Diya walked through those doors like an unexpected grace. A breath of fresh air for a life going south. Diya as beautiful as they come has been the one and will always be one Aathi can never get off his chest. He first met her in his seventh-grade classroom. His initial reaction to her wasn’t all that great. He thought she was the rudest girl in the world. But soon blossomed a friendship he thought would last a lifetime.
Over time a friendship turned to love, well from his point of view anyway. It was hard at a young age to establish what love was, Aathi began to drift away from Diya as they grew into the next stage of their life. It wasn’t till she had to move away with family where he realized a missing gap within. They both managed to rekindle their friendship from afar, and as they did came a familiar feeling.
She can’t just be my friend.
Aathi knew as they grew older that he wanted something more from this friendship but feared nothing would come of it with Diya being so far away.
Time does bring hope, and soon Diya’s family moved back, and Aathi felt he had another chance. They grew in age, yet lingered in the air of what their relationship meant, could it be something more? They grew closer but remained apart. Aathi feared nothing was going to come of their relationship. He almost felt she was too good for him, and as time passed came into the picture Preethi.
Preethi who came to know of Aathi’s close relationship to Diya requested he ends it. He knew it’d be a mistake, and it’ll mean the possibility of ever ending up with Diya wholly gone. He still made that mistake and went on to date Preethi knowing he made the wrong choice. A mistake he was never going to course correct.
As Diya walked through the bar door, Aathi ducked in fear, the fear of being confronted for the horrible thing he had done.
“Here let me help you; it’s me Diya,” she responded smiling back.
Aathi arose from behind the bar confused wondering why she wasn’t mad at him. But as she spoke, he couldn’t help but stay glued to her smile. The sunlight beaming through the windows kissed her caramel covered skin.
She strokes her hair behind the ear as she continued to smile back at Aathi.
“So, you’re just going to keep staring?” Questioned Diya.
“What are you doing here?” asked Aathi.
“What a girl can’t go out for drinks?” Diya challenged.
“No, no have a seat at the table over there. I’ll send someone over,” responded Aathi.
“I’ll stay back and catch up with you once my friends leave,” said Diya.
She smiled once more before walking over to the table with her friends. Aathi unable to comprehend another opportunity life bestowed on him helmed the bar table and exhaled a few times before Bala walked over and placed his arm around Aathi’s shoulder.
“Isn’t that,” started Bala.
“Yeah.” Responded Aathi.
“Well, what are you going to do?” Asked Bala.
“Not mess it up,” responded Aathi.
All his flaws he woke up with this morning seemed to have crossed his mind entirely as he gazed upon Diya from afar. All these years he felt nothing will ever happen out of this friendship because she was so far. Now she sat just a few steps away, and he is still unable to speak up.
Diya seemed to be quite busy with her friends, and Aathi didn’t want to interrupt. Aathi felt it might be better to keep himself busy, let the time pass before she frees up. He continued to tend to the other customers in a lively bar. TAT located in the active parts of Toronto seemed to draw a ton of traffic mid-afternoon this day. A ton of fun folk rolled through, but regardless of how entertaining the others might have been, his eyes consistently drew towards Diya. He tried to remain as discreet as possible, but one of Diya’s friends seemed to have caught Aathi looking towards her.
Diya who’s back was turned away from him, turned towards him and smiled. Aathi dropped everything he held to the ground as she laughed and pointed at her phone. Diya turned back towards her friends but signalled numbers just below the edge of the table. He may be not able to create new memories, but his intellect remained strong. He quickly picked up on her giving her number and paid keen attention as he entered her phone number into his phone.
“Smooth,” messaged Aathi.
“I have always been smooth bud,” replied Diya.
“I’m just going to cut to the chase, aren’t you mad at me,” questioned Aathi.
“Should I be,” responded Diya.
Wasn’t she mad? Why would she be, she probably didn’t care if I met someone else. She’s probably already with someone.
“Who is that guy?” questioned Diya’s friend.
“It’s a long story,” responded Diya.
“He’s cute,” said the friend.
“Yeah, he is,” Diya replied.
Diya’s friend sat in front of her confused wondering why Diya wasn’t over by the bar counter speaking to Aathi.
“What do you mean long story,” questioned the friend as she gazed over to Aathi who was smiling at his phone.
“I’ve known him since I was like 12,” responded Diya.
I think he is easily the only person in the world that understands me completely. I have shared so many of my success and pains with him. He knows all my flaws and still appreciates me. We meet so many people in life, and I thought Aathi was just that, someone who is passing by. When my family and I moved away, I thought I would never see him again. But through all that Aathi was relentless. He kept in touch with me and stayed connected since we were in the seventh grade. I thought over time one of us would build the courage to speak up to our emotions. It just never happened, he went on to meet Preethi. He mentioned she didn’t like us being friends. So, I decided I didn’t want to stand in the way of his life. I just assumed nothing was meant to happen.
