Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Searching across India - Part IV

How can anyone love somebody whom one has never met? I have been confused over this ever since I've known her. In spite of large distances which separated us in space, every instinct I ever had said is out loud. That she was perfect. That she was the one. Even though I could not fathom what I felt, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I had seen her picture, chatted with her and even spoken to her on the phone. And all that remained was meeting her.

Sometime last year I had decided that I'll talk to my parents about you and that I would come to Chennai to meet you in person. Exactly the next day you told me how you felt about us being together. If I had never known a greater joy than loving you, I have also never known a more searing pain than letting you go. I would have fought with the world for you, only you did not want the fight in the first place.

Star-crossed fates of two lives, brought close and yanked apart. She fit my jigsaw perfectly to the last piece. Unfortunately, I did not fit hers. I went from feeling wronged, to being bitter, to hating myself, to having no feelings at all. All over a very important period of my professional life. I worked, day and night, and in the process built walls around my heart.

In the meanwhile, she found a fiance. Someone whom she loved a lot and got engaged to. I found in myself a new strength. The strength to accept the inevitable. The strength for unconditional love. I was happy because she was. A strange calm enveloped my heart, and I knew that He was showing me the way of true love.

I have been told by a few people that whatever I felt was just an infatuation. That I tend to romanticize things beyond what they seem, and I might have believed them for a teensy-weensy second. But then you opened that door...

Standing behind a half open door, your head tilted to the side I saw you smile. Everything fell into place. Every feeling I had ever felt, every emotion I had ever fought back, every thing I believed in, everything was true. I wanted to hug you the minute I saw you, and yet you were not mine anymore. You never were.

I walked into your house. In a simple black top with pink and cream embroidered flowers along an asymmetric neckline, and a plain dull cream skirt, you looked divine. I had walked into a single girl's house, a girl I desired from the depths of my heart, for the very first time in my life, and I was not shy. Neither was I awkward. It felt so right to be there. It felt like home.

As I followed you around the house, to your bedroom and sat on the chair I was wondering, "How did I ever know it was you from so far away? How is it possible that I found you, and lost you? How was I ever going to survive after letting you go?" You offered me chocolates and I remembered the hundreds of times we had exchanged virtual chocolates before. You sat on the bed, in front of me and as the amber light played off your hair, we talked. Neither of us said what was in our hearts. I could not bear to peer deep into your eyes. I wanted to ask, "Why?" But I already knew the answer. I wanted to plead with you to reconsider, but I did not budge a single muscle. I remembered my promise that I'll never ask you again.

Then you got up to heat up the food. As you stood there, stirring the chana and chicken curry, I leaned against the kitchen door imagining a life I would never have. I wanted to embrace you and hold you in my arms. We talked about your fiance and you showed me the your engagement ring. A small, elegant ring and I could see why you liked it. I could see why you liked him so... yet when I touched your hand for the first time, to have a look at the ring, it took all the strength in the world to hold back my heart.

You being the fantastic cook that you are, obviously the lunch was superb. You ate less than I did. When you asked me when I wanted a spoon or would I rather use my hands, it did not take me a second to decide that I'd rather use my hands. It was so natural, being carefree with you around... and yet I felt the air around us bound in chains lest it blow in a direction you did not want.

We spoke about many things - our parents, our futures, your new life and the adventure it was going to be, how your parents found your fiance, how I was unsure of where I would be after this and how miserable I felt watching that sunrise alone on the Pondicherry beach. That was the closest I came to talking about myself in relation to you. You only said that I'll find somebody, someday and then I would not be alone anymore. I doubt I have enough strength left in me to do this again. After lunch, I had piece of your mother's Christmas cake.

I had coffee, while you had tea. We sat in your verandah on blue and red chairs and I remember gazing at your face, trying to imprint it on my mind. I remember snippets of Bangla I spoke to you and your childlike, gleeful laughter which erupted from time to time. I remember looking at your lips and turning my head away, when it reminded me in turn, of a conversation we had once about kissing. I saw you put the leftover food into the fridge, and carefully clean the kitchen slab by wiping it with a cloth and collecting the spilled rice and curry in your palm.

