I am Naina Sanyal. For the last seven years I have been working as a Program Manager in California and life has been work to me. I knew I never wished to be in Kolkata, but here was I again. The city where I studied, the city where many of my friends lived….. yet I had jitters down my spine to be back here once again. I felt the same when Swarna gave me a call and told me that I just had to be there for her wedding in Kolkata.
Would I be able to face everyone once again? Would I be able to stand again from where I had left? Would I be able to face Akash again? Or is it okay for me to be facing him yet again?
I knew Akash would be there in the wedding too. Swarna is sure to have invited the entire group that we used to have in college. I cannot deny that though the very thought of standing in front of Akash gave me shivers down my spine yet I wondered how it would be after so many years. I knew Akash might have never been able to forgive me and he had all the reasons for that, yet I fancied meeting him again. May be it’s all the bygone years that has given me the courage to even consider that today.
Akash taught me what it was to love and to be loved. I don’t remember how and when we fell for each other though but what I clearly remember is the long walks that we took holding hands in the canopied pathways. I remember, the songs he dedicated to me in college fests as he kept looking at me from the stage while he sang strumming his guitar. I remember how he inspired me to study harder and excel.
What I loved about him was his street smartness and the casual approach that he had for everything, quite contrary to the serene composure that I had. But to all the casual attitude that he carried he had a warm heart enveloping him, a heart which beat for me. I remember once I was down with very high fever. I was in the college hostel then and the food there was pathetic. I missed home when I had high fever and I missed the love of a near and dear one. Then suddenly the security comes up with a box telling me that the gentleman down send it for me. It was Akash, who had prepared Dal, alu and egg bhujji with a sweet and some pickle to go with it. The box also had a note…
” Get well soon dear. Do eat what I cooked for you. I know it’s not like home food but at least it’s better than the hostel one. Love you. Sleep well.”
I was in tears once I read it and I think I still have the note with me. If I go on like this then I can write pages on our days and you must be wondering then what went wrong? Why aren’t we together?
We were together. In fact we were like the ideal couple of the college. On the fare well day we had a dance and as we took the stage everyone said,”they would make a lovely man and wife.”
It was that day when after the dance backstage, Akash gave me a beautiful Sapphire Pendant. He had spend a fortune on it and spend all the hard earned student income that he made those days. “Wear this forever.”, is all he could say.
Forever didn’t last very long though, may be a year or more. I got a job soon and so did Akash and they posted me off to California. I remember, we shed tears as I bid him adieu in the airport. We were in touch for some time over the phone and mail but slowly I immersed myself in work and found those long distance phone calls meaningless. I tried to resolve the distance. I asked him to shift base to the US too but Akash refused. He was not ready to leave his family and his country. I never wanted to get back to India too. Our arguments rose and the love seemed to have flown out. Akash waited that one day I would decide to be back in India and then we could settle down. I knew that was not to happen. I was ambitious, careerist, doing well in my job and I knew going to India would spell doom to my career. Just when the dream of being someone in life was coming true I couldn’t sacrifice everything for love. We broke off. Rather I was the one who advocated it. The day I told it to Akash over the phone, he broke like a man who’s lost everything in life. He wept and requested me to be back but I was firm. It was not easy for me too, I loved him and didn’t want to hurt him but that’s how it turned out to be.
We were in touch for some time and then slowly lost touch. Life for me was lonely in US. I worked and gave everything to work. I did meet men but not any that interested me in a different way. Seven years passed by and today I can say that I have done extremely well professionally but not even a day passed by when something or the other did not remind me of Akash. I thought of calling him up so many times but didn’t have the courage to do that. It was few months back when I rummaged my almirah, that I came across the blue sapphire pendant. I hadn’t worn it ever since we parted. I held it in my hand for a long time and then considered wearing it.
