Shirish are you coming on time tomorrow morning or as usual will you be late?” said Rita, as she was packing for college before retiring to bed. Shirish said, “I will be on time. I promise.” Rita hung up the phone wishing him good night and went off to sleep. The next morning Rita started for college. As she approached Shirish’s house, a note lay outside his house for her which said that he would meet her at the bus stop in 3 minutes. As she waited for him, the bus pulled in at the bus stop. With a final glance at his house, she boarded the bus.
In college at the end of the first lecture, Rita saw Shirish waving out to her. Rita ignored him and went to the canteen to chat with her other friends. Shirish came up to Rita and apologized to her. Within minutes she was convinced that he wouldn’t repeat the mistake again.
This would happen every day. Shirish would keep written notes for Rita and she would collect them. Days passed into years and they became the best of friends. They met every day and spent the maximum time with each other. Rita was an outgoing girl and she made a lot of friends. She was a tomboy, so a lot of guys would hang around with her. After college, Shirish would wait for Rita at the station. Once, Rita told Shirish to go to the station without her, as she would be late. After an hour, when Rita arrived at the station, she saw Shirish sitting on the seat on the platform. This touched Rita and she was happy. Rita asked Shirish, “Why didn’t you go home? I’ve told you I would be late because I had to copy some notes from Hemant.” Shirish replied, “Rita, all these days you would wait at the bus stop in the morning and every day I would be late. Can’t I wait for you for one day?” Then there was silence throughout the journey. After reaching their station they would make it a point to have a cup of coffee at a café very near to their house where they would share the day’s events. The bond was so strong that if either one of them was feeling low, the other would understand it. Shirish was so dependent on Rita that he would need her whenever he was in doubt. If Shirish’s mother wanted to put forth something to Shirish, she would have to call Rita to make Shirish understand.
It was Rose Day at the college. Rita asked Shirish whether he could come on time because she was wearing a sari for the first time and didn’t want to go to the college alone. But as it turned out that he didn’t come on time, she had to go by herself. When Shirish finally arrived, he went to look for Rita. He was stunned to see Rita in a sari. He just stood there staring at her. It wasn’t until that day that he realized how beautiful she was. He came up to her. Hardly spoke. She shouted at him and left angrily.
He went to the canteen hoping she would be there, but she wasn’t. After 3 hours of futile efforts, he went to the station alone. It was at that time that he realized he wanted her in his life. He missed her terribly when she wasn’t around. When he reached the station, Rita was there with Hemant. She came over and smiled at Shirish and apologized about the incident, after which Hemant left, and Shirish and Rita left for home.
Later, Shirish sent Rita a friendship card, which expressed his feelings for her as a friend. Rita was happy. Days passed into years and they were in their last year of friendship when Rita knew that unknowingly she had started liking Shirish but didn’t have the guts to tell him fearing she may lose his friendship forever. After college, both parted ways—Shirish didn’t take his graduation examination and lost a year. Rita took her examination and later took up a job, which kept her busy throughout the day.
This went on for two years. Rita had been keeping her distance from Shirish. She wanted to get Shirish out of her mind as she was sure their relationship wouldn’t work out. Rita’s parents found a match for Rita and Rita agreed. She called Shirish one day and asked him whether he could meet her. Shirish met her. They both were quiet for some time. Shirish broke the ice by telling Rita that there was something he wanted to tell her. Shirish poured his heart out and confessed his feelings for her. Rita was open-mouthed. All she could say was, “Shirish, why did you express your feelings so late?” and she got up from the table and left.
Rita and Shirish didn’t meet for 4 years after that. Rita heard about him from her mother that he had become a poet and writer and was penning a book. Later, Shirish met with an accident and wanted to see Rita. Rita came to the hospital in a crisp white salwar kameez, looking as gorgeous as ever. Shirish asked Rita whether they could be alone for some time and she agreed. “Rita I want to know before I die, did you ever even like me?” Rita had tears in her eyes and replied, “Shirish, I’ve always been loving you but didn’t have the courage to tell you. I was frightened that if I ever disclose my feeling, you may go away from me.”
Shirish and Rita realized that just a matter of words drifted them into different worlds and now it was too late to change it. A few days later, Shirish died and left her his entire earnings from the sale of the book, which was dedicated to her.