I was a shadow now, travelling though a vortex of emptiness. Is this death? My entire body felt weightless and empty. My heart didn’t seem to beat anymore. I was rather hollow; I was a shadow I remembered. The figure that I saw right before I died was floating right in front of me. I felt a sudden urge to go see what it was. I tried to steer myself forward with greater speed my hands spread out in front of me to catch the fleeting black shadow that killed me. Slowly and steadily, I reached the shadow and touched its side. I felt an electric shock that shook my feeble system. The scene changed abruptly.
Wish you many happy returns of the day. . . I hope you have a wonderful life :)
I wished her at exactly 12.00 AM in the night. I was not expecting her to be awake and I was not expecting a reply even if she was awake. I was about to doze off, when my phone vibrated the sleep out of me. The name of the birthday girl on my screen took me by surprise.
Thanks a ton! Btw, why are you so invisible these days? You hardly come to college. . . She replied.
Actually, I’m busy with a few projects and I had this little accident also, so taking rest . . . :) I said
Why are you so careless? And why the hell didnt you tell me? She was pissed.
You don’t go around telling people that you had an accident I thought to myself. I wanted to change the topic.
I’m going to throw you a surprise tomorrow morning. . . I’m hoping that you’d like it. . .
You are giving it. . . So I will surely like it. . . But come only if you are feeling alright!
After exchanging the ritualistic good nights and sweet dreams, I went and saw the gift I made for her. The cover felt a little clumsy but I liked it. ‘You, me and our memories’ it read. After all, it is the love with which you give it that matters, I thought.
I was about to doze off when this thought entered my head. Did I do all this just for a girl who was my friend? Did I want her to be with me throughout my life? What was I expecting from her? The thought that I wouldn’t be seeing her pinched my heart. For the first time in my life, I felt that I would be missing someone if I parted from them.
I shifted uneasily in my bed as the thought process continued. What about the promise I made to her? Did I not promise her that I would be only friends with her forever? How could I betray her trust in me? How could I fool my own feelings for her?
Question kept popping up in my head, questions for which I was not able to find a solution. The night’s sleep was filled with confused thoughts and jumbled visions of the future.
“Go home and see it. Don’t open it here. “I told her.
“Hmm. . . I wonder what this box contains. . .” I looked at her face as she revolved the present which was wrapped up in a square box. Her eyes deep eyes sparkled with excitement as she pressed her lips together in concentration.
“You’ll find out dude, why so excited. But this is like extremely personal. You should make sure that no one else gets to see this.”
“Of course, right then! I will get going then.” She carefully put the box in her bag and walked off.
“You are fooling yourself. You are in love with her. If you don’t express it, you will regret letting her go for the rest of your life.” A voice inside my head warned me.
“But I promised her. I don’t want to hurt her and become a problem for her to face” I questioned back.
“Is your promise to her worth your love?” The voice shot back at me.
“No!” My heart said in reflex. I didn’t want to lose her.
Your gift is simply the best gift I ever received in my entire life. Thank you so much. I cannot tell you how much I liked it. I’m so glad I found a friend like you. I get scared sometimes. . .
“You are misleading her. You are masking your real feelings.” My stomach twisted with a pang of guilt as I saw her message that night.
Glad that you liked it, but why are you scared? Scared for what? I replied, still feeling guilty.
It’s just that I keep losing my best friends, Im very unlucky when it comes to friends. . . I dont want to lose you Neeraj
That’s the end I thought. I couldn’t mislead her anymore. I couldn’t break her trust in me. I decided to kill my feelings. I started avoiding her from that day onwards. I didn’t talk to her in college and took a different route home. It was killing me, not seeing her smile, not staring into the depths of her eyes. But I was ready to do whatever it took not to break my promise.
“Hello! Do you remember me? Why are you not talking to me? What’s wrong with you?” Sanjana was at my place one day after college. We were talking on our terrace.
“If I told you the reason, you wouldn’t like it.” I replied.
“What the hell? Tell me the reason” She screamed.
“I love you Sanjana. I’m crazy about you. It’s just that I didn’t know what to do after I realised this. I never figured out if I should break my promise by telling you how I felt or if I should break my own heart by acting like a friend. So, I tried escaping from you. But today, since you asked me why, here I am. . . Sanjana, no matter what I promised, my heart yearns for you. You make my life beautiful. I want to live with you, grow old with you and die with you. I love you!”
She looked startled. She retraced a few steps. Her voice started quivering as she tried to say something.
“Stop it Neeraj, you can’t do this to me. You promised me. . . This changes everything. . . “ She ran off leaving me as the loser who finally broke his promise.
“I cannot love you. For me, love is when you think that you cannot live without that person.” She told me two days after that.
“There will never come a point in live where you cannot live without someone. God gave us this wonderful gift of forgetting the bad things that happen in our life. We are designed to live, not to die when someone we love dies.” I said.
“I don’t know. . . I will go to those extremes maybe. . . I don’t know. . . “She said.
“I respect your feelings. If that is what you think about love, I respect your opinions. I’ll never bother you again. But someday I hope that you realise your concept about people and relationships is wrong. Life is always an optimisation. Genuine love is not about life or death with someone, it’s about living your life with a person who loves to live with you, Sanjana” I said and left.
Though I convinced myself that it was over, my heart never stopped hoping that she would understand my feelings for her one day and she would love me. But that day changed it all.
“It’s becoming difficult for me to keep this with me. Take it back.” She gave me back the scrapbook of memories that I gave her on her birthday. I tried to get a grip over my anger before I spoke.
“If you want to get rid of me and my memories, you could have done it in a much easier way by destroying the memories yourself. “
I walked off, resolving that I would never speak to her again.
The surroundings of that evening faded away into a blur of colours and soon I was in the empty vortex again, floating.
“She regrets it. . . She regrets it. . . “The shadow sang.
Wait till I catch you I thought.
I jerked my floating shadow in one violent motion. Just as I was about to catch the shadow, it disappeared and I landed on the floor. The morning sun shining brightly into my eyes.