“Oh my God! This is you! How are you dear? It’s so nice to finally meet you. Long time!! Long long time! Ten years? ” I only manage to nod my head with a heartfelt smile. The words I had planned to speak feel heavy on my tongue as she spoke everything I had decided to say when I meet her.
We sit down for a cup a coffee at Barista. I let her place the order for both of us. Too embarrassed to have received a call she excuses herself politely and walks a few steps away. From where I sat her face is just the way it was in my memory several years ago. The only difference being how her hair has grown beautifully long adding more charm to her pretty face. I watch her pace up and down speaking animatedly. Her eyes dart my direction and her muted lips speak,” I am sorry” she hasn’t changed much- I catch myself smiling at the thought.
I was surprised by this invitation. She had written-“I know.. it’s been so long!! I am finally in your city. Let’s catch up!” It is not that I hadn’t been in touch with her. But we had slipped to a stage where we both were too busy with our lives. There was a lot to talk, always, but there was never a time and place where this talking could be done. I accepted the growing distance and we were reduced to friends who just call on birthdays. And, the dreams, the talks and innocent confessions of the school girls that we were back then, feel unfamiliar and odd. Odd, like those old photographs in weird clothes and funny unformed faces that we hide coyly from people who know us today. I have changed, my dreams have changed, my priorities too. And I know that she too has drifted away from what she had wanted to be.
A worry wraps itself around me. I don’t want her to spill out the details of the girl I had been to the woman I have become. What if she finds my weak, fearful soul while she reaches out the dauntless ambitious girl I was? Did she too change from the perky free spirited girl to a mature woman with a family, career and responsibilities? Would she understand if I break down, unable to hide the grief of my stalling marriage? Would she respond with the concern of that loving friend or would she cringe away in disgust- disappointed with me when I explain the helplessness that led to my now non existent career?
My thoughts break with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I am shocked to see her sitting right across me. I was so lost I never saw her walk back towards where I sat. In an attempt to conceal the thoughts printed on my face I hide behind the coffee mug. I make a futile effort to clam my apprehensions by sipping the caffeine and try to appear casual. I manage to surface a smile, while still looking away when I feel her eyes glance upon me. Tears threaten to roll down my cheeks and I feel her hands grab mine in the most reassuring manner. Comfort soothes my tensed body. I finally find the courage to look into her eyes and they speak out to me. That moment I know, she knows- she understands. The ten years of no communication shatters with this silent, wordless conversation.
P.S: If you haven't read the pervious short fiction- do read that too Revathi is a must read on my blog.