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A story about first love, broken hearts and nostalgia that will leave you reminiscing your school days.
Ananya looked at her watch. It was already half past 5. She should have been on her way home. Instead, she was still at work trying frantically to get her work done to meet a deadline the next day. She was always proactive but not this time, not everything was within her control. If only, she had received the critical details she needed yesterday, she would have been in a better place today. Oh well, there is no use crying over spilt milk, Ananya reminded herself. It was exactly 7 pm when she was finally done. She was exhausted and she couldn’t wait to head home. Just then, her phone rang. It was her husband Akhil. “When will you be home? Should we go out for dinner?” , he asked. “Not today. Not in the mood to eat out. We will eat dosas. If you help cut vegetables, I can come home and make sambhar. I will see you soon”, Ananya said hurriedly and ended the call.
It was not her usual schedule as she normally left from work at 5 pm. Something that she had been trying to follow since their relocation from the US this past year. The city traffic was extremely crazy this time of the day. She really missed her commute in the US as driving in the cities in India was akin to playing a video game and she was not a big fan of the video games either. The thought about video games reminded her that she needed to talk to her son about limiting his gaming hours, so he can play outside more. Just then, a random thought crossed her mind for a fleeting second- A distant memory of Varun playing football during the PT (Physical Training) period at school. Varun, was her classmate in school and her first love.
Ananya had just transferred to the new school from a different school due to its proximity to their new home. She liked the shorter commute, but was a bit nervous about meeting new people and making new friends. Her soon to be best friend, Jessie was the first to introduce herself and then followed Saira, Shobana and Lakshmi. All the five girls became good friends and were inseparable for the next couple of years.
It was her first week in the school and Ananya who was always a front bencher headed to the last but bench in the class where Jessie sat, so that she could chat with her for a few more minutes before the next class started. “Varun, look who is here?Looks like it is your special day today”, one of the boys yelled from the other side of the class where all the boys sat.
Ananya shot a quick glance towards the corner of the class where the voice came from and caught a glimpse of a boy sitting right across her desk, looking at her with a beautiful smile. She might have looked at him just for a moment but it felt eternal and made her feel something she had never felt before. Is this what they call, love at first sight?, wondered Ananya. The next class had started and half way through the class, the teacher started asking questions on the topics he covered that day. One of the questions was directed to Varun and that’s when Ananya knew the name of the boy who had smiled at her.
“Ananya, please sit with me for the rest of the day today”, pleaded Jessie. The boy on the other side of the room was also the reason why she decided to sit with Jessie on that day, for the next few days and for the rest of the year and yet, both Ananya and Varun could not get enough of each other.
First love is special and precious because it is the most innocent and pure form of love. This was the beginning of their love story and there were many “firsts” for both of them. There were a number of stolen glances and wistful smiles. Each new day brought excitement and feelings like never before. Even a quick glance during the PT period, when he was playing football and she was playing badminton, was a moment that was engraved in her memory.
Varun rode the same bus as Ananya and Jessie and all three of them took the same bus both in the morning and evening. One day on her way to school and in the bus, Ananya suddenly remembered that she had left her chemistry book at home and was close to tears. “Why are you crying, Ananya? Is something wrong?”, Jessie asked her. “I forgot to bring my Chemistry book and I am worried that the teacher will make me stand outside the class”, said Ananya. She did not have time to head back home to get the book and so was trying to prepare herself to face the teacher’s wrath.
As soon as she entered her class, she noticed a chemistry book lying on her desk. It wasn’t hers and nor did she know where it came from. Perhaps, Jessie left a spare one. I should thank her later, thought, Ananya. The Chemistry class started and surprisingly the teacher who took the class that day was a substitute teacher and wasn’t too bothered whether the students had books or not. The class ended and Ananya was about to give the book to Jessie when Varun came over, looked at her, smiled, picked the book and left before she could even thank him. There were many moments like these that were etched on her mind and made her smile each time she remembered them.
