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The dry leaves of trees were rustling and the birds were singing songs in low monotones. Their sweet sad voices dug deep into the chambers of his memory and pulled out the moments he spent with her. Right here on this bench. This was the place where they had met the first time. There was no lamp post but the moonlight lit up her visage clearly which brought about a mysterious vibe usually exuded by her. She sat motionless looking in the space with an expression whose meaning he couldn’t decipher. She was a mystery and that was what he loved about her. How he wished he could know what was it that she was thinking right now sitting right beside him! Her face gave no clue but it appeared serene and composed compared to his. He was a bundle of nerves and wasted expressions of wonder, awe, puzzlement and even nervousness while she was exactly the opposite. After all this was just the second time that they had met and he wanted it to be a perfect evening for her to remember him by.

They had walked for an hour with him talking about almost all different things at once which eventually resulted in him not completing any of them. She was listening and often he saw her looking ahead and smiling. A smile full of amusement and bit of shyness as well. She listened to the varying pitches of his voice as they changed with the topics he spoke about. He spoke a lot but yet she never tired of listening to him rant about his feelings, experiences and love. The path they had taken was isolated and laden with leaves and the trees bowed in making it similar to a secret passage amidst the park. He wondered why she never spoke. He looked at her and saw her looking somewhere. Her large brown eyes seemed dreamy as she sat with her lips pursed. She turned to look at him and realized he had been looking at her for a while now.

She knew he loved her. It was evident from all his actions even though he really didn’t do anything to make it obvious. The fact that he cared could be seen from the way he grew anxious when she was upset. He would be restless and she could see him hesitate before he finally asked her if she was all right. She would say she’s fine but she could see the disbelief in his eyes. Then the rest of the day there would anxious and quick darts in her direction from him and he would be right before her when she needed him. Once, she was unwell and he had gone out on an errand because of which they had to send someone else to escort her home. The fact that he was very upset and remained impassive and depressed for long was proof enough. He was filled with guilt and loathed himself for not being there for her when she needed him. He never appeared that way before her but she could make out that he was low and that was why she had asked one of her friends about what had happened to him. He loved her dearly and she couldn’t possibly imagine since when because she had been unaware of his presence until a few months back when he had made the effort to talk to her. He was a sweet but silly fellow and she come to like him as he was. The reason was because she knew he was a keeper and truly loved her. She was sure that once she would tell him how much she loved him, he would never leave her side. He was older but that didn’t matter. Then what was it that stopped her from letting him come close to her every time? She didn’t want to lose him and that was the reason that she had agreed to meet him for a walk at the park. She didn’t know that those moments of being alone would trigger a spark so great that she would find herself falling for him sooner than she would have liked. She could not keep her mind of him and her resolve often failed her now. She couldn’t see him lost and silent because she knew the reason behind his lost smile was her indifference and denial that she loved him as well. She still kept him at bay and tried to run away from this overwhelming sensation which was like a death like grip around her from which she had no means of escaping. She couldn’t explain her stupidity and her unwillingness to surrender even though she knew she loved him more than she thought she could love someone. She was dying to take him in his arms and comfort him and tell him that his love wasn’t unheard and had not gone unnoticed. Instead, here she was sitting next to him on a bench and looking at his face seeing the weariness and anxiety in his eyes of losing her or failing her and despite that she didn’t say anything.

He often asked her would she like to speak about something during their last two meets but she told him she loved listening to him. She had nothing worth speaking about. She knew he too wanted to experience what she felt. The magic of listening to the sound of her voice & fixing his eyes upon her face after which he would store every detail in the recesses of his memory forever. She shattered his hope even during their second meet and let his mind play tricks on him. Just a little bit longer she thought. Then I’ll tell him how much I love him and always will.

In the meanwhile, he sat looking at her lost in a thought looking at him. He snapped his fingers which startled her and made a feeble attempt to joke about his good looks. As usual, he realized his timing was wrong and he cursed himself under his breath when her face turned scarlet and she turned her head away. He thought she was mollified because he had embarrassed her by pointing out the fact that she had been looking at him. Why god why couldn’t he have just kept his mouth shut and been content with the fact that she had been lost in a thought while looking at him! He wished he didn’t have such a big mouth and a romantic bone in his body. She still sat with her head turned away. He thought to himself that this was it. He could not have her no matter how hard he tried and it was probably because he didn’t deserve her. She was such a lovely and beautiful girl and what was he? A average looking fellow with an appetite for food and books and that’s all. There was nothing special about him that would make her take notice of him. He could only hope to be her friend and nothing more. Such thoughts came to his mind and he felt a desire to runaway and hide so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed about the tears which would soon freely flow from his eyes. He mustered the courage to say sorry to her and even told her that he was just kidding. He waited for her to respond.

She had been taken by surprise when he had said that. He had been joking and she felt stupid for having reacted so harshly and abruptly. What must he be thinking? She was sure that all sorts of dreadful thoughts must have come rushing into his head. She heard him apologise and she felt awful about it. She didn’t mean to make him feel guilty for her stupidity. He sounded so sincere and so remorseful that his actions had hurt her. His voice told her everything she needed to know and she decided to tell him that it was all right and make him feel better. She turned around and told him it was fine and that he need not feel guilty about anything. It was her fault so he should calm down. He asked her if she would like to go home as it was getting dark and cold and she didn’t have any warm clothes on her. She agreed and they began their silent walk towards her house. She tried to lighten the mood and she saw him try and feign a laugh and a smile but he was a terrible liar and an actor. On reaching her house, he simply said goodbye to her and started to make his way down the road towards his own house. It was then that she called out to him. He froze for an instant, fearing the worst. Then he heard her thank him for coming along with her and that they should do this more often. His heart somersaulted and he stood with his mouth agape. He managed to mutter an inaudible reply at which she smiled and waved to him before turning and going inside her house.

He was speechless and he stood there staring at the closed door of her house for several moments. Today was the day he had thought he had ruined his chance to impress her. But she had told him that they should do this more often which means she had enjoyed their time together and was looking forward to more such meetings. She saw him standing in the driveway with the stupefied look on his face and giggled. When would she confess her love to him? She couldn’t expect him to keep hoping all his life that one day she would perhaps tell him that she loved him as well. On the other hand, he went home in high spirits and celebrated by having his favourite Italian cuisine.

They both anxiously waited for their next encounter.

They loved each other but were scared to confess. Why is that we are scared to express and speak about our love for someone but are quick to speak about our hatred? Why do we find it easier to say spiteful words which hurt somebody but find it difficult to tell someone that we love them?

-Babar Mir

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