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That night also, I went to my sister and told her what happened. She stroked my head while I cried myself to sleep. Only she knew what I was going through.
First love feels like the tickling warm sun on your skin in a winter morning. It engulfs you completely, like a cozy blanket. I could not understand when that happened to me. I just knew that something magical was going on around me, when I saw Gourav. Each time he came anywhere within a radius of 5 meters from me, I felt butterflies in my stomach. A random word from him would make my heart jump.
Within two weeks of joining the University for my Master Degree, there was a definite change, not only in my behavior, but also in my looks. A simpleton like me, started to spend quite some time in front of the mirror. My younger sister gave me an awkward look one day, when I spritzed some perfume before leaving for the classes.
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My family was first to notice. What is going on? – My father would ask my mother sometimes and she would just smile at me, which made me even more nervous. I never experienced anything like that in my life till then. I was not sure how to convey this feeling to anyone. I did not even know what name I should give to this thing happening to me! Was it love or just a passing phase? Romantic novels were never my cup of tea. But I started to read them just to confirm that whatever was happening to me was indeed love and not some other medical condition; they did not help much though. I got even more confused.
Trailing behind these sweet feelings, quite faithfully, jealousy also made its way into my heart. Any girl talking to Gourav, or even just getting a smile from him, made my heart cry out in pain. I would die a thousand deaths if he showed any extra attention to anyone. Many nights, I would cry in my room in despair just imagining him with someone else.
You are definitely falling in love, my sister concluded, on the night I could not control myself anymore and went to seek her advice. I poured out my heart to her. She, though four years younger to me, was much more experienced in the matters of heart, in a non-medical way, or so she presumed. For me, she was the only one whom I could trust as I couldn’t take the risk of telling anything to anybody else. After all, it was a delicate feeling. She suggested me to go and confess everything to Gourav. As per her, only a true confession could set my inner demons free. She went back to sleep after our not so brief discussion, while I sat beside the window and started counting stars in the sky. That made my racing heart slow down a little. The thought of going up to Gourav only made my tummy churn, forget about verbally portraying my love for him. So by the time a crimson sun was up in the horizon, I had made up my mind that I was not going to do any such stupid thing and try to control and keep my feelings to myself, contrary to my sister’s valuable suggestion.
While I was going through this dilemma, Gourav was completely unaware about my feelings. I was just his class-mate. We were not even friends. We hardly spoke. So, the day when he came up to my seat after the class and asked me for the notes, I behaved exactly how anybody sane should not have behaved – I pretended as if I had not heard him and kept on looking at my notebook and drawing random spirals nervously.
So he knocked on the desk twice before speaking again…
“Ummmm… Hi… Can you lend me your class notes from yesterday please?” He asked again with the most decent voice I had ever heard.
I had to look at him this time, could not avoid him any longer. And his dark brown eyes pierced through my eyes. But it felt as if he looked into my heart, skimmed through the pages of the book I had kept in some unknown corner in there, with spirals drawn on every page and when he closed it with a thud, the book had his picture pasted on the cover, with a title, “My Love”.
Everybody started to laugh, and I came back from my reverie and realized the source of the thud was not the book I had kept hidden. My notebook was lying on the floor with the page full of spirals on display for everybody who cared to have a glance. I felt embarrassed and quickly bent down below the desk to get it and banged my head against the desk while getting up, giving the whole class another laughter fit.
“Are you alright?” Gourav extended his hand towards me.
“Yes… yes… I am OK… Thanks…” Finally some jumbled up words came tumbling down from my dumb mouth, when I held his hand and pulled myself to my feet.
“Are you sure?” He seemed genuinely concerned.
“Yes… ummm… here are the notes.” I replied calmly. But thousand volts of electricity was running from his hands to mine and then towards my heart and then to my whole body.
“Hey… Thanks…” He replied while taking the notes in his left hand as I was still holding on to his right hand. I had to finally let go of it reluctantly when I felt a small tug from his side.
From that day onward, he would wave at me, have a small chat every now and then and our friendship blossomed like sakura in spring. And the random spirals on the pages of the book of my heart, started to take shapes of small hearts with arrows piercing them from one end to other.
