I know I will never post this letter but I need to write this for, like they say, every relationship is complete only when it ends. It came as an email, the invitation to your wedding and I was besides myself to read about the girl who would be your wife. You didn’t send me the email of course, it was forwarded by a friend who had known us from the time when such a wedding invitation would have been an unspeakable thing.
Do you remember how we met on the first day of our new jobs, new to the city, the surroundings and to each other? And yet a month later, you said I had transformed you into being more like myself, you were familiar with my love for Shakespeare, autumn and Vivaldi’s four seasons. When you looked at my initials and declared that if we got married, I wouldn’t have to change them, I had stared at you and then broken into peals of laughter. I don’t remember how the friendship grew, in what was an age of newness, you became my oldest buddy.
When I went home for the Christmas break, you asked to come along. I had looked at you incredulously and reminded you that I wasn’t called the Colonel’s daughter for nothing. You had offered to stay in a motel and stand outside my house everyday. “Why would you do such a thing?”, I had asked even as visions of my father hauling you for trespassing floated before my yes. “Because I will miss you if you go away”, you had said simply and the familiar feeling of hurried heartbeats had left me confused. I was caught between being loyal to my baggage of memories and moving on with the echoes of my heart and a reply was not forthcoming.
When I came back, you asked to meet me and right there on the office lawn with its jasmine and begonias, you asked me to marry you. “You are the one for me”, you said even as you pushed a single red rose into my hand. I didn’t say yes and I didn’t say no. I knew this was coming but I was waiting for a homecoming from someone else across the seas. He would never come back but hope is always the last one to leave the room and it stays on with the lights turned on bright,even as everyone walks away.
Do you remember how you sang to me every time you asked me if I had made up my mind and I pleaded you to stop, because you couldnt carry a tune? Do you remember how you stopped a bus midway and walked back 3 kms to check if I was okay because I had looked upset when we bid each other goodbye for the day? Do you remember how you had pointed to the sky and given me half the stars, saying you would keep the other half for yourself if I ever went away? And yet, I took my share of the stars and gave nothing away. I remained stuck in no-man’s land even as my photograph appeared in your wallet, even as you told me that I had to merely ask and the world would be mine.
Do you remember how you offered to cancel your trip to be with me because I was going through a bad phase at work? But I asked you to go and my last memory of you will be the two of us in the moonlight where you knelt down beside me and gave me the biggest cards you had found and asked me to marry you again. When I come back, we will never be apart again, you had said. And I had let you go, even as a dull ache settled around me. And I had realized that when you have your own journeys to make, a goodbye will not shatter you. So I mailed you one day to tell you that my answer was a no, and for the rest of my life, I will chide myself for not being gentle enough. You had called up then from a land of freezing winters, late at night and asked me why I couldn’t have told you this earlier, were you not my best friend ever? I didn’t want to think of you, alone, across the seas, dealing with the pain that was my doing. And yet, I was not brave enough to deal with it so I moved on and blocked it out because I couldn’t have handled the guilt and the pain both.
So I didn’t return your calls and pretended that I had never been loved madly, irrationally and completely like you had loved me. You resigned from your job and moved away and while my scars healed, as a reminder of a stubborn memory, a faint mark remained.
I can say this now, a part of me is proud of the fact that I did not go along and say yes to you because the person I am today is not the person you loved back then. I don’t know though, maybe we could have grown together and the future would have still been rosy. And here we are, exactly 7 years to the day you asked me to marry you, love has visited your step again and this time you are in it for the long haul. For loving me beyond belief, though I may never have said it then, I give you a big thank you. For allowing me to walk away and wishing me well for my journey, I give you all my gratitude. I am sorry for all the promises and the memories and the unsaid words. I want you to know that no one escapes their heartache and that I did fight my battles and lose people I loved. In the long run, I hope time has been kind to you as she has been to me.
I want you to know that a walk down memory lane is better because of you, that I consider myself lucky for your love and faith. Someday I would like to meet your wife and tell her what a special person you are. But for now I will think of you as I remember you from that moonlit night and hope that your share of stars always shines brightly. Someday when I am old, under a fading autumn sun, I will think of you and of a love that was brave enough to allow us to make journeys alone and I will smile to myself thinking of the red roses. I hope you do too.
The Girl You Once Loved