Then we went back to the bedroom again. I had been carrying the book I wanted to give you all this time in my backpack. I finally handed it over. It was my book, one I had bought for myself but I wanted you to have it. It spoke of a man whose intensity inspires me, and like whom I may burn out some day. But I would have given some warmth and joy to a few people before that happened, and I hoped you were one of those people. Inside the book was another of my incoherent letters. I asked
you not to read it then.

You showed me your portfolio. A few pages into it I realized what immense talent you had and how amazingly gifted you are. You were too modest when you showed me all this. Maybe I did not deserve you. You deserved someone so much more better than me.

Then it was time to leave. You had to go meet a sick friend, and so I had to leave early. I got up and as I walked out, you asked for a hug. Your outstretched arms were a sight I had so longed to see. I hugged you. In those few moments I wished that time would freeze and that I could hold you like that forever. I could feel my eyes brimming with tears, and I knew I had to pull away. I knew if I broke down and cried it would make it harder for both of us.

I walked out of your door knowing I would perhaps never see you again. I loved you more now, than I had ever done before. But it was also true that you were not going to be with me, not ever again. When He gives us pain I guess he gives us the strength to bear it too and so I walked away, took an auto and went back to where I came from.

The next morning I boarded the train back. In the train all I remembered was you, from the first thought when I woke up to the last thought before I fell asleep. The tears kept threatening to overflow and yet I kept them in check. I got home, wrote you a mail and then when I was alone in my bed, I let them flow.

Did I find what I was searching for? I must say I did. I also found that I could not hold on to it, even though it meant suffering a lifetime of loneliness.

I will never ask you to change. I love you for what you are, the whole of you, from the tip of every strand of your hair to the last inch of your toenail. I just want you to know that I love you, and that He guides me on my path as much as He guides you on yours. I am happy now that you have found your calling with someone you like, and I will forever pray that he loves you more than I could ever have. May all your fairy tales come true.

And so ends my search across India. I am back home now, and nothing seems to have changed here. I had to post this, because I wanted to preserve it for posterity. I pray that everybody who searches thus find what they search for, and that unlike me their find marks the beginning rather than the end...


  1. sigh. i'm so very sorry you have to go through this. I know it so well. unfortunately. and unfortunately, now you know it too.

    there really isn't anything to say, but it's comforting to say something.

  2. posting here, unsolicited information and advice, which i am famous for, but well we're all famous for something innit.

    dude, this is not the end for you. nothing is the end man, even death is not the end. anyone who gives me that bullcrap about there being THE ONE person for everyone of us needs to go back to the loonybin and stay there until further instructed. there are far too many people in the world, and far too many interesting, loving people, far too many people who are worthy of your love and vice versa. so, yes i know it'll take that little bit of time for you to shake this out of your system (expert tip- whisky helps, twice a day before meals after meals whenever), but once you do and move on, you'll find there is so much love in this world that its overwhelming. its screaming from all over the place, all we have to do is listen. enough of this now, all the best for your journey out of lovelorn land, and drink more whisky.

  3. i like what nish said. it makes me feel better. why i can't i ever say inspiring stuff like that i'll never know. what he said seems true, except for the whisky bit, so i'm with him!

  4. If your story ever becomes my story (and chances are it can), I will read this post again to gain strength from it.

    I know how hard it is to lose someone you love. I lost my dad 4 months ago, and even though life doesn't seem like it's worth living, I think about the people who love me who'd feel the same way, if I did something to myself.

    Ironically, your post was beautiful. It's reassuring to know that there are people like you in this world who love so unselfishly. Hats off to you :)

    And keeping with reference to your jigsaw puzzle analogy (which I also always use!), sometimes one might be in a hurry to complete the jigsaw and so one may force a piece to fit even though it's actually not the right piece. Think of her as the piece that you forced to fit. You will eventually find the girl who will fit right in without even having to make the effort. I wish you well :)

  5. Lovely writing...

    Been in the same situation myself... your words were very similar to what I faced. I have a beautiful quote that I remember.

    "This too shall pass."

  6. You write so sensitively, openly, and poignantly. Those qualities attracted me to your blog when I first found it You have so much love to give. Now, it doesn't feel like there's anyone else, but yes there is. The loss of love or the promise of love to be is a type of grieving. Amazingly, there will be new love.