Their love for each other was organic. It did not reveal itself on one magical day, but they drew closer one step at the time starting with conversations and holding hands.
They studied in the same school but their relationship never went beyond being mere acquaintances. They moved on to different cities for their college education.
A wedding brought them closer to each other in the middle of their college year. Her best friend’s elder sister was getting married to his youngest chachu. Families and friends from both sides descended in the bride’s farmhouse in their hometown. The wedding was a grand affair spread across 7 days. These days were filled with rituals and get-togethers.
The fierce competition between the bride and groom’s friends to outdo each other at the Sangeet and outsmart each other during Joota Chupai was the reason they came more in contact with each other. They had a blast hanging out in a group and making the most out of all the festivities around the wedding. Before they went back to their colleges, they exchanged phone numbers and connected with each other on social networks.
She was intensely listening to a lecture at college when her phone beeped with a message:
He: Last week this time, you shouted at me when I missed a beat rehearsing for Kar Gayi Chull.
She: If I did not shout at you, our performance would have never been the best of the lot.
After an hour there was another message:
He: Last week at this time, you asked me to drop you home so that you could pick up your parents for the evening Sangeet.
After 15 minutes…
He: At this time we were stuck in the traffic jam at MG Road and we passed time by making comments on everybody else’s rehearsal videos.
Visuals from last week played in front of her eyes as she read his messages.
After two hours…
He: You came back with your family, looking fabulous in the pink lehenga.
She: what happened after that?
He: You want me to relive the entire evening with you?
She: Absolutely right. Isn’t it story time now… See I’m not gonna let u go off so easily.
Hundreds of messages were exchanged as he brought alive moments from the last week. She was new to reliving days and events in so much detail. The wedding week was so vibrant that she thoroughly enjoyed exchanging these messages.
Their conversations gradually moved on from the wedding to life situations. They were getting to know each other better through these messages.
Their fourth college term ended and both of them were back in their hometowns for the summer. They were looking forward to meeting each other face-to-face.
He was already seated in the cafe when she came in. After so many message exchanges they had come to know each other very well. In any other situation, the natural reaction of buddies who had not met for a long time would have been to hug and greet. But there was an unexpected awkwardness between the two. They settled for a handshake.
They were used to speaking so much to each other over messages, but now they were suddenly out of words. They had gotten used to speaking to a profile picture and same person standing in front of them in flesh was something new. Inside, both of them were feeling funny about the situation.
Coffee was ordered and the next half hour was spent sharing general pleasantries. Her eyes radiated happiness over meeting him. He cracked silly jokes to break the newly-found ice.
Still, their interaction was nowhere close to the freewheeling chats they had when messaging each other.
They came out of the cafe. The meeting was still incomplete. There were so much to share, but this new dynamic was taking time to settle in.
She: Let’s take a walk down the street.
She: Can I hold your hand?
They walked hand-in-hand along the street. It was her way of telling him that nothing has changed between them. They have grown closer. Even if words failed to give this reassurance, holding hands confirmed.
He had never imagined for their relationship to unveil in this manner. That moment had given the most beautiful meaning to holding hands. This will always be engraved in his memory as their walk in the clouds. A precious moment he will relive with her again and again in the years to come.