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Saturday, October 15, 2016

'Jab we met' to 'Ab we met' !

He stood in my path, blocking me,  as I was rushing along the street.  Daring me to walk past. 

Mighty irritated, I looked up.   The face stared at me.  

The face - a mature one.. the hair sparse... the eyes - tired.. and yet there was that sparkle.. of a mischief...a challenge.  .  A soft smile played on those dark lips. 

 It took me a moment to shake myself out of the thoughts that crowded my mind and focus on that face.

It was HIM.

"Hiii!, .......Hello! "..

I could manage only this much.

I was a mess. Always incapable of saying the right things, at the right time !!

 what was I feeling??

Well, it had taken me a couple of seconds to place the face. and from then on, it was a jumble of emotions. Shock, surprise,  joy, sadness....  

Having croaked the 'Hi!',  no more words spilled from my mouth  .I went silent.  All those evenings spent reminiscing  the times  "Jab we (had) met", visualizing and practicing for "Jab we'd meet" ,  yet , when the moment of reckoning  had  finally arrived, I had forgotten my lines.  

What I didn't forget however, was to curse myself for not looking my best. 

Today of all days!!! 

Here I was, the silver   showing in my hair. the green of my dress not  really complimenting me....

My eyes and my lips were displaying a mismatch in emotions..

The mouth hurt from the tight smile.. the eyes - they were spilling over with tears..

It had really been too long.  Too many years.

As  I stared at him.   the 6 months when we had  known each other,  the 6 months,  when I had fallen in love with him, the 23 years where not a day had passed without a  thought of him, ........the memories came rushing back..... the joyous ones, the heartbreaking ones....every one of them....

I could almost hear the crickets of that night when he had told me of his impending marriage . 

I could almost  hear the  buzz of the Avantika express as it whizzed by when I had entered the railway station, on my way home.  It had  helped  release my  tears while I pretended,  the speeding train had gotten the dust in my eyes.

And here he was now... 23 years later. 

"How have you been?", I heard myself ask him.

' Did you  think of me at all?   All these years?   Did you ever wish that it  should have been me by your side?  Wondered?   And today??  Now?  What are you feeling?    Talk to me..Tell me !! '  These are words, I speak in my mind, of course!

I look at him.  I take in the gray in his hair, the speckled beard,  the eyebrows. I take in the crow's feet near his crinkling smiling eyes...And yet for me, he is the lanky 27 year old,  I once knew. 

Hmmm !

'Now that we have met, met once again, what do I do with him?', I say to myself

I had  loved him too much to let go of him now with the perfunctory  'Hello ' and a 'How are you ?'

I love myself too much to probe  more.

He is not helping matters with his silence!

Honestly,  I love his silence as he quietly looks at me. I dread a flippant comment.....even as an icebreaker.

"I have thought of you often".  " Even today when I walk down the streets we once walked  together , my eyes well up and I come back with a throbbing headache"  The words form in my mouth ...No, I don't say them aloud.

My eyes really mist up .  And as I stand there, I wonder...

Had it been  love? Or just the immense attraction, he had admitted to ?

Both of us have had a good life, since.   I can say that about myself for sure.

And yet, the yawning gap between what had happened  and what hadn't,  had often left me wondering about what could have, what might have!