“That was fun. I never did this kind of thing in my life.”
“I do really want to be famous,” she let out a giggle. “I got it all in my head. You are in it too. I envisaged that both of us will be famous one day, travelling in a motorcade with frenzied crowd cheering on both sides. I was living in such a lovely bubble until you said you are leaving…” her voice falters.
They met at Melbourne Central train station, under the big timepiece hanging from the ceiling directly opposite the shot tower, a five story high ancient brick building cloistered within the huge shopping complex cum train station. The circular seats around the clock proved to be a favorite waiting and meeting place. Today, a drove of schoolgirls in their red sweaters, blue and white chequered skirt and black shoes were milling around one corner. A trio of boys with spiky hair and T-shirts hanging out from their trousers was standing next to them. There were a few young female executives sitting by themselves, fiddling with their mobile phones, waiting for their beau to call. A couple of gentlemen in suits were also there, reading the day’s edition of world happenings.
He spotted her ascending the escalator next to the shot tower. She had straightened her hair, he noticed with some surprise. She had also cut a straight fringe, and fastened a beautiful pink blossom pin on the left side of her hair. She was wearing a pink dress with a white cardigan over it. There was no sign of the blue scarf. A faint trace of pink blusher accentuated her cheeks, giving her a doll-like look. In fact, he suddenly realized, she resembled the kimmie-doll he gave her as a present that day.
Her face broke into a radiant smile when she saw him waving at her.
“Where do you want to go today?” he asked.
They ended up sitting on a bench by the roadside in busy Swanston Street, watching the fluid mosaic of a crowd in front of them while enjoying Gelati in cones.
He was enchanted by the diverse cultures of Melbourne. He noticed a golden blonde haired girl with skin as white as snow strolling past, chatting with an African with striking ribbon-pleated hair and coal-black complexion. The dizzying array of colours was a feast to his eyes. So beautiful, he mused.
They did this for half an hour without speaking with each other. He felt relaxed, comfortable. Not a bit awkward by the silence encircling them.
He had fantasized them spending the day at the beach, which him holding her tightly in front of him, his arms encircling her diminutive waist as they watch the golden sun slowing setting behind the calm ocean, the spring zephyr softly caressing their hair.
But he knew he can’t have that happen. It’s time to tell her the truth.
“I’m leaving next week,” he blurted.
“Oh, you mean leaving the country for a holiday?” she enquired, her eyes trained inquisitively on him.
“I am leaving the country, yes, but not on a holiday. I’m leaving it for good.”
“My parents expect me to go home and run the family business after I graduate.”
“So you are not coming back forever?”
“I don’t know. Maybe not.”
“Surely you will miss it here?”
He didn’t answer her.
“Wait here for a moment.”
He scurried to the stationery shop across the street and came back with a drawing pad and a pencil.
“Let me sketch a picture of you so that I will not forget you.”
He was a picture of concentration as he proceeded to sketch her profile onto the drawing pad. The scribbling of the pencil was the only sound he heard for the next fifteen minutes. Mixed emotions surfaced and drown in his mind as he transferred memories of her from his brain into the paper with each stroke of his pencil.
He showed her the final product.
“It is beautiful,” was all she said.
He accompanied her back to the train station.
“So this is it.”
“Yes. It had been nice knowing you. Do remember to keep in touch.”
His eyes lingered on her as she passed the ticket barrier and walked towards the escalator that will bring her to the underground platform. She glanced back at him and waved before disappearing from his sight.
He suddenly felt very hollow. But it is all for the best, he tried to reason with his emotion. There is no way he can continue with this. He clutched the drawing pad possessively close to his chest all the way home.