I grew up reading Jane Austen and always sought a promising love. Everyone seeks. The kind of love that culminates in marriage…
But you don’t always get that choice. I met him at the library. He placed the book on the shelf, and I picked it up. We exchanged a smile, and that’s it. I fell in love in an instant.
Though he always told me he did too, but I never believed him.
After a couple of days, I was scouring through the books in the Poetry section and picked Gitanjali. I have read it several times, but each time when I see a new cover, it feels as fresh. When I come across dog-eared pages or underlined phrases, it fascinates me to figure out the perspective of different readers who lay hands on it.
“I came out alone on my way to
my tryst. But who is this that
follows me in the silent dark?“—
“Is that interesting?” I was interrupted.
I looked up and found him smiling at me. I said, “Yes. I recommended it.”
“I move aside to avoid his
presence but I escape him not.“
I placed the book, and he picked it up in an instant.
21/4/2002. We confessed our love for each other. He said he loved how I curled my braids into a bun. He called me patient (the first compliment).
I think our love was an epic miracle. I often folded some prasadam in newspaper pouches and gave it to him after the library sessions. He brought white lilies for me that I always tucked hastily in my bag. I never really lived those joyous moments lest someone should see. He always laughed.
One day he told me, “Arunima, we can’t get married, but we have the kind of love people write novels and symphonies about.”
I nodded in agreement. We had discussed this a million times over, and eventually, the cruel truth had stopped hurting us both.
Not every love converts into marriage. In the practical world, we don’t necessarily get to have them cupping our hands on our deathbed. Love remains in one corner of the heart, but we learn to live without the person.
We learn to accept some harsh realities, irreparable losses, and hurtful truths. We grow up.
This does not downplay their impact on our lives. We always cherish the moments in our heads. Liars are those who cough up their scorn for their former lovers. No one deserves that.
I say it’s absolutely possible to look back and smile at the life that gave you a purpose once, the life that brimmed you with love once. Why should you be guilty? Why should you hide a life that gave you sheer happiness at one point?
Junaid still visits the library. I do too. Only now, he picks some daisies instead and heads home to his loving family, and I tootle to mine.