“Sorry. The number you are calling is currently not reachable.”
It was painful enough that he wasn’t. Now it appears even the telecommunication gods have plotted against me. This has been the fifth time I tried his number tonight. Trying my hopeless luck for the sixth, I pledged if the annoying lady on the other end repeats that god-awful statement in the same pretentious voice, I’m going to find her and kill her.
Long distance relationship was never my thing. The spark always disappears or so I have been told. I had vouched to myself that I would never get stuck in the same rut after being the constant shoulder for my friends in LDR to cry upon. Post watching them waste hours overthinking, overanalyzing about why certain things happened the way it did and returning home with broken hearts, I was absolutely certain that I would never be a part of this whole dramatic affair, ever in my life.
And here I am, sitting with his crumpled white t-shirt he had left at my place before leaving for the U.K., desperately trying to get him on call since the past one hour, only to get a glimpse of his face and tell him about how all my friends are going to bring their dates for the most awaited college prom tomorrow.
Tears rolled down my cheeks. It’s quite amusing, really, how every other problem seems minuscule compared to the ginormous physical distance that we have to keep fighting and overcoming every day. Eventually the tears got bigger and rolled down faster and I used his t-shirt to wipe them off. It was a remnant, a vestige from the past, a constant reminder of several beautiful memories. Of course, while at it, I cried more.
I had last worn the tee on 17th June 2015. It has been nine months since. I remember running around the house in it on the day before he left, until he caught me and twirled me around while I threw my legs up in the air and giggled loudly.
“Stop it, I’ll fall”, I screamed.
“I’ll always be there to catch you when you fall”, was his prompt reply.
He was infamous for the clichéd dialogues he used to throw at me every now and then. Even after several stern warnings, he untiringly came up with a new one every other day only to see that frown which appeared on my face every time he delivered it. Somehow, he found it very adorable, he would always say.
A faint smile struggled to break through despite my tears, recalling all the memories from the past that we had promised to remember by heart. Deep kisses and long hugs, honest conversations and midnight ranting, food walks and pizza competitions, dirty dancing and movie marathons, pathetic jokes coupled with maddening laughter. We’ve had it all and so much more. Now all I’m left with is a broken Skype connection, his white t-shirt and the smell of beautiful nostalgia.
I left a message for him on Instant Messenger without expecting an instant reply. I wrote to him about the prom tomorrow and how I’d bought a red dress to wear for the occasion just because he had once told me the color Red matches with the red blush plastered on my face every time I am with him. His corny dialogues hardly ever took a break. I told him how much I miss him and how I wish there wouldn’t be a screen between us. I told him about how terribly difficult the night was and how I wished he could come with me to the prom the next day. A small red heart ended the note.
Morning rolled in quite slowly. I hardly got up from the bed or involved myself in anything productive. I was stuck half in the past and existing half in the future, not knowing what it holds for me…for us. Finally pulling myself off the bed with Herculean effort late in the afternoon, I brought the red dress out from the cupboard and half-willingly got myself ready for the big prom night. Before leaving, I looked in the mirror and an instant flashback of memory rapidly set forth in motion. I spiraled back in time and found myself in that moment when we were getting dressed for dinner and while I was drawing my eye with the kohl, he had suddenly grabbed me from behind and whispered into my ears, “Mirror mirror on the wall, you are the fairest of them all.” I left home with no anticipation. Life is unfair, I told myself.
As soon as I entered the prom venue, my heart sank. I started recollecting lines from the long speech that I had prepared for myself for a while, for this particular moment. “We do not always get what we want. I am going to singlehandedly pull myself through this. I’m a self-sufficient, independent woman,” I murmured.
Just about then, my phone buzzed loudly and I had a feeling that it would be him. The number and his name flashed brightly on my screen.
“Hello”. I said.
“Switch on the video call!” the voice on the other side exclaimed gleefully.
Confused, I took my phone and pressed the video button.
There he was. Dressed in a tux, wearing my favorite striped tie with a red rose in his hand.
“Will you be my date tonight?”
- SHRAMONA PODDAR