This story is based on the time of some forty years ago. This is a story a boy finds in his uncle’s diary one day. The story speaks of why his uncle, who has been dead for many years now, remained unmarried, an unknown and untold secret in his family.
Varsha had been lost amidst the clouds of the city. No, I don’t mean the rain. It’s too early to think of rains now; one has to bear the harsh summer first. But, his harsh summer had already begun, even in late January, when he had lost Varsha, his best friend, and perhaps the love of his life too.
Like everyone else in her family, and a few girls of the village, he too had been extremely excited when he had heard the news that Varsha would be arriving the next day from the adjoining city and would be staying for a fortnight at least, for her summer vacations. It was almost five years that he hadn’t seen her, after her father, the richest man of the village, being a wealthy landlord once, had sent her with a distant uncle to pursue higher education in the city.
Pieces of memories, like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle floated across his mind, assembling themselves together to form a lovely picture of the past. Their first meeting had been under the banyan tree in the village orchard. Both of them had crashed into each other, while collecting mangoes and running away from the caretakers. After the crash, the mangoes from both their hands had spilled on the ground, only to be giggled at by Varsha’s friend Seema, who had happened to have been with her then. That was when they were six or seven years old; but discovering then that they belonged to the same class, where boys quadrupled the number of girls, who were only five, they might have felt some sort of connection, for that was when they had struck the first cord of their friendship, which was to continue for years to come.
The enjoyment shared in the local festivals, the hours spent in the nearby wilderness, the happiness in sharing a jalebi at the sweet shop near their school, the whole of ten years spent together, all reminded him of a golden decade. And, he was secretly hoping that the years would return to him, with the return of his childhood friend Varsha, whose name itself refreshed the mind, like the real rain refreshes the ailing planet after its endurance of the cruel summer.
Thinking of the past and then the long separation reminded him of the recent realization he had had that Varsha would be the ideal wife for him, and the thought of spending the rest of his life with her, slightly elated, as well as tensed him. Would she agree? No doubt she liked him, but did she like him enough to be his bride? The nagging question in his mind was the doubt if she had found herself a suitable match from the city. He vehemently hoped against this prospect. And, even if all was fine and she would be fine with the proposal, would their families agree? Her family was rich, and she was the student of a reputed engineering college in the city, not the coy girl of tenth grade in the local village school, as he had last seen her; whereas he was a mere school teacher in that same school now. Things had diversely changed.
Oh, he must stop thinking about all that for now. Let him continue being happy with the past memories, and the fact of his friend returning.
How nice would the meeting be! The whole day he could not think of anything else. The distance had elongated between them because though at first they had kept in touch through letters, which were sent quite frequently, as years slid by, with her increasing studies and his mind more focused on his business, the letters had got limited to only twice or thrice a year.
The night was getting old. He slept peaceful and happy. But the next day, the day of the arrival, turned out to be the exact opposite. What a different picture greeted his eyes! Varsha came riding a scooty, in a pair of jeans and a tightly fitting shirt, with her hair was extensively styled, possibly in the latest trend. She parked her scooty in front of their house, hugged her parents, took out some gifts and ran to her girlfriends among the crowd. The crowd, which consisted of nearly all the villagers, was literally ga-ga over her. And her friends, those squeaking, squealing girls, never got tired of admiring her clothes, hair and the gifts that she had brought. After some of the elders, contemptuous of the modern elements, foreign to them, around her, had made sure that she was the same girl, had not lost her religion and caste, had made a lot of enquiries and discussions, the crowd dispersed away.
But only one person remained standing, her childhood friend, whom she had perhaps forgotten. All his excitement burnt away to ashes. A deepening sadness and grief was taking root in him. He had thought that he would be the first whom she would meet, but alas.
Where was the simple, shy, sweet, salwar-kameez clad girl lost? No, change was not bad, but too much change, which change the very causes he had loved her, that was really bad. And worse was the fact that she didn’t remember him now. However, he remained standing there, in front of her house, well into the afternoon, forgetting all about his shop and lunch.
Finally, she emerged from around the bend of the road, from one of her friend’s house. Their eyes met, she smiled her ever beautiful smile, came towards him, hugged him tight, and then commenting, though in a friendly way, that he hadn’t changed at all and was the same “old-fashioned”; then she left, promising to be seeing him again soon.
The shock that he was experiencing was increasing in intensity. Yes, he was “old-fashioned”, but this old-fashioned guy had loved Varsha extensively, which perhaps she would never understand now. And, then he realized that the love was ebbing away fast. The three words forming the sentence “I love you” shall always remain unspoken. He did not like the drastic change, he did not want to talk to her anymore, or meet her again. He just wished her all the happiness and success in her future. Wiping two drops of tears on his cheek, he directed his steps towards his shop.