In the school hall, harmonious instrumental beats played and it took me only a minute to realise it was a live band and the programme had begun.
Valerie and Samantha each gave me a hug. I could differentiate them by their body fragrances. Valerie's was a mixture of Lily scented shampoo while Samantha smelled of cinnamon and garlic most times. She said said she loved cooking organic food and I guess the smell hung to her most times. But today she smelled different. More refined. Perhaps she was really dressed to impress. Both girls had chirpy and goofy voices but were still slightly different. I noted that whenever Valerie talked, she always paused to swallow some saliva but Samantha didn't. She just kept talking till she was either through with whatever she had to say or she was out of breath.
When both girls left, Ana, Tess and I finally got seated and focused on the programme.
"I'm so nervous, wish me luck." George all of a sudden whispered into my ears. I didn't notice that he was around.
"Good luck. Don't worry, I know she'll agree. She loves you." I replied in hushed tones and then he left as quietly as he came.
"What's he nervous about?" Asked Ana. I wondered how she always managed to hear everything. Was it a rare gift?
Definitely beats me.
"You'll know soon." was all I said in reply. I knew she wanted me to throw more light into the issue but I kept quiet. This was a secret between George and I.
Well, George, Jason and I.
After the vice chancellor and some other special guests gave their speeches, it was time for the valedictorian, aka my boyfriend, to give his.
The students cheered as he was called and I was excited that my boyfriend was the best graduating student. I mean who wouldn't be overly excited if they were currently in my shoes?
The crowd finally kept quiet as he cleared his throat to speak.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, teachers and most importantly, all Graduates of the class of 2018. It is a huge honour and privilege to speak to you on this special occasion..." The crowd fell silent and his voice resonated around the hall. Jason's voice could be very intimidating and domineering when he wanted it to be and it worked well. The audience sometimes clapped as he spoke or some male students whistled.
The speech went on for the next five minutes or so and what he said made so much sense. If I were chosen for this task in the nearest future, I don't think I would perform this good.
"Finally, I want to thank someone very special. Ever since she came into my life, I was able to groom myself and be the man I am today. We've been together for about six months now and I've never felt this way before. I know she's here and I want to say thank you for coming to my life and I promise to be the best boyfriend ever..."
The rest of his speech and the cheering of the crowd drowned in the sea of my thoughts.
Holy cow! Initially, I thought he was talking about his mum, sister or someone else. But he was talking about me? To be honest, I haven't done much to deserve this. I mean, just by knowing my flaws and all, you would know I could never be so special. Or am I?
"You don't have to rub off your lack of sight every time I compliment you. Believe it or not Cassie, you're beautiful. When I see you, I get jealous at times. So please stop all these insecurities. Let go of the pain and appreciate the beauty in you."
I remembered Ana's words during my first day attending NYU. Her voice was mild and assuasive then. But now it sounded strict and intense.
"Well, someone whom you can share your deep thoughts and secrets with, travel with, love and who loves you in return, someone who would cherish and be there for you at all times. Someone who makes you feel special."
Tess's words which she said during our first sleepover, overshadowed Ana's this time and her words made me realize that I had found the love of my life. The one whom I could share my deep thoughts and secrets with, someone who cherishes me, and someone who made me feel special.
Even if I was blind, I had found what I never thought I would ever have.
And I was content.
Immediately, I brushed the droplets of tears in my eyes and stood up to join the rest as they clapped for him after his speech.
Some girls in front of us kept giggling.
"He's so handsome. I wonder who his girlfriend is." one said.
"Yeah, he is unbelievably handsome. I wish I could be with him even if its just for a day." the other replied.
I chose to ignore them but Tess had something else in mind.
"Hey ladies! I'm his sister and this is the girl he talked about." she referred to me and that got their attention for they gasped and apologized.
"You don't have to apologize. All you have to do is stay the hell away from my brother." Again Tess said. I nudged her with my shoulder and said a silent thank you.
"Can I have your attention everyone?", "Hello? One minute, please." I could hear George's voice faintly but no one paid attention to him.
"ONE MINUTE!" I screamed.
Suddenly the place was as quiet as never before. I suddenly felt self-conscious because I sensed they were all staring at me.
"Thank you Cassie." George shouted and I believed the crowd's attention deviated from me to him.
"Valerie, you're the love of my life. I've loved you since I met you at the grocery store during my first time here in the States. I don't know if this seems too soon but..." His voice was muffled and I couldn't hear what he said again.
"What's happening?" I asked.
"She shut him up by giving him a kiss." Ana answered.
She didn't even let him finish. Well, I guess she saved the day. I knew the level of anxiety George felt wouldn't have made him recite the speech he prepared.
"I love you Valerie, will you marry me?" he asked. Finally!