(This is a story that I wrote for Times of India Newspaper.Though It didn’t win any prize,I wanted to share it with everyone)
It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.
Inside the airport, in the waiting area there were much more people than there should have been, the flights were delayed. My flight was supposed to leave at 9:30. I checked the time in my watch; it was 6:50 am. I had reached earlier than I had thought I would, and the flights were now delayed by almost 2 hours.
It crossed my mind that I had enough time to do something, as my flight was rescheduled. So I sat in a corner with a cup of coffee and my best friends, my diary and pen.
It had been a long time since I had written something about my life. My busy schedule did not give me time to write like I used to. I loved writing so for the next couple of hours I was lost amongst words, gathering my scattered thoughts like I always did while writing.
I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend Varun’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch-mates.
But what I did not know was that the reunion was going to begin much ahead of time; in the queue right in front of the airlines’ counter.
I was almost sure it was her. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.
“Tara” I whispered under my breath.
Our eyes met, she walked towards me with a smile, it was this smile that made me fall for her, it was this smile that I had once wished to see for the rest of my life, it was this smile that I did not want to see any longer.
“Aakash! How are you?” She said as we shook hands, she was still smiling, she looked happy to see me and it wasn’t awkward for her as it was for me.
Her touch, her voice, her smile, a wave of memories hit me when we me and I felt as though my voice was lost inside me.
“I am good Tara, how are you? “ I said after a long pause.
“Great, what could happen to me?” She said.
Yes what could have happen to her, she had left me, when I loved her, I wanted her love for the rest of my life. But she had her own dreams; she wanted to achieve many great things in her life. All she wanted was to be successful, she was passionate and I loved the thing about her. But in her journey ahead, I wasn’t with her!
“I need to collect my boarding pass.” I told her.
What could I tell her after all these years? That her leaving me had almost killed me?
She waited for me as I collected the boarding pass, and we walked together to board the plane.
We had different seats in the airplane and I was glad about it, I wasn’t ready to face her yet.
As the plane took off, I was taken by the memories of Tara.
We were college best friends, I remember the first time we met, she was funny, focused and fierce, and she was the one who wasn’t afraid to let her emotions out.
It was 16th of July 2008, my diary still has a page full of things written on it, she had come to tell me how beautiful my poem was and this was the first time I had noticed her.
“Oh, by the way, I’m Tara Shetty!” She Said and moved her hand forward for a handshake.
“I’m Aakash Sharma.” I said as we shook hands.
“I know that, I love reading and the way you have written the poem, I’m simply amazed.” She had a spark in her eyes.
“Thank you, would you like to read some more over a cup of coffee? “ I asked her.
“Of course, coffee sounds perfect with reading poems” her voice reflected enthusiasm.
In the cafeteria, I watched her as she read, she had a beautiful voice, my emotions synced in with her voice
And we spoke and spoke after that, it felt as though I knew her since a long time, I discovered that; she liked reading and I liked writing, we both were in love with words.
In a few weeks we grew inseparable, we used to always be with each other.
Engineering would have never been so much fun if she wasn’t with me, we studied together, sat together in the class and mess, she became my best friend, she wasn’t like other girls. She was elegant and good looking and intelligent, there was a long list of guys who had tried to impress her, but she never let them come close to her.
“People think I’m being friends with you because you’re intelligent “I told her one night when we were studying.
“People think too? I thought everyone in engineering colleges is pretty focused on their studies” her sarcasm was hard to beat.
“I thought you were the sky and I was your favourite star in it.” She added this time touching my facing.
“Yes, you are Tara.” I said looking into her eyes.
And eventually after two months, it was her and not me who finally confessed.
“I Love you”, we were sitting in the garden of our college when she had come close to me and whispered in my ear.
I loved her too, my day started with her and ended with her, I dreamt of her every night, her beautiful face came in front of my eyes.
“I Love you too” I said, touching her beautiful face, and kissed her lips, they were soft and fragile.
Three and a half years of college passed by in the wink of an eye,my parents knew about Tara and they were happy after hearing about their son liking someone.
Tara had supported me in every obstacle I faced. It was as though we faced it together.
“She’ll leave after college gets over.” Varun who was sitting beside me in the graduation ceremony said.
“We all will leave college after it’s over Varun, in fact our college is over now, we all have a good job and we can start our own lives now.” I explained.
“She has other plans Aakash, she wants to be a free bird and achieve a lot more, this has been her motto since Day-1 of college, you aren’t important to her.” His voice was serious now and it made me afraid.
“Akash Sharma”, my name was called by the announcer and the conversation with Varun was left incomplete.
But what Varun had said, distracted me and throughout the graduation ceremony I wondered what if Varun’s words turn out to be true?
When I finally met Tara during the farewell party that afternoon, I couldn’t wait.
“You’re leaving me?” my voice was loud.
“There’s no other choice you know that!” she shouted back.
“Why can’t it be?…
What about me?…What about us?…I Love You…Tara, don’t go,” my vision got blurred and I choked!
“It’s all over, it had to be, I have bigger dreams to achieve, I’m leaving for Canada in an hour, I’ll miss you and don’t wait for me Akash, I won’t come back; Goodbye.”
She had no tears in her eyes or guilt in her voice, it felt as if she had no respect for me, all the care she portrayed for me was just a sham, she fooled me, I wasn’t important to her!
Her voice echoed in my ears, every night, I hadn’t eaten or slept for days, it was hard to accept that she had gone, I cried a hundred nights, I had no way to contact her. All our friends were clueless too and she neither responded on social networking sites.
Each time I saw her in my dreams, it felt as though it was real; they were no longer the same, they were nightmares. The agony had grown with time and everything had come to a standstill.
In the middle of the flight, Tara asked the passenger next to me if he could exchange seats with her.
She was the one who spoke,nothing had changed except for the fact that she was healthiernow.She lived a perfect life,with a rich husband and two kids.
“So how’s life? You’re a successful man now!”She asked me.
“Its good” I replied hesitantly.
“Aakash, I know it’s not right.Buy,I’ve missed you every single day since I left for Canada, I cheated on you,He is rich.But, I was wrong, No one can love me like you did and I wish to have you back in my life.” Her words felt like a hole that was punched in my chest.
She had cheated on me and she wanted to do it again. I had wished to be with her; she betrayed me, She wasn’t a loyal person .But now the tables had turned, the damage had already been done.
I did not want her back, it was wrong to do so. All these years I had made me empty and lonely,but I still knew what was right and what wasn’t.
“I’m now an empty dark sky, Tara and you’re a lost star, even if falling stars grant wishes, your wish will always remain a wish.” that’s all I could tell her.
Our plane had landed and she was bleak and lifeless after listening to me. We walked out of the airport together more like strangers, no dialogue, we had nothing to speak and all through the wedding even though we encountered each other several times, none of us spoke, I was happy to see my friends and go back into the past I had with them, the lovely times of our college.
I was nostalgic when I saw the fireworks show at Varun’s wedding. Up in the sky, colours of the sparkling fireworks were signifying the start of two lives together and the galaxy of stars adding to its elegance. But that one star I had always been searching for was yet invisible, perhaps it was a star that I once loved, and now lost without any regrets.