It happened that night. Finally.
It started off like any random day. He called me up some time around noon, and we decided to meet up that evening.
Evening came, and I found myself facing him across the table, across burgers and Coke, as I had done on numerous occasions over the past four years.
We talked. Casual banter.
We laughed. Loudly.
Not caring about anything else.
And then he asked, “Do you remember what day it is?”
It caught me off guard. Did he mean what I thought he meant? Why would he mean what I thought he meant?
I decided to play it safe.
I feigned ignorance.
“Four years ago, on this very day, I met this crazy girl,” he teased.
“I’m surprised you remembered,” I retorted.
“I’m surprised you didn’t.”
More random talking. Somewhere in the middle of all that conversation, he suggested that maybe I should drop by his place on my way home.
If I was surprised, I didn’t show it.
I didn’t even ask ‘Why?’
I simply nodded.
Stepping out into the cool evening air, I got onto his bike.
Behind him. Ready to ride pillion.
His beauty roared into life. As we took off into the city’s familiar traffic, I held on to the vehicle for support.
Even then, with me seated that close to him, we didn’t touch.
Somehow, that had been unspoken, but understood, between us.
There had been other times.
Times of light, playful touching.
And then, on that ride home, we talked some more.
The sound of the wind in my ears, mingled with his voice, is a combination I will remember for a long time to come.
Honest. Sincere. Earnest.
That was what caused me to turn back and look at him all those years ago.
I haven’t looked away since.
We arrived at the apartment complex.
We took the stairs.
Straight up to the terrace.
Still, I did not ask him ‘Why?’
Reaching out, he pulled off the band that held my hair in place.
Every strand took flight in the wind.
I gave him my ‘pretend-angry’ look, and chased after him as he took off with my band.
At the edge of the terrace, I caught up with him.
But I didn’t even try to retrieve what I had set out to.
We both knew it was time to let my hair down.
For a while, we stood beside each other, and looked out into the city below.
Cars, buses, and people.
People in a hurry.
People in love.
* * *
He took his phone out of his pocket, and declared, “Let’s dance.”
This time, I let my surprise show.
He. Didn’t. Dance.
“You don’t dance!” I stated.
“Watch me,” he shot back.
Laza Morgan’s ‘This Girl’ was playing out of his phone.
I smiled. I loved this song.
I had listened to it a thousand times.
This time, I was listening to it with him.
And almost dancing.
For the first couple of lines, I stood by and watched him.
He was a terrible dancer.
And in spite of myself, I joined in.
We did twists.
We became robots.
We tried to moonwalk.
The song changed. ‘Orange coloured sky.’
He leaned over and poked me in the sides.
I screamed with laughter.
“You’re ticklish, are you?” he asked.
And I saw the devilish grin upon his face.
Before I could answer, he was tickling me all over.
I rolled around in silent giggles.
I screamed. He guffawed.
The song played on.
Finally, out of breath, I managed to shake him off.
Another change of track.
Shelley Harland. ‘In the dark.’
Soft. Gentle. Loving.
“Ballroom dance?” he suggested.
Raising an eyebrow, I locked my hands in his.
We danced around. Tried to tango.
On a whim, I held one of his hands with mine, and turned around.
He twirled me around once more.
And again. Then again.
Until I almost got dizzy. Then we stopped.
He laced his fingers in mine, from where he stood behind me.
We swayed along.
Almost as if on cue, I leaned my head on his shoulder.
Had I seen the look on his face then, I would have seen him smile. I would have known what I should have known all along.
Words from the song drifted along on the wind. ‘Only for you. Only for you. Only you. Only you…’
If I hadn’t been intuitively anticipating it, I would never have felt it.
His breath upon my neck.
* * *
And then he kissed me.
For the very first time.
Somewhere in between my neck and my shoulder.
Involuntarily, my eyes welled up with tears.
I had waited for this moment.
Dreamed of this moment.
Hoped for it.
Believed in it.
For all of four years.
And suddenly, I was here.
We were here.
It was overwhelming.
I let him kiss my neck.
Once more. Twice. Thrice.
And then I turned to face him.
Our eyes locked.
For once in my life, I didn’t try to read when I could.
I did not try to fathom what went on in his head.
I let him take control.
I watched as he searched my eyes.
I like to think that he found what he was looking for.
He cupped my face in his hands.
He tilted my face up. Just a little bit.
Lightly, at first.
The wind roared all around us.
I parted my lips.
He nibbled at their edges.
Did we have all the time in the world?
Craving, I claimed his mouth with mine.
I could feel him smile then.
He let out a low hum.
It was like thunder in his throat.
His hands drifted from my face.
He wrapped them around my body.
Pulling me closer.
I broke away for some air.
For just an instant.
He dove in.
And claimed my collarbone.
It was as if every cell in my body exploded in a celebration of fireworks. That’s what collarbone kisses do to me. That’s what his kisses did to me.
He continued to peck me.
Our fingers had a journey of their own.
I sought his lips again.
This time, he kissed me hard.
I was barely beginning to get used to that miracle, when he pulled away abruptly.
Wrapped my hands in his.
Looked me in the eyes.
This time, I read the look.
I knew what was coming.
Even before I saw him mouth the words.
Before I heard them leave his lips.
“Marry me,” he said.
It wasn’t an order.
It wasn’t a question.
It was a statement.
“Yes,” I whispered.
And spontaneously, I laughed.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Yes,” I confirmed.
“For real?” he asked, his voice a delicious mixture of doubt and delight.
“For real,” I looked him in the eye.
And then I leaned in and kissed him.
Because that kiss told him everything about me.
I, the girl who had waited patiently in the sidelines.
I, the girl who had waited for him to let me fall in love.
I, his girl.
* * *
Nearly four years later, I pulled away, half-heartedly.
“Wow,” I heard him whisper.
I gave him a questioning look.
“I thought you’d never say ‘yes’,” he confessed.
“I thought you’d never ask,” I teased.
Although it was truer than he realized.
Deep-throated, genuine laughter.
“I didn’t think I would, either,” he countered with a wink.
And then, he reached out and pulled me into an embrace.
I was home. I was free.