Together forever?

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His watch beeped twice in unison with the bell tower outside the Railway Station as he scanned the brimming crowd for an empty cab. In less than 3 minutes he was in the backseat of one, impatiently waiting to reach her college.

Flashbacks whooshed past him as he tried to distract himself by observing the immobile traffic on the small Highway. Things would get messier back in Lucknow if his parents even got a hint that he was in Delhi! They would connect the dots and everything would be lost. But nothing was going to be hay-wired now, everone expected him home by Tuesday and it was Sunday today. He had one whole day to himself and her. And he would utilize that one day to make it up to her. How wonderful their life had been, they used to talk every day, but then the tour happened. The tour was from his college, 23 students from Lucknow had been selected to visit some industries in Punjab and on the second night of the leave from his home his mom came across their valentine cards! And what a storm it was, her mom in Delhi and his mom in Lucknow!

The cab stopped smoothly at the gate of an old college pulling him out of his thoughts, he got out, paid the driver and tried to study the college. She must be inside right now. Maybe in a class. Maybe lost. Maybe broken up completely, her mom would have had her grounded. Her cell phone had been seized away, so he had this last resort to scarper away from the tour mid-way and meet her personally. She had no clue he was standing here, he had no clue of where to look for her!

After a few formalities with the guards he strolled urgently into the college, looking for the buildings she used to talk of, the trees that used to scare her, the roads that always seemed so empty, and the canteen she practically lived in. The canteen! He checked his watch, it was 2:35. This was the usual start of her lunch time! He ran down the road following a sign board to the canteen, and in an instant he was facing the steps to the Grand Food Junction. He was finally here!

Then the realization hit him! He was here! What the heck was he doing here? What if she didn’t want to meet him? What if she expected everything to end this way, their moms fighting and they never talking again! What if she wasn’t ready to meet him yet?

And then it happened. She entered his line of sight. A sudden gust of wind gave him the cool chills as sweat beads glistened on his forehead. His knees gave away and he took support of the vehicle beside him. She was gorgeous! He had just met her twice before, but never like this! There were girls following him as she walked into the canteen. He stood rooted on the spot and stared at her. She looked happy! Peaceful! What was he doing here intervening in her life again? He had no right to make her sad again. After all that had happened between the two families, she deserved to live freely. Love happens. She would be loved by someone else eventually, someone who would actually give her the kind of calmness she deserved.

He was an outcast. He watched her eat. Talk to her friends, laugh at jokes. She did seem a bit perturbed, but else she was fine. He decided on the spot, he would leave her for good. Reach home and apologize to his family for not telling them about her. Everything would fall back on track. He would change his number, his internet accounts and she would forget everything gradually. Move on was the rule and he would respect it. He turned his back to the chattering crowd inside the cafe and looked up at the sky. If there was a God, He was smiling right now! What had he done to deserve such a punishment of lifetime banishment from the only person he ever loved in his life!

He wiped his forehead on his sleeve but then realized how wet his eyes were. He turned back to the canteen again to take one last look at her before leaving for good. Instead he found the table empty. She was gone! Tears tracked down his face as he took a step away towards the main gate of the Institute. He wouldn’t get to see her, so be it.

He'd put on his cap and made up his mind to leave the place at last when he noticed a movement behind him.  He swiveled his head to get the shock of his life. She was standing beside a tree. Directly looking at him with her soft but red sleepless eyes, her face showing emotions so rare, creases lining up her eyebrows, her hands shaking with her sobs.



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