"Hey, so how was your first day back from vacation?" she asked trying to conceal the agony in her voice. It was a squally, grey evening. Paper lanterns and banners hanging from the temporary pavilion swayed to the melancholy tune of their forgotten past.
She realized how much she has missed him all these years. His kind eyes, shy smile and their little rendezvous between classes. She wondered if he missed her at all. Probably not. She must be just another friend and this reunion, their final rendezvous.
She marvelled at how time fools us all. Four years passed by and she still could not muster up the courage to tell him how she felt. And then college was over and they went their separate ways.
Now he stood before her, with the same shy smile and those playful creases at the corner of his eyes. For a moment she felt as if nothing has changed. Then a voice calling her name snapped her back to reality. She looked around and realised, EVERYTHING has changed.
They are miles apart now, he started a job in the company he always dreamed of joining. She pursued higher education in a different city. He is just back from vacationing in some island. Everyone was joking that he must have gone with someone since it is one of the best romantic destinations in the world.
She realised that she is a little behind on people's lives. Abstaining from social media has its disadvantages. She remembered deleting her Facebook account just after graduation, when he proposed to his now girlfriend. Those updates in her timeline bothered her. And since then she has not been in touch with anyone from college.
As the years passed though, she looked back at the silliness of it all. It all seemed dramatic to her and she convinced herself that it was a teenage crush, a phase, a fluke. But the habit of abstaining from social media stayed with her.
She bumped into a college friend few months back. And he invited her to this reunion. Here, it seemed that everyone is already caught up with each other's lives. No mystery, no discovery. The appeal of such a reunion was lost to her. But she could not ignore the fact that unlike her, everyone seemed to have figured things out on the personal front.
Now that she has had her fare share of failed relationships, she knew, not being able to express her feelings was a mistake. She would build up things in her head, think about all sorts of unpleasant outcomes and hinder herself from speaking her mind.
This is why throughout college, she repressed her feelings, telling herself that this is just a crush and she will forget him soon.
But here they are, five years later. So much has changed in her life. Men came into her life and went. But memories of time spent with him kept lingering like a lucid dream. It is as if they had this unspoken chord connecting them. Not too intense, but not frail either.
Theirs was a sweet but careful friendship where the space kept filling with words not spoken. She was cautious, maybe too cautious about her feelings and never let him get any hint. May be that is why he never wondered and they spent four years together yet apart. He and his girlfriend got into the same company. So for him, at least, everything went according to plan.
She does not know what else she expected today. Somehow she felt their story never got closure. In real world, first love and college romances barely last. But there is some kind of conclusion to every love story. Theirs sadly remained unspoken. She wondered again if he remembers her at all. She would be happy if he could recall even one thing about their time spent together.
They say you remember the tiniest details about the ones you love. Like she did. She remembered all of his favourite songs that he made her listen. She shared her playlist with him too, but she knows he never got around to it.
She loved this particular song called "Yellow" by Coldplay. She remembers it because that is the song they danced to on their farewell night. He chose the song because it was her favourite and he had heard her humming it all year. It was her secret wish, a dream come true to dance with him that night. Teenage love, how clueless.
Yesterday, for no particular reason, she listened to all the songs from his playlist, over and over again. As if these songs were the only thing connecting her to him. The final string of their invisible chord.
Again she heard her name being called, his girlfriend was beckoning her. She has a rock on her finger. It is sealed then. She knew a little way down the road she would feel happy for him. But not now, not today. Right now, there was this empty feeling in her stomach. She smiled at her idiocy. Looks like life could not obliterate the clueless teenager in her altogether.
She dragged herself and congratulated his girlfriend...fiancee, and turned to congratulate him.
He was standing at the edge of the pavilion, with his back towards her. She took the necessary steps to reach him and placed a hand on his shoulder, faking a smile she had rehearsed countless times. She meant to congratulate but blurted out "Hey, so how was your first day back from vacation?". Knowing she has lost him to someone else, she had to be cautious to conceal the agony in her voice.
He locked eyes with her, his lips broke into that familiar, prepossessing smile and replied "Getting the skull and bones together, for work and things....and its Yellow".
There was a thunder of claps around her and she turned to see that his fiancée was standing with someone else, arm in arm, smiling ear to ear. Yes, she knew this other guy, a senior from college. And everyone was congratulating them for their recent engagement.
He took her hand and whispered something in her ears. May be he said how he searched for her all these years. Or confessed about the night five years ago, when he could not muster up the courage to speak his mind. How he kept listening to her favourite songs all these years, just to feel the warmth of her company. How he promised to not let her go the next time he saw her.
Butterflies fluttered, colours splashed all the while waves lapped into the corners of her mind. They made their way out of the pavilion hand-in-hand. The winds decided to blow with swooshing sounds, drowning the chatter they left behind.
She came for closure but got a beautiful conclusion. And that night she finally understood the lyrics of "Yellow". Only true love can make you feel that the stars really do shine for you.