‘Where are you from?’
These exchanges of pleasantries were to transform their lives forever.
It was a freezing cold December morning at Heathrow Airport almost eight months after they had starting conversing. Having stepped foot outside of Pakistan for the first time, he cut a lone figure amidst the hustle bustle and the cacophony of voices at the lounge. His eyes wandered far and away longing for a familiar face in that sea of unassuming strangers.
He need not wait long. Their yearning eyes met for the very first time. The busiest airport in the world had come to a standstill. The huge timepiece at the terminal stopped ticking. Warm exhaled air refused to diffuse and shrouded the surrounding air. The deafening noise had suddenly subsided, or that is how they felt.
It wasn’t long before they were in each other’s arms. They had been in love for a while now but this was nothing they had ever experienced. The passionate embrace followed by feverish kisses lasted for what seemed like an eternity. It was the culmination of eight months of an intense relationship, like a humongous load had been lifted off their shoulders.
She was a pianist at the London Symphony Orchestra. They sat down on the piano; she held his hands and pressed all the right keys. She played ‘All I Ask of You’ from The Phantom of the Opera, followed by ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ by Percy Sledge. He could only but admire her fluent movements as he himself delved into a realm of ecstasy.
They rode the horseback together. The amateur sitting behind his mentor moving in a synchronized manner, taking in the cold breeze on their radiant faces. They waltzed in bars, hopped in subways, watched the classics, rode the Thames on a speedboat, walked hand in hand at the Kew Gardens, and gazed at the beautiful London sunset on top of The Shard.
Those few days whizzed past in a jiffy. It was the best time of their lives. The half-a-hearts were one now. Two bodies one soul sharing the same air, the same laughter and the same heartbeat. But all good things come to an end. He had to go back to rejoin his studies, and make sure his parents didn’t panic for this had been a little secret between just the two of them.
It had been a month since he had come back to Pakistan. He tried to call her but couldn’t get through. This continued for a few weeks till he could bare it no more. Books became a liability, food he couldn’t digest, and friends interested him no more.
Summers in London this time round was relentless and harsh. He stood outside the London Symphony Orchestra in sweltering heat. Too lethargic and with a sinking heart he ventured inside to find his Emily. The Orchestra was playing in all its might but without a pianist. As the choir bellowed its last notes, the much dreaded script appeared on the digital screen behind “In Loving Memory of Emily Dawson who left us too soon.”
As the hall erupted in rapturous, reminiscent applause, he was the only one sitting down in his seat. Each clap drove a sharp dagger deep inside his ruptured heart. As the standing ovation continued, all he could hear was Emily’s angelic voice “Love spans time and space, and is not dependent upon your physical circumstances. It is the wisdom of the heart. I will always love you, come rain or sunshine. I will always love you, because you’re mine.”