He started to pick me up while going to university and also drop me sometimes, if he had nothing to do after the classes. He introduced me to his group of friends as his best buddy, and I was on cloud nine for that. I started to join them to the cinemas and picnics. We also did group studies. The more I knew him, the more I felt attracted to him. He would call me up to have a chat about anything and everything under the sun, if we did not meet for even one day. That made me feel special. My sister assured me that he was also in love with me and he would soon confess it to me. I just needed to keep calm and wait for the moment.
It was the last year of our master degree. We were 3 months away from our final exams. Gourav had missed couple of classes the week before. So he had come up to my place to study. It was the first time that he was going to stay with me for the whole night. Though I knew that nothing was going to happen, still I was feeling weak in my stomach. My sister warned me, Do not do anything stupid… you know, you might ruin it forever!
But something did happen that night, which I was not expecting at all. After dinner, when we sat down in our room, to start our studies, my sister came in to wish me Goodnight, like always. She also exchanged few pleasantries with Gourav, out of courtesy. After she left, Gourav asked me a favor.
“Listen… you think you can fix me up with your sister? She seems to be pretty cool!” He asked me casually.
How could I deny anything to the love of my life? But I, not only denied, but also threw him out of our house at that very instant. His insensibility towards my feelings was the hardest kick in my guts. The book in that corner of my heart, went up in flames. I saw my miserable self, sweeping the ashes under the carpet.
That night also, I went to my sister and told her what happened. She stroked my head while I cried myself to sleep. Only she knew what I was going through. Hence my always nagging younger sister became my protector for lifetime. She was the only one whom I could trust with my darkest secrets. I never talked to Gourav after that night even after he constantly apologized to me. I knew that nothing would be the same again. Those last 3 months of college, I kept to myself and submerged myself into studies. After the exams, I prepared and applied for PhD in foreign universities. Luckily, I was selected into a prestigious college and moved out of India.
That was 13 years ago. I have completed my PhD and currently I am working as a professor in USA. My sister has become my best friend. I share everything with her. It took time, but I moved on. I dated many guys, but never felt what I had felt for Gourav.
I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 22 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time.
When Steve walked into my chamber one fine day and introduced himself as the new History professor, my heart skipped a bit. We shook hands and I felt electricity running through my whole body once again. But this time, there was something different which I cannot explain in words. What I feel for Steve, was much more than what I had ever experienced. His deep blue eyes have a kindness which caresses my heart. His love is not like any whirlwind consuming me and turning my world to something else, rather he fits right into my life like he was always there. I feel content with him. I feel loved, I feel respected, I feel whole and I feel home. But most importantly, I feel me.
This evening, I am sitting in my living room, sipping some wine and Steve fixing us a dinner. I look at him lovingly. This is what I have missed all my life. My heart is so full today. Steve starts to sway to the music playing in the background and catches me looking at him. He winks at me seductively and I laugh out loud. A new book is now adorning my heart, but not in any corner. It is there, right in the middle, where a young me is again drawing random spirals on its pages.
My cell phone rings and brings me back to the moment. It is my sister.
“Hey Sis… how are you?” I ask her pleasantly.
“I am good. How are you and Steve?” She replies in her usual manner.
“We are doing fine… well actually, we are doing great!” I throw a flying kiss at Steve.
“Good to hear that…So what’s up? You guys ready for the big day?”
“Well… yes I think! And thanks for being our maid of honor. Please come soon. There are a lot of things to do.” I reply.
We talk some more and hang up just before Steve calls out to me to have dinner. I start to plate when thinking about how my sister was the only one who understood me all these years. She might be younger to me, but she is way much wiser than anybody else I know. I pour some more wine into the glasses when I suddenly see the gift box on the table. I look at Steve quizzically. He comes forward and asks me to open it up. As I open the box, I feel my heart swelling with love. There is the first copy of our wedding invitation. I take out the card with trembling hands. Steve kisses me and then reads it aloud…
Kindly join us for
The wedding of
Steve & Arun
June 24, 2018
4 O’ Clock in the afternoon
I shed some happy tears while my 22-year-old self, with the biggest smile on his face, is still busy drawing random spirals on the pages of the book I adore so much.
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