She wasn’t someone I had had in my sights the first time I laid eyes upon her. She was quiet and unassuming. It was a crowded restaurant where we found ourselves meeting for the first time. There was a group of people surrounding us, all of whom were new to me then.
It was her birthday.
She had this amazing smile that would damn near literally light up the room she was in. Her laughter struck that perfect balance, being neither overly loud nor nearly inaudible. It was genuine mirth, the kind that gladdens your heart and lifts your spirits, no matter how bleak the day had been for you.
We would later travel together across the sea. It was a trip of necessity more than anything else. I learned that she was a person of few words. She spoke very little, in fact, but she listened with her great heart in a way that many of us have forgotten. She would remember the things you said long after you yourself had forgotten the words.
Circumstances allowed us to see each other more often after that. I would visit her when she fell ill, bringing the comfort of my company to her doorstep. I took the train once to buy her food and drink while work occupied her. I took the bus many times more to meet her for meals in the midst of a metropolis of millions.
By then, I knew I had fallen for this girl.
Another birthday rolled around. I sent her a long, heartfelt message about the things we’d been through and the things to which we could look forward. She thanked me for the “beautiful message”. I keep her reply – one among a good many others – in my phone till this very day.
Eventually life took us along different paths. My responsibilities as a senior staff member at work demanded more, much more out of me. Sometimes, I felt like it asked more of me than I would ever be able to give.
The two of us grew up, grew apart, but we were never truly separated. I found there was solace to be had even in the shortest of meetings, the simplest of meals and the occasional, surreptitious exchange of text messages at times throughout the day. Simple comforts.
It was enough, I said to myself. I was content, happy.
But life was harsh on her as well. I was close enough with her that I was privy to some of her darkest moments. I worried that the bitterness would overcome and take the best of her. I stood steadfast and encouraged her along, knowing full well she had the potential and promise to achieve the lofty aims and ambitions she had set for herself.
Sometimes though, I would be reminded that she didn’t see me the same way. In times like these, I was moody, bitter and petty. I’ve said and did things to her that I regret even until today. Yet she forgave me, though I always had to work hard to earn that from her.
These days though, we’ve grown distant. Whether by conscious effort or subconscious desire, no longer does she see me in the same light as before. Messages sent go unreplied for days. Her mood is dark, her mind clouded by unspoken troubles. Our bonds of friendship have weakened.
I should have known such things were not meant to last, as they never do.
I confronted her, demanding a reason for things to have changed, so soon and so suddenly it seemed in my mind. A change in her outlook on life, she reasoned. It was an answer as telling as it was vague, and it was all I was getting out of her.
Now all I feel is a dull anger, a seething bitterness. I blamed her for being untrue, for not valuing the many things I’d done for her. In equal measure I blamed myself too, for being immature, unable to move on, held back and weeping for the nostalgia of times long past.
Every time someone else makes her laugh I am reminded of the way things used to be and I sink a little deeper into this alternating cycle of blame and self-loathing.
It’s sad, it’s pathetic and I hate feeling this helpless in the face of my passions. Rational thought compels me that the mature course of action would be to leave this baggage behind and move on, but my heart remains bound by these emotional shackles.
Two years ago I fell in love with a girl. I don’t regret the times I’ve been with her, or the close bond we shared. I just wish the memories didn’t hurt so damn much.