A car paused at the intersection
in front of me as I waited at a bus stop
at the University of Maryland,
and on the passenger side sat Nupur.
She looked through the rolled-up window:
her face brightened as if finding
a forgotten keepsake and she mouthed my name.
The car zoomed away, leaving me standing yet
propelling me toward her like an arrow
released from its overstrained bow.
Home, I opened the campus phone book I had
snatched as soon as I saw them stacked
in the student union lobby when I
started the previous fall—I had hunted
through the pages and circled “SRIVASTAVA,
Nupur Anand.” This time she answered.
We hailed our fortuitous reunion
and quickly caught up on two years apart;
“Did you mail me a letter, then call?
I’m sorry I never got back to you.”
That maiden telephone talk proved
the only one. Sometimes I chanced on her again—
in line at the library beside
some Indian guy, nestling onto a dorm’s steps
as I chatted with a girl from Yiddish class
crestfallen as I turned to this caramel-skinned
shiksa with lonely threads from her cut-off
jean shorts draggling down her sleek thighs.
I, in turn, was displaced by another
desi beau coasting up to her other side.
I last saw Nupur at the close
of my junior year days before she graduated
in the student union lounge, several seats distant.
Cramming for an exam, I peeked at her
over my notebook: mouth contracted in a frown,
she checked her watch and scanned the room successively.
After about ten minutes, she stomped out.
How could I try to sweep away her
anger and hurt, even just for a moment?
I had no idea whom she waited for.
All I knew of her or needed to know
was that she didn’t wait for me.