Surya waited for Tanvi beneath the Gulmohar tree, like he had done on numerous occasions. But he was not eager to meet her this time. He did not feel ready for the meeting. His stomach growled. He had forgotten to have lunch and his stomach was registering a strong protest. He was wearing the new sky-blue shirt which he had purchased only the day before. He was sweating profusely and the sweat created dark spots on the shirt and turned it into a darker shade. Surya felt anxious and dizzy.
Tanvi was coming towards the Gulmohar from the academic block. She looked very pretty in her motley-green designer sari. Christmas celebrations were in full swing in the college and all the students were dressed in their best possible holiday attire. Surya stared at her and continued to do so, while she was walking towards him.
She approached him, gave him a light punch on his arm and asked, “Why did you want to meet me? You sounded very serious over the phone. Did you commit any crime? Do you want my legal advice?”
She chuckled, but was perplexed when Surya remained silent. She stopped smiling and grew concerned.
“What happened?” she asked once again.
Surya did not know what to say. He glanced at her once but quickly averted his eyes and finally settled his gaze upon a line of ants scurrying across the ground. They looked very busy.
A few moments passed before Surya spoke. “I have to tell you something” said he.
Tanvi was convinced by then that something was troubling Surya and so she did not make any attempt to prod him for information. She wanted him to talk to her rather than answer her questions.
“I have not been completely honest with you. I have been acting like a good friend to you all this while. But the truth is very different.”
He looked at her once again and she was staring at him incredulously.
“I… I… I have been in love with you ever since I saw you the first time. Yes… I fell in love with you and still am deeply in love with you. I know that this confession might come as a shock to you, but it is the truth. I adore you and please do not think of this as a passing fancy or infatuation. No… I am not infatuated with you, but I love you… I always have. I know that you despise such approaches and think that it is very immature to fall in love while in college. Yes, I am in college but I am 22 years old and can tell right from wrong. I feel right when I am with you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life and promise to make you the happiest person if you would let me…”
Surya had stuttered a lot when he had begun but once love was mentioned, he had felt a knot ease from his chest. He still wanted to say more but could not find the words for it. All the while, he had kept his eyes on the ground and finally raised them to look at her. He wished he hadn’t.
Her eyes were blazing. She had listened to the discourse, first in disbelief which was soon replaced by anger and shock.
Surya took out a book from his backpack and opened it. He extended it to her. He was slightly unnerved by her angry looks but decided to see the whole thing through. Tanvi hesitated but finally snatched the book out of his hands. It was a diary. Across the flyleaf, it was written Tanvi, in bold letters.
She opened it. It was like a log book and every meeting that Surya had with Tanvi was recorded. But it was a poetic log book. Against the mention of each meeting, Surya had written a poem. Some pages had pencil drawings of her face. Surya was not a great artist, but greatness was not essential to capture the beauty of Tanvi’s eyes.
Tanvi did not lift her eyes from the book. She remained thoughtful as though in a trance for a long time. Finally she looked up at Surya. The awkwardness was unbearable.
“I hate you. I hate you not for loving me, but for pretending to be my friend all along. I have seen my share of suitors and I have rejected all of them because I know that they all had very immature, fanciful feelings. We have to be realistic in life. You seem to have watched a lot of movies and read a lot of romantic books, because the way you have written this diary is very childish and immature. You feel that my eyes are beautiful; you say that you will make me the happiest person; but let me ask you, What if I am not happy with you? In practical life, it is not possible to be happy all the time. Every relationship would have its ups and downs. People work at their relationships everyday to sustain it. All that requires emotional maturity and you do not have that. You are like a kid who still believes in Santa Claus. You shall not be my friend any longer. I mean, I will not consider you as my friend any longer. In reality, you were never my friend. You are a cheat who used friendship to get closer to me. I do not want to talk to you any further. We might run into each other in future, since we are in the same college. But I do not want you to approach me and try to talk to me. We are perfect strangers from now on.”
She threw the diary on the ground. Some of the ants were crushed under the book and their line was broken.
She wheeled around and walked away without looking at Surya, even once.
Surya stood rooted to the ground and a drop of tear rolled down his cheeks. He finally picked up the diary. He felt that he would never fall in love again. The ants had found a path around the diary by then and went about their work as usual.