A brief silence filled the air, Diya’s friend glanced at her, feeling the sadness in Diya’s tone. But Diya was quick to cut the tension with a smile as she joined the conversation with others at the table.
Some time passed, and one by one the table started to make their way out as Aathi observed from a distance. He knows the time grows near, a time where he’ll have to confront his fears of speaking up with Diya. His last memory of her is a heartbreaking conversation he had to have with her; telling her, they must go their ways. Today, he found out Preethi is no longer a part of his life. Diya doesn’t know that though, how is she going to take it? What if Aathi told her that he isn’t with Preethi anymore, will Diya care? Will she be happy? Will she wonder if Aathi only wants to talk to her cause he’s now single?
Diya’s friends started to make their way home, but the night was still young. Aathi held his breath as the last of her friends walked out the door, and as Diya sat lonely at the distant table, he reached for his phone.
“So, are you ready?” Read the text from Diya.
“Got to be ready at some point right,” responded Aathi.
Diya turned around and signalled Aathi asking him to have a seat. He dragged his nervous feet over and took a position across from her and said, “Hey you.”
“Hey, so tell me how you have been,” said Diya.
“I’m not with Preethi anymore,” blurted Aathi.
Diya broke out into laughter, amused at how Aathi decided to drop this bomb although it was what they needed. Something to clear the air.
“You know I had to say it,” said Aathi.
“It’s none of my business; you didn’t have to,” responded Diya.
Yeah, you probably don’t care to be honest. I just felt I should tell you. I mean it is one of the biggest regrets in my life, deciding to walk out of your life. You are the only person in the world who knows me entirely, and I just up and up chose to walk away from you. Since we were kids, I always thought you would be someone I would have in my life forever. Sitting across from you right now I can’t help but be thankful for another chance.
“You can’t put so much blame on yourself; it could have happened the other way around,” said Diya.
“Could have, but I don’t think you would have,” replied Aathi.
Aathi, I think you are putting a ton of blame on yourself. Yes, I am going to be honest, when you told me you couldn’t talk to me anymore, I was disappointed. I thought our friendship was stronger than that. When I said “Okay,” and stopped responding I may have been furious. But I soon realized if I had questioned things, I would be holding you out. Besides, it probably would have been hard for us to maintain what we had forever. We were bound to meet someone else eventually.
“I guess I’m just going to have to marry you then,” blurted Aathi once again.
“You aren’t thinking before talking huh,” laughed Diya.
Aathi knew Diya isn’t one to take his comment seriously, but a part of him knows he can have the life he always wanted. Both of them soon moved on from the topic of their past as they had back and fourths of their history. Conversations they had in their childhood, everything they have gone through together and from afar. They spent the next few hours realizing the missing piece of the puzzle in one another’s life is each other. Yet, they still didn’t speak on it.
Time passed, and Bala offered to close shop. Aathi suggested he walk Diya home and she accepted.
Years apart from one another they had plenty to catch up on. Diya lived about 20 mins away from TAT, so it gave them plenty of time to grow closer. And just as they reached her doorstep, Aathi felt uncomfortable leaving her without telling Diya his biggest flaw.
“Diya, I have to tell you something,” said Aathi.
“God, you have a new girlfriend that isn’t going to want us to talk?” Questioned Diya as she laughed grasping on to Aathi’s arm.
“I’m not going to remember this,” Aathi muttered looking over at Diya.
“You mean you won’t forget this,” assured Diya as she continued to smile back at him.
Aathi held Diya steady by her doorstep and explained his condition as her face turned to disbelief. She assumed he was poking fun at her, but as Aathi’s face turned firm, she realized something was wrong.
“You mean to tell me, we share a night like this after years, and you won’t remember me?” asked Diya as she realized this wasn’t a joke.
“Believe me. I don’t ever want to forget this day. But I have no choice,” responded Aathi choking to his words.
“Well, if you won’t remember this, kiss me,” said Diya taking a step closer to Aathi
An uneasy silence filled the air. The two have had their fair share of splits in their lives, but always found their way back to one another. Although it is inevitable that this will be the biggest challenge they face. If they choose to accept it.
Diya’s footing stumbled upon the resting floor. Aathi has walked away from her many times over. The mind plays a fowl game to an uncertain mind. She turned around and headed for the doors. Aathi wanted to stop her, but he knows he’s the one that has walked away in the past. Diya never disrespected his choice to do so either, it’s only fair he returns the favour. Probably the right thing to do, but as the cracks in the floor started to gain in numbers his heart ached in pain wishing he could turn back the clock and fix his wrongs.