That voice, it had to be … “OMG! Shaurya! It’s you?” I squinted to see him better in the semi-darkness. The heavy drizzle was making it more difficult! Why was he standing in the rain? His uniform was dripping wet!
“I was on the other side,” he pointed towards the dark end of the street.
“But here? Out of the blue!”
“I’m in Seattle for a military exercise.”
“A military base? Here?”
He shrugged and stepped closer. I noticed how much my best friend had changed since I last saw him in school! He was more muscular, more athletic. The ache in my heart returned. My secret crush for him had barely faded even when we lost touch.
I nodded, shuddering slightly. The next minute he hugged me tight. Sighing, I closed my eyes. I could hear a rasp in his breath.
“Sorry if this is sudden, I’m not around long. I love you dearly, always have!”
A tear rolled down my cheek. I caressed his face and whispered “I love you too, always have!”
For a minute or an eternity we stayed that way, so close, it felt like heaven! Why had I ever let him go?
“Gotta go,” he said suddenly and hoarsely.
As he walked away, I shouted out my phone number. He stopped to repeat it, when I noticed my bus approach.
“Careful,” I yelled, but he was gone already, lost in the sheet of rain.
The next morning I received an email from a school friend. It spoke about a Srinagar Hotel terrorist siege. Amongst the list of the martyred soldiers was a name – “Captain Shaurya”.
No, my mind screamed, not true! I still felt his touch, still heard his voice. Then I noticed those red spots on my shirt. Blood? I couldn’t know!