If I get back to India will Akash accept me once again? Will he be able to forgive me? Can I not just walk up to him and tell him that I want him to make me wear this pendant round my neck? Yes I was wrong. I missed him, whenever I thought of the future it was only his thoughts which were in my mind. I couldn’t think of settling down without him. Oh! I was so terribly wrong but can’t I just walk up to my Akash and give him this pendant and ask him to tie it round my neck? would he not understand…. ?
I had arrived at Swarna’s wedding but my eyes were on finding Akash. I was carrying the sapphire pendant in my clutch bag hoping that things would again fall in place.
It didn’t take me long to notice him, dressed in a kurta pyjama. He hadn’t changed much. The same Akash I had known to be mine once. Our eyes met and we smiled.
My heart skipped a beat. It felt all so awkward to be meeting him again, yet I had to do it. He would understand his Naina, after all he had loved me once or may be even today?
“Hi! How are you Naina. You look very different with the spects and everything.“, Akash had walked up to me.
“I am good. it’s been a long time.”, I said as I nodded at him.
We sat beside each other and spoke for sometime like strangers discussing about the weather, the Indian politics, old acquaintances and everything, but us and the age of knowing each other.
I had to do it… I thought clutching at my bag with the pendant inside. I am sure he would understand me. Should I just hand it over to him?
We were silent for sometime when Akash spoke…” Want to introduce you to someone.”
” Meghna, can you please come over here once.“, said Akash as a beautiful girl with long dark brown hair, dressed in a saree joined us.
” This is Meghna, my would be…. And Meghna this is Naina, my batchmate in college. “
I stood there quietly shaking hands courteously with the girl and she stood there beside Akash. They really looked good together. For the rest of the evening we were all there watching Swarna take her vows for life.
Just before I left and was bidding goodbye to everyone, I walked up to Meghna and Akash.
“ Hi! Meghna, Wish you all the best in your new life which is all set to begin soon. I don’t know if work will permit me to attend your wedding but there is something which I want to give you. “, I opened my bag and took out the blue sapphire pendant and put it in Akash’s hand.
“Come on now! tie this to her neck.“, I said as a surprised Akash looked at my eyes and Meghna glowed in happiness.
I left India the next day.
I knew Naina, that possibly you wouldn’t be back but everyday since you left my life, I wished I would open my door and see you standing there, back forever into my life. Seven Years passed by with me imagining every day that you would come back to me saying that you were wrong, that you were immature and we would be together again. Naina, I so missed you. If only you realised what you meant to me.
You left me feeling like a loser in life but forever you robbed me of a desire to lead a life again. With you gone, I just lost “me”. Years passed by but I never felt like living again. It was work and family which saw me through. I tried getting in touch with you but after few abortive attempts of you not replying my mails and not picking my calls stopped that too. But believe me my dear, I waited for you every single day. I knew, one day you will be back in my life and I waited for that day. My parents wanted me to settle down but I could never think of the future without you.
Then after so many years Swarna told me that you would be here in Kolkata to attend her wedding. The first thought which came to my mind after hearing that was the moment I see you again I would take you in my arms and cajole you back into my life. It’s never too late for love, is it?
But what if you are still the same? What if after you broke off you erased me out of your mind? What if the comfort and success that US gave you just made you forget those innocent days you spend in Kolkata with me? What if my name doesn’t even ring a bell in your mind now? Is it that I am forgotten in some memory lanes ?…. and me… I tell you that I missed you, that every day in these seven years I have waited for you, that even today I so badly wish that you come back to my life, so badly wish that you still wear the sapphire pendant I bought for you. What a loser am I !!
Ma was after me for a very long time trying to fix a match. Swarna’s wedding was just two weeks away and I had to act fast. At last I gave in to Ma’s persuasion and agreed to marry Meghna. I knew it was wrong that I was doing to her but I cannot pose like a loser in front of you when we meet.
When I met you, I still hoped that some miracle would happen and you would be back in my life.
But your last words just shook me. Couldn’t you have given that pendant to me and asked me to make it wear round your beautiful neck? I would have forgotten everything of that past and we would have been one again. If only….