It started, as it usually does, with a trip. The thing with these romances is, that you can clearly remember the first moment you saw that person. So do I.
I was in a bus with a bunch of others, most of who were affected by motion sickness. I was passing my time trying to rouse people enough to play some sort of a game when, out of the blue, a hand appeared in my field of vision.
“Hi. Neel.” He smiled and introduced himself.
I was captivated.
“Hi, I’m Ishita.” I replied after a slight pause.
I was trapped. Hook, line and sinker. From that moment on, my attention was drawn to him. A very friendly guy, he was quite smart and had the ability to put anyone at ease. Everyone in our trek group, from the 15-year-old Kavya to the 67-year-old Uncle Alp, found themselves gravitating towards Neel. He could be relied on to loosen up a tense situation with his well-timed quips, help someone who was falling behind on the trek route or, sometimes, just keep silent company and enjoy the bountiful views of the Kumaon mountains that were offered. It was no wonder really, that I fell for this man with the mischievous brown eyes.
For the rest of the trek, there was not a moment I didn’t think of him. When we were walking, we tended to walk together, when we weren’t walking, we spent time together, when we weren’t together, I thought of him. I never paused for even a moment to think what he must be thinking. I was lost, lost in my own fantasy world where everything was perfect.
The day arrived when the trek drew to a close. Everybody was tired, but nobody wanted to leave just yet. For me, the end of the trek meant returning from an exciting adventure to an ordinary, unexciting life, filled with family matters, quarrels, responsibilities and dreariness. I was holding on to every moment and stretching it out to the best of my ability. I spent the time trying to absorb everything about the trek, the people, and the feelings I had felt during the last fortnight. I spoke little, content to listen to others talk. That night was one of the best…and one of the worst. Neel and I talked as much as we could, not minding the instructor’s orders to sleep. We fell asleep sometime around 3 am when neither of us could keep our eyes open for a moment longer. At least, he slept soundly. I, on the other hand, could only sleep fitfully for short intervals; he had his arm around me, and my crazy heart would just not stop galloping.
Then, at the train station, after I had fortified my heart against the sadness that was sure to ensue when the train left, I hugged Neel tightly, savouring the moment, the feel of his arms around me. I already knew, that there was no chance of us meeting again, we lived in the opposite corners of the country. It was goodbye.
Traveling through the countryside later that day, I thought about it again. Should I have expressed my feelings to Neel when I had the chance? Should I have taken that chance? What would he have said? These questions buzzing in my mind kept me away from sleep that night. When dawn arrived, I finally fell asleep with a calm mind. Even if I hadn’t said a word to Neel about my feelings, I would always cherish them as something special.
Sometimes, what you feel is to be kept a secret and not declared out loud.
Sometimes, what you felt for a fortnight, will be enough for you till the end.
Sometimes, a Summer Romance is only just for the summer…and only in your heart.