It wasn’t raining, as it was today in the morning when I came out of the conference room. It was rather sunny. Very much unlike Bismarck!
I hated the weather here. It was cold and gloomy. I loved sunny days. I have missed the sun ever since I came here. The sun was a part of my everyday life back in India. And I never had to compromise with that after I shifted to Phoenix.
I was going back to my hotel after the long meeting with the Board of Directors of the University of Bismarck. I have to stay here for another month or so until I finish my work! I was complaining to myself about my bad luck as I saw someone coming out of the D Block. He looked somewhat familiar. I looked intently to be sure.
Well, yes. It was him. I think I forgot to breathe for few seconds. I looked away to avoid his eyes. I didn’t want him to see the sadness in my eyes.
Unfortunately, he noticed me too. He came too much near for me to evade anymore. He smiled.
“Hi! It’s been a long time.”
“Yeah! Long time indeed.” I smiled back. 12 years exactly, I said inaudibly.
“How are you?”
“I am good. How are you?”
He nodded positively and asked, “I never expected to see you here out of all the places”.
“I am actually the defence lawyer of the University.”, I said while pointing towards the University building.
“There’s a lawsuit going on between the University and State Education Board. What are you doing here?” I added.
“I am a visiting faculty and a researcher here. I teach Analytical Chemistry.”
There was a moment of awkward silence. I was out of words. Thankfully he asked,
“So, how’s life? I suppose you are married now?”
“Life is great! I am busy suing people for no reason at all.” I laughed uncomfortably.
I hoped he would forget about the second question. I looked away, but he didn’t give up.
“And your husband?” he tried to look through my eyes.
“Well, I am sure he would have been fine if he would have existed.” I smiled.
“You are not married?” there was astonishment in his eyes.
“Well, I guess I never found the right one for me.” I tried to play safe.
“You haven’t met anyone in all these years?”
“I have met a lot of guys, but they were not who I was looking for.”
“I am sorry.” He tried to concentrate hard on the caterpillar that was struggling to cross the road as we both walked towards the small bench near the end of the campus. I was not sure if he was deliberately trying not to look into my eyes.
“What are you sorry for? You haven’t done anything. Moreover, I am too busy with my work and I somehow love this bohemian life of mine.” I tried to smile convincingly.
He looked unsure as we both sat down on the bench.
I absolutely hated to admit that I had never thought of marrying another man because I was in love with him for all these years. But then after some time, I forgot why I wasn’t married. I enjoyed the fact of not being married at the age of 32. I surely did love my carefree life.
To avoid any further questions I asked, “So, how’s your wife? The last time I heard of you, you were married.”
“I suppose she is fine.”
I looked at him curiously.
“We don’t live together anymore. We are divorced,” he said.
“Oh! I am sorry.”
I tried to recognize if it was sadness or just exhaustion that lingered in his eyes.
“I heard you have sold off your house in Calcutta.” I asked.
“Yes. Actually, my sister got married and my parents have shifted to California. And I am here. So, there’s no point in keeping the house there.”
I nodded in agreement.
I remembered how I had sighed woefully when I heard from my mother that he had sold off his house. I lost the last string of source of information I had of him. At least, I used to hear about his whereabouts from my mother. His family was our neighbour in Calcutta. After that, I haven’t heard of him for years.
“I have a class now. I have to go.”
I looked at him as he stood up to leave.
“It was really nice meeting you after such a long time.”
I smiled sadly, “Same here. Have a good day.”
He nodded back and left. I watched him walk away, but then he stopped and turned back.
He came towards me. I looked into his eyes. They were as much serene as ever. I always liked them.
“I am going to be free after this hour. Would you like to have lunch with me?” he looked at me doubtfully.
“I’ll wait for you.”
In all these years, I had forgotten how charming he used to be. The tender sun and the gentle breeze kissed my face as I watched him look back at me while walking away.