Note for readers
Ever since I understood what love meant, I fell in love with the idea of love. When I was a kid, I thought that ‘love’ was the mysterious – Chemical ‘X’ potion that was poured in to the making of Power puff girls which gave them their super powers.(one of my favourite cartoon shows on cartoon network- the 90’s kids will know about this! :p) Growing up, I associated love with the colour yellow, which according to me brightened everything in a room and now I associate love with that warm fuzzy feeling that has the power to turn life around from boring black and white to an exciting Technicolor. I hungered for love and found oodles of it in Bollywood movies, romantic novels and songs. A particular phrase in a love song would seem spell binding and I would marvel about it for days wondering how the lyricist could embody ‘love’, such a complex and all-consuming feeling, into the most charming and simple words. My thirst for love grew and when songs, music and books were not enough, I turned to my imagination and spun love stories in my head- some soft and heart melting like cotton candy, some spicy and tangy with humour, some slow and sleepy like a lullaby, some sad and bitter sweet like goodbyes.
Some may argue that love is a such a simple concept and all love stories are the same, they can easily be whittled down to a man- meets – woman- falls in love- faces a problem- decides to face it- or break up, but I beg to differ. What makes each love story special is the journey, the trials, the riot of emotions, the personal growth of a character, the added external complexities, the trundling weight of emotional baggage, the shadowy past of the protagonist and this is what makes every love story unique and worth reading.
I don’t know why, but I have always loved the idea of childhood puppy love turning to romantic love. If I probe deeper and ask myself why?…… It could be that I am enamoured by it because I didn’t experience it or maybe because this love is so pure when you are young and naïve and still so strong that it survived the turbulent teenage years and managed to blossom into a mature love. It’s the tenacity of childhood love that doesn’t give up despite the rigours of time and maybe that’s why it tugs a little more at my heart.
Love Means To Let Go
Did I hear a soft knock? I turned back and walked to the door, taking care to walk on the carpet so that it would muffle the sound of my footsteps. It was two hours past Rajvi’s curfew time and if mom woke up, all hell would break loose. I quietly unlocked the main door but the sight of Rajvi, unconscious and sprawled in Kabir’s arms was so shocking that I forgot I had to whisper.
‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘She drank too much, that’s all, nothing to worry. I’ll take her to the room.’ Kabir whispered while walking towards the bedroom. He was all too familiar with our home, even in the dark he managed to deposit Rajvi on the bed without colliding into any furniture.
‘What if Mom finds out in the morning? We’ll be dead meat.’
‘Relax Kriti, why are you so worked up? What are sisters for? Cover up for Raj. Any ways I gotta rush home, after all I don’t have a sibling to cover up for me.’
He winked and left before I could ask him how Rajvi got so drunk at the Holi Party. I heaved a deep sigh and sat on the edge of the bed. How could Kabir possibly smell so good after a Holi party? The faint scent of his perfume lingered in the room and I inhaled deeply, trying to commit his scent to my memory. The confident stride, the easy smile, his inky black hair and his kind eyes, he easily stood out in a sea of faces.
Ever since I started seeing the species of boys as less alien and more human, I was inadvertently drawn to Kabir. It wasn’t just his handsome face that I was attracted to; it was the kindness of his heart that drew me in. I had so many memories with him, though most of them were buried in our childhood.
Whenever I followed Raj and her friends and hankered for their attention, Kabir would take time out to play with me. He taught me how to play badminton, ride a bicycle and make paper boats. He had stood up for me and beat up Ankit, a senior, for ragging me. In the sixth grade, when I got my period and he heard me crying in the washroom, Kabir borrowed a sanitary napkin from the school first aid box and even lent me his sweater to cover the stain. I was extremely mortified but he tried his level best to normalise the situation. I was still in eighth grade when he left for college and gradually our meetings dwindled. Though he still hung out with Raj, I barely got to see him, but my feelings for him only grew stronger.
When would he see me as a grown up woman and not just as Raj’s little sister? His concern and protective feelings for me were welcome in school but now I was nineteen, in college, and I craved to see love in his eyes, not brotherly concern.
‘I’m in love!’
‘Rajvi? Are you alright? Did you just say love?’
‘I am in love with him and to think that I knew him all this time.’
Something was definitely wrong. Rajvi, in love?! She was the quintessential tomboy who always hung out with guys. She never wore any makeup, hated Rom coms and puked at the idea of a boyfriend. She was too boyish to hang out with girls and not girly enough to attract a guy’s attention. It’s not that she isn’t pretty; it’s just that she never made any effort to highlight her beauty and hid her figure under loose T-shirts, hoodies, jackets and baggy jeans.
She insisted that everyone call her Raj. Only Mom called her Rajvi and that really irked her. It was as if she didn’t even want her name to give away her gender. She saw the male species as her competition and never as a subject of her affection, so it was really strange to hear her say that she was in love.
‘I am in love with Kabiiiiiiir, Kabir….. she said with a dreamy smile and trailed of.
‘What? Are you in love with Kabir? Our neighbour? Raj answer me.’ I shook her with all my might but she slapped my hand away and grunted.
I stared at my sister lying there serenely without any knowledge of what effect her confession had on me. That one statement changed everything. Every. Single. Thing. Kabir was the first person I thought about every morning and Kabir was the last thought before I went to sleep, but now…. everything was over. How could this happen to me? How could a love story end before it even began?
I whimpered in pain and tears streamed down my face. I shook my head in denial but my mind knew that the future was irrevocably altered. That night I saw a dream, I saw Kabir walking away from me. I called out his name and grappled for his hand but he simply kept walking…. walking away from me.
My eyes fluttered open when I felt a strong nudge.
‘Kriti, get up. Just because you have a summer break doesn’t mean you can laze around in bed all day!’
‘Can’t I sleep in peace for two more minutes?’
I felt the blanket being tugged and I tugged back harder, only to be pulled upright by a manacle like grip on my arm.
‘What do you think you…?’ I gaped at Rajvi.
She had worn my navy blue knee length skirt and white off shoulder blouse. Her long brown hair framed her face and she smiled at me with an endearing self -conscious grin.
‘OMG, please pinch me, Raj you are wearing a skirt! I narrowed my eyes and continued, ‘What happened to your clothes and all the criticism about my frilly lacey skirts being over the top?’
‘I just wanted a bit of change, that’s all. By the way do I look good?
‘You look great Raj, it’s just that your friends will take some time to get used to seeing you dressed like a girl for a change. You remember that scene from Kuch Kuch hota hai? When Anjali, the tomboy, goes dressed like a girl to college because she fell in love with Rahul? So have you found your Rahul?’
I laughed and ducked in time to save myself from being smacked on the head.
‘Anjali got laughed at in college, do I look funny like her?’
‘No, you actually look pretty.’ I smiled at Raj and that seemed to mollify her a bit.
‘Hurry up now, you have to help me with my hair and do that twisty thing for me.’
‘You mean braids?’ I asked while trying my hardest to smother a laugh.
‘Yeah braids, and stop laughing at me!’
I gave her a tight hug and said, ‘you are in love and being in love looks good on you so stop fretting.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I know because you blabbered about it last night.’
Raj looked embarrassed and sheepishly asked me to help her out. While I brushed the tangles from her hair, I saw Raj in the mirror, smiling and humming a song. Even though it hurt to see her fall in love with Kabir, I was glad to see this change in her. This change in her attire triggered memories of our past…
(To be continued…)