To almost every one of us, the last day of school is a special one. Whenever we think of it, we smile, and sigh, wishing that we could re-live those moments of school days. I remember my last day at school. And just like every other school friend, mine was a special one to remember too.

I woke up early that day. Nutella and bread was the breakfast, as usual. After taking a shower, I wore the school uniform for the last time in my life. Then I went to school.

Like always, I greeted my friends with a warm smile, and they smiled back at me too. That day, those smiles meant something else. It meant something melancholy. But I did one of the hardest parts, that is, pretending. Pretending that I don’t know what’s going on, and this routine would go on for the rest of our lives.

That day was special for something else too. I brought a ring for my Zara. That ring was really special. According to my grandfather, that ring signified a strong connection between lovers. My grandfather bought this ring for my grandmother as a gift for their marriage anniversary, but he failed to give it to her because of my grandma’s tragic death.

“Riyaz, this ring is not any ordinary ring. The red stone you are seeing in its front is not a stone. It’s a pearl. A rare pearl. This pearl is called Marjaan.”

After attending the classes, we made groups and visited our teachers, so that they could wish us luck for a better future. Then came the hardest part of all. Goodbyes.

My friends hugged each other and cried. They signed autographs on each other’s uniforms. Some said their goodbyes like it really was the last time they would meet. I wasn’t one of them. Since birth I became emotional and nervous to these types of situations. Maybe if I hugged them and said my goodbyes, I would have cried. To avoid breaking my heart, I just saw all of them from the balcony, living the last minutes. The problem was that I could not propose Zara in front of so many people. Because then I would have to say my goodbyes. My silly Zara was one of the crying people too, for which she was with the crowd.

After a moment, my best friend Shahid came.

“Riyaz! Why not come down and enjoy the last moments?”

“Come on brother. You know how sentimental I get in these types of situations. I don’t want to wet my cheeks with tears.”

Shahid tried to convince me to come down, but he failed.

Shahid told me, “Riyaz, if you don’t cry now, you will have to cry someday else. But remember, you will cry for this.”

Maybe I didn’t need to propose Zara at that moment. We were not exactly in a strong relationship, but we loved each other. We confessed our feelings towards each other around a year before that day.

I secretly escaped my school, and looked at the buildings. I had no idea how childhood turned to adulthood during school days. Maybe this is the way of life. Everything does come to an end sometime.

Zara didn’t pick my calls up for the next week. Was she mad at me? Was she avoiding me because she got nervous about the fact that I was going to propose to her?

Nineteen was a young age to propose, I know. But according to the society I live among, that was one of the perfect ages for marriage. I was scared that Zara’s parents would get her engaged to some other guy. That’s why I decided to propose to the most precious pearl, Zara, who was even more special than Marjaan.

Marjaan looked beautiful. No girl could ever say no after taking a glimpse at it. Its beauty consisted of the highest level of sublimity. What will your reaction be after seeing Marjaan, Zara?

About eight days later, I received a text from Zara’s friend, Meera.  

“Zara is going out of the town for further studies. Don’t talk to her. Just like you did not, during the last day of school.”

I surely was disappointed. I love her, and try to make this proposal big, and this is what I get? She could have picked my call up for once atleast. How dare she convey this message through a girl whose full name I don’t even know?

Then life happened. Those bunking classes, recess games, break-time samosas were all memories. All of us somehow got busy with our careers. The worst part was that I was not in touch with anyone who was in touch with Zara. I didn’t hear of Zara in a long time.

Four years later after the last day of school, I was going to meet Zara again. She was going to see the most beautiful ring, Marjaan. I wish I could describe in words about those feelings you get when you are dying to see a look on somebody’s face.

“Riyaz, where are you brother?”

“I am on my way Shahid. Where’s Zara?”

“She’s here. She looks really beautiful. I’m waiting for you. You are bringing Marjaan with you right?”

“Of course.”

If somebody read all the paragraphs above, they are probably wondering of how I managed to patch up with Zara in such a short time. It was Zara’s wedding day. She looked as special as a shooting star in the sky. My Zara was going to live a new life. She was getting married. But not to me. To Shahid.

We greeted each other and were happy to see each other after a long time. Zara’s reddish lehenga made her look flawless. The sound of payal of her ankles, the sweet noise of her bangles reminded me of those thankless memories. I wished both my friends a good life together. I watched Shahid help Zara wear Marjaan. Zara was my Marjaan. She was the most precious Marjaan of all to me. Giving away the ring to a decent hearted friend didn’t matter. I knew that my Marjaan, Zara was in good hands.

Maybe the wedding day could have been different if I cried on the last day of school. Only then, I would not have had to cry that day. Shahid was right on the last day of school. I would have to cry for that time.

After watching Zara wear the Marjaan, I went to the garden behind that place. It was empty. I was helpless. I could not hold back my tears anymore. Seeing your childhood love in somebody else’s hands is not easy. Shahid noticed me escaping to the garden. He joined me, and got quite shocked to see me crying.

“You were right. You were right that day.” I said as he saw waterfalls on my face.

“Right about what?”

I said nothing. There was nothing to say. Maybe it really was my fault for all of this happening. I hugged Shahid, and whispered to his ear, “Take care of my Marjaan. Please take care of my Marjaan, who happens to be your Zara.”