Posted by Elithraniel Arawion on Sunday, November 23, 2008
From then on, life isn't so bad. I spend my days sneaking a few minutes before and after work to talk to Ajay. At last i have a friend. He teaches me many things. About life, about love, about family.
For months, i learn from him. He slips me few bucks here and then and my savings is considerably large now. I'm scared one day my father will find it and take it away. And i'm also scared about another thing.... I'm falling in love with Ajay. His careless smile, his charm, the way he holds my hand when he wants to say something serious, his hugs, the way he taught me to dance the other day, pulling me close et all; they make me feel things i've never felt before. I want to hold him too.
A few days later, at the restaurant, i see a man and woman kiss. It gives me goosebumps. The rest of the evening i sit in a corner, imagining myself kissing Ajay. It's a worthless fairytale dream. I know. But i can't get over it all the same.
I have decided to tell Ajay how i feel. I'm scared. I still wear the same old dirty pant and shirt when i go to work but i change into what he has bought me when we meet in the evenings. I am wearing a black and white t shirt and blue jeans that he'd got me few months earlier. I try to tame my hair but it isn't working out. I look into my small pocket mirror and decide i look decent. Today will be the day i break my own heart. But i can't help it. It's the risk i need to take.
I wait at the usual place and he cruises in on time, in his fancy car. He is wearing an olive green tee and light blue jeans that are hanging on to dear life on his lean hips. He waves. "What's up buddy", he gives me a hi5. "I need to talk to you", i say. "Sure. Shoot". "I.... Umm... I think i'm falling in love with you", i blurt out.
Uneasy silence follows. I want to die right then. He's going to laugh on my face and tell me that i was a slum girl dreaming of unattainable things. I see his face fall and his jaw drop. A tear seeps through my eye lids. I've never cried before. It's a strange feeling. Half relief and half pain. What a mixture. I see him shake his head and walk away from me. I knew then he'd never return.
5 years have gone by. I still think of him and tears come freely. My parents are still at it. They have now started kicking each other. Improvement, i mutter to myself and walk away everytime it happens. I have changed jobs. I'm now working at a beauty salon and get paid a lot more than i used to. I get around Rs.3000 a month now. My home life is still shitty. My personal life is as lonely as ever.
I walk down the narrow lane to the rented apartment that i now live in. I shifted here since my salary was good enough. It's not much but it gives me a separate room and i stay away from my violent parents. I have realised, as bad mouthed as they are, they need me and i don't complain anymore.
I lose myself in my thoughts and a sudden movement in the sky makes me look up. A shooting star. The pang slices through me like a knife. I walk faster. No more empty wishes. My father was right. Why would god waste his time on a pathetic excuse for a human being like me. As i break into a run, i dash into a passer by. I look up to excuse myself. "Sorr..." The words stop.
The man who made me run is now in front of me. He has grown taller, more muscular. His shirt fits his broad shoulders like it is custom made for him and his trousers stand perfect at his waist. There is no more the air of a laid back teenager. The lines around his eyes have hardened and he is now a man. "Hi", he says and i go back five years. The table. My dirty dress. His 'hi'.
I nod. I don't know if i should say anything. "Remember me?", he asks. I nod again. He seems to gain more confidence and moves closer. "Your looking beautiful tonight". My head snaps up and meets his eyes. I've heard these words a million times in these five years; men trying to court me, trying to get fresh with me, trying to touch me but i've never heard them the way he said it right now.
I find my legs giving way as i try desperately to stay calm and resist the urge of running to him to give him a hug. I stay still. "I'm sorry i went away that evening. I was just 19. I didn't knw what i was doing. All i could think of from that very day was you. I dreamt of the day i'd meet you again. When i finally found the courage to come to you, they said u had moved. I thought you didn't want me in your life and you decided to move on. But i couldn't give up. I searched the entire city and found your place a few months back. I've been watching you. Today, i decided it's time for me to make myself clear. I love you. I made a mistake. If you would give me one more chance, i'll spend my entire life making it upto you".
Uneasy silence again. I look up. The shooting star is right above him. I smile. I know right now that God had indeed taken time off to make my wish come true. But i had to know. "Are you sure?", i ask him. Slowly, he smiles too. The same smile that had made me fall for him. "I've never been more sure of anything in my life". He extends his hand to me. The same way he had, five years ago. I take it and he pulls me to him, wrapping his arms around me. And i have my first kiss after 23 years of nothing but disappointments and regrets. The same way i had imagined kissing him 5 years ago. I pull away and point to the sky....
"Look! There's a shooting star. They say if you make a wish on a shooting star it'll come true. Why don't you try. It worked for me "