Anushka Hait (16)
Gundecha Education Academy, Mumbai
My friend and I reached the hotel late evening. I remember it to be a chilly evening, and I remember the roar of the waves from the nearby sea. I remember that huge garden, illuminated with lights all around, and how beautiful it was having dinner there. I remember my friend urging me to go to our room quickly and start going through the notes for next day’s debate. But most of all, I remember you.
You were sitting with a group of friends, your hair setting you apart. Yes, your hair was what I noticed first! You guys were talking about something, and you seemed least interested in it. I could see you fidgeting with your hands and looking around, trying to find a way out of whatever was going on. Your head turned my way and for a moment, just for a moment, our eyes locked. You didn’t notice, and I shied away. I turned and headed to my room.
That night was a beautiful night. The lights, the music, the food… and you. I had just headed over to the buffet table when I saw you coming right towards me. Well, not towards me, but the table of course. I handed you a plate, out of nervousness I presume, and you smiled. “You here for the debate?” you asked. I could immediately find myself getting nervous. What could I do? I had never been good at talking to strangers.
I stammered out a ‘yes’ and I have simply no idea what you saw in that because the next moment, you asked me to have dinner with you. I pointed to my friend, hoping that you’d get that I couldn’t leave her alone. But you simply pointed to your own friends, shrugged, and started walking to another table. Clueless about what to do, I followed you. We sat down at the table and during that time spent with you, I know that something in me opened up. Bloomed, rather. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time someone had been so interested in getting to know me.
We talked and talked and talked, and the evening slowly turned into night. People started leaving, and chairs were being rearranged. We walked out together, and surprisingly, neither of us mentioned going back to our rooms. We made our way to the pool, both of us lost in our own thoughts, and yet drawing comfort from the silence. We sat down by the pool, and from then on, I lost track of time. It must have been just an hour, but it felt like ages. I talked a lot, I remember, and you mainly listened. But you were smiling and laughing, and teasing me, and it was outright adorable.
We were sent to our rooms by the coordinator around midnight. The next day was a big day, she said. And indeed, the next day was big. The debate was a success. Our school’s speaker bagged the first prize, and the way your head bowed down in defeat when the results were announced was heart-warming. The way you spoke, with your air of confidence and ability to engross the audience made me realize that whatever you spoke, people would listen. You had that air about you. Something that I could imagine myself having only in dreams.
Too soon, the morning drifted to afternoon and then we were off to our rooms, packing up our things, and saying goodbye to each other. What surprised me was that I wasn’t heartbroken about leaving you. No, not at all. I was lost in my happiness. I was lost in the magic of that one day together. We met in the lobby, just as you were about to leave. We didn’t exchange numbers. That would have been foolishness, trying to pretend that we’d have any kind of future together. No, we just looked at each other, and abruptly, you turned. Your car was around the corner, and you started walking towards it. I kept staring at your back, and just as you were about to disappear around the turn, you looked back, and smiled.
This story has been published in the October 2015 issue of The Teenager Today.