onsoon always brings the sweet fragrance of wet soil, and nostalgia along with, for him at least. It always beat him why, until today. Today was an overcast day, just like the day of his convocation. He could remember the day vividly. He remembered all the fine details. He had mixed feelings that day, that of overwhelming happiness and the pain of knowing that this was probably the last he was seeing her for a long time. He was one of the brighter students of his class; president of student’s association and editor-in-chief of the college magazine. That’s why he would be receiving the gold medal, more popularly known as The Medal of Honor, this evening.
It was right from the first semester that he began to fall for her. Not love on the first sight, but something more gradual. He saw her dating a few pupils, change a few boyfriends, but there was nothing serious. He had his reasons of not letting her know about the soft corner he had in his heart for her, they were beyond the fear of rejection and need not be mentioned here.
The dean felicitated him with the Medal of Honor, with fifty four percent of gold in the 10 gram coin and a red ribbon hanging around it, around his neck and complete batch applauded for the man of the evening. Everybody knew him not only for his brilliant intellect, but for the compassionate compatriot he was. He was always there for close friends, and also for not so close ones. He ranked second in most of the academics, but would still receive the Medal of Honor, no surprises for the entertainer he was. His stories in the college magazine moved even the sternest of faculties.
The evening was nearing an end. People started leaving- his eyes were involuntary searching for the face.
She was with her friends; schmoozing, laughing, bantering. He was looking for a private moment and finally got one. This was the moment; he was there, standing in front of her, looking in her eyes. He had played this tape so many times in his head. He never took off his eyes from her. He gently expressed himself, in a hushed tone, “May be you know but may be you don’t, that ever since I saw you I have been falling for you. I just wanted to let you know, I have a small corner in my heart, soft like a feather, where you reside.”
She frowned and transmuted the expression of her face as if she was completely taken by surprise, but the frown was a lie, he always believed she knew. She spoke “Umm, I never saw that coming” another lie, “don’t you think it’s a little late?”
The ballroom was almost empty now except for few boys bantering around the corners. “On the contrary I feel it’s just about the right time, and you know precisely why. I just want you to keep this, as a souvenir” he gently tucked the gold coin with red ribbon hanging around it in her right hand. He began retreating, his eyes locked in hers and at last he muttered “Goodbye!”
Five years down the line…
Today was the get-together of his batch. It was an overcast day, just like the day of his convocation. Monsoon always brought the sweet fragrance of wet soil, and nostalgia along with, for him at least. It always beat him why, until today. He was early; his eyes were involuntarily searching for the face. Finally it appeared. It felt like it was same as it was back then. All those years hadn’t affected her in the least. Mauve and beautiful, it felt like those years of college had just passed by. He was still the editor-in-chief and president of the student's association. He looked for the souvenir, did she preserve it? If she did, is she carrying it today? He scanned her all over; it was there—entwined in her purse chain. An involuntary smile appeared on his face. She was coming to him. His heart was pounding, it was a magical moment. She sat next to him on a bar chair. Quickly they were engaged in a conversation. After few trivial topics came the inevitable. “So, did you get married?” he asked. “Yes as a matter of fact I did, and just a few days have passed when I got the news that I am carrying a baby inside me.” She had a look of amazement in her eyes as she revealed, goose bumps on her sleeveless arms were palpable.
“Did you?” she asked.
“No, not yet but soon I will be. I am engaged for over a couple of years now.” After a few minutes of badinage they bade goodbye to each other, for one last time. They went on to pursue different goals and never met after the get-together. He watched pictures of her and her family few times, on orkut perhaps.
He never understood what she felt for him. Why did she preserve the souvenir for so long and why did she carry it that day? Out of love, reverence, or just courtesy? But for him it always remained a College Love, not forgotten.