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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Mythili Kamath

Summer is many things.

Months drenched in light. Streets dappled with flickers of gold. A snowy bower of parijat blossoms. The tanned, grubby hands of a colony gardener.

It is the greens of the canopy beneath which children pedal their bicycles. And the loud call of a kulfi vendor that pierces an otherwise, silent afternoon.

Sometimes, it is parting ways with a childhood that still clings to the grass. The fear of a bigger world drowned in the laughter of the moment.

Other times, it is the red of his jersey, like the shade of crimson leaves at the feet of a ghost tree. And the colour of his hair which mirrors an endless field of wheat.

Summer is a lover’s muse.

A love that often shrivels up with the first winds of fall.

September at university brings no myriad of weathers.

The same red bricks. The same geometrically curated lawns and flowerbeds. And the very same murky blue skies.

It is easy to fall into a routine.

Sleep takes its leave a few minutes before the ring of my alarm. Cold splashes of water. Dream-drunk eyelids. Sobered, I stare up at reflections of green bathroom doors. Putting together a pretty face comes easy. Blush of a pink rose. Maroon-tinted lips. Beauty protects better than the bronze of helms.

Sometimes, with a black mask on, I feel at peace. Summer has become a haunting memory, filled with racing hearts and toothy smiles, as dazzling as starlight on a lake’s surface. It is reminiscent of a happiness that only saddens you.  

Why do you still wear a mask?

I’ve said it over a thousand times.

I like lip-syncing to songs. And I’m very dramatic about it.

(My baby, you wear your heart on your face, tell mama what’s wrong?)

I fancy the delights of fiction. In my mind, there are a million tales woven from the words of the songs playing in my headphones. A million conversations. A million worlds tied together with a thread of gold. Many of them feature us, and we end like the endings in the greatest films of all time. The kind of love that would return from death. The kind a maiden would toss pennies into a wishing well for. The kind she would wish upon every star.

Heh. Well. That’s the stuff of delusions.

Isn’t it?

I recall that it was an October night last year. My friend and I were dragging ourselves down the steps of the library, entering the first hour of mid-term break. You write about love like you can’t live without it, she had said. I guess I am your cliché romantic. We love our delusions. Heartbreak is our rite of passage. We’re forever enamoured with the idea of love.

How’ve you been? I’m asked aplenty.

I’ve been well, I reply with a smile.

In truth, I haven’t known for a while.

He loved volleyball. He wanted to write about the philosophies of sport in Furudate Haruichi’s Haikyuu manga. I, shamefully, knew nothing of volleyball, let alone Japanese manga culture. So, I rushed to a Crossword bookstore and bought all the volumes I could find. The ones I couldn’t, I ordered online.

The pink skies of summer saw us meeting in the city park after his afternoon practice every weekend. Passing volleyballs and conversations like secret notes.

On one such evening, he placed a frangipani blossom in my hair, then tied it back with one of his red scrunchies. 

A tender warmth in the air we didn’t dare approach. There was no need. 

It was voiced in every brush of fingers, every longing stare.

Near the end of summer, he called me, claiming he loved me but we wouldn’t work out long term. We’re too different of a people.

What is love to you? I asked.

That’s an impossible question, he said.

2:00 am. Midterm break has officially begun. A cool wind brushes against my arms. Is it really fall? On nights like this, I think I’m still in summer.

I love like a second lead, I had once said to him, laughing.

No, you don’t. You’re as “protagonist” as it gets! He had declared, eyes fixed on Suho and Jookyung from True Beauty.

(Oh dearest, I hope your heart never confuses not being loved enough with not being lovable enough.)

Do you ever wonder, what is love to a second lead?

It is the envy of all that is kinder than me, a fury aimed at a soul that refuses to love anew. You and I may never kneel before the preacher, and my mama may admonish my bare finger. But on those midnights when I’m wide awake, I’ll raise a glass of wine and dance beneath the stars with the ghost of you, who once wanted me.

To not be loved enough is such a simple thing.

It’s the thumbed stack of manga volumes on my bookcase.

A dried frangipani blossom pressed between the pages of my old journal.

The red, worn-out scrunchie around my left wrist. 

It’s why I linger around the volleyball court every night after dinner, wearing a black mask and headphones, humming to Burnout Syndromes.

It’s a gift wrapped in white lace for the one who wears your ring.

It’s the way I write you in my poems. And the way you’re written in her stars.

Shruti is a second-year student at Ashoka University pursuing an English major and an Economics minor with a concentration in Existential Crisis. She loves poetry, story-telling and spends a questionable amount of time devising plots inspired by her latest dream. She is a big fan of chicken sandwiches (or anything spicy!) and romanticizing life.