If It’s Meant To Be
January 02 2017
The last section of the library was the least occupied. It was the hotspot for all discussions, gossips, lunch and romance, especially for the students from the Department of Science. The science department in the college had no classrooms allotted as all their classes were conducted in the unusually long labs. The first quarter of each lab was reserved for theory classes of the respective subjects, except Mathematics. But the room allotted for mathematics was always houseful. Since the room had no “Keep your voice low” policy and no librarian to shush the students, this was the go to spot for those who had lost the volume knob to keep their voice low.
The New Year had just started and with that, the new semester. Many students still seemed to enjoy their vacation. Classes were sparse and the weather was lazy. This did not work in favour of a heartbroken Zeeshan. He had broken up with his girlfriend just a week back and since then he hadn’t smiled since. Or that’s how he remembers it. The last section of the library usually filled with his laughter and giggles was blanketed with thick layers of grey silence. But this grey cloud hovered not just on Zeeshan.
He was sitting on a chair with his bag placed on his lap and chin resting on the table. His eyes seemed to be starting something far way which no one else could see. He shifted his gaze when he saw a figure all cladded in a black walk across the table and take a seat at the end, near the wall. Ayza walks so smooth, so silent that it was impossible to hear her footsteps. She smiled at him and took her seat after placing her bag slowly on the adjacent chair. She looked at him for a few extra seconds as if to question the dark circles under his eyes. Just then his phone vibrated on the table while the screen turned on notifying an incoming message. He smiled back at her and picked his phone.
He read the message and let out a sigh. The one which loses some weight on the shoulder only to prepare for another heavier load. And before he could realize the passing of time around him, his eyes filled and a teardrop traced down his left cheek and embraced the screen of his mobile. He quickly put it in his pocket and took out a handkerchief and walked out. A seemingly confused Ayza looked at the empty chair he was seated on as if he was still there.
He came back after 5 minutes. His face seemed fresh with the water which refused get absorbed by his handkerchief. Ayza pulled out a water bottle from her bag and slide it towards him from over the table. He drank from it and returned it with a thank you.
“I heard what happened between you and Divyanka. Sorry, it went that way” she said looking at him. Her eyes were filled with genuine compassion bordered by the dark Kaajal.
“Oh, I didn’t realize that you knew about that!” His eyebrows went up in wonderment.
“We do. Just how we knew it started. After all, it involves two most popular students of the science department” she said with a mysterious and virtually mischievous smile.
Zeeshan couldn’t suppress his grin. It broke into a soft giggle and his face turned, almost as if he is embarrassed. He looked at her with a smile.
“Now that’s the Zeeshan I remember seeing before exams”. She smiled back.
“Sometimes I wonder how you always keep you calm. I mean I know how thing are between you and Ayaan with the whole Husna thing”. He stopped abruptly in an uncertainty. He had never said this to anyone, anyone but Divyanka, but he was well aware of the triangle situation between Ayza, Ayaan and his self-declared fiancé, Husna.
Ayaan and Husna were in a relationship right from their first year in the college. Ayza joined the college two years later when Ayaan was in the final year of B.Com and Husna had quit the college after the first year. Unaware of the situation, Ayza was head over heel in love with an exquisitely charming smile Ayaan gave out. No one could dislike him. Of course, there was an awkward distance between team Husna and team Ayza, which kept their distance from the trio. Husna, popular for her loud, dramatic and controlling personality had left no stone unturned in maligning Ayza’s name and shaming her. To make the matters worse, Husna joined the college again when Ayza was in the second year.
“Oh!” exclaimed Ayza.
In an instant, she realized that Zeeshan and Husna had common Hindi class and they were in the same batch. She wouldn’t be shocked even he despised her like most of Husna’s batch mates. She was getting used to the passing comments. Some called her boyfriend thief, some called her miss-do-it-all-and-act-innocent and some used even worse slangs. But Ayza never responded. She walked as if she couldn’t hear the comments. Zeeshan often wondered if her Hijab came with a noise cancellation device.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up”, said Zeeshan in an apologetic tone.
Ayza pulled a classic Ayza-move. She smiled. There was something about her smile. It was always accompanied by the veracity of her deep, black eyes.
“It’s alright,” she said. Almost to herself.
“This! This is what I was talking about!” he sounded exhausted. “How? How do you always respond with such a composed tone and serene texture? Do you feel no agitation? No irritation?”
“What good will that do to me?” She quickly said but in no haste.
“Whatever I say will be considered a lie. The world we live in passes judgment first and then moulds the words and actions of the accused into anything that fits in their side of the story.” She added
“Even silence!” Zeeshan interrupted.
“True. But that’s the resort I feel most comfortable with.”
“Doesn’t it bother you, what they talk about you?”
“No. Why should it bother me?”
“They mean nothing to me, Zeeshan. I have not handed them the power which could hurt me. Whatever they say mean nothing as they mean nothing.”
“Oh! I see…” he was now visibly confused.
“What do you plan on doing now? I mean with the whole Ayaan thing.” He added.
“I did what I had to. Now I wait.”
“And..? Okay, you don’t have to say if you are not comfortable.”
She smiled. Typical Ayza.
“Do you trust in Kismat, destiny?” she asked. Her lips slightly parted as if wasn’t expecting Zeeshan to answer. “Alright, don’t answer,” she said and giggled. She was well aware of the range of conversations Zeeshan preferred indulging in. how? He didn’t know.
“If it’s meant to be, It will be. If it’s not, you will lose it right before you think you have it.” The silence of the library was now growing loud and uncomfortable. The 11 am bell rang and Ayza zipped her bag. She had a Math lecture. Or that’s what she was hoping for.
“See you later,” she said as she walked past the table and disappeared around the books shelf. Her silent footsteps gave an illusion of her sudden disappearance.
Two hours later Zeeshan was at the bus stop waiting for his beloved 180. On the other side of the road, he saw Ayza with Ayaan. He was seated on his bike with his hand holding Ayza’s. Just then a bus arrived and she parted her hand from his. From the other side, Zeeshan could see their little fingers entangled, refusing to let go. He was certain that he had seen tears welling up her eyes as their fingers parted and she got into the bus.
February 07 2021
Zeeshan’s phone screen flooding with notifications lots up again with the arrival of a new message. He was quite shocked to see the sender’s name. Ayza! They hadn’t spoken for months, if not years.
It was a picture of a card. It read:
We solicit your gracious presence with family on the auspicious occasion of our wedding
Ayza Banu with Ayaan Khan
On 19th February 2021 (Friday)
Ayza: Thank you!
Zeeshan: It WAS meant to be after all!
Ayza: 🙂 You remember!
Zeeshan: Of course. I never forgot.