“I’m here for the class photograph. And you?” I asked.
“Me too. My name’s Akila.”
She said, swinging her hands forward and backwards. The grey school uniform looked perfect on her. She had hair like a little boy of her age and eyes, wide like skies. Her voice was low but sweet like candy.
“C’mon children, it’s our turn.” The teacher called out. She ran towards her and stood in a line with her classmates. We were in the same kindergarten class but I was from a different section. I looked at her running, taking short leaps and racing towards the stairs when I was in my line, standing stiff for my class photograph. I didn’t know what love was back then but this feeling was different.
Nine years later, I was standing outside my class near the staircase, listening to some blabber my friend was blurting out. Bored as hell, I looked to my left, that’s when she came up the stairs and walked her way past me. There wasn’t any feeling between us. We hardly recognized each other.
Four years later, we exchange our numbers through mail and start texting. She rarely gives any reply and when she does, it’s an ‘ok’ or ‘hmm’. Surprisingly, it never annoyed me.
Another year later, “I board my college bus at the stop opposite to the temple.” She texts. I convinced her that I’ll be meeting her the next morning. My heart was pounding. I was going to meet her, finally.
How does she look now? Will she talk to me or will she ignore me?
A thousand similar senseless questions in my head. The time has come. I got down my bus to see a short young lady standing all alone in her bus stop looking straight, motionless. I walked to her, trembling. Where did all my courage go? “Uhh.. hi, did you recognize me? We went to, uh… School together. My, uh, name is Bharath.” I muttered. She took the scarf off her face, slowly as if she had all the time in the world. “Hey! I didn’t recognize you first, but now that I see you in front of me, yeah, how are you?” Ah! She did recognize me and there she stood, in all her glory. “I see many buses that belong to your college. Which one’s yours?” I asked. “The one that has curved edges on top. That’s mine.” She said pointing her finger at the bus that approached us, “Bye”.
She’s still the same! Always lost in thoughts, always smiling, always cute. The same wide eyes and the same sweetness in her voice.
She left early just like she did everytime.
Six years later, she still leaves earlier than promised.