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She remembered his birthday but had not got the time to text him. At last after her daughter had slept and her husband was busy with his office work she sat on her bed beside her little daughter, picked up her mobile phone and texted him, "Happy birthday! Hope you had a great day!" Then she did all the preparation for her daughter's morning school and was about to retire to bed. Just then she thought of checking her mobile for his reply. He had replied saying thanks. He had also mentioned that he had had a normal day because he was at office loaded with a lot of work. She texted him back saying, " Never mind, celebrate over the weekend!" He wrote back saying that he definitely will.
She had always felt guilty for him. Even though he was happily married now and was expecting a child. She had never been able to tell him how guilty she felt for him. Thus her motive was always to be nice to him and never lose contact. She texted him saying that it had been so many years that they had wished each other on their birthdays but had never ever met! He had wholeheartedly agreed. Their chat was on for an hour now as he was traveling and she was finally free. She decided to share with him how she had been feeling all these years. She told him how guilty she always felt. He was surprised to know. He had always thought that she had moved on pretty quickly. Now he knew that she hadn't. He asked her why she had refused to meet him and she did not have a substantial answer to give him even after fifteen years.
Their past resurfaced in her head. He was a new admission in ninth standard while she studied in eight standard in the school. He had fallen head over heels in love with her the moment he had seen her. From then on he would he would keep looking for an opportunity to get one glimpse of her. Sometimes while walking down the corridor to the chemistry lab or in the recess, or the assembly every morning. His eyes would always search for her. She had just begun to notice him. She knew he stared at her. She did not know if she liked him looking at her yet. In the coming days she found her looking out for him too. She would check secretly if he was staring at her. Sometimes she met his gaze and felt embarrassed and looked elsewhere. On the days he was absent she felt upset. The next year this continued. No eye contact, no conversation, yet they felt this strange attraction to know each other. On the last day of his school, she was in terrible state. She had told no one about how she felt and how much she would miss him. She assumed that because he hadn't come forward and tried to speak to her he might have even forgotten her. School did not seem like a nice place anymore. She would constantly miss his eyes on her. Finally she decided to ring him. She secretly looked up his number and dialled it. But before anyone could pick up she had banged it down. This went on for a week until she finally spoke. A lady said "Hello" and she asked for him. When he came on the line, she introduced herself and said that she wanted to be friends with him. He pretended to have not recognised her instantly but had accepted her offer. They had spoken over the phone for more than two years. She had kept waiting for him to make a move and take the much needed initiative, but he never seemed ready. They would just speak on the phone three to four times a week about normal stuff, like exams, family, career plans, etc. She had kept waiting for him to make a move but he did not. She gradually started losing interest in him. After three years he had at last asked her to meet him. By that time she did not want to anymore. So she refused and thus came a halt to their so called relationship. He being a very decent guy never bothered her ever again. She went on to complete her education and after three years had fallen in love with her "now" husband. After courting for seven long years they had got married. While he had taken a couple of years to come to terms with the fact that he couldn't have her. She came to know about how miserable he had been a few years later from a common friend and was possessed by guilt then on. She had always wished well for him. She always had a soft corner for him because he had been a gentleman in handling her shocking rejection.
She would wish him on his birthday every year and he would do the same. They would wish each other on new years eve too. But nothing more.
But this year his birthday night was different. She had opened up to him and he too had given in. There was no attraction left for each other now so they could see each other's bare emotions as teens. It was fun to know how he felt about her back then. He was zapped to know how crazy she was for him back in those teen years. It was a night to remember.
The next morning she told her husband about it and he had exclaimed with a smile,"Now finally you will not carry the guilt any further!"
The chats went on for a month because there was so much to talk about, so much to catch up and so many memories untold. She was glad that all the bitterness he had felt for then had now faded completely.
They were friends now! And a rare one indeed.