“So what was it?” he asked “what stopped you, and what was it between us?” referring to the crackling chemistry that would be flying between us when we were together.
More than 8 years after we put those memories to rest, they came tumbling back, in a conversation in a cab on a familiar route – me dropping him to Church gate station. He and I are great friends, and we’ve been in each other’s lives a long time – his feelings for me notwithstanding.
We met yesterday after more than 2 years – the last time we met, we both were applying for B schools in different parts of the world, not knowing where we’ll be. We were also on top of the helipad of my building – 44 floors above Mumbai overlooking the sprawling city, looking tamed and subdued from our perspective.
So really what was it? He really seemed like every girls dream – much like other boys in my life I couldn’t give myself to... gentle, kind, sincere, smart, sensitive, dimpled [ god, that dimple ]made me feel prettier than I was. I’ll never forget that time we were all going out and I asked him if my Kajal was smudged – he just looked back at me and said ‘You’re asking the guy who thinks you have the most beautiful eyes in the world’ Now, I would listen to that and shrug and assume it’s a cliché.. yesterday he tells me they weren’t – that he meant it. I’ll never forget that time in the rick when he suddenly held my hand for a few mins and traced all my lifelines as though committing to memory – when I asked him what happened and why he was holding my hand, and doing what he was he said ‘I’ll never get to hold this hand as though its mine, and I don’t know when ill hold it again’
I told him that yesterday – that we would have been horrible together and that’s why I never said yes. That I would’ve stifled the free spirit bullet rider in him. “Hello! Do u realize what a free independent crazy person you are, how could you have stifled me?” I had nothing to say.
I told him I was a spoilt South Mumbai girl and that he would’ve gotten tired of my hangups. “Basically the very things I adored?” he asked.
We never dated but we had this chemistry, these things which he’d keep saying and I’d brush off, those random moments when he’s do something so simple – draw my graphs for me in engineering cause he knew I’m horrible at being precise, brush a strand of hair across my face when I was intently trying to get my isometric drawing right. We had this thing where I would just be speechless or time would stand still for a few minutes – yet I couldn’t get myself to say ‘yes’
“I would’ve gone the distance ” he said and he smiled that smile which I remember so vividly. That smile urging me to let go, to say yes, to give in, to belong.
And with that, Churchgate station arrived all too soon, he got off the cab, this time with a handshake – wished me happiness and I wished him luck for his impending marriage in 8 months.
This finding the ‘right person’ business is quite annoying. Why can’t I just get myself to like a ‘nice person’ instead? There seem to be plenty of those in my life!