The December wind blew over making him shutter slightly. He hated the wind but today he had no qualms. He gazed into nothing and was very aware of the silence around. His heart beat was rhythmic. And heavy.
"Cry!cry! waaaaahhh!", Sristi laughed dodging away from him.
"You are acting like a kid", he replied trying to catch her.
She laughed again. He thought she was beautiful. There was nothing extraordinary about her except the mysterious aura. A ready smile and eyes full of innocence. The eyes he could stare into for eternal.
"Cry and I will give it back to you ", she said fanning herself with his college certificate.
"Boys don't cry, in case you didn't know", he retorted back.
"Ya right! Macho man!", she flung herself over him, "Congrats! You are an engineer now!". She hugged him tight.
The thoughts made him shutter more. Her softness lingered somewhere on him. He settled on the grass.
"Can we marry? Today?", she asked.
"What??! ", he exclaimed scanning around to see if anything hit her.
"C-A-N ..W-E.. M-A-R-R-Y?", she asked stressing on every word.
"You were alright in the morning. Must be the ice cream," he said.
She was disappointed. He hated to see her like that.
"Don't you think its too early? I mean, I don't even have a job right now. Let me do my Masters and come back quickly. Four years more..no..three..that should be fine. You can wait na?"
"You are going to US and what am I supposed to do here alone?", she asked meekly.
He could see tears brimming in her eyes and nose turn red. 'She is very cute even when she cries'.
"Don't worry, as soon as I get a job , I will send across the tickets. You can join me!", he replied.
"Shut up!", she said softly.
She was irresistibly beautiful.He kissed her.
He closed his eyes for a moment to visualise and feel the tenderness of her lips. He moved his hands in air like he was playing with her hair. For a moment, he forgot he was alone.
He jumped slightly to get a glimpse of the entrance gate.
"Beta, be careful. Study well. Take care of your health. Don't get into the habit of alcohol", his mother listed the do's and dont's.
"Ya amma. I will heed to all that", he replied still looking at the gate.
"Whom are you searching for?", his mother asked , quite annoyed.
"Sristi!", he shouted and waved at her.
She waved back running towards him. She was intimidated by the presence of the whole family but he didn't care. He just hugged her oblivious to the surprise 'aah's and ooh's' in the family.
She blushed. "I got this for you", she handed over four t shirts and two sweaters.
"Beta, you have too much luggage already. Give it to me and I will keep it at home", his mother offered.
Sristi's face saddened.
"No amma, I am carrying it with me. "
He opened the suitcase in the middle of the airport and handed some of his clothes to his mother. He placed her gifts in his bag.
"Amma, I don't need those clothes. I will take hers", he told her. His mother was thoroughly annoyed.
His heart felt heavy. He wondered if his ambitions were wrong. He wondered if he should have ever come to US.His heart beat faster.
"15 missed calls Rahul! You couldn't return even one?", she cried over the phone.
"Very sorry sweetheart. I was very busy with my summer internship. I had to finish off what the professor asked me to do by evening".
"You could spare 5 minutes for me!", she cried again.
"You are too good that if I pick the phone to talk, I just can't put it down in five minutes", he replied.
"You are ever ready with an excuse", she claimed and hung up on him.
He knew she would call back. After ten minutes, phone rang.He picked it.
He smiled. He could never count the number of words he used to flatter her with and the excuses he used to make her happy.He should have been honest with her. He had always felt insecure. He wanted the best for her. He always lived in the fear that he would not be able to give her the best.He was lost in thoughts.
"Rahul, its over", she said.
"Why why why?", he held the phone tightly.
"You have no love for me", she reasoned.
"That is foolish! I am totally crazy about you. I cant live without you", he exclaimed.
"Prove it. Come back to India and speak to my parents. I cant wait any longer.There is so much pressure here that I cant take it. Why dont you ever understand. ?", she choked while she spoke.
"Darling, my semester exams get over by August. I will positively get a job by December. Just wait for another 10 months. Please. I will definitely come back then", he argued in his favour.
"We will just tell them about our relationship. Please. We could postpone everything later but tell them now.", she begged.
"How can I do that? I have no job . I cant do that. Just 10 months please", he held the phone even tighter.
"Please Rahul, I beg you. Lets tell them"
"Sristi.....please...Understand my position too".
"Rahul, its over." He heard a click on the other side. He knew the phone would ring in ten minutes. He hoped.
"What have you done to me?", he thought. He had made several attempts to call her but there was no response. He heard that her marriage was fixed to some other guy putting his 7 years of relationship with her to an end. He didn't want any details after that. There were no plans of visiting India again. Not for now. Her memories haunted and made him lonely.
"Boys don't cry. In case you didn't know", he said softly. He put his head over the knees letting tears take over him.