My First Love
He was like the fog in the winter mornings
Making my world hazy just by his presence
He was like the wind in the summer noon
Bringing peace even in the hardest of times
He was like the mirth on a merry-go-round
Rekindling my lost childhood
He was like the smell of an old book
Addictive even after the hundredth sniff
He was not the constant I’d hoped him to be
But he definitely was the variable I’d cherish for eternity!
I did not write this much or this well when I first fell in love. I wrote a few couplets full of highly cliché metaphors and he blushed as he read them all. Sometimes, he would make me read my poems to him. He would say, they become ten-fold better when I read them in my poetic voice. This was my cue for blushing hard!
First love is the most beautiful feeling in the world. The high serotonin and adrenaline, the flutter, the rush, the shutting down of the brain cells, one by one! The first touch which is mostly a mere brushing of fingers. The holding of hands which is so much more than two hands inter-locking at web spaces. It is a promise of forever, unsaid yet felt. The very first butterflies, the very first tingling sensation in the body, the very first time we get weak in the knees! It’s the very first time when you long to be so close to a person that you can hear their heart besting against yours. The warmth of the first embrace, the novelty of the first kiss, and the innocence of not wanting to go beyond that. The fun in talking for long hours, bunking lectures, and the fear of getting caught. The first risk, the first adventure, the first everything!!!
This feeling is so raw and crude that it almost impossible to have it when you’re all grown up and your ideas of fairy-tales have shattered into pieces. When first love happens, you are a firm believer of happily ever-afters. It’s not that you haven’t seen any disastrous relationships by that time. You’ve seen marriages that have broken apart or are intact merely on the basis of compromises. You have seen people fight and say ugly things to each other. You have seen people go through immense amount of pain and yet, you dare to love!
At that time, you think that people make wrong decisions. You feel that they choose wrong people. You think that they never loved enough. And, you think that you’re not going to make any of these mistakes and everything would go extremely smooth for you. Well, you really can’t blame yourselves. Life hasn’t shown you its ugly sides yet.
None of us have been spared by this feeling. And mostly, the very first love is usually your very first heartache!
Well, that’s what happened with me. My high-school sweet heart, broke my heart. All those love sick poems and cliché metaphors were all in vain, and my poetry mostly consisted of pain… See, he still makes me rhyme! 😀
Today, after being unsuccessful in finding love again in my life as I am giving into a compromise, I can’t help but think of him. I have decided to get married, without being in love! Why?? Probably because my best friend got married (again under family pressure). I am going to be very lonely now. It is time I get “settled”, and have my own little family. You know, I don’t want to be left as an old maid in family gatherings and I really don’t want to be third-wheeling couples. Don’t judge me, most of us marry for similar reasons.
But as I am taking each step towards the compromise that awaits me, I am pushed towards thinking about the first love of my life.
We had met in high-school (obviously)! Few of our subjects were different but we attended most classes together. I noticed him one day as he sat diagonally opposite to me in a class. He was wearing a black shirt and camel pants that day. He wore his hair like the latest action king of Bollywood and well, it really suited him. The first thing I noticed about him was his smile. Damn! He had dimples! I wished to talk to him, and well, he did! He asked for a pen. I gave him my favourite pilot pen and he casually took it from me. At the end of the class, I didn’t take my pen back. I risked my favourite pen to just have a chance to talk to him again.
The chance soon arrived when I discovered that he was my lab partner in physics. This was when we formally introduced ourselves to each other (though I and my best friend had already stalked his social media profile n number of times). We shook hands and I could feel the tingling sensations running down my spine.
The memory of that hand-shake is engraved upon my mind till date. I can never forget the way his rough and huge palm held my soft and tiny one for seconds. I eventually withdrew my hand from his but our eyes sealed the deal. At that particular moment, in that physics practical, we both knew that we were done for good.
We eventually became friends. Friends, who eyed each other mid-lectures. Friends, who walked along the corridors talking but hardly even had a brief eye-contact. Friends, who blushed after hearing each other’s name. Friends, who behaved in every other way than what was deemed normal between ‘friends’!
His name was written behind every note book of mine. All my friends teased me. All his friends teased him. So much so that they had bonded with each other just to tease us! Everyone knew that we were going to be together sooner or later. I was waiting for him to say it, and he was mustering the courage!
It is impossible to forget that fateful moment when he told me that he loved me. We were performing an experiment on convex lenses in physics. It was a difficult and challenging experiment. There was a lot of viewing from many angles involved and we were not getting the right readings. I was trying hard to set the pins at adequate distances from the lens and he was just….lost! Not to mention, I was getting irritated. I mean, he was supposed to help me!
When I had finally placed the pins well, I asked him to take a look from where I was standing. He came near me and bent real, real close. While the entire batch thought we were taking a reading, he slowly whispered in my ear,
“I love you!”
My whole world stopped. Yes, I was expecting this since a while now. Yes, he was supposed to say this soon. But no, not in the middle of an ongoing practical class amidst so many students and professors! I was numb from head to toe. I didn’t know how to react. I looked at him wide-eyed while he changed colour and tried to hide a playful smile.
