Chapter 1:



I still remember the very first time I laid my eyes on you.

It was your first day at school and we bumped into each other.

That is how we met the first few weeks- by bumping into each other. Sometimes it was done intentionally, sometimes unintentionally; sometimes it was in the corridor, sometimes in the class.

It was like our thing- and I kind of had a love hate relationship with it.

My friends, more like friend, was in complete awe that the 'new hot guy'- yes, we called you that because we were stupid and didn't know your name till the first week of school ended- had a crush on me. She was so happy about the prospect that I might actually get romantically involved with someone that it sort of became her life goal to make me talk to you.

To others, it might have been a dream that came true. To me, you were just another problem in my already huge list of them. After all, I was a teenager who felt like the world revolved around them.

I tried very hard to deny it, after all why would a guy like you ever like me, a girl who doesn't know even how to talk to people properly? But my friend would always catch you stealing glances at me and would jab me in the stomach until I at least looked back at you.

So, I did.

And that shock on your face when our eyes finally met and the smile that followed it, dang, I did not know whether to laugh or go all heart eyes at you.

The first time you talked to me was when you offered me help with carrying my heavy bag. And I remember snapping at you, saying I am not some damsel in distress who needed your help. You weren't expecting that from me. You just stood and stared at me while I walked away angrily.

It was the day after I had my first asthma attack in front of you.

It was my worst one till date. My lungs were burning and I was panting harder than ever. That day, I had also forgotten to bring my inhaler. Tears were running down my face and I was immediately hospitalised.

I still cannot believe that it was the thing that I hated the most about me was the thing that brought us together.

Later that day, you came to me and told me that you didn't think that I needed your help or that I was a damsel in distress. You just thought it wasn't healthy for me to carry this heavy bag and climb five flights of stairs so soon after that serious asthma attack.

You made me feel guilty and, even today, I rarely feel guilty about things.

Then you asked me why I never took the lift and my reply was something along the lines of, "It reminds me that I am sick, and it feels like I am exploiting my disease to get something good out of it."

You were the first person I admitted this to. I didn’t know why, but I felt like answering you honestly. It has always felt like something that was too personal to share.

That was the day we became friends, we would wave and smile at each other, we would talk and all the other girls of my class did was ask me how the hell did I manage to get you talk to me. I just used to smile at them at say that maybe it was because being friends with him was never on the top of my to-do list.

And we did become great friends. I found myself telling you things that I have never told to anyone before, smiling more, and every night my parents used to mention that the glow I had lost was finally returning to my face.

And it was. I was happier then I have ever been before. You were the reason I was so happy.

Until that day- the day you finally confessed that you harboured feelings for me.

And I froze. I wanted to tell you that so did I, that I thought we would be perfect together, that you were the first person who I had allowed to let in, but I couldn’t. For one, I couldn’t even face the thought of what would happen if this did not end happily, I didn’t want to lose another friend. And the other being that at the time I was drowning in an ocean of sadness, whereas you were shining high up above, and I believed, my circumstances had led me into believing, that the only way this would end is me dragging you down with myself, and I could not do that to you.

So, I put on a brave face and I told you the first reason. You did not try to convince me otherwise, and I still do not know whether I wanted you to do that or not. You simply smiled and nodded, saying that you understand.

That was the day I started losing you. We would still talk but now there was an impenetrable tension between us. Then you started to avoid me, and in a few months we stopped talking altogether.

And it broke my heart. Everything I did was to avoid this fate, and then, here we were, just like what we were like in my mind when I predicted our future as of when I too confessed my feelings.

I thought this was inevitable end, and moved on.

I don't think that I knew at that time that it wasn't the end.

The next time we talked was almost a year later. It was our farewell party and I was just sitting on one of the chairs wondering about how much I was going to miss everyone. You came up to me and sat next to me and started talking to me like there was nothing wrong with us; that we haven't talked to each other for an year. Then you asked me for one last dance, and me, not being able to resist the temptation of being close to you, said yes.

And it was one of the best nights of my life.

You held me close to you and looked into my eyes the entire time. And from the way you held me, I knew that you knew everything because even though the words didn't come out from my mouth, they were being screamed by my eyes- I love you and I am sorry.

And you great, great person, you understood everything, because your soft brown eyes were saying that.

And so we danced the night away. That one dance turned into God knows how many dances and when the time to say goodbye came, we were sad but at the same time I was glad that I was finally able to give you something that you deserved- a goodbye worth remembering.

The next time I met you was months later.

It was my first day at college, and I bumped into you, quite a fitting way to meet you again, in my opinion. I looked up to say sorry and found myself looking into your soft brown eyes.

That was when I decided it was too huge a thing to term as a coincidence. All my fears went away as I realised that being a coward was not going to help me; that I had to confront you and my feelings to be happy.

And, I was right.

Years later, here we are, with me sitting here and typing this while you are making coffee in the kitchen. It has been 10 years since we first met that day at school, and I wish I could go and tell my young self that you cannot be happy if you do not give yourself the permission to be.

But what matters more is the now. We are together, and we are happy.

Maybe the concept of happily ever after that I so despised as a teenager is true. Maybe, i finally have one.

Ine Airlcana