"It's one…where are you?"
"Yeah I'm right here; I'll see you in about five minutes."
"Ok, then I'll wait right here on level two. Come fast."
There was a beep at the other end. With a quick glance at his wrist watch Oni smiled and rushed through the crowded pavement. It's one in the afternoon; he's half an hour late for his first date. Now that he was almost there – all on a sudden he felt this butterfly effect in his stomach, as if he was anticipating his O-level results! It's been three years since he knows Amreen and they've talked numerous times on the phone, but today everything was so different.
Three years back, one fine but not so sunny morning Oni pressed "2" to speed dial on his cell phone. Next thing he heard Ahaana's cell ringing. Ahaana who? His newly found best friend! How they met is another story, but within two rings there was a "hello" from the other side. Oni started off the usual way, "Good morning dear and how are we doing this morning?"
"I'm doing good, thank you, but I'm afraid Ahaana is in the shower."
Oni was suddenly caught off guard and took a while to respond "Oh alright! And you would be…"
"Amreen, Ahaana's younger sister. So do you want me to give her any message?"
"…Hmmm nah, it's alright- nothing really. Just let her know that I called."
That was the starting, and then they met a few times when Oni went over to meet Ahaana. They talked casually; it was more of a friendly acquaintance. However for the next two years they hardly talked, there was a lot more happening in their lives, at least in Oni's life. To start with, Oni celebrated two more birthdays, passed his A-levels, got admitted in university and, yes, he also crashed into love, or something like it.
A year of love, about a dozen dates, a few gifts, one Valentine's Day and then – the break up! The sad part, he still loved her; what was worse: he was the one who got dumped! A friend in need is a friend indeed, and if the friend comes with a tissue box, a handful of chocolates and a shoulder to cry on—-what else could Oni ask for? Ahaana was right there beside him all through his thick and thin, she truly has been his best friend. He would now spend most of the day hanging out with Ahaana, or talking to her on the phone or the Net.
Three months back, one rainy evening he looked for Ahaana on MSN Messenger. There came a reply soon, but it was Amreen. She was working on the PC and she would be working pretty late, so he said the usual hi, followed by the casual bye and left her in peace to work. He was wondering what to do, but right then Amreen knocked again, "hey c'mon lets keep talkin! Dis work is getin on my nerves!"
He didn't have a better option and he reciprocated "okiz… so wats up?"
They chatted for three hours that night and then every night. In no time they were great friends; what related them even more was their eventful love stories, both of which met similar ends. As time went by they found out that they had so many similarities: common interests in books, music, movies, games and even similar tendency of lingering on to their ex! Their pain was what bonded them. Everyday they would talk to each other about how perfect their relationship was, how splendid their chemistry was and how tragic their end was.
Fast forward three months and here he is on his way to his lady love on their first date. They both decided that they have had enough of their ex's and it was time to move forward. Now that they have been together to share their pain, it was more of an untold understanding they had; they decided to date each other. They both knew that it won't just happen in a day, they both still loved their ex but dating each other would at least start the process of getting over them. Moreover, not only to move forward, they were perfect for each other, there was the understanding, the caring, the affection, the humor and they would even look great side by side.
He entered the shopping mall and ran up the escalator in a great hurry. Just as he reached Level 2 he saw Amreen standing with an impatient expression all over her face, awaiting his arrival. Just as she saw him, she smiled. He has seen her smile before but this was so different, he immediately knew—this is it, she is the one. They walked across the floor to an eatery to find all the seats already taken. With much difficulty they got a table, placed their order and started chatting. They were talking the usual stuff, nothing mushy but during their conversation she noticed how protective he was being to the fact that other guys were staring at her. With every frown he gave, she would laugh, he would get a bit pissed and then soon would look down, smile a little and turn red. Time passed by and they enjoyed each and every moment of it.
He walked her to the car, opened the door and just as she was about to enter the car she stopped. She looked at him, he looked back and they both started laughing. It was a new, weird and interesting feeling that they both were having—must be something about the way they were standing today. Soon the laughter settled down and she said with some gravity, "I loved it today. Thank you for the wonderful time, it might not have been a typical date, but I guess it works for us. Things can't be all mushy right away and I hope you understand there won't be sparks flowing all over—it's going to take some time."
"Yeah I understand. I do. But with the way things are going, I'm hopeful. I don't think any of us are in a hurry, so time shouldn't be a problem. Let's just be ourselves and let it flow."
They both nodded, a goodbye hug and she was off.
On his way back home, he SMS-ed her "reached home safely?" and she replied back "Yea!"
He kept day dreaming all day. He was happy once again, he found a reason to be happy and he knew it was perfect. Finally he felt as if he understood what they mean when they say "All in good time!"
That night they spoke for an hour on the phone, talking about their date and their future. Her tone had this strong acute apprehension about their relationship but he was too hopeful to take that into account—his jokes would wash away all the apprehensions.
Next day he called her early in the morning, but there was no response. He thought she might be sleeping. He called her in an hour again, and then again, and again; he kept calling all day but there was no response. He was getting concerned and tension was building up. He thought possibly she has her cellphone on the silent mode or maybe she is online, so he signed into MSN but she wasn't there as well. So he decided to wait and thought of checking his mails. Just as he opened the mailbox he saw her mail, in an instant his melancholies vanished and he had a huge smile on his face. He said to himself, "I knew she would leave me a message."
He opened the mail and it said:
"I'm sorry… I don't think I can do this! I'm really sorry… but I'm sure you will understand and we will still be the friends that we were!"
He noticed the time tag on the mail; it showed two in the morning.
He spent rest of the night sleepless, wondering—who hurt him more: his ex or Amreen? After thinking for hours and writing this down, he realized: his eleven-hour love story hurt more!