She could see the back of his head as they made their way through the crowded railway station. It seemed like a time eons ago or in the future, and a place quite unlike anything she’d ever seen. He would sometimes move forward and she would be left scrambling, scrunching her face as she pushed herself forward, not moving her eyes away from the back of his rather huge head, lest they get separated.
It seemed like a high-tech, advanced railway station, with shining smooth trains, and computer operated passageways and terminals. It was unlike any other railway stations she had seen in India. Suddenly, she stopped dead in her tracks as something dawned upon her. He had gone quite far ahead. He came back when he realized she wasn’t behind him.
“What are you doing? Come on, we’ll miss the train!”
“I.. I can’t go to Bombay with you.”
“What? Don’t say that now. We had planned this. You wanted to do this.”
“I did. But now, I know that if I don’t stay back and give my interview, I might regret it for the rest of my life. Don’t you want me to get the opportunity which would make me get the job in Australia?”
“Yes, but.. but you told me Bombay was what you wanted. With me.”
“The interviewers can come to India anytime in the next two days. I have to stay back. I have to do this. I’m sorry.”
The look on his face was the most painful expression she had ever seen. Her heart leaped out of her chest for him, but she stood rooted to her spot. His eyes glistened as he said, “Okay. All the best.” He turned and left. She stood there and looked at him until he dissolved in the crowd, and the back of his head was no longer visible.
She closed her eyes, and breathed. Long and hard. She turned back and started walking but her legs felt like they were made of iron. Flashes of the past whizzed through her brain like a movie montage and she screamed, “Fuck it! I’m going with him.”
She ran. She pushed through the crowd, and ran like she had never run before. On a railway station swarming with people. She ran towards his platform, and saw him disappear behind a glass door, which lifted him up on another platform.
She ran. She does not remember for how long, and how she made her way through the hordes of people, but she finally saw him standing in front of his train, saying goodbye to his best friends. He held her yellow top, which she remembered she had given him, and which always smelled of her. His expression seemed blank now, like it didn’t matter whether he goes to Bombay or stays back anymore.
He saw her. And for a second, he didn’t believe it. As soon as he realized it was indeed her, she saw him grinning the broadest smile. Relief swept over his face like a gentle breeze, and he walked towards her. He was almost gliding towards her, making his way perfectly through the bustling people, looking only at her.
She ran up to him and buried her face in his shoulder, like she always did whenever she did something stupid. “I’m sorry. What was I thinking? I want us to go to Bombay.” She looked up at him. “Together.”
He smiled, brushed a strand of hair off her face, and kissed her nose. “We will go to Bombay. Just, not this time. You were thinking right. You should give the interview. I want you to go abroad. You always wanted to.”
She looked at him, her heart melting and no words coming out of her mouth. The train whistled, and the passengers started rushing inside. “You want me to..?”
He nodded, and hugged her tight. Tears filled her eyes, when she realized what this meant. They would not see each other. Not for a long, long time. “Bye, love”, he whispered. “Bombay beckons.”
“I love you,” she said, tears streaming down her eyes now. He held her hands and kissed them. He got in the train, and waved at her. He pursed his lips like he always did, and then lifted his glasses up, to wipe a lone tear hanging at the side of his eye.
She stood there and waved till the train left and went out of sight. She knew something had come to an end. She knew he had taken away a part of her with him that day. But she also knew they would meet again. And when they did, it would be beautiful.