Our bungalow was larger than our neighbor Wasim’s modest house and smaller than Christie’s mansion. Ours was painted blue which had dulled by the rain of that season, Wasim’s was painted yellow which was actually a cream muddied over years if you looked twice, and Christie’s was a captivating fresh mauve. “It is mauve, not purple and definitely not blue,” Christie would have corrected you if you had spoken otherwise. Although the houses themselves spoke of the difference in the way our lives went about, the three of us went to the same college.
Christie and I were best friends, and though we shared every little secret without covering it with a strawberry jelly coat, we never confided in each other about our crush on Wasim. Yes, both of us dreamt of him. And yes, both of us knew that the other dreamt of him too. The pact was unspoken and so was the race.
I still remember that day, when I was gardening in the front yard that evening. A white paper came flying by and settled in front of me. It was crisp, bright, and perhaps freshly torn out of some notebook as besides the uneven surface on one side, it had no wrinkles to blemish its pride. I stood up and looked outside. There was no one flying paper planes. When my eyes met with Wasim’s, he waved at me and walked down to his home. He did have a notebook in his hand.
The next day, I went gardening again knowing that the rose shrubs were all trimmed. I decided it was time to remove the salt deposits off the clay pots. I toiled for an hour when a pink paper floated like a loose feather and landed in front of me. I stood on my toes, and saw Wasim strolling by. He waved goodbye as he walked down to his home with the same notebook in his hand.
A week went by as I collected the colored papers and spent sleepless nights analyzing the symbolism they denoted. Pink is for friendship. White must mean peace. Yellow surely signifies the fire in the heart. The green means prosperity that our lives await. I stared at the next sheet in front of me. What was that color?Blue or purple…whatever, but definitely not mauve… It is blue for the eternity of the eternal blue sky, I declared. I hugged them as I waited for the day when Wasim would write in those blank pages and give words to the poetry he sent me every day.
“So?” Wasim magically appeared in front of me in the middle of college canteen the next Monday, and my heart rate sky rocketed in a second.
“So?” I repeated in an attempt to appear very cool and wise.
“You got ’em?” he asked.
“You did? I hadn’t expected so….” He was surprised.
“I hadn’t either,” I confessed with honesty.
“It’s a yes,” I whispered, and he grinned wide. He could have hugged me but we were in the middle of busy canteen. We just shook hands, and were about to walk away when my thoughts wandered to my best friend.
“Don’t say anything to Christie yet,” I pleaded. He nodded like the kind hearted man that he was.
I went home and couldn’t eat the whole day out of joy. My lips were quivering and hands were still shaking from that touch. I carried those blank papers everywhere which meant more than the books filled with iron clad prose.
It was midnight, and I finally thought of gulping down some food before I drifted to my dreamland again. I was heating the bread when a paper slipped out of my hand and landed on that hot pan. I shivered from the thought of it burning into ashes. To my surprise, some words emerged with the heat, and I felt my bones stiffen. I picked it up hastily and put the other papers to the same test. They all had the same message written with lemon juice invisible ink.
“Tell Christie I love her,” dear Wasim had asked.