He was very shy. She was very smart. He was an introvert. She was a chatterbox. He didn't care how he appeared. She was worried how he appeared. She told him what and what not to eat. She never wanted his belly to grow so huge. He was just 23, though his heftiness made him look older. She was 19.
She used all her pocket money in Archies to buy gifts and greeting cards for him. She gave them for every festival including the ones neither he nor she celebrated ever. She always felt that the words printed on the cards were too inadequate to express her love towards him. She wrote several sentences on her own inside the card.
He felt happy whenever she met him. He was amazed at how she remembered the birthdays of even his parents and younger sisters. She never allowed him to have any pimples or blackheads on his face. She gently removed them with her soft fingers, but he shouted at her that it pained him. Whenever she visited his room, she arranged his table and cupboards. She decided what he should wear whenever they met. He never cared what she wore. He neither complemented nor criticized her style of dressing.
She was distantly related to him. They met while their families were going on a trip to attend the marriage of a relative in a distant city. They sat on nearby seats and she joined with his younger sisters in cracking jokes at him when they were playing Anthakshari. He knew all the Hindi songs though he hardly sung. He prompted his cousins by suggesting appropriate lyrics. She liked that quiet young man from that time onwards.
He finished his engineering and got placed in a large software company in the capital city. She missed him badly. She called him several times in a day. He always talked to her, though the calls never originated from him.
She couldn’t wait seeing him till his next visit to the native place. She was eager to meet him. He never encouraged her trip to the city. But she came to the city with her younger brother to see her relatives with whom her family didn’t had any contact for so long. She made enquiries about the opportunities for her higher studies in the city.
He tried to avoid meeting her alone in his room. But she wanted to chat with him for long time away from the people. They spent time together in his small room. She didn’t want to waste her time arranging his untidy table and unorganized shelves. She simply wanted to look into his eyes. While leaving him late in the evening, she felt closer to him than ever. But he regretted for being so close to her on that day.
She continued writing to him. He read her letters late nights and weekends. He returned her calls much later to tell her that he will call her later. Indeed, he called her later as promised. But his calls were always brief. And the contents were always the same. She found that the conversations were no longer exciting.
He sent a big birthday card for her, the biggest since she met him. He had underlined a few printed words which didn’t mean anything to her. She stopped going to the Archies shop. She found the words on the cards too romantic and unrealistic. She lost interest in all festivals and the only card she sent was for his birthday.
She was pained because of his indifference. She stopped calling him thinking that he would call her if she stops calling him. That never happened. She called him to tell that she will be soon joining for higher studies in the capital city. He said: ‘All the best. Will definitely miss you as I am flying abroad next week to join a job there.’ She didn't say a word. She heard, ‘Hello, are you there?’ She hated the voice at other end.
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|Painting by Lucia Hartini|
It was a sudden realization. She was no longer a young girl. When the life outside is blurred, why to worry about the life growing inside? She was bold. She went to the same city alone and came back home as a different person. She never wanted herself or anyone else to live in destitution. For a few nights she heard the cry of a little being and woke up with a throbbing pain within. Then life went on as usual, though nothing was eventful henceforth.
© Sibichen K Mathew