*Payal, 20, is a college student in Delhi.
From foes to friends
l always found myself smiling after speaking to Rahul. We always speak to each other before going to bed – it’s our thing. Today he told me about a cricket match his team had just won – that too in the last over!
We have grown up together – studying in the same school and living in the same society.
We fought like cats and dogs as kids – hitting each other at times. He often complained to my mom behind my back and I hated his guts.
I remember the day and the moment this childhood hatred turned into fondness.
In class 10, he stood by me in a major fight I had at school with someone. Ever since I have looked at him through a different lens – our fights turned to gossips and our playtimes turned into long ‘study’ sessions.
Mere jaisi ladki
My friends often teased me about Rahul and asked me if I loved him. Love was too big a word for me. So I would say, I don’t know!
Rahul, however, would ‘fall in love’ with a new girl every now and then, in the library or on the sports field, but has never really taken things far. He says he doesn’t have the guts.
He would always tease me, ‘Arre tere jaisi koi ladki nahi ho sakti.’ And I strongly felt that I was special to him. He would often blush, whenever he was with me in public.
We both knew each other inside out. Or so I thought.
One evening he told me he had been selected for a cricket coaching course and would have to be in Mumbai for three months. He said goodbye and left. We would often call each other every day but I realised I missed seeing him.
I missed him so much that I even wrote a small poem about the experience. When he returned after three months I was on the moon! I shared the poem with him on a handwritten page. He teased me and said the same dialogue. ‘Tere jaisi koi ladki nahi ho sakti.’
I thought it was time.
As Rose Day approached, I decided to tell Rahul about my feelings for him. As I was getting ready to go to his place, I saw him from my window. He was looking really handsome in a white shirt and blue jeans. My heart was beating fast when I saw him buying a red rose from a flower shop just across my home.
I was so excited! So he loved me too! I put on my favourite red dress and applied some make-up. I rehearsed what I would say. It was lunchtime and I sat in my balcony, waiting for him to come to my house and ask my mom to keep some food for him too.
But he didn't. I thought maybe he slept after eating food as he does on all weekends. So I waited for more. The clock struck eight but Rahul did not ring my doorbell.
Maybe, Rahul took the rose for some other girl, jo mere jaisi nahi thi, I thought. Maybe, I was totally wrong about his feelings for me. All these questions were driving me mad. And I just wanted the red rose I saw in the morning.
So I went downstairs, walked up to the flower shop and picked up a beautiful red rose for myself.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.