Tuesday, March 08, 2011
El Dorado Hills. California. USA.
I was working for a client in the healthcare industry, specifically, drawing business process models towards migration from a legacy to a new system.
We had a long break between morning and afternoon sessions.
I logged into yahoo and saw that he was online. It was not the first time I was logged into yahoo, but it was the first time in that time zone. In which my day was not always his night.
As it had been when I was in India.
He was in the UK. A part of my day in the US overlapped with a part of his day in the UK.
So for the first time, I saw him online.
And I smiled.
How long had it been?
More than 10 years since I had last seen him in junior college.
I had stood there sinking deeper and deeper into a bottomless well, tears welling up in my eyes and flowing inwards as he strode away from the exam hall without a backward glance, without saying farewell. I had walked home dragging my leaden feet and molten heart and dropped on my bed with a sigh.
The flood of tears would come later.
I thought I would love him till the end of my life. For a long time I had clung to his memories and lived in them.
Life had seemed impossible without him. I had gone back to the college campus where we had spent two years without exchanging a single word between us. Almost. I had stood there searching for his shadow, his ghost.
I prayed that we may be united eventually.
How naïve I had been!
Sometime, after 3 years of parting, I had let go of him.
New friends, interests, avenues and destinations were claiming my heart and mind and I found delight and joy in them.
With him I let go everything I had been interested in mostly because of their association with him.
That college, those friends, those memories…
Gradually I had learnt. That nothing lasts forever. Time does its work unfailingly.
Everything passes. Life goes on.
For all the intensity with which we believe someone is indispensable, after we have moved on in life, we chuckle and ask if they ever existed.
We like rhetoric.
True love is never forgotten! First love is never forgotten! And what not? All unreal.
Every emotion has an expiry date. Love too. If it does not find fulfillment by that date, it expires. It dies.
Now, 10 years later, that episode seemed like a distant memory from another lifetime. There was no trace of that love whatsoever. No mark of that wound. There had been other people after him, I had felt drawn towards; others, whom I had asked God for in my prayers, just like in his case.
And I had thought I would love him till my last breath and all. WoW!
And I had not even had a conversation with him! Those stolen glances had been the only thing between us.
Looking back, I felt like laughing at myself.
Those 2 or 3 blank calls I had given him!
The number of times I had read Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs to know more about Scorpios.
And the triumph I had felt when I read in Linda Goodman’s Love Signs that Cancer woman and Scorpio man made the best couple.
The hope I cherished that he would eventually grow taller than me by the time he finished studies!
The fondness with which I looked at that stinking Kengeri slum as the train passed through it before entering Bangalore city! He lived in Kengeri. Of course not in the slum; a decent area. But wasn’t the slum an extension of it?!
That movie Titanic! And that scene in which Jack Dawson (Leonardo Di Caprio) had drowned!
That night, I had drenched my pillow with my tears imagining that my boy was drowning and that I had finally let him go and survived. How funny!
And that song by Celine Dion “Near far, wherever you are, my heart does go on…” I thought even after I married someone else, I would still love him. Like Rose in Titanic. Hilarious!
And now, I did not even think of him once in a blue moon.
How completely I had forgotten him in a few years.
Only when I saw him online that day, I remembered that he even existed. And I smiled.
We started chatting. About what we were doing, where we were working and all.
We talked about common friends.
One of his friends I knew was married.
His chapatti was burning on the stove and he excused himself to flip it.
He said I was a hopeless fellow because I hadn’t found myself a guy in all those years.
And what about him?
He himself wanted a simple girl. He had no high expectations.
And then somehow the subject of our college came up. And with it, for the first time, the subject of my liking for him.
I didn’t mind talking about it now that I had completely gotten over it and could in fact, laugh and joke about it.
We talked ‘around it’ for a while.
And laughed. About how Ranjini, my friend used to be my informer and used to give me information about him and about how she would present a live telecast to me everyday – he is standing at the end of that corridor, he raised his hand to ask a question, he laughed when this happened… and once she had thumped the bench and said beamingly “he looked at you. I saw him. I caught him”
And he said he used to feel happy that a pretty girl fancied him.
And then we talked ‘about it’. The conversation had spiraled in.
For the first time, I made a confession about how seriously I had loved him.
He said “I understand”.
I could sense a sympathetic person at the other end of the cable who heard me seriously. For the first time. Until then it had all been bottled up in my chest.
All he said was “I understand” and I had a feeling I had buried my head in his lap and he was stroking it.
Strangely, the sensation of that love of 10 years ago returned to me.
And then he asked, “Your eyes moist and all now?”
And I was shocked to admit, yes they were.
My feet were leaden again and my heart, molten.
After all these years!
After I had gotten over him completely!
And how did he know?
It had been only for a few moments. But the tears had come for sure. They had travelled the distance of ten years in an instant.
And then I had an epiphany.
Love never dies.
After the expiry date, it starts sinking. The waves it had created, become ripples.
As more time passes, the ripples die too.
Love sinks to the bottom of your heart and lies there in its depths very quietly. Our survival demands such retreat of closed chapters.
We are fooled by the calm surface and believe it’s dead. It’s over.
True we move on. We become busy with other friends, other loved ones, with life.
But love never dies. It rests in the depths of your heart and if you get to the bottom, you will find it there. To your surprise and disbelief.
Resting quietly. And if you touch it, you will know it is alive. It will weep. For all that was. And all that could have been.
It couldn’t have died. Because it was a moment of truth in your life.
In fact all the people you once loved, lie buried there.
You tore a piece of your heart and gave it to them. How can they die when you are still alive?
I logged out of yahoo. My afternoon session was to begin.
I said bye to him.
I wiped my eyes.
And continued with my process models.
It did not hurt now.
I had left the depths and swum to the calm surface. To that present moment. Where it did not hurt.
Because I had gotten over him. Long ago.
I had moved on. I could now laugh and joke about it.