We were strolling in the streets of Amritsar after eating the langar at Golden Temple. All streets were like long queues of small shops. Lit in different types of lights, the market wore a look of congregation of lights. Shops were topped up with various decorative items generally for the visitors. I was also walking slowly gazing at the shops. I had not turned back once but I knew Riya was just behind me. Many times, I stopped abruptly and intentionally to feel the touch of her. But she was much attentive. All attempts were in vain. Suddenly, a piece of bracelet in a shop caught my eye. I jumped to the shop and picked that up. The shopkeeper wanted to tell me the price but I did not want to listen. I put the bracelet in my pocket and hurled a thousand rupee note towards the shopkeeper. He returned some money back which I did not count. I took the bracelet out and looked at it. It was a sparkling metal bracelet with blue and aquamarine coloured stones clad over it. It looked precious and pretty. Riya was not aware of what purchase I made as she was accompanying her friends in another deal. But, the next part of my plan was not that easy to be executed. I persistently put pressure on mind. I was not sure how to give it to Riya. Through her friend or I, myself…? What if she refuses or gets angry? I felt agitated. I stopped at a place which was in between the two shops, bit darker and started thinking. I was holding the bracelet in my hand. Riya was passing by.
“Riya!” A word came out of me. But it was called in a very low voice. I was not sure if she had heard it or not. But she stopped and looked at me.
“You called me?” She asked in a soft voice.
“Yes, me!” I was nervous.
With in no time, I grabbed her wrist with both hands and put the bracelet in the wrist. Astonished with my sudden move, she looked here and there to all group members. No one could see us.
“What’s this?” She asked.
I did not answer. I couldn’t answer. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I could not speak a word. I turned back and wiped my eyes with handkerchief. She had returned to her friends trying to hide the bracelet from them with her duppatta. She was also looking to me when she got a chance. I kept walking behind them with a slow pace.
Separate accommodations were allotted for girls and boys. As we entered the premises of the college, there was large lawn to walk through. It was almost dark in the lawns as the light was coming only from the buildings ahead. I and Riya were walking side wise side maintaining a distance from others. I carefully examined the surroundings and held her hand. We had not uttered a single word by then. I pulled her nearer. She did not resist. Suddenly, she started dragging me to other side. It was a little passage to the lawns. We crossed it and sat on the grass.
“I never knew it was so easy for you.” She expressed.
“What? What was so easy for me?” I inquired.
“Living without me!”
“Shut up!” I patted on her shoulder. She clutched my hand and took it to her face. She kissed it softly. Her tears rested on my palm. I wiped her eyes with my fingers and kissed her forehead. I have never imagined this. Her fingers were running on my face first gently and then with a swift gradation of intensity.
“You took so long to forgive me, Varun?” She said sobbing.
“Forgive? You were nowhere at fault Riya. Circumstances made it all happen. You were always in my heart.”
I tried to console her. It was painful to see her like this. All I could do was embrace her and let the stream of her tears to soak through my shirt. I could hear her silently screaming, suffocating with each breath she took. I ran my fingers through her hair, time and time again, in an attempt to calm her mind down. I raised her chin and looked into her moist eyes. She closed the eyes slowly and leaned towards my face. Our foreheads united and supported each other. Now, these were the lips which were being pressed gently. I too closed my eyes and let the storm to embrace the body. It was an open-mouthed, almost sexual kiss. I was loving that. I loved the way her body melted into mine, the way our lips fit like two magnets. She acceded as I played with her hair and held her tighter and closer. We were lost to the world around us.