The Last Stolen Kiss

Memory is such a notorious thing. It starts failing you as you age. But this memory, it is still faint. It is as faint as the lingering vapours from the freshly painted walls. But I need to tell you quickly about this memory. Because this memory, it seems to be fading away as the day progresses and I am running out of time.

As always, it begins on a warm summer’s day. The skies are pale blue in colour, the birds are scattered and flying to nowhere. The trees are in abundance as I look around. I can see each leaf on the branches of this tree next to me. I am perched against the trunk of this tree, looking up and smiling faintly as I seem to drift in and out of a pleasant day dream. The breeze under the tree is so mild and cool that I am not even aware that I have drifted off to sleep.

I see I am standing on the porch of my old house. I am back in the house where I grew up as a child. It is still as green as it was the last time I saw it. The gardens are still full of Marigolds, Lilies, Jasmines and Roses. I was standing at the edge of the porch and watching the green gate that enclosed our house. My parents were somewhere inside, hustling around preparing for a trip with relatives and yet I stood here watching the gates sway slightly to the breeze. I was so overwhelmed by the greenness around me that I was a little startled to feel a hand slip softly on my back. The warmth of the hand was just right. The feel of the hand was comfortably familiar. I didn’t resist the touch and I didn’t turn around to see who it was. I knew it was him. And he had appeared just as naturally as the wind that suddenly picked up and was softly caressing my face. I had not seen him in ages. And yet, here he stood, with the multitude of changes on his face but his smile. The smile that would always put me safely back in a secure world, and to my immense pleasure, his smile, it was exactly as it was the last I had seen it play on his lips. The eyes, I do not remember how he would look at me, but now as he did, I neither felt angry nor sad. I was just there, standing and watching the green gates of my house with him by my side.

The hustle was suddenly over. Everyone had left and I had decided to stay back. I was back in my room, standing by the window next to the guava tree, trying to peek a look at his face. He was back and I couldn’t get enough of him. We had decided to meet. It was unsaid, but it was understood. That we had to meet properly. We had to see each other properly. I couldn’t wait to take it all in. I couldn’t wait to observe the tiniest features of his face. I couldn’t wait to see the familiar smile crack widely on his lips at the sight of me and watch his dimples dig deeply in his cheeks. He was back.

It felt like the good old days. We were trying to steal a kiss. We could meet as we pleased but the thrill of stolen kisses and whispers of sweet promises of seeing each other again, it was something else. And thus, we waited to steal the long awaited kiss. I knew he would be waiting below the Mango tree, as he always did. The tree was right next to the porch of my house. I knew he was there and I wanted to run badly at him, but my legs seemed to be made of lead.

Somehow after what it seemed like ages, I was standing on the porch again. Looking at him with a smile tickling away on my lips. There was no need to hurry, he didn’t seem like he was going to walk away again. And then, out of the blue I heard a scream. When I looked at what was causing the mayhem, I saw a familiar figure running from the green gates of my house. She was my childhood best friend. She let out another delighted scream and was running at him to give him the hug she was deprived of since ages. I saw them walk towards the green gate, where another friend stood waiting to see me. I recognized her green eyes and the big beautiful smile. But he was already there at the gate with my friend. By the time I reached the gates, he was already walking out of the gate towards the set of people who were waiting for him as well.

How could I have forgotten? I never did own him. He never was completely mine. He could be, if I wanted it that way. But how could I deny him and his presence with his other friends? So, I stood there at the gate, watching him talk to everyone. His hands moving so animatedly that it was burning up some old memories in my brain, reminding me every small things about him. Every tiny details that I had become so familiar with.

I stood there watching. Lost in him. So lost, that I did not realize he was walking towards me. I still couldn’t believe he was here. He was back! He smiled, as if he could read my mind and put his arms around my neck pulling me towards him and embracing me in the tightest hug that I had ever got. I could hear his heart beat. His heart was alive and pumping wildly. I could hear it. I could breathe in his scent. He was so close that I opened my eyes, to see him. But all I could see was that it was twilight now and the skies were turning into brilliant shade of orange. The tree that I was perched on, that same Mango tree where he would stand waiting for me, was still now.

I was back on earth.

For this eternity of mine, I was happy that he was back. I was not angry that he had left again.

I slowly started back to my house, thinking of him. Thinking of the memories. The dream, it was so convincingly real that for a moment I had believed that he had cheated death and was back. I had for that one moment believed that he had really come back to me.
—..

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