Our professor in charge (who also had an idea about us) cleared his throat and we came out of our little bubble. I don’t remember what I did in that practical further but my only aim left was to get the hell out of there. We quickly wound up, took a signature and left the lab. Once we were in the lobby, I hit him with my journal!
“Mister Karthik Sharma, what the hell did you think you said back there?”
Silence. Yeah, obviously! He won’t be speaking now, right?
I crossed my arms across my chest and kept giving him a death glare. I was not leaving without an answer. He realised this soon and a very shy smile appeared on his face that made me go bonkers all over again! Did I mention he had the world’s best dimples?
He looked away, slightly rubbed the back of his neck and slowly said,
“I love you!”
All my resolve and agitation melted away. I could not help but smile, blush and smile harder, exactly in the said order!
I didn’t say I loved him back. Instead, I ran away! I made him wait for two long days before I confessed my love over a text message. But, he was adamant to make me say the three words in person. And I finally said it when his and my friends hovered around my head for a long time and made me say it in front of them all in the cafeteria!
We were officially a couple now! He picked me up every day from the bus stop near my home. We attended classes together, walked along the corridors, studied in the library, spent hours in cafeteria, bunked and watched movies, had lunch dates and did everything couples do. We were practically drunk on the idea of love and we so believed that we were going to last forever!
Memories, yeah, I didn’t know I was making memories. Because then, I didn’t think I would ever have the need to look back at them. We were always going to be busy making new ones. And even if I would look back, I hadn’t thought that he would not be by my side…
Well, life happened. It was inevitable.
We were inseparable till we graduated from high-school. But after that, our ways parted. He pursued engineering and I landed up in research. Our universities were in different states now, and how much ever we tried; the lack of seeing each other did its job. We drifted apart, misunderstandings developed, insecurities carved their way into our relationship.
And that one picture I clicked with a guy, blew it all away! His jealousy and insecurity got the better off him and he spoke the words I could not look past. While for me, the lack of trust was the final nail.
If I think about it now, I realise that we were both wrong in many places. Too territorial, too immature and too clingy. I always complained that he didn’t have time for me. He always thought I hung out too often with guys. While he was just genuinely busy and I always chilled with a group that happened to have more guys. We did not see it then, and hurt each other a lot in process!
You’d think, why am I recollecting this long gone relationship now? Especially when I am looking for alliances. What is the point of thinking about this old emotion? Maybe it’s because this was the only time when I utterly, innocently and immensely fell in love!
With all my baggage, I am waiting for this guy in a coffee shop. I haven’t even seen his picture yet because well, who cares? If he scores more than 50% in my marriage questionnaire, I’ll settle for him. If not, I’d wait for another guy. I am just way too hopeless now; keeping my expectations to a minimum.
It’s been half an hour since the said time and I am beginning to lose patience. I dialled my mother to tell her that her so called ‘acha ladka’ hasn’t arrived yet. I was busy ranting when someone cleared his throat. He quickly caught my attention and I could not believe my eyes at what I was seeing. It didn’t even take me a second to recognize the guy who stood in front of me. All the colour drained my face as I gaped at him.
What the holy hell!!
Mom was still on the phone with me and I could not help blurting out the question I hadn’t bothered to ask before, “What is his name, Mom?”
“Karthik. Karthik Sharma.”
I cut the call. There was no way out from this. I hated this arranged marriage set up. And more than that I hated having a pre-conceived opinion about the guy I was going to meet. So, I never looked at the picture or for that matter asked any details of the guy before meeting him. And though I had rejected four men before this; I assumed this method functioned pretty well for me. But hey, the trick backfired this time! I didn’t know what to make out of this.
“May I sit?” he asked rather formally, hiding the ghost of a smile that threatened to appear on his face. I only nodded in response as I was still too shocked to even perceive what was happening.
“You didn’t know I was going to be here?” more than a question, it was a statement.
Obviously, I didn’t know! My face screams its testimony!
“You did though, evidently!” I could not hide the bitterness in my voice. Yeah, I am a hypocrite! I was thinking about him today but that didn’t mean I wanted to meet him in this arranged marriage set up. Rather, I didn’t want to meet him at all! I mean, I was over him, right?
“Yeah, I did. I was scrolling down the matrimonial website when I came across your picture. And I couldn’t not take this chance. Even after all this time, I couldn’t. And when you agreed to meet, well, I was thrilled! But, I guess I was wrong….”
I kept looking at him. Words had betrayed me. I didn’t know what to do here. What to make of this whole thing? I had changed so much since junior college. I wasn’t the same person any more. He must’ve changed too. I couldn’t decide anything on the basis of the past. Nor could I overlook it entirely. I just gaped and stared at him, while he did the same only in a tenderer manner.
For a few minutes, we just sat there in silence. All the memories were already flooding in and now as he sat in front of me, all flesh and blood, I could not trust my head.
I finally exhaled.
“I… I don’t know what to do right now. I’ll call you later….” with this, I stepped out of the coffee house.
TO BE CONTINUED