My heart beats so loud in my chest that I felt it is about to explode as the wheels of the stopping train screeched on the rails producing tiny sparks. I said to myself, ‘Meera, calm down, calm down. This is Pratham, your best buddy. And you have to just say, I love you.’ The more I thought about it, the paler I became. And then I saw the familiar face of my best friend, and his smile brought back the faded colour to my cheeks. He hugged me in a friendly way, and I clung to him like a lover. He was unaware of the new-found love I had discovered for him.
A girl came from nowhere and held his hand. And for a second, my heart stopped beating while he introduced us.
‘Riya is my cousin sister and…’
I jumped at the word ‘Sister’ which was awkward, and then I composed myself, but it was embarrassing already.
Pratham’s mobile rang. It was Riya’s mother. She got busy talking on the phone. I and Pratham got busy with ourselves.
‘You seriously thought that she was my girlfriend. How could you? I mean, wouldn’t I tell you. You know me well. I just cannot fall in love like that. You have totally made me incapable of loving anyone else.’ He abruptly shut his mouth realizing that he blurted out something which he was not supposed to speak.
‘What? What was the last sentence again?’
Pratham raked his head and rubbed his hair, ‘I said, you totally make me incapable of loving anyone else other than you.’ And there it was, just like that he spit it out. So very Pratham style.
The evening was turning into night. The stars popped out of their hiding place one by one. It was a moonless night. The stars dazzled and sparkled, and did they sparkle more that day? The next day was Valentine’s Day. I wanted to spend my Valentine with Pratham not as his best friend but as his Valentine, his love. I said a silent prayer and thanked them for shining so bright.
While Riya was busy on another call and the taxi driver loading the luggage, we both looked at the sky and at each other.
I said, ‘The stars speak of us. They say we were so foolish not to declare our love for each other before.’
He smiled and said, ‘But we do now. And we will always do, we will always love each other, and we will be always be there for each other.’
We stood still for a brief minute sinking into the moment, allowing ourselves to flow with our feelings. We held hands still gazing at the brilliant stars, our fingers entwined. He whispered ‘what are they saying now, your stars?’
I smiled, ‘They say, AMEN.’
And we both said together, ‘AMEN.’