Aryan stood there by the street light, at the junction where he first held her with his arms, offering her everything he could ever possibly do. He swore he wouldn’t let go of her right there as she kissed him on the cheek and almost shed a tear. He could sense the turmoil brewing inside her. She wasn’t confused; she was afraid. She was afraid that it would all repeat. Although she knew Aryan was different, it didn’t matter; her past had scarred her for eternity. Aryan had accepted that and he admired her for who she was.
Prarthana hugged him with all the force she could muster and she cried out to him about what she was worried about.
“I’m scared Aryan.” she whimpered.
Aryan tried to catch a glimpse of Prarthana whose face was buried in his chest. That was the first time they had hugged. They were standing at a junction at the corner of a busy street, as people went by glaring at them. Aryan didn’t care. He was someone who always cared about what other people thought about him, and he made sure he was always aware of his image in the environment he was in. What he was doing then could not be done by Aryan at all, and yet, he was there, holding her and stroking her hair and kissing the top of her head. All of a sudden, he didn’t care that hundreds of people were glaring at them. All he cared about was her, and that she was scared. He kissed the top of her head one more time, then held her hand and almost whispered to her.
“I’m never going to let go of your hand.” He said, as they both looked at the pair of hands dancing around together.
“And I’m not just saying that. Believe me. I look at you, and I feel like I can move mountains. You are someone to be cherished, not forgotten. You are someone who should be loved, not discarded. You are someone who deserves every good thing in the world, and I know that well enough to not care about anything else right now, except tell you that.” he let go of her hand and hugged her again knowing that she wasn’t convinced.
“Prarthana, I know I have no evidence to give to you right now. However, these things don’t require evidence; you just take the plunge. That’s why they ask you to have faith in people. If I turn out to be a jerk, then yes, you will be hurt. You will be hurt for a long time and then you’ll forget me. However, if I’m not a jerk, if I’m the right person to be with you, then that will be the best thing ever for the both of us.” He said and let out a smile, as if imagining what that world would be like.
Prarthana just stood there and carefully listened and gauged. They both knew that once they gave in to these feelings they had for each other and made a commitment, there would be no turning back. That wasn’t scary to either of them.
“I know Aryan. I know. I’m not saying you would hurt me. I can’t help it. I have these two voices in my head. One that tells me that I need to take this plunge for all the right reasons, and the other that tells me to stay where I am. The past that I’ve had has made the latter voice a lot louder, that’s all.” she said, almost lost in the dilemma. It was clear from her face that the turmoil she was in wasn’t a choice that she had made. It was who she had become over time. It was who she was at the moment. She was completely aware of this second voice in her head, but she just chose to ignore it because the voice was what gave her strength to survive after the fall she had taken a couple of years ago. That voice had saved her. And that voice did not know what it was killing now.
“That’s why I’m asking you to have faith in me, Prarthana. Am I saying that our relationship would be all sunshine and rainbows? No. I’m saying that we will have our ups and downs. There will be hardships that we might have to face together. I’m not denying that. I’m just saying that I will be there with you through that. I will not leave. Not for anything. I will fight. No matter what.” He said and looked at her sternly. She knew he meant all of it. She knew that he would be there for her and not betray her. And she still knew she couldn’t get rid of that voice telling her to not do this. No, it was not something that she had to get over. It was a part of her now.
They both hugged again, their eyes open, and gazed the people walking past them. Each of them thought about their own worries. Her about what to decide, and him trying to figure out how to get her to understand, for he could not let go of this wonderful thing that he had with him.
Aryan pressed in his headphones against his ears, as he stood at the same place he stood when he hugged her back then and had the conversation that he’d never forget in his life. He stood there and pictured her in front of him. He had come a long way from the last time he had stood there, talking to her. He had fallen in love with her. He stood there, shedding a tear and he hoped that she would show up too for it was their anniversary had they chosen to remain together. Aryan never bothered so much about annual events – birthdays, anniversaries, first date anniversary or whatever that they celebrated these days. He understood why they did it. He would do all of those with her as well, but he couldn’t. She wasn’t there anymore. He didn’t know what she was doing at that moment. She had shunned him aside after a series of events that would deny them of their relationship no matter what the scenario.
He stood there and he listened to the music that always played when they went out on their dates – The man who can’t be moved, by The Script.
The song said – “If she changes her mind, this is the first place she would go.”, so he stood at that place where she would go if she changed her mind. He knew she wouldn’t be there, but he showed up nonetheless. Deep down, he wanted her to be there.
He knew she wasn’t the most important thing in his life. He had an amazing job, a great family that loved him, a few friends who understood him perfectly and loved him too. He had a great sense of purpose in his life too, so he knew he was going places. He just wanted this one thing to go like how he wanted. He wanted to be with her. He knew that whatever transformation he had seen was all because of her. Their love was mature enough to last for a long time if not for what had happened.
He had tried a myriad of things to get her out of his head. Nothing had worked. He was still there, struck by her awe, and still loved her with all his heart and always wished the best for her. He even called her friends to genuinely check up on her, which eventually turned out to be a request to meet her; and that was unintentional, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
He recollected everything that had happened that had brought him there. It was terrible. He remembered his panic attacks that he started to have once he realized he was helpless, he remembered her walking away from him as she let go of his hand for one last time. She had wiped his tears off his face, telling him not to cry. He remembered the last time he had kissed her. She had put on his jacket as it protected her from the rain. It was too large for her and that looked absolutely adorable to him and he couldn’t resist and kissed her. He went close to her face, and waited there, not kissing her; he did that for her to approve of the kiss in an intimate manner. Little had he known that it would be the last one ever.
That sidewalk was the first time they confessed how they really felt about each other. The first time they were completely vulnerable.
Now, she was all but a piece of memory. Reality had hit him hard. He had been truly heartbroken and there was nothing he could do about it.
“Perhaps ‘okay’ would be our ‘always’ “ she had told him once, quoting “Fault in our stars”. He absolutely loved her for every little thing she was. He did find her flaws annoying and he wished he could take it all away, but they were part of her and he eventually found those flaws to be amusing and he supported her through those moments when she was feeling destroyed because of those flaws.
“You be the CEO. That is your job. I’ll be there by your side, okay?” he remembered her telling him when they were talking about their dreams and aspirations. He was a beast with all the other people, but with her, he melted. He could be an absolute child and she would love him for it. She brought out the best in him. She brought out what he never knew existed in him. It was because of this he had a hard time forgetting her; a hard time to fall out of love with her.
How does someone do that? Fall out of love? I can’t!
His phone suddenly rang. It was his mother who was calling him. She thought he was still at work.
“Aryan, you do know that you have to be at the airport in 3 hours, right?” his mother said into the phone. He knew. That was why he was there by the junction, hoping that he would get to see her for the last time before he went to England for the rest of his career. He hoped he would see her and change her mind if he got the chance.
However, fate had other plans for him. He had to go home and then get to the airport, from where he would enter a new life, with new people, and new experiences to behold.
A tear broke out and fell on the junction, as he moved away from there picturing the ghosts of the two of them hugging and expressing their love for each other. He left that place, but the emotion of what that place represented would always come back to haunt him. He wished the best for her and cried on his way back home in the car. He thought about Prarthana and what she might be doing at that moment.
She slowly looked out, towards the night sky, filled with stars and she hoped that he would think about her too.
Reality hit them both as their lives began to diverge, never to meet again. Once, they were one, and now, they began their journey to become separate entities with different, non-intersecting lives. Two people who were once bound together by love, now got ready to move away; both by heart and by geographical terms. Their lives would never meet again, for reality had struck.