It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.
I was traveling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend's wedding. It had been four years since we graduated. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch mates. But what I didn't know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.
I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after that disastrous college farewell.
My heart wanted me to talk to her, but my mind forced me not to. My mind won, and I quietly found my seat and started walking there. In a second, someone tapped me from behind. I knew it was Kriti, I could still sense her, I turned back and said “Hi” without showing any emotion but somewhere deep inside my heart I felt like holding her and kissing her passionately.
“I hate you” was her reply. Within the next minute, she pulled me towards her and kissed me on my cheek, the same way she used to when we were in college. I held her tight.
Four Years Ago,
It was our last exam and everyone was excited. The excitement was not because of exams being over but because of the farewell party and the crazy events lined up for the evening. Kriti was the most excited one and was planning everything for our farewell party and the night that would follow. When I went to her house she had packed everything she could and was preparing Aloo Paranthas for me. Out of curiosity, I checked her bag, taking out her clothes and everything one by one. In the last pocket, I saw a small packet, something like salt, which she snatched immediately from me and tucked in her jeans. An amazing scene awaited us as we reached the party. Everyone looked amazing!
Kriti was looking as beautiful as always in her designer saree. I was her proud boyfriend, never ready to leave her hand, which made many of her friends jealous. She wanted to have one last look at the classes we attended and I went along with her.
We were alone on the top floor when I felt a little naughty. I pulled her towards me and kissed her passionately. She pushed me on a bench, sat on me, and kissed me again. We stayed like this for over a while, when I tried to put my hands inside her blouse to which she abruptly pulled away and said “Not now”.
When we got back to the party, I got busy talking to our friends when I realized that she wasn’t around. I thought she must have been in the washroom and continued talking to people around. Almost half an hour later, she hadn’t returned, this got me a little worried and I decided to go in search for her. When I found her, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. There she was, sitting with a girl. They were smoking a joint and had a small piece of paper open in front of them with lines of what I had initially thought to be salt.
She ran over to me crying, begged me not to tell anyone about this side of hers. I was shocked when I found out that she’s been addicted to drugs for a while now. And honestly, that was the last time that I even spoke to her.
During our flight, we talked about what we had been up to in the last four years. She apologized profusely for what happened at the farewell party. And it was then, she told me that she had cancer and was in her final stage.
This was the reason why she was traveling to Bengaluru. She was going to meet a doctor an aunt had referred her to. During the three hour flight, I saw how much she loved me and I felt like a fool to not have been there when she needed me the most. I knew that I had to do something for her now. She noticed the tears in my eyes and held on to my hand.
When we reached, we took a room near the Airport. I wanted to talk to her about everything. About how we met, the first time my mom told me about their family, how I was introduced to her. We laughed about the tiniest details of our lives that we had shared together. We spoke about the day I had told her that I was only going to marry her… it was beautiful. Just being with her, it was all that I wanted to do. That night, I forced her to come for the wedding that I was going to. All our friends would be there, it would be the perfect reunion. After a lot of convincing, she agreed. It was the best night of our lives.
We danced till the early hours of the morning, and I even kissed her, completely oblivious to our surroundings.
The following morning, she had her Doctor’s appointment, so I went along. Being with her was giving me all the strength that I needed to support her through this. When she went inside, she left her phone and wallet with me. As always, my old habit kicked in, and I realized that she had no social networking apps on her phone. This surprised me. And that’s when I realized just how much she had changed from that night of our farewell.
When she came out, she told me she was craving aloo paranthas. I laughed and we found a nice restaurant nearby. I’m not sure exactly when, or how, but at some point right then, I knew that she is my future. That the promise I made to her when we were kids, it had to come true. “Marry me.” She looked at me, surprised and confused.
“I know it’s going to be tough, but I don’t want to spend a single day without you anymore. Let’s face what we have to together: from convincing our parents, to fighting this cancer, let’s do this. I love you. Marry me!”
Within 30 minutes, we spoke to our parents and convinced them that either we have their blessings or we don’t, but we were going to get married only to each other. Today, it’s been a trying couple of years for us.
I’m thrilled to share that Kriti has now conquered cancer and is fighting like a champion. She works for a leading investment bank and is very successful in her career. On our anniversary, we’ve decided to go back to that restaurant where we sat and shared aloo paranthas.