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Ila gives the reader, a peek into one of her diary entries in which she describes her chance meeting with the boy whom she’s loved with all her heart for so many years.
I have spent innumerable pages, painting my most nuanced descriptions about every encounter with Ian. But it has been a while now, since I have written anything about him. I’m sure you must be wondering as to why I write about him today, suddenly, after all these months when I have spent the past two and half years avoiding even mentioning his name. It isn’t because I suddenly miss him or suddenly my mind is occupied with thoughts of him; but because after two years and six months, the universe brought us face to face, once again.
I still remember it was one particular Saturday night, I was standing by the window in Jessica’s room, watching the world below me and smoking my third cigarette. Jessica forced Ian and me to come for the party which she had kept at her place. She lived all by herself and every now and then, there was a party at her place. Ian and I had to always be there, even when we did not want to. Our presence was a given. The party was supposed to be a small one but ended up being a huge one, suffocating her apartment with a lot more people than were expected. That’s how every one of her parties ended up being. I had found refuge in her room after successfully avoiding everyone, including Jess. In spite of shutting the door of her room, the music which was playing on a high decibel in the living room, reverberated. The door creaked open suddenly and I turned to see who it was. Our eyes met. Ian walked toward me. He stood in front of me, wearing a disappointed look on his face. I turned away from his gaze, half smiling and put away the cigarette. The one thing he absolutely detested about me was that I smoked. He tried hard to distance me from what he called a “filthy habit”, but he only failed. I let him fail because I half liked the way he got all protective about me whenever he caught me with a cigarette.
After he watched me put away the cigarette, he held me by my hand and pulled me closer.
Come, let’s go.
Anywhere where there’s nobody but just us.
We walked out of the room, through the crowd in the living room dancing to the beats of the music and finally out of the apartment. We stepped inside the elevator. He continued holding my hand. I did not want him to let go of it. We stepped out of the elevator when it stopped on the ground floor. We walked out of the gate of the apartment building, onto a street which was empty. A line of auto rickshaws stood in a neat line opposite the gate. We walked further ahead of the empty street. Still holding my hand, silence accompanied us on our little late night stroll. Silence was our constant, in the three years that we have known each other. Far from being an uncomfortable one, silence was how we best communicated. This silence that I shared with him, transferred us into a parallel world, in which we were the only inhabitants. Nobody else but just us. We walked on until we reached a dead end and we stopped. We turned to face each other. I studied the way his unruly curls stood still. Even in the darkness I could see disappointment and sadness that rested on his face.
I got into a college in Delhi, for my Masters.
Congratulations. I tried to sound less disappointed and a little ecstatic.
Thank you. He tried to sound less disappointed and little ecstatic with my response.
When do you leave?
In a month and a half.
I stared hard at him. There were so many things that I wanted to tell him. But I stopped myself from speaking the words I most wanted to set free. Telling him anything would be fatal.
Come, let’s go back.
We spent the next few weeks with each other, as much as we could. Every minute of that month and half was bittersweet. One Tuesday afternoon, we had lunch together in his house. It was a particularly hot afternoon. It hadn’t rained for days. After we finished with lunch, we were lying on his bed, with a pillow separating the two of us. I lay there watching the blades of the ceiling fan in motion. He suddenly removed the pillow and he turned toward me, to face me. He pulled me toward him, with all his strength.
I turned, my back facing him. He wrapped his arm around my waist. I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.
Today, exactly 10 years ago, he passed away.
You don’t have to be. He tightened his hold and kissed me gently on my head.
Were you’ll very close?
The closest! The closest I’ve ever been with anyone. We had a very special bond, a bond which is indescribable and a bond which no one will understand. His death shattered mom and me. Even today, it all seems surreal.
You know he is always there with you, right?
Yes, I strongly believe that. It’s just that, I miss him.
I know, I know…
I turned to face him and we locked ourselves in a tight embrace. He’d spoken about how he’d lost his father in a car accident when he was 10 years old. But he never really spoke about it. It had always been difficult to know the real him because he never let anyone in. That day, however, he did let me in, when he spoke about his father. He spoke without any inhibitions. After all those years, I finally felt like I was a part of him.
I slowly unlocked myself from his embrace after a few minutes and gently swept the palm of my hand on his face.
I’m going to miss you, Ila.
I’m going to miss you, Ian.
He took my face in his hands and gently kissed my forehead, moving slowly toward my cheek and then my lips. Every bone in my body froze. That was the last time since I saw him, the last time he held me, the last time we spoke. We did not stay in touch when he moved to Delhi. We had no idea of what’s happening in each other’s lives. The distance was what stopped us from part of each other. But today, seeing him brought back all those feelings and a hundred thousand memories which I’d locked into a box kept in a corner of my heart. When we stood face to face today, words failed us and once more our silence was what echoed what lay in our hearts.