End to a Beginning, that wasn’t

There are high streetlights visible from the coffee shop where we sit. Such an unlikely place to meet.

I’d always imagined us meeting at a wedding of a mutual acquaintance, in the middle of everyone dancing. It seemed a likely prospect, our world was so small.
Though which South Indian wedding ceremony involves dance, you may ask.

Or in an exotic (enough) setting away from home. Homes.
In a crowded beach with the sun setting behind us, or a random KFC outlet where two disinterested souls spot each other in delight before indulging in incessant chatter.

Or in one of the narrow aisles of our public library, between tall bookshelves that we’re engrossed in decoding.

For a long, long time I turned every lane and entered every wedding almost expectedly. Nothing materialized, until I was exhausted of momentarily getting my hopes high and adjusting my hair in place.

All the while that I was getting dressed today (I may not have much to show for it), I felt old. As difficult as it was, I avoided the thought of how young we had been, Wo jo adhoori si yaad baki hai and Jaise milte nahi kisi dariya ke do kinaare lines continually playing in my head.
But now, godforsaken Naina da kya kasoor won’t stop and I must repress my headbobbing. I don’t feel like the song though.

“I don’t drink or smoke”. I casually mention, unsure why I sound like my recently decommissioned matrimonial profile.

“Oh”

“Neither does he.” Now I know why.
It came out surprisingly easy, and I’m only happy for myself.

“Oh..”
I’m assuming the dots were there, or maybe the melancholy was only in my air.

I see fingers, long, thin and straight unlike my long crooked ones. They appear damp and soft, like they always did in pictures. I imagine a fountain pen in them, almost immediately replaced with a Gel pen by memory.

As we stepped outside and the lights fell on us, for the life of me I couldn’t see the magnificence in his face, hair or arms. And for the life of me, I couldn’t believe myself.

As I leave, all I think of with every step away are the stories that weren’t written about me, the poems I didn’t feature in.

Yet we all choose our stories really, don’t we?

PS : Too many break-up stories, I’ve heard this past year.

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