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Long Lost

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.”

Gerd Altmann, Public domain, via Pixabay

Gerd Altmann, Public domain, via Pixabay

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.

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