And there he stood. Near the door. Looking at something, or someone that was making him pensive. Yes, even after three years, she could make out the various gradients in his mood. Even minor changes. Whether he was confident, embarrassed, happy, mischievous, disgusted, frightened, enraged, ashamed, cautious, smug, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, bored or lonely, she always knew. She had watched him for almost a year and half in college. Every day in classes, in the mess, in various events where he always went, while playing football. In the SIP, when he came dressed up in a suit for three days, looking so handsome, and even though she was placed in the very first day, she made sure she came every day to provide him with the much needed support. To be there with him at his most vulnerable. To pick him up. When at times he would feel insecure, the façade of optimism and strength that he put in front of people, including her, faded as the day progressed. She noticed all that and more.
He was thinking about something. Maybe someone. He did tell her that he liked a girl from her batch. He never took her name, always prioritizing his privacy. How much she had fancied it was her. How she told herself every day that it couldn’t be. Maybe he had seen that girl here and that had made him reminisce. She knew that the ‘crush’ that she had developed four months into the college, had turned into love, unrequited. And she was still in that place. Unable to move forward. All she could do was let the waves carry her wherever they went. She felt like a dried leaf, blowing in a parched afternoon, unable to govern her destiny. That was the force of the love she felt. And today the passive pain had become her weakness. For some reason, she could not contain herself tonight. Maybe it was the alcohol.
He thought she was looking extraordinarily pretty tonight. The image he had created of her in his head, and worshipped for three years, had fallen so short of the reality. In any case, he didn’t know how to approach and speak to her. This girl, with whom he hadn’t spoken to in three years, three long years of yearning, of wanting, maybe even needing. He turned around to see her looking at him. She smiled. He started walking toward her as a million things went around in his head. Was she committed? Married? Kids? Was she the same, her eyes, did they still sparkle when she was thinking of doing something crazy?
Would she tell him how much she missed him? She smiled as she thought if it was even a choice. She was always tongue tied in front of him. As he was walking, she saw him smile. He hardly ever smiled. Even when he was elated or had just done something awesome. He was such a jerk. Always so perfect. The perfect social person, hiding his pains and frustration and sharing others happiness. Only she would know. Anyway, those days were past. He was looking genuinely happy now.
He went to her and saw the radiant smile and sighed. How he had missed this. Missed her. Without a preface, without even a hello, he told her how he felt. About her. Since so long. All the emotions that he had kept hidden came pouring and he went on rambling till she stopped him and told him that she loved him too. He picked her up and twirled her around, for once not caring who was seeing it, and laughed as he heard her laughing.
She wiped a tear away as she saw him twirling another girl. A girl from her batch. Unrequited, she walked away