My story took place during the time when mobile phones were not so common and the internet was yet to take over our lives. In those days, letters were still “the thing” in schools and Facebook was nowhere in our horizon.
It was during this time that I met Ravi. He was from a small town and had joined our school in the 11th grade. He was different from other guys; he would hardly talk to anyone and was mostly buried in his books. I found his shy nature attractive and he was good looking too.
One day, I went and sat on the bench he used to sit in; it was the second last bench. In order to initiate a conversation, I told him to remove his bag from the side where I wanted to sit. Since he never interacted much with girls, I thought he would tell me to go sit on another bench. But he just removed his bag and put it on the floor next to him. During that class, I kept on looking into his notebook to copy what our teacher was dictating. We didn’t talk much but that day he did speak to me; it was the first time I had heard his voice. I made the second last bench my home from that day onwards.
Many of my friends stopped hanging out with me because they didn’t like me sitting next to this guy. He didn't have a car or a fancy bike like other boys and he didn’t talk about the latest video games, but there was something very genuine about him. And that is what I liked him for…
I developed feelings for him and at times, I felt that even he had a soft corner for me. As our school days were coming to an end, I wished he would tell me about his feelings. But he did nothing to show me that he was interested in me... So, I thought maybe it was better that I don’t tell him about my feelings either and we remain just friends. Once, he had mentioned that after school he would move to another city to prepare for engineering entrance exams.
I enrolled in DU after school and we both lost touch. In college, I met another guy who was totally different from Ravi. He was the popular guy in college and hung out with all the “cool kids.”
After a couple of months of dating, this guy wanted to get intimate with me. It’s not that I wasn't attracted to him, I was just not ready for it. However, I couldn’t hold on to my resolve for long and one night we did it in his car. We had sex often till the time our relationships lasted. He left me for another girl, someone he had been seeing on the sly while we were dating. Most of my friends had been telling me that he wasn’t serious about us, if only I had believed in them. I was heart-broken when he left but slowly I got over him and moved on in life.
During the final year of my graduation, my aunt asked for my 12th grade books for her daughter. While going through my physics book I found a folded piece of paper in it. It had grown a bit yellow and it read, “Dear Aastha, I know you are way out of my league, but I can’t hide my feelings anymore. Will you go on a date with me after our last paper is over? I will wait for you at the juice corner near the T point. And it is perfectly fine if you don't want to come. I get it.” It was from Ravi.
After reading that I couldn’t move for a while. My mind went blank and I didn’t know what to do. Then, I logged on to Facebook and started searching for him… but couldn’t find his profile. I called up some of our classmates, in case they knew about his whereabouts. It turns out I was the only close friend he had during school. Some of our classmates were actually surprised that I had lost touch with him.
I somehow managed to find out that he went to the US to work after completing his engineering in IIT Mumbai and is married now. I also got engaged a couple of months back.
If only I had summed up the courage to tell him about my feelings, if only I had found that note on time - so many ifs haunted my mind… My life would have been so different if only… I would be with my first love.