The warmth in the lounge normalised my bones stiffened from the sudden chill outside. The event space in the hotel was populated with accomplished and budding writers, publishers, editors, script writers, and historians. The ambience of the literature festival, aroma of various cuisines and the soft music transported me into liberal fantasy. My reincarnated feelings and her curiosity enveloped the atmosphere. I was meeting her after a long time. As we sat together, amber lights shone onto her and reflected far and wide magnifying her presence. She hadn’t changed one bit.
‘You are my first love. The one I ever yearned for desperately, from the bottom of my soul.’ I said to her, regret in my stomach.
‘That’s quite an expression.’, she giggled.
‘This is where we first met. It was my Uni’s art festival. It was love at first sight for me.’
‘Or rather an impulsive consent?’
‘Whatever you may call it. It felt like a thousand lamps lit inside. There was something very intoxicating about you. You possessed me from all directions. It showed in the poetry and essays I wrote for the University magazine. I didn’t care about my grades nor what the world had to say. I dedicated my days and nights to you. I loved every moment I sang and danced with you. Under the tree, near the sea. We weaved magic together.’
‘I too found a home in a corner of your heart. I thought I would stay there forever.’
‘Sigh! Those were memorable days.’
‘Memorable, but momentary.’
‘I agree. The adventure called life took over. After my graduation, I was overwhelmed by the paycheck and international placement my first job offered. The peer and family pressure, my selfish need to resurrect my family’s dwindling financial condition made me succumb. My greed didn’t stop there. The rat race made me scramble devilishly for all the worldly possessions, only to realise that I was running alone. I made you leave me.’
‘Could I have done anything to change that perception?’
‘No. It was my mistake. My folly made me believe the ridicules that I couldn’t achieve the same heights of prosperity along with you. I lacked the courage of conviction to rebel against convention. Every day of these twenty years, I convinced myself that I am on the wrong side of things. Something was always amiss. But I never lost the hope of meeting you once again, being engrossed within you.’
‘So what made you come back?’
‘Money doesn’t attract me anymore. Purpose does. When I am old, lying on a hospital bed, I don’t want to die in remorse. I pressed for a job transfer back to the city six months ago. Since then, I round the corner of this place every day en route home.’
‘I know that first love sticks till the very end. What took you six months to approach me?’ , she chuckled.
‘I wasn’t confident I could match up myself with the same old me.’
‘You make me feel like your ex. What is different about today?’
‘Well, it’s the literature festival with a difference. They have called upon all lost writers to reignite their passion. This is my chance to blend us both into a dimension called forever.’
‘You have a demanding job and a happy family. Do you really see me in the equation?’
A wave of motivation surged inside me and inspired the birth of gentle emotions. I cradled them to form words and they reverberated through my veins. I raised the lid of my laptop, logged in and began typing:
‘True love is uninhibited. Let us make this newfound union a memorable one.’
The words transformed into pearls knotted beautifully to form a garland around her imaginary self.
“Don’t give up your writing. Ever.”
“Thank you! You made me feel so satisfied.”, I smiled.
“It’s all right. After all, I am your writing addiction.”, she smiled, winked and vanished into the literary atmosphere.
The title is a tribute to O.Henry