He was waiting very patiently at the new terminal of Kolkata Airport. Though he looked patient, he was trembling from inside. It’s been ten years he saw her. And when he had, they were only in high school. Together. Now that’s a term unfamiliar to him since long. He’s been single, committed, married, divorced, complicated and much more in all these years.
He knew she always loved him. ‘Always’ though, began when they were entering their teens. Lectures in classroom were interrupted by tiny scribbles passed via friends. He enjoyed the attention, liked her eagerness to sit beside him in Mathematics class, was glad to help her with Economics problems. But, he didn’t love her. Not like the way she did. Crossing the eternal friend vs lover hurdle, they never had a relationship as such.
Much water passed under the bridge, she went away to study. Hurt, perhaps. In fact, he was certain she felt hurt. He went on in life, got married. She kept tabs on him from a distance. She still loved him. Why, that she failed to understand yet. Men came and went away from her, but none were like him. She remembered the way he looked in high school, sporting a light stubble, pretending to be all mature and grown up. She liked him that way too.
Things have changed now. She heard from friends that he was divorced. She wanted to see him again. Not ‘see him’ seriously, just see him once, the way friends do. She had applied for a job in Kolkata and got it too. Now came the chance to see him. And he agreed too. Who knew he still remembered her, considered her a friend.
She landed. As he had anticipated, she looked beautiful. She was, anyway. He wondered why he never fell in love with her while others did. His heart was fluttering. Is that something only to happen with women? She arrived at the lounge. Her eyes took a few moments to locate him. He still sported a stubble, no, a beard in fact.
She noticed that he looked tired. And a little old, exhausted, heckled. She decided to ask him to shave, and get rid of not only the beard, but the past. The same bitter past that had aged him beyond his years.
They might get together. They mightn’t. But she’d make sure he steps out of the past and lives. Again.