Three years I spent with and without her. The last time she called, I blew her off. And now, two weeks later, I’ve been asked to give her eulogy.

I do not know when it was that I fell in love with her. I do not know whether it was when she prayed earnestly for my sick father to be well again or when she playfully punched me on my arm if she did not have a smart comment when I teased her mercilessly about things. I do not know whether it was when she insisted that I do not miss a single class with an oh-so-serious look on her pretty face or how her gorgeous brown eyes stared at the notebook in concentration as she completed class notes for me. I do not know whether it was when we watched the moon together or when she confided in me with tears in her eyes that she was an orphan. I don’t know whether love happened when she hugged me with pride and joy after her graduation or when she quietly held my hand afterward. I can’t point to a specific time as the one moment that ‘I fell in love’ with her and I have no clue how I did. However at end of the day, I was a goner. I was head over heels in love with her.

Our relationship was doomed right from the start. My parents would never accept an orphan girl into our family as my wife. I did not care about what anyone else thought. I was in love. And being so lost in love, I chose to ignore the fact that 95pc of long distance relationships do not work. I wanted to make us work. Our careers took us to different cities and different countries. Things got so hectic that we were never together in the same city for more than three days. Time moved on. Days became months and years. Three long not-so-happy years passed. The initial wonder and determination gave way to exhaustion and frustration. Love took second place to practicality. We broke up. And it was ugly.

She did not want to break up. And she made it painfully clear in more ways than one. But I was sure this was the best way out. I chose not to listen to the tiny nagging voice inside that said that I was making a mistake. I stuck to my decision. She called occasionally. Conversations would begin in a friendly tone and end in either her crying and blaming me for everything or in me losing my temper and slamming the phone down. This went on for a while. I was reaching the end of the rope as far as my patience was concerned. The last time she called was nearly two weeks ago and I totally lost it. I blew her off. And today I’m numb with shock, disbelief, hurt and above all guilt when a common friend rang to say that she passed away this morning. She had been the victim of a hit and run accident. She died on the spot.

I was always bad at expressing my feelings except maybe anger. So, when I replaced the phone on its cradle, it was almost natural when I began scribbling my feelings on paper. Remorse and a truckload of guilt ate at my insides. If only I had known that she would be taken away this soon…

The Last Time

I do not remember
The last time we spoke over the phone
Was it a Tuesday? Or a Friday?
Was it a sunny day? Or was it raining?
Were you crying? Or holding back your tears?
If I had known that it was our last phone conversation,
Would I have spoken to you longer?
Would I have been kinder?
Would I have shouted at you and slammed the phone?
Or would I have told you that I loved you no matter what?

I do not remember the last time
That you cooked one of your special dinners for me
How you pondered over many recipes before you decided the one
If I had known it was our last dinner together,
Would I have enjoyed the food more?
Would I have complimented you more heartily?
Would I have eaten slower?
Would I have helped you clean up after?
Or would I have insisted on another candle-light dinner?

I do not remember the last time
When we made sand-castles on the beach
Or the last time you wrote our names
On the sand and waves washed them away.
Would I have stayed longer?
Would I have laughed harder?
The last time we saw a movie together,
Would I have held your hand longer in the theatre darkness?
The last time I kissed the nape of your neck
And sent shivers down your spine and goose bumps on your hands
Would I have kissed you more?
If I had known it was the last time?

The last time we fought,
Would I have apologized first?
Or would I have avoided the fight altogether?
The last time I held you in my arms,
How small you felt against me
How soft, how warm, how nice…
Would I have held you longer?
Or would I have never let you go?
I don’t remember the last time I did hug you,
But heaven knows how I wish I did.

Sadly, I do remember when exactly we broke up
I remember your tears and shock.
I remember how you asked me why I left you
I remember how hollow and empty we felt
I remember how I broke your heart and I will never be able to forget it
If I had known that it was the last time,
That we were going to be taken away soon, so soon,
Would I have broken your heart?
Would I have pushed you away?
If only I knew it was the last time…

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