It had been 8 months since I last visited home, so this time around when I stepped out of the plane, the air hit me like nostalgia always did. When my dad said while putting my luggage in the trunk of the car, that things have changed around here, I did not believe him. Why would I? 8 months is not a long time in retrospect. The flyover construction was completed, okay, noted. There were more plants all over the city, okay, no big deal. The old staff quarter building of a government department was demolished. This was the change that stuck with me. For I had my fondest of memories in this place. For I buried a part of me in this place.
To elaborate upon this, let me take you back to 2015. I had just fallen head over heels in love with a guy who was as equally in love with me. Shrey Sharma, the person who will have the softest spot in my heart, confessed his feelings just days after I realized that he is my first-ever crush. It felt surreal, like a movie, how often do you realize you have feelings for someone and then find out that theirs are stronger and more intense? We were teenagers, just two kids trying to figure out life, together.
I don’t think I have had such intense feelings for anyone else in my life, and that thought has always scared me. I have accepted that Shrey and I are over, there’s nothing left of us, except warm feelings and a heart full of memories. But the thought that never will I ever experience that passion again leaves a void in my heart. As I stroll through the ruins of the quarters, my feet take me to the backside of the compound. It used to be our hiding place. Shrey and I would lie to our parents about our whereabouts and sit there for hours, just enjoying each other’s company. I never needed anything more, I still don’t. All I want is someone who would be equally happy to do mundane things, together.
I sit underneath a tree and listen to some songs, just taking in the picture in front of my eyes. The ruins of the buildings strike a resemblance with how it feels to hold on to Shrey. Holding on to the thought of what we once were and the wishes of what we could have been. It is my heart that has prevented me from feeling those feelings again, maybe because it still holds on to Shrey, maybe because it fears being hurt again, or maybe because of some other reason that is unfathomable to my sane brain. Despite these thoughts clouding my brain, I start to dig just below the shrubs nearby, where Shrey and I buried a box. It was decided that when one of us would miss the other, to an extent that all they want is nothing but just a glimpse of the other, we would dig it up.
I thought the idea was beautiful, that despite missing each other while our heart breaks, all we would want is a glimpse, for the fear of ruining the life of the other if we re-enter, would be too strong, it would be a selfless act then, just to feel close to each other again. I asked him to put my favorite pastel blue sweater that he wore on our first date in there, something I could hold on to instead of him. He asked me to put a bottle of my perfume in there, he associated nostalgia with smells. The bottle of perfume was there, though a third of it has been used up when I opened the lock of the box. Shrey did miss me. I do miss him. I sit with his sweater for a few minutes and then put it back, for I know that I will want just a glimpse of him again.
I keep revisiting this place, in hopes that one day, we both would want the glimpse at the same time. Until that day, I will hold on to his memories, for they have always felt like the source of light that has kept my heart warm.