(On Somebody’s Demand)
I liked him. A lot. As a friend. As the boy who sat in the last bench and yet managed to dig up some pretty good scores. As the boy who was loved by all; desired by all; dreamt by all. I liked stopping by his class to steal a glance. I liked talking to him. I liked scrolling up numerous Facebook conversations and reading them over and over again. I liked him.
At first, back in those high school days which now roll by in a soft, nostalgic tone with a tint of grey, I liked him. That was all it was.
But then one day, I fell deeper. I found myself lost. I started wondering if he liked talking to me all the same or not. I started questioning myself whether he cared about me the way I did. I started to delve deeper and care about how he looked at me. Whenever he did, I wondered if the stories he held were true. I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t stop myself.
Then, what mesmerized me, what kept me on my toes, what made me smile giddily for no absolute reason – was not him, but the idea of who we could be.
I was in love, or so I think. To this day, I still look for something that can convince me that that wasn’t love.
Over the years, something changed – as it happens in every story round the world. Something snapped. Some feeble hope that I catered in a lone corner of my heart, withered away with the sands of time. Before I could fully realize what was happening, we were drifting far away. The Cheshire cat grins were mingling into confused frowns. Heartbreaks were no longer literal; they drew blood. Sleepless nights merged into lonely days.
I never thought that I’d be this girl – someone who cared too much; someone who felt something so strongly. I kept telling myself that this would be different.
Oh, how wrong was I!
So here I sit today, inside the very coffee shop that entraps memories of the times we spent together.
The grey and gloom outside the faintly lit café reflects my mood. Drops of crystal, clear rain slide down the glass in a painfully slow stance, painting distorted images of the world outside. Cars speed by with blaring horns, casting reflections that glisten like undiscovered orbs of light entrapped in illusions.
The red walls and chestnut tables don’t catch my interest. Nor does the aroma of ground coffee beans grunting in the old coffee machine. The squeaking of sneakers and click of heels don’t break my oblivion. How can they when you are sitting right next to me!
With another girl, though.
I look at both of your reflections on the misted window glass. It is rather surprising of how clearly I can make out your smiles, yet I can’t trace the cars that roam right outside the window. Why, windows were made to look at the outside world! Did they sometimes reflect the inside as well?
For the first time in my life, I decide to order my coffee entirely black, just the way you liked it.
I hope you notice when the chirpy waitress places the cup in front of me. But you don’t. You are smiling at her, trying to make her feel better, while I’m crumbling deep inside.
You are whispering sweet dreams of everlasting happiness to her, while I’m desperately wishing you’d turn and look at me.
But you don’t.
My vision is hazy. Perhaps, it is not you. Else you’d have noticed. Or did you move on? Quicker than my scars healed?
I push away the cup of coffee and stand up quietly. I walk away. Behind me, you push away a strand of her hair and look into her eyes and fall in love. How I wish you’d look at me again and fall deeper in love this time! Your smiles are deafeningly louder. I’m blinking back tears as I walk, rather run faster.
We are both strangers now. Nobody ever told that people who had been in love could become this. Then again, nobody ever told me that people change and you’ve to let go.
Now I realize that these things needn’t be told
You’ve to learn them.
As I climb back into my jeep and watch you flashing her a wink, I don’t feel the same pang again. For I’m starting to let go of the thread that I had been holding for long – the one that you left, long ago.