I had a second cousin who lived with us when he visited our village. His own house was under repair and not fit to inhabit. He was in his 30s, a lot older than me. But he was tall, dark and handsome with a smile that made you go weak at the knees. His eyes smiled too, and best of all, he had a great sense of humour. He was just my kind of guy.
I never believed that he would speak to me, after all, I was 17 years his junior! But a girl could dream, right?
We always had problems with our generator. On many occasions, my grandma, he and I would sit on the verandah in the dark watching the night sky full of stars, chatting away. I just loved listening to him talk.
On one of these occasions, we were sitting on the verandah in the dark, and I desperately needed to go to the loo. I asked if I could borrow his torch.
He obliged and handed me the torch and whether deliberately or not, our hands touched. It felt like an electric shock!
I blushed in the depth of the darkness and scurried away to the bathroom. On my return, I handed the torch back and thanked him. I went to bed with the sense of his touch in my heart. After agonizing over whether he’d deliberately touched my hand or not, I convinced myself that I needed to find out.
This was risky business because if I were wrong, it would be terribly embarrassing and could possibly get me into much trouble.
The next night, my sister was with me, and there was no electricity again, so I gathered my courage and asked him for the torch. He handed it over, but this time, there was no touch. I was bitterly disappointed.
With a lump in my throat, I went to the bathroom and returned. He was sitting alone in the dark. I handed him the torch back and just as I turned to go, he grabbed my hand and gave it a loving squeeze.
That's all it took for me to understand that he shared the same thoughts!
My grandma returned just as he let go of my hand. I was on cloud nine! I cannot describe the happiness I felt. My heart had come alive in a whole new way! The next morning, he smiled at me, his gorgeous smile, but his eyes were mischievous. He winked at me and my heart skipped a beat. From then on, he’d always hold my hand on the verandah and lovingly caress it while my grandma told us stories.
We were never able to get more than a few moments alone, as the entire family and extended family were around us day and night.
Our conversations were also restricted and limited. Then one day, an opportunity came up. It started raining, and I had to hang the clothes to dry around the house. He came in and asked what I was doing. In my head, I thought that it was pretty evident what I was doing! But I understood that he was trying to get me to talk, so I explained what I was doing and why.
Before I could even finish my sentence, he suddenly asked me if I liked anybody. I was taken aback. I blushed. He smiled that killer smile and said that he was curious to know if I was involved with anybody in particular. I shook my head. He started helping me with the saree, which I was struggling to fold on my own. As I handed him my end of the saree, he pulled me into a tender kiss. It was completely unexpected; I was in a dreamland.
Our first kiss and he initiated it with such ease!
He pulled away first, smiled and disappeared in a heartbeat. My heart couldn’t stop pounding in my ears! I felt dizzy with glee! That was the beginning of our romance. He would always hug and kiss me at every opportunity.
I loved that he was so spontaneous and always tender and loving.
He whispered sweet nothings to me and wished for so much more. He invited me to his bed whenever I was ready. Soon, I started craving him badly. He began tutoring my siblings and me, as a token of thanks for letting him stay in our house but mainly as a cover to spend more time together. I loved that time and the attention I got from him.
I believed that he was worthy of being loved.
However, my heart soon broke, when three months later, I heard our elders discussing a potential bride for him. It hurt my heart. When I asked him about it, he told me that I was his girl and he would tell them off.
I trusted him although deep down I knew that our relationship could not last, especially given the age difference.
Despite that, I lived in hope and enjoyed his company and affection. I went to his bed that night, with wild thoughts and an urge to be only with him. I called his name and tried to wake him, but he was fast asleep.
To this day, I do not know whether he intentionally kept me away that night.
He went to see a potential bride, and I accompanied him as instructed by the elders. It was torture! I knew that everything was over now; our relationship had come to an end. That evening I was miserable and cold. I avoided eye contact with him and avoided him altogether. I was completely shattered.
He cleverly caught me alone in my room and pulled me into his arms before I could react. I started crying. He kissed me over and over and assured me that this phase would blow over. But I didn't believe him. I knew that eventually, he would have to get married.
Then he said the sweetest thing to me, "Why could you not have come into the world 10 years earlier?"
At first, I didn't understand what he meant, but doing the math, I realized that he indicated he would've married me had I been ten years older. I loved this guy! And he loved me, why else would he say such a thing to me?
That one sentence made my heart melt even more. I wanted him desperately! But his marriage was fixed with the girl he had seen. I envied her terribly.
But I did not want to be the mistress, or the other woman, or for him to be a cheat. His wife didn't deserve this.
Just before his wedding, he moved back to his house. He visited every day, which made it hard for me to ignore him. He wanted to meet me, but I did not give him a single opportunity. His eyes looked sad; he didn't smile in the same manner anymore. This hurt me deeply. But I was helpless. I had to stay strong and stay away.
However, luck was on his side. One time, he came out of the bathroom, and I was in the adjacent room. He forcefully took me into the bathroom and locked the door. I insisted that he let me go, I tried to squirm out of his grip, but he made me embrace him. He held me tight and kissed me so I could not resist any longer. I gave in, I melted; I cherished his touch and kiss. I had missed him so much.
I began crying for what we could not have.
He hugged me and held me to his chest, stroking my hair. He wiped my tears. He kissed me again and again. I wanted to die there and then. He repeatedly apologized, saying that he was being forced to accept this girl because of his age and was running out of excuses for delaying his marriage.
He explained that if there were any other way, he wouldn't have done. He held my hands and swore that it was killing him, and my ignoring him was torturing him badly. I felt for him.
I wanted him to forget me and here he was pouring his heart out that he could not.
I insisted that we could not continue, as this was neither right nor fair to either of us. He begged and pleaded that I stop ignoring him; he needed me to be able to get through this tough position in his life. I was wary that we'd been in the bathroom for a while and the members of my family would be looking for me.
At that moment, my sister knocked on the bathroom door to check if I