. I smiled back, “I’ll remember that”.
I opened the gate and knocked at the door, which was already opened. Timothy came barking outside. I wondered how it had spent two days without me. As Timothy licked my bag, I caressed its back with my hands.
“Seems like somebody missed you more”, Aryan winked at me.
“This somebody is the one I love the most in the world”, I replied looking at Timothy.
“The most?”, he asked trying to look sad.
“One of those few I love the most, actually”, I laughed, “But do you think you are also one of those few?” I teased him.
“I am pretty sure about it miss Mishti”, he stopped laughing and looked into my eyes.
I looked away from him, smiling.
“Mom, I am back!”, I shouted from outside, “And look who is here?”
My mother came outside and looked at both of us.
“I am so glad you are back. We missed you a lot you know. I was getting worried why you hadn’t called to be picked up from the college”, she said embracing me.
“Actually I got a company till here”, I corrected my sentence, “I was alone in college till the time I would have waited, so he dropped me home mom, you know Aryan…..sir”, I added the ‘sir’ that had suddenly vanished from the context.
“That’s so nice of him. Come inside both of you. It is very cold out there”, she said.
“Thank you so much Aunty, but it is getting late for me as well. I will surely visit you some other time”, he replied.
“I would have liked if that other time was now, but since it is late, I won’t insist. Better visit us soon”.
“Sure Aunty. Good night”.
“Good night dear”, my mother replied.
I accompanied him to the gate, while he was trying to control his smile.
“What happened now?”, I asked him, raising an eyebrow.
“I thought it is not cold outside, it is beautiful”, he laughed.
“It is Mr. Over smart, but you better keep that to yourself”, I tried to frown at him.
“Call me sir, miss Junior”, he tried to sound arrogant.
“Never when alone”, I laughed.
“Very rude of you miss Sengupta”, he looked at my expressions, “Mishti”.
“Good night Aryan”, I said looking at him.
“Good night dear”, he replied taking my hand in his for a second.
He walked away. I saw him going. I kept standing there till his image disappeared into a turn on the other side. It was as if his feeling remained with me. The way he looked at me, the way he smiled at me, the way he held my hand, the way he came closer, the way he teased me, the way I felt his breath, the way he whispered into my ears, or the way he embraced me. Everything remained, with me. It still remains, even though it shouldn’t any more.
The days that followed were not less than a dream for me. My days started with Aryan at college, Ratna in my classroom, the two of them with me in lunch breaks, their jokes, Aryan with both of us during our extra assignments, and again Aryan at the end of the day at college.
Ratna seemed to enjoy with both of us. We three had become the best of friends out there. She always pulled my leg about him and did the same with him too. He somehow managed to throw the leg pulling back at her, but I couldn’t stop smiling.
Be it our combined treats for little moments of joy or our Sundays out in the city, it was the three of us being together everywhere. Of course, there were so many days when it was just me and him. The memorable days for me forever.
But there was nothing more than that. We never went out officially as a couple. Not that we couldn’t, but it seemed very stupid to both of us walking outside like many others, trying to spend time in materialistic aspects. We did not want to spend time with each other, instead we wanted to be together. We wanted to steal time naturally from whatever came in our share.
Even on birthdays or festivals, we were always awesome threesome, either at my place or at a restaurant. He talked to me through his soft black eyes, and I knew how to talk through silence. Ratna, of course never tried to interrupt in that sweetly innocent silent conversation.
Most of all, both of them had become so friendly with my family, that they were invited specially, if they didn’t visit us for more than a week. More than me, my parents and Timothy, enjoyed the company of Ratna and of course the wonderful person I loved.
He was like a necessity for me. I couldn’t imagine a day without him. He had become the reason for my existence, and I was lucky that he felt the same. I had heard that it was rare that people were loved by the same one they fell in love with; and I felt blessed that I was one of those people.
He brought the wonderful person inside me out to the world. He knew my strengths, my weaknesses, my dreams, my wishes. We used to talk about everything we felt, be it politics, religion, childhood, aspirations after college, our batch mates, Ratna, Timothy, anything and everything.
He loved to sing for me especially when we were alone, and I used to write for him, all that I felt, most of all what I couldn’t say to him, out of my shyness. I used to write everything for him whenever I wanted.
I couldn’t imagine him singing for anybody else, and he often used to say, “You write so much for me Mishti, I wish I could give it back to you in a similar way”, and I used to reply, “Nobody can sing for me so beautifully other than you. Even I can’t”, and he used to embrace me when he heard that.
The days went by, the seasons went by, and so did two years, as if in a flash of a second, I feel, but it was all the same. The same with the three of us, the same around me, the same at home, and the same between me and him.
It seemed there was nothing more required for me. I needed just this to go on. But it couldn’t go on always.
It was the second week of May, the farewell for our senior batch, for him. Our batch had planned it to be a grand farewell for our seniors. I was excited about it too, but somewhere at the back of my mind, I was scared too.
It would be the end of so many things. Though, I had one more year left at college, and everything would be the same. Same batchmates, same college, same family, same city, and even Ratna; yet he would not be there. And that would make the most difference.
That night was the last one when we had been together, that way or in any way. The three of us, and both of us too. I cannot forget the bliss I had felt for the last time, when he had been near me.
He had embraced me as I loved to when I cried like a small child and said, “Do you think staying away would bring any difference?”, looking into my eyes.
“May be not, but so many things would get over”, I looked into his eyes too.
“So many things would be over. That’s life, but this one thing between you and me won’t be over. Do you believe that?”, he asked holding my hand.
“I believe everything you say”, I had said hiding in his arms.
“Then nothing would change ever. I will be there”, he had kissed my forehead for the last time that night. Though, I knew he was going to Delhi for his aspirations, and I had mine too, but I feared to lose him. I had a premonition that was the last time I was with him that way.
“I will write to you often, and of course we will talk. You too study for the scholarship you want. It is important you see, and there won’t be anything wrong. I love you”, he had said for the last time.
“I will”, I had replied through my tears, “and I love you too, very much, more than I have ever told you”.
“I know that dear”, he had said and left that night. Left forever, for me , as I feared.