Second Innings
Harshit Jain | 6 Min reads | October 17, 2017

So Diwali is here and finally, finally it is time for home. After starting my college life, this is for the first time that I'm returning back to home. And out of the excitement of going back home I skipped the last 2 days of my college, didn't sleep the night before departure and on the final day, I reached the airport 3 hours earlier than the check in time. Diwali brings a lot of memories from the school life and this is the time when I will finally be meeting my school friends and we'll revive the memories of our school life, which I miss the most. 

Everyone is saying I have changed. Dad thinks that I look abnormal. Mom thinks my hairstyle looks worst. My grandpa thinks that keeping beard makes me look like a hooligan. I mean what has happened to these guys. Rather than cherishing that their son is back to home after 5 months, they are bothered more about my looks. I went to college like a moron, and I came back here like a protagonist. But these people don't value it. 

Had Ayushi still been there in my life, she would have definitely fallen in love with me this time. Diwali  reminded me of her. It was the first time when we got close. We were in school then, it was three years back. I was in love with her deeply. She never took me that way. For her I was the best person of her life. But she never termed it as 'love'. I proposed her. She denied. And that's where the things started getting bitter. Our 3 years of friendship was being shattered because of those 3 magical words. She left me. And by the end of the year she vanished completely from my life. She even left the school and went to different city to prepare of the hyped engineering entrance exams. 

I had never seen her since then. My infamous male ego doesn't permit me to send her a friend request. But my heart still craves for her. Almost every alternate day, I stalk her profile. Looking at her beautiful face, I regret more and more in my life. Had she understood my love, we could have been the happiest couple. Time passes and with that you are supposed to forget everything, and I don't know why, but I can't!

"Puneet?" My mom shouted from the kitchen. "Come here!"

"Yes mom. Beta please go and get a haircut. All of our family friends and relatives will be joining us in the evening for a get together. I don't want them to perceive anything about you from your looks."

"What mom? Are you crazy? I'm looking good in this. And why do I always have to suffer because of these people?" I was irked. 

"Beta please. Won't you listen to your mom? I always say things for your good only. Now go, fast."

Before she could have played her final emotional card, I left, as I knew nothing more could have been done there. I have to, anyhow, get the haircut now. So I got the key of the scooty and drove straight away to my favourite hair salon Sizzlin Scizzors. Actually this was Ayushi's favourite salon, a number of times I have come with her here to see her getting beautified. She always looked like an angel.

I was waiting for my turn to come. Looking at the magazines where they had the styles for haircuts. But they were of no use. I am supposed to take a normal cut or else my family will feel ashamed of me. 

I was checking in to my phone when someone suddenly called my name. I turned around. Amit was here. He was my school friend. But wait, who is standing by his side. Shit. Damn. 

Ayushi. 

Three years, we didn't see each other, didn't talk to each other. And suddenly, out of nowhere, with zero expectations, I have found her here. 
I almost went expressionless but she came ahead and wished me Happy Diwali and hugged me. It was the best feeling. Amit's phone rang and he went out talking over the call. It was only me and Ayushi now. We sat. 

"How are you?" I asked.

"I'm fine. You tell? And what's up these days?" She said sounding nervous. 

"I'm good as well." I said. "Studying in Kolkata."

"I know." She said in reflex. This made me stop for a second. How? That means she has also stalked me or is it just any of our mutual friends who must have told this to her?

After a few moments of awkward silence, I went for the hair cut. And it was a moment of relaxation for me. I was feeling a storm of emotions within me. I was all blank. I don't know why she acted weird. And I don't know why she smiled so brightly while seeing me. Did she miss me too? Just like mine, is her ego stopping us to talk? I don't know. It is so awkward. I was deeply lost in my thoughts while having the hair cut. It was when the guy asked me whether it was fine, I came back to my senses.

I finally got a sweet and simple hair cut and moved back towards Ayushi to bid her adieu. 

"It was so nice to meet you Ayushi that too after a long time."

"Same here Puneet. By the way, you look good." She said sounding as if she wanted to say more.

"Anyway, I'll take your leave. B'bye." I said and started moving. 

"Puneet.." She said my name and held my hand, "Can I get your number?"

I got certain positive vibes as soon she held my hand. Suddenly it felt like the way we are back in the past, our happy past, when I would accompany her to this salon and she would discuss with me about the new look she was going to try. I loved her then. I love her now. But I confessed it then. And that's why we are here like this now. 

We exchanged our numbers and without looking back, I came out. I felt an inclination in my instinct. Just the way I used to feel in school for her. Since then a lot has changed. I didn't let any other girl to enter my life. Many a times I had felt like having someone in my life, but then I didn't find any girl who was even near to what Ayushi was for me. 

It felt really good, meeting her like this, just out of the blue. I hope, someday we become friends again and then eventually lovers. I hope she understands me and the love I hold for her. 

I was back home. And directly went to mom and showed her my simple look. She became happy. Our parents don't expect happiness from the big things we do in our lives, it's just these small things which make them happy and moreover the thing that makes them the happiest is when we obey their instructions. Well that actually does good for you. Just because of her pressure, I went to get a haircut, and just because of that I met Ayushi after three complete years. 

So many people have gathered in my home for the celebrations. Uncles were busy talking politics and aunts were pondering over the sarees to wear at various occasions, and my cousins were enjoying bursting the crackers. Everyone seemed to enjoy the moment, but I was lost somewhere. May be that small meeting with Ayushi today got stuck in my mind. It is giving me a lot of flashbacks. I was lost in her thoughts. I loved her so much. I still love her. But will she ever understand my love?

"Hey Puneet, Happy Diwali." Buzzed my phone with her message and my face shined with a smile. And with that message I was clear that from this Diwali the second innings of my life has started...

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