She saw him again, after almost 20 years.
The last she heard from the grapevine was that he was separated, with a daughter who lived with her mum. Apparently, he wanted to move overseas to advance his career, and his wife didn’t want to.
And now he was back, after 17 long years.
He had changed, a little paunch along the mid-section, a slightly receding hairline, a few crinkles around the mouth and eyes. But his eyes! So soulful and yet with a hint of mischief. They hadn’t changed at all.
She was immediately thrown back in time.
The first time they had crossed each other on the stairs, when she had just joined the company he worked in. The little dance they did, trying to move simultaneously and ending up blocking each other. He had smiled at her, and she was floored!
They kept seeing each other in the cafeteria, but never got to interact until the Company Diwali party. By a stroke of luck, they were paired together in the Mr./ Ms. Company competition. In those few hours, they got to know everything about each other. Infact, they did not leave each other’s side through the entire party. She didn’t even hesitate when he suggested going to this nearby all-night cafe. They continued talking till the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully it was a Sunday. He finally, albeit resultantly, dropped her to her PG.
She could not sleep, thinking about the magical night she had. When he messaged her saying that he can’t sleep either, she suggested going out for a movie. When he held her hands going into the hall, it felt most natural, like their fingers were meant to be together. If someone had asked her what movie they had watched, she would have completely blanked out. So lost was she.
From then on, they were inseparable. He would pick her up everyday, they would have lunch together in the canteen everyday, and then they would go out somewhere till he would drop her at her home late night.
He kissed her the first time, after almost a month of going out. He was dropping her yet again after a movie. She knew there was something going on with him. Throughout the movie, he hadn’t talked much and had kept looking at her intensely. When he leaned in towards her, she met him with equal fervour. As he moved away, he looked at her with sadness in his eyes, “I think I’m in love with you“. Though she did not say anything that night, she knew was in love with him too.
And then, the reality hit her. She could not be with him. The society, their religion, even their own parents would never allow them to get married.
She did not go to the office the next day. That night she messaged him that she doesn’t want to meet him again. He did not reply.
She avoided going to the canteen for the next few days. Then she got the news that he had asked for a transfer to another city, and he had been granted one. He moved away without talking to her.
She got married to a person her parents chose for her. She never fell in love with him though.
She was suddenly jolted to the present as her mobile rang in her hands.
It was her son. “Mumma, where are you? I am waiting“.
She took another look at her lost love and turned away. “I am coming right now, sweetheart.“
She had loved once, and will never be able to do so again.
But she had duties to fulfil.
She could not help but wonder how many other dead souls are living a mechanical life, because the society did not allow their love.