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When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me, “You are who you spend your time with.  Respect that, and respect yourself.” But it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I fully grasped what she was trying to say to me.  I learned the hard way that the people you surround yourself with either lift you higher or bring you down – they energize you or drain you – they support you or criticize you – they make you smile or make you cry. Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, or call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  You need people in your life that lift you higher. Ultimately, the people in your life make all the difference in the person YOU are capable of being.

And something that his heart always said was date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of book she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve. Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn. She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamier is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

It doesn’t happen every day that you meet someone so special that you find them identical to you. You don’t know if you’re lucky enough to have them or just living your best dream for a moment.

“I think I should leave.”

“Why? What happened to you suddenly?”

“Nothing…I just feel like my head might explode, my heart might burst out if I won’t leave right now!!”

He held her hand and said, “Please tell me…”

And she burst out crying. It was their first meeting. They have been talking to each other online and over the phone since just past few months but, always felt a deep connection as if they knew each other since ages. Had the same choices; be it movies, music, books, food, philosophy of life, psychology, relationships…just everything. They were like mirror image of each other and yet were distinct. He respected her for being ambitious, responsible and for being a beautiful soul. She respected and adored his immense talent, innocence and pure heart.

What they felt for one another was far beyond love since day one and yet, they never disclosed their feelings. It was not the fear of losing this sweet relationship they had. But, it was their self built fear of being imperfect for each other that stopped them to express what they felt so deeply. They never said anything directly. They would slide their feelings indirectly in between their casual conversations hoping for the other to simply notice it, accept it, keep it safely in their heart and not discuss about it till they meet. It was an unspoken deal between them, more like a silent love story.

They first met face to face at a book exhibition which they were looking up to since many weeks now. After the exhibition they decided to take a walk on the roadside as both loved it, while watching the stars. They started talking as usual; secretly admiring each other and treasuring every moment that was being spent together. He was getting mesmerized by her aura while she was getting charmed by his vibes. She so wanted to speak her heart out but, ended up crying instead.

He wanted to hug her and calm her down but, just held her hand quietly till her sobbing settled. “Is everything okay?” he asked. She nodded while wiping her tears. He was still holding her hand. He couldn’t stop himself from trying to read her eyes but, all she did, was keep her teary eyes down so that he wouldn’t see them. The silence in those moments was louder than the waves crashing on the shore. The sun was setting down. It was the most amazing spot to watch sunset but, all he could see were her tears.

She realized after a while that he had been holding her hand throughout. She looked at him and found him reading her. She was overwhelmed by his gesture and as she was about to confess her feelings, he wrapped his arms around her and she submissively kept her head on his shoulder. They knew they couldn’t be together. The only thing that stood between their love was their religious beliefs. They never wanted to end things that weren’t even started. It was hard for them to let go. He still wanted for things to work out between them. But she was resolute. There was no more convincing. No more stopping. No more love for her. She was walking away. That act of rudeness touched a nerve that would have better been left alone. The rage was like nothing he ever felt before. He stood there shocked for a moment. Then he started moving. He was shaking all over. He closed in on her with three long strides. He stood rooted to the spot long enough to catch the look of pain in her eyes. Then he turned around and walked. Away from the present. Away from a sweet past. Away from the future he dreamt of. But at that particular moment, the only emotion he felt was rage – an inhumane desire to hurt.

 

Months later when they saw each other again in college they never thought of stepping up and talking. Time passed and they were about to graduate. They still missed each other. They never told anybody about each other. Every time they tried texting each other it would end up in some big blunder where both of them blamed the other one for all that happened. He still wanted to get back together. She on the other hand had completely made up her mind about pushing him away. It was the last week of college. And these seven days were going to be life changing for them. They met at a get together. Two strangers in a single room. One with a horde of long-forgotten memories, locked up inside, the other with a key. And then the floodgates were breached and out rushed those past memories in an outburst. They saw each other and talked about their future plans. Then the conversation continued on their cell phones. Texting all night and talking about stars was the only thing that was interesting them anyway. This time it was different. Both tried to keep the conversation going. All the blame games were over now. And they finally decided to meet. He waited for her at the place they first held hand. After realizing that she wasn’t gonna come he decided to leave and the suddenly he felt a hand pulling him from back, landing his hand on someone’s waist, droplets of water fell into his eyes, he closed his eyes as his vision blurred, but before he could open his eyes and realize what’s happening, her lips landed on his, completing their union, a proposal of love, life and more. She stopped kissing and looked at his face smiling, he then opened his eyes and understood that she is his love, he longed for. And she kissed him, again. He went down on his knees and pulled out a ring from his pocket and said “Love is the most beautiful emotion. If you are in love, you should marry; time is not on our side and neither is the world, you see. But I am with you. “One way or the other, it cannot be my decision alone. Both of us must understand and decide. I say, let us be friends – best friends – for life. Let us be there for each other until the last breath, in happiness and sorrow. She nods and asked with tears in her eyes “But why would you really want to marry me?” He smiled as it has always been her habit to say that she wasn’t a god person, “My heart once said to me, date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

 

 

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Jahangir Khan
Animation student who likes to write short stories and four liners that rhyme.
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