She was standing less than a foot away from him, yet seemed so distant. A couple of tears rolled down her cheek and fell on the ground only to be quickly absorbed by the dry soil. Viraj's throat was choked and his anguish would not come out in words. He looked at Meghana for a last time, his gaze trying to pierce through her.
"So, this is it eh?" he said, the sadness very much apparent in his voice.
"Viraj, please try to understand. Though I very much wish to spend the rest of my life with you, it's not possible. Not with my father around. If I tell him about you, then either he'll kill me or get me married to somebody the very next day."
"So let us run away together. Away from this town, away from your father. Me being a lower caste than you won't matter then."
"Don't be impulsive. You are not even a graduate yet. How would we survive? No money, no family. We would be doomed."
"If I have you with me, then I can face anything in this world. Your love is my strength. Please don't this to me."
"I am sorry Viraj. But maybe it's for the best that this would be the last time we will meet. Good luck in your life."
It was dark, way too much dark for a late February night. And it was compounded by a powercut in the campus. Three boys were walking along the dark lanes of the college. They walked in silence till they came to an open field which was used for playing cricket, football and sometimes even as athletic track. Yogesh was the first to sit on the grass wet with the evening dew. Ashish and Viraj followed the suit and the three of them just sat there quietly until Ashish broke the silence.
"So, are you going to talk about it or not?"
"There isn't anything much to talk about. My mind is made up." Viraj replied.
"And is your plan so secret that you can't tell your closest friends about it?" asked Yogesh.
"The bottomline is, I can't live without her man. Not after what we have been through together. Those evenings in the park, the days we spent all by ourselves in her house............."
".....and that special moment when you lost your virginity. Get over it dude!!" Ashish completed the sentence for him.
Viraj was livid.
"Don't you dare make fun out of it. I didn't have sex with her, though there was ample opportunity for it. Even in this modern generation, I am very orthodox when it comes to pre-marital affairs. So if you want to make mockery out of my feelings, then go and boil you head."
"You may not have used the opportunities, or maybe you didn't have the guts. But in the end, you got fucked and that's where your virginity left you. Cut the crap man."
Viraj was just staring at the ground. There were a few moments of silence before Yogesh spoke up.
"So what exactly do you intend to do now?"
"I have decided. I am going to confront her father." Viraj said with a determined voice.
"And what exactly do you intend to say to him?" Ashish asked.
"Exactly the things that I feel about his daughter. I'll tell him about us. I'll tell him to wait till I get a job. I'll just convince him somehow."
"Dude" Yogesh interrupted. "You don't have the balls to confront a teacher when they cut your marks unfairly. And you think you can confront her Dad. Wake up brother!"
"You guys will never understand what it feels to lose someone with whom you have spent the most intimate moments of your life. I'll die without her. I want her with me. I want her hair brushing my face, that feeling of her lips on mine...."
"Will you just stop with those silly romantic dialogues? If at all, then give that crap to some pervert. It might help him get hardened. But right now, get your feet back on to the ground. First of all, you are NOT going to meet her dad. Period." Ashish said.
"What would you know about commitment? Whether you accept it or not, you have been after THAT girl since ages, but you never told her. Why? Because you are afraid. Afraid of losing her as a friend. But I have gone way beyond friendship, just too far to come back."
Ashish became all quiet. Apparently, Viraj had hit the nail at a sensitive point.
"Don't get too personal Viraj. We are just trying to make you see sense." said Yogesh. "I agree with Ashish. If at all, it had to be Meghana who had to confront her dad, not you.If she cannot muster up the courage to talk to him, maybe she doesn't love you that much. Think about it."
"Open your eyes man. Just as a point to show our view, how long did it take her to break up from Rajesh and get into a relationship with you? Two days. Just bloody two days to leave a boyfriend of two years."
Was it just two days? Viraj thought. He realised he had been too much in love to even count the days. Hell, yeah. It were those two days of phone conversation that had changed the course of his life. How come he never noticed that?
"And just think. If it took her just three months to get so physically close to you, not that you are innocent however much you claim to be orthodox, she had been in a relationship with Rajesh for two years." Yogesh pointed out.
This was also true. O God! Where was this going? Was he really in love or was it just his physical needs that he thought was love?
"That BITCH!" Viraj exclaimed. "She bloody used me. To think of it, she was the one who called me to her house that evening. What the hell was I thinking. O yeah, I'll take care of that slut."
"Hold on brother. That ain't fair." Ashish said. "You can blame her just like that. If you think she used you, well you also did use her to satisfy your hunger. If she was the one who called you, you were the dog who went after the bone with your tongue out and drool flowing. So if you are calling her a slut, what does that make you?"
There was a long pause. None of them said anything. It was quite apparent that now Viraj was beginning to see some sense, though his reaction was a bit extreme.
"Well, should I answer that question?" Yogesh poked.
"No need. " Viraj replied curtly.
"I think I should. What say Ashish?"
"I think I know what you would say. But I don't think lover-boy would like it."
"Don't you dare say anything Yogesh...."
"Haha. Andddd, the answer issssssssss.............."
TWO WEEKS LATER
There was a soft knock on Ashish's door. Viraj slowly entered the room.
"Hey, you busy?" Viraj asked.
"Not so busy. So, what is it?" Ashish replied.
"Well, there is something I want to talk to you about. You know, there is this girl Anita I met sometime back. I think something's clicking."
"DUDE. IT'S BEEN HARDLY TWO WEEKS SINCE YOU BROKE UP!!!!!!!"
"I know. But now I feel that was lust. I think I am in love this time...................................."