I could hardly contain my excitement, it was finally happening I was back in Mumbai getting ready to see him in person after an eternity. I looked at myself in the mirror and was not disappointed in what I saw, I was much older now 35 to be exact, and I was married with 2 kids, but I was still what some would call attractive thankfully the Zumba classes had paid off.
He came in my life when I entered Business School, this was in the 90s, before cell phones or Facebook. I am pretty sure it was love at first sight, I was a shy little thing and he was my senior. His piercing eyes, broad shoulders and evil grin took my heart and I never got it back.
An aspiring model, he walked on water and all I could do was stare, we exchanged glances as we passed in the hallways, every time our eyes met my heart stopped but he never made a move, so nothing happened. Then one night during a school event, he walked over to me and we started talking, I don’t remember what he said but I do remember listening to his voice mesmerized, not sure how we long we talked for or about what, but that night I could not sleep, actually I could not sleep for several nights after that. Days and months passed and then just like that he graduated and was gone from my world.
Time passed, and I met my future husband, we got married and moved to the U.S. Life was good, I was busy, but he always stayed in the back of my mind. Then one day I found his Facebook profile, but of course I could not add him, as we knew some of the same people, and by the time I graduated everyone knew I had a huge crush on him. So, al l could do was silently troll his Facebook page. At first, I felt guilty like I was cheating on my husband but then slowly the guilt melted away. As time passed, I had more urgent things to deal with like kids, a career and snow storms. Then one day out of the blue, his name popped up on my LinkedIn, I thought surely there was nothing wrong with connecting with him professionally, so I did just that. I sent him an invite, he accepted, and we exchanged a few messages. He told me about his career, I told him about mine, it was all superficial, but I found myself living for his messages. I called it my midlife crisis.
As my feelings became uncontrollable, fate finally gave me a chance to get some closure, as one shitty day at work I got a message on LinkedIn, sorry for not replying earlier, thank you for the birthday wishes, are you on WhatsApp? Let’s connect, he wrote replying to a birthday wish I sent him weeks ago. I was on cloud nine, feeling like a school girl, I shared the message with my best friend and of course she advised that I should wait a few weeks before sending a reply. I tired my best to listen, but by end of the day I couldn’t help it and I replied with my WhatsApp contact. We were now connected, and we talked quite often about life in general but never about “Us”. I loved the thrill of receiving his messages and the agony of waiting for his replies. One day he told me was going to be in India next month, I was ecstatic, I am also planning on going to attend a cousin’s wedding, I told him. Then we should meet, it be good to catch up after all these years, he said. I flew to Mumbai with my youngest son, while my husband and older son stayed behind. I messaged him as soon as I arrived, and we made plans to meet.
And so today was the big day, I was getting ready to meet him for lunch. Perhaps this was the most stupid thing I would ever do, I knew meeting him in public in a city like Mumbai was risky, forget strangers, the biggest risk was being spotted by someone we knew like a common friend or God forbid a relative! I knew I was putting my marriage at risk, but the thought of seeing him again was so exciting that soon it took over reason and fear. I called Uber and quickly put finishing touches to my makeup, told my mom and sister I was ready to go to meet some old school friends, gave my son a kiss and with a pounding heart went down the stairs to wait for my Uber. The weather was cloudy, which is the best weather for a hot and humid city like Mumbai. Omg I said to myself as I realized that the restaurant he picked was by the beach, what if it was busy. Anyways too late to turn back, my car arrived, and I was no my way.
I felt so reckless yet so right almost surreal. The car stopped, and I was there. I entered the restaurant and there he was, like he was meant to be there. I had seen his pictures, but he looked even more handsome in person, he had aged well. For a moment we started at each other, then he said hi! I think I replied but I’m not sure.
We were shown to our table, thankfully in a corner overlooking the sea. As we sat down, he looked at me and smiled and I’m sure I blushed like a little girl! The waiter came, and we ordered, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a bite. He started telling about his charity work and how he wanted to make a difference in the world. Before I knew it, we were talking like old friends, about people we used to know and the teachers we used to hate. You had quite a following, he said, I pretended to be surprised and replied, I don’t think so, even if there were any guys, they were all idiots in my opinion, he looked at me with a glint in his eyes and said not all of them. WTF! was he trying to flirt with me, I was sure my heart was racing, and he could hear it. As we ate or pretended to eat, I looked out the huge glass window overlooking the beach, the weather is so nice today, I just love the beach, I could live here forever, I said. He smiled and said should we go for a walk?
We left our food unfinished and made our way down the sandy walkway that lead to the boardwalk, the air was cool and the wind calm, but the clouds seemed much darker now, and thankfully despite good weather there were very few people at the beach, and none of them looked familiar. We walked in silence. There was a new gazebo at the end of the boardwalk, we made our way to it and just as we reached it, I felt a fat rain drop on my head, the rain picked up, as we ran into the Gazebo, pretty soon it changed to a torrent as sheets of rain fell all around us, it almost felt like a curtain had fallen, even the waves seemed hidden behind it. This is crazy I screamed over the rain, as we looked at each other and laughed not quite believing how this Bollywood like moment was happening. As I looked into his eyes, a million of my favorite romantic songs started playing in the background. At that moment as the rain fell around us, we just stood there staring at each other, I moved back and he took a step towards me and I realized that I was backed up against one of the pillars, he was close too close and then the next moment he bent his head and his lips were on mine, and we were kissing. I felt myself melting as his body pressed against mine and our tongues explored. Was it a second or an eternity I don’t know but it felt like everything fell into place, as if I finally found nirvana. I am sorry I don’t know what came over me, he said pulling away. I was speechless, did he even know how long I had waited for this moment. I finally found my voice, “I’m not sorry”, he looked at me like he was puzzled at my reaction, but I knew he saw right through me, without saying a word he kissed me again. Somewhere far away the thunder clapped, I opened my eyes, he was still there, I was in his arms on a rainy day by the beach.