Eight years! siting on the window seat of train I was just getting myself anxious. The train stopped and I managed to get my slim body out of the door through the crowd rather easily. It’s 4.30 AM, January morning with chilling breeze around. Feeling the cold I made myself shrink in my warm jacket. My unfolded fist wandered inside the pocket looking for the mobile. I dialed dad with freezing fingers to know if someone is coming to pick me up. After a short conversation I was asked to wait for sometime. I thought of satisfying my anxiety with a look outside the station. It was a changed city with new building structures and more of cars than rickshaws but people still looked the same. Starting off their day early in the morning even at 3 degree Celsius with freezing wind and visibility limiting fog. I reached near the temple which was unchanged and still looked new, separated by a street from a mosque; both crowded for morning prayers. In the flower shop the keepers were busy in handling the customers and occasionally sprinkling water on the flowers to make them appear fresh. I reached the narrow street there.

The street with which I share some pleasant memories. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, The girl is looking at the flowers in the shop and the boy is waiting for his mom outside the temple. My mom never asked me to enter the temple as I used to make fun of her so called GODS. We looked at each other and exchanged a smile. Both of us had some hesitation to approach and talk to each other. Now the funny irony was we studied in the same school same class and don’t need unnecessary introduction. Well, the hesitation did not last longer than 2-3 minutes. 
“Hello Ayesha, how come here?”
As if I did not know that she must be here with her dad offering fajr prayers after morning aajaan inside the mosque. She smiled and gave me the answer I already knew. Now I did not know how to continue with our conversation. 
She came to rescue me out of it, by asking “how come you in a temple? As far as I know you are an atheist, with a sarcastic smile.”
This took me by surprise,. I did not expect her to know this part of me, as very few of school-mates knew this, at least not her. I could easily hide my inner expression of surprise with a short laugh. 
“That’s why I was forced to stay out of the temple by Mom, I said. And you are busy looking at these flowers,” 
I asked to continue with the conversation, she answered yes and these red roses are my favorites. We barely had talk for few minutes as it seemed to me at that time, I saw mom coming out. Honestly speaking, I was not very glad to see her coming out so soon. Anyway I introduced Ayesha to mom and she greeted mom in by touching her feet. It is a usual of greeting elders in India. In turn she got a hug from my mom and some blessing with the sweets from the temple. After a short conversation between mom and Ayesha we had to say goodbye for the day and I moved towards my car with mom, but did not forget to wave my hands before throwing myself at the driving seat. I was 15 at that time but could drive without hesitation. This is one  of the awards of being related to the city police chief in India.

Next week we met in the school bus. Our houses were not very far so we used to travel through the same bus to school. But today it was different we were not just exchanging smiles but worded smiles. 
She suddenly came with a question, 
“You were surprised on that day when I called you an atheist, weren’t you ?” 
Ah! I don’t how the hell girls can know something even if you try your best to hide it from them. I think that makes them a better spy (Mr. Ian Flemming your movies should have a female bond). I just smiled with acceptance. She laughed and told the reason was Priyanka (Only my good friends and anti’s knew about this quality). It was enjoyable to know that she used to talk about me before.  For the first and last time I was happy with what Priyanka did. She was an annoyer for me before. I just thanked her without blabbering a word. During the next days we talked more often than ever, with words and without words. Once in the school park she told me again that she loves red roses perhaps for the 9th time in 10 days. To admit, at that time I was stupid enough to not understand the meaning hidden in her words, and I continued to be idiot for next few days.

The entire class was on an excursion to the city zoo, few of the students got intentionally lost from the troop during the visit., and fortunately we were a part of this lost bunch. We in pairs then departed from each other before reappearing in more or less an hour. After jocund excursion and the better one hour (When she got a red rose finally) we came back to our homes. I was talking to sis (the way I address my elder sister) I told her about Ayesha. And next morning it was a teasing day. Sis and Big B had entered a collaboration to banter me. Well anyone will love doing this if a 15 year old boy says he is in love. I was embarrassed, but had to bear it anyway. By evening Mom and dad had joined the collaboration, and I had no savior. Mom started saying I met my daughter in law and I support my little son. I don’t care about the religion stuff. And then she laughed at me. I was peeved, blushed and irritated simultaneously with their remarks and tried to show that I am getting angry. Anyway, it continued with a slow decrease in its intensity through the days.

Eid- Ul- Fitar invitation brought a reason to meet her parents. I was determined to behave in the best possible to impress way. I did not need a lot of change or rehearsal as I was already a well behaved boy. Believe me I did more just accomplishing the job in my hand. The impression that I left that day won me the freedom to meet and talk to her more often than I used to enjoy before. But it was because their parent still took us as kids. This is probably one issue that has never been resolved and will never get resolved. All the parent take their kids to be kids even if they turn into grand parents.

That morning she came and without saying even Hi moved into the lecture room. The teacher was inside so verbal communication was difficult. I thought of playing the postman game. The game was very simple and efficient way to communicate in presence of teacher. The sender writes something on a piece of paper and the paper passes to the person you want to communicate with, through class mates, hiding beneath the desks and tables.
 “What happened? Why are you not talking to me?” I asked. 
After a long journey of 11 people it came back to me. 
“Khaalaa jaan saw us yesterday and she told mom about us”, was the answer. 
The news was not good but like a fearless lone warrior engulfed in enemies den I wrote 
“so what?” 
She wrote that we will talk after the lecture. 
As soon as the lecture was over I rushed towards and almost screamed at her, 
“so what if Khaalaa saw us ? Its still the same we love each other”. 
She, without saying anything started crying and now I was down. 
Trying to console her I said, “why do you worry its not a big issue”. 
In sobbing voice she replied “no, its not possible to continue with this anymore. Mom slapped me yesterday. Look I come from an orthodox muslim family. My parents will never accept anything like this and that too with a hindu boy”. 
“What the hell? don’t you think its just stupid and nothing else?” 
She came closer and then said 
“we would continue to friends but it cant continue in the same way anymore”. 
“Friends! shut up” I barked. This is very typical of girls first carry you to a stage where they call you more than a friend and suddenly freeze with this kind of end. It was all getting to an end very suddenly and awfully

I somehow managed to attend rest of the lecture came back home and cried for sometime hiding in a blanket. Then onwards I met her everyday for next 30 days or so but no talks, just  staring and hiding from each other. Board exams came and went. I went to a different school to continue with studies and then moved to the medical school. Next two years of study and preparation for medical school never gave me enough time to remember or forget Ayesha. Dad was transferred from that city, so never had a chance to visit this city of good old memories. Today after 8 years just trying to remember incidents that had happened, getting deeper into nostalgia. From the street I could see two teenagers who started with a story here.
I was so drowned into all these memories suddenly the mobile vibration woke me up and without looking at the call I asked 
“yes dad where are you?”  
Oh I can see dad’s car coming, gotta go….. 

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