I am headed straight from the airport towards my home, where I lived all on my own. Since the ride would be long, let me tell you the story of how I got tangled into the branches of a flower seed that I didn't plant, left uncared for, overlooked but bloomed so beautifully.
It all started back when I wasn't capable of grasping the profundity of literary works by Shakespeare, Rabindranath or Kant. I didn't understand what love is nor its meaning. I was just a regular introvert whose only concern was about the weather and a sparrow that seldom visited my balcony at 11:00.
I can still remember that day, like it happened yesterday. It had been drizzling all morning. Just like any usual day, after arriving at school I took a sit on the third bench right by the window. Suddenly with the buzzing of the school bell, the sky started to roar. Following which our class teacher entered the room and I noticed he wasn't alone. I just noticed instantly that he had come with a girl, on whom my eyes got fixated from the very first second as everything else around her disappeared. While she scanned the room with those eyes of hers, just for a brief moment it felt as though our eyes met each other.
I found out her name was Kunjo. Her name did not do justice to how mystical her presence felt. I spent most days eagerly waiting to see her but I never had the courage to speak to her. This one time at a fair Kunjo's friends brought her along to ride the Ferris's wheel.
I was having a snow cone at a stall in the distance, I could see her with her friends. Once the ride was over, she and her friends were coming towards the stall to get some snow cones. Since we were classmates, my friend started a conversation with her friends while I stood there in silence. I wished I had spoken to her that day. I wished for her to say something to me. However, like a plot out of a tragic movie, she didn't even notice me.
As the seasons changed from summer to spring, I could only see her from a distance. As we were neighbours, I could watch how the flowers in her balcony bloomed to various shades of colours and wondered everyday how out of reach they were just like Kunjo.
Then we were in college and I gradually felt crushed under all the pressures of achieving good grades. However, throughout all of this my attraction towards Kunjo never faded away.
My days at college came to a halt. With that came an end to my days of being able to see her again. I felt as though the universe was punishing me. Sometimes I had wondered to myself, why was I depressed for a girl that I had never once spoken to?
I was studying Economics at Dhaka University, while Kunjo was at Jahangir University studying Biology. I wondered if she remembered me, probably not. I wanted to forget her, so I replaced my addiction for her with dangerous substances. Just as I was about to dive deeper into the abyss, something happened.
It was also raining that day. My windows were closed, draped in thick curtains and the door to my balcony was slightly left ajar. My breath was stained with the smell of cannabis and the occasional dry coughing accompanied it.
The room was filthy, my maid hadn't shown up in a week. There was a cup of tea on the table that went cold and the air was heavy with smoke. Due to my laziness most days I would either eat out or just depend on bread that I'd have with some black tea, but sometimes I just wouldn't eat at all.
Days like these reminded me of her a lot. I remembered every bit of detail about her. She had a beauty spot on her upper lip. I once heard that girls with beauty spot on the lip were very passionate in love.
Anyways, back to the story. After the rain stopped, I picked myself up and fixed my hair up a bit and started to head out to fetch myself something to eat. I usually walk straight out of the building keeping a level headed gaze, but as soon as I walked out of the door of my apartment I stopped. Just as the fateful day in the past, my eyes again met that pair of eyes. Kunjo!
I couldn't believe it, "Was this a miracle?" I thought to myself. I knew then that if I did not speak to her right then and there, that would have been my last chance of ever doing that. As
I gained my courage and overpowered my introverted self, I spoke the very the first words I ever spoke to her, "Do you remember me Kunjo?".
She smiled at me and said "Of course, I remember you. You are Abir". I felt as though I was waiting for this exact moment for all my life. And that was the beginning of how we got close to each other. My days began with her name and ended with them. We started to spend time together everywhere, at the rooftop, among crowds and sometimes even in seclusion. I was amazed how unbothered Kunjo's family seemed about us spending so much time together, as if this was the norm.
And then came that fateful day when life threw me another curve ball. After much contemplation, I finally built up the courage to ask Kunjo to become my girlfriend. I was sure in my heart the answer would be a "Yes", but much to my utter disappointment she said "No".
The rejection came as she didn't want to associate herself with someone who has an uncertain future, lacks focus in life and also is dealing with addiction problems. Even though I can now accept this outcome, back then it was a hard pill to swallow and I held an intense resentment.
From that day onwards, I kept myself away from her and her life. I stopped doing drugs because I realized no matter what addiction it may be, they would always end up either leaving me or I will end losing myself. So I started to focus on myself. And my resentment lead me to transfer my credits to a university in London.
However, before I left, Kunjo had come to talk to me. But I didn't let her. To be honest that was my revenge for all the hurt and insult that I felt with her public and insulting rejection that day.
Now, I have finally come back after completing my studies abroad. I don't know if I will ever see her again, I don't know how she is. However, I am standing right in front of the front door of the apartment in which they used to live earlier, contemplating whether I should ring the bell.
After much hesitation, I knocked on the door and I was greeted by Kunjo's mother. She welcomed me inside and made some small talk about me, before I asked her where Kunjo was. Kunjo's mother went silent for a few minutes before asking me to follow her to Kunjo's room.
As I walked in, I noticed the big framed picture of the both of us on the wall along with many other. Aunty turned to me and handed me an old diary, which I instantly recognised to be Kunjo's. And then she broke the news to me. Kunjo was no more.
She had passed away from leukemia. Actually they had moved to Dhaka for her treatment, but they couldn't save her. I recalled all those times when I wondered why she looked so pale and I regretted that moment for never asking her about it. Why didn't she tell me? She could have said something but she didn't.
I sat down as I went through her diary, and learned that I wasn't the only one who fell in love that fateful rainy morning in school. She fell in love and that too with no one else but the introvert boy, me. On the last pages of the diary there was a folded letter. Even before I opened it, I knew in my heart it had my name on it. It read,
By the time you would be reading this I might not be there anymore, I would have already crossed my way to a world without an end. But it is important for me to let you know that you have always been the one I have loved. The pain of being misunderstood by the one you love will forever be unmatched. But my hands were tied.
Abir, please promise me that you will stay happy, because your happiness will be the happiness of your Kunjo.
The girl who had loved you back,
It was raining outside. Some people were running back to their home for shelter, some were falling in love and some were laughing away happily.
And some were crying. Alone. All alone.
Owakila Tabassum Mumu is an aspiring writer, doing a double major in Marketing and Human Resource Management from Brac Business School, Brac University.
Fahreen Sultan Labonno is a student at the University of London.
Arafat Reza is a journalist.