It was long long ago.
She was a little girl, still in school, starry eyed about the notions of love. He was her brother’s friend- dashing, intelligent and nice- her idol, her mentor, her brother. They spent a lot of time together, he lazing on the sofa on hot afternoons with the other boys, ordering her around, she in awe, completing all the errands and still wanting to do some more. At times she hated him- for not looking at her in a special way, for not loving him the way she did, for not staying that extra minute because she wanted him to. But he loved her too- like his own little sister, because he didn’t have one, like someone he could bully and he knew she would never mind. She looked forward to it every week- when the boys would come home from school, hungry and tired and crabby- to eat before they left for tuitions together or just to play a game of football. She hated them for how much they ragged her. But she loved him for being there always- like a part of her soul, a part of her being.
Some afternoons were special- those long dreary days when she would go to his house with her brother- after her some time her brother would leave for his tuitions and he would drop her home. All the way, in a bus. She would sit at the window and pretend she was looking out- but her heart would flutter because he was next to her- so close- it felt like she had him to herself forever. They would chat and he would make her laugh. She would love to be with him and she would silently wish it would stay this way forever. Her friends told her it was a crush, just an infatuation. But she knew it could never be that. It was love. For today. For tomorrow. Forever.
And then they grew up one day. Just that he grew up too fast for her. She grew up too, but held onto what had been once upon a time. She still saw him occasionally. Girls swooning over him. Girls just waiting to get his attention. She laughed as she saw these girls. This was infatuation. What she had, was love. They didn’t know him. They only saw the part of him he wanted to show . They didn’t know him like she did. They didn’t love him like she did. She was sure of that. There was no jealousy. It was all amusement. He still looked at her from time to time. But just to say hi. Or enquire how she was, or her mom or her dad. That was enough. Because it was still love. She loved him and always will.
He got married. To a girl who everyone liked and said was very very nice. She was happy for him. That he had found someone he loved. Who loved him and he understood it. That was important. That this time he could see the love. Did he not see her love then? All these years? It didn’t matter anymore. She still loved him. But she didn’t go to his wedding. Not because she hated him for marrying a girl he loved. But because she couldn’t see her dreams get over. She was happy for him. She really was. She cried copious amounts of tears- but she knew he would be fine. He had found his love. And she had found hers. So what if he married someone else. She wasn’t hurt. She wasn’t angry.
Today, it’s been many years past. She is married too. She still loves him. She hasn’t seen him in years- but she knows what he looks like, what he sounds like, how he laughs, what he says. She recognizes his voice in an instant as her calls her across the oceans to tell her how sorry he is about her father. She cries for the first time that day since her father died. Because she mourns two men in her life- one who defined who she is today and one who is still a part of her soul.