Two years passed by quickly and before they knew, their school year ended. Ananya was in the bus stop waiting for her bus to make the last trip back home from school. She couldn’t believe that this was going to be the last time that she will be taking the bus after school, this would be the last time she would be seeing her friends in her class and most importantly it would probably be the last time that she would see Varun. This was in the late 80’s. There were no emails and no cell phone numbers to share or to keep in touch. Ananya’s eyes looked for the usual spot where Varun normally waited for the bus but, couldn’t find him. He was not in the bus too when she finally boarded. He was nowhere to be seen. Just like that, their love story ended before it had even started.
Moving on with her new life and college and not being able to see Varun, was extremely painful at first but time heals all wounds especially painful breakups. Often, Ananya questioned herself as to whether there was anything at all between them in the first place as things ended so abruptly.
Why was she thinking about him out of the blue now of all days? Did the move to India trigger these memories?, wondered Ananya. Just then someone honked from behind and she realized that she had reached home and she was near the front gate of her apartment. “You got a mail today from some Alumni association, Ananya”, Akhil called out from inside the kitchen. Ananya picked up the post and it sure had the name of her school on it with an invitation for the reunion of her class. Was that a coincidence?, wondered Ananya. Just then her phone rang. “Hey Ananya, are you planning to come to the reunion?” That was Jessie, her friend from school. The only friend from school, she had kept in touch with. A part of her was not too inclined. “Let me think about it, ok?, said Ananya a little exhausted.
By the next day, she had already made the decision to go to the reunion. She was looking forward to meet her friends and just maybe, she could finally meet Varun after all those years. What are the chances?, she wondered. The reunion day finally arrived. She was heading to her school for the first time in like a few decades. The school had changed- more buildings and thankfully more trees and shade. She could still feel the heat from the morning assembly that as kids they had to go through every day for an hour. Boy, how happy she was that the kids now didn’t have to stand in the grueling heat anymore. She could see a stream of familiar faces and then she saw Jessie and Lakshmi. “You look lovely as ever”, screamed an excited Jessie. “You look the same”, Ananya, said to the ever elegant Lakshmi, who she hadn’t seen in ages. They hugged each other. “It is sad that Saira and Shobana could’nt make it, but we will have fun”, said Jessie.
Although, the physical aspects of the school had changed, there were certain things about the school that remained the same and it just felt like yesterday that she had her first class. It felt like she had never left the school. “Hi Ananya”, someone came towards her. Someone who broke her heart once. Someone whose eyes, she could never forget. Someone whose smile brought back a flood of memories. Looking at Varun after all these years still caused a fluttery sensation aka butterflies in her stomach.
“Hello, Varun, It has been a long time. How have you been”?, asked Ananya. “I am good, Ananya. It is good to see you”, said Varun. Ananya realized that was probably the first sentence that was ever exchanged between them other than the stolen glances and smiles, of course. Varun was about to say something, but stopped himself when his friends came towards him from the other side, gave him a hug and pulled him away.
It was getting late and Ananya said bye to her friends and was walking towards her car. It was great seeing everyone after two decades, but somehow, she felt something was missing, something unsaid that was bothering her. She slowed down a bit to gather her thoughts when she heard Varun calling for her.
“Ananya, I didn’t see you in the room and I came looking for you. Are you leaving?”, asked Varun.
“Yes. I am leaving, Varun. You are a few decades too late, though”, Ananya said smiling weakly with tears brimming in her eyes. There was a moment of silence between them. It felt like the decades of pent up emotions were finally getting released.
“Ananya, I was a coward. I left early the last day of school because I was not ready to see you leave, neither was I ready to make the first move, but I did have feelings for you, Ananya and I am sorry. Hope you will forgive me some day”,pleaded Varun.
“There is no need to be sorry. That was the end of the road for us. Take care, Varun”, said Ananya. She shook his hands, walked away not looking back, back to her home and back to her life.
Image Source: Facebook/Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander
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