Chapter 4Mature

26th October, 2034
“Man! It feels good to be back.”, Zayan exclaims.
“Hey they haven’t changed the wrought iron gates huh!”, Milee says.
“This is well and truly home… Where’re the others?... It’s starts at 7.30 right?”
My brother is abuzz with excitement and Milee is practically bouncing about. They now look like the two hyper teenagers I once knew them to be.
Right, but I honestly don’t know how I got dragged into this one.
The three of us are back at New Public School in Bangalore, ‘the place…’, like Zayan has been saying over a million times the past week, ‘…where it all started!’
It’s the 75th Anniversary and a gala bash has been set up by the alumnus. It’s packed with all the people who have ever been acquainted with these walls… reliving the ‘Good Times’! 
But I’d rather be ‘anywhere’ else at this point in time. I have no intension on boarding the nostalgia train and ultimately be left high and dry… yet again. Things can never be the same again … ever!
“Hey Zoya! How good to see you!” Can’t say I reciprocate the sentiment.
“You’ve lost weight!”
“Oh! You look so pretty.” … and I’m the how many-eth person you’ve said that to??
“You’re the one I’ve been looking forward to meet.”
“I missed you so much!”
Oh my God! I just can’t stop rolling my eyes at these phony comments. 
It’s Vrishalli.
“I didn’t think you would come. I met Zayan and Milee. They told me you were here. How have you been?”
I’m pulled into a bear hug.“Umm! Yeah good.”, I manage to blurt.
“So, where have you been… You’re married right? Where’re you working? Orthopedics right?!”, she throws a barrage of questions at me.
“Oh yeah! After I finished studies in Mangalore, my family moved to Madras. I live there now. I’m married with two kids and yes, I am an Orthopedic Surgeon!”, I reply.
She has tears in her eyes… genuine tears of joy.
I can see the warmth lighting up her face.
She’s the Vrishalli of old, I’m sure.
“So where’s Aakriti?”, the question bursts out of me.
Vrishalli peers back into my eyes, her expression betraying none of her thoughts.
“Hi Zoya!” It’s Aakriti. She’s looks no different from the fervent eighteen year old I’d last seen.
“Listen… I’m really sorry. Let’s all get back. Let’s bury the past… I’ve really missed you guys!”, she implores.
Aakriti never was one for small talk.
I’m at loss as to what to say. I just stare right back at her.
“I accept it was entirely my fault. I’ll make it all up. We can still be the pals of old.”
It’s a desperate attempt. She’s putting everything she’s got.
Well so did I that day at the Station! … But some things can never change. 

The End

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