He saw her coming out of the cafeteria. He froze. She looked prettier than ever. She had probably lost a kilo or two which made her look slightly more fragile, her hair tied loose, falling on her shoulders. She wore a thin shirt on a skirt that reached her knees and revealed the legs that he knew all too well. She was talking to a bunch of girlfriends. He took a breath. Two years ago, in his car, when they were together for the last time before he went inside the airport and left for the U.S., she had told him that they would not try to remain in touch. They wouldn’t write. They wouldn’t call. They would try and get over each other.
Before coming to see her, he had been talking to her in his head. He told himself it was okay to pay her a surprise visit and just say harmless things like how engineering didn’t quite work out for him, how he’d gone photographing the Pacific Ocean on a cruise, how he finally settled for a major in physics and how he played in the first five for his college. That morning, he asked for her department, peeped into a few lecture halls, checked in the café, and just when he was beginning to lose hope, he saw her.
And when he saw her, he just wanted to look at her some more before getting noticed. He stood at some distance, out of her field of view. He had always found her attractive. Earlier in those days he had tried to explain to her why he found her attractive. Once, when he was telling her that there was a very subtle pride which governed the nuances of her movements; which made her look regal even if she wore a tee shirt three sizes too big, she had suddenly raised herself on her chair on her arms, kissed him full on his mouth, and cut him short. He remembered it so well because it was the first time she had kissed him, and also because he was holding two cups of coffee and was just bending to keep them down when she had decided to do so. They were at a restaurant which had a small hookah parlor, to which they carried their coffee. She said that he had looked so cute in that instant that she couldn’t resist, and she didn’t mind the stoners. It was a slightly shady place. But she said that she thought it alright to go there with a man who was six feet and three inches tall, and who would run on both sides of her if they were to stand in front of a mirror. She had the weirdest of similes to draw. She said that she functioned like a typical cost curve- concave first (rising at a diminishing rate), and then convex. So later when she would reach for him in her crazy ways, her hands and feet always ice cold, he had to learn to stop being surprised.
The group of her girlfriends was beginning to disperse. He could sense something rising up his stomach, flooding his insides. He knew she must be leading a life of her own, and that he had no right to tell her how he missed her; how he missed the way she smelled; how every time he’d be with a woman, he would catch himself comparing her with her; how whenever he got drunk he only thought about her; how he’d feel helpless for weeks altogether, unable to reach her, talk to her, see her, touch her.
The group finally dispersed. She started walking away. Before he could think things out, he realized he had already called her, and she had stopped. She turned. She blinked in disbelief. She smiled, started walking toward him, kept coming close to him until she was less than six inches away. She looked in his eyes. That look, he knew, registered everything else on his face too, like, exactly when he had shaved last, had he been smoking a lot of late, had he been sleeping well. She swept her eyes over the length of him, and then with graceful little movements which fused into one another- she raised herself on her toes, got her arms around his neck, smiled and hugged him gently. He could smell her, feel her skin soft against his and her hands cold around his neck. She fitted so well in the curl of his arm. He pressed her to him. And she dug her face deeper into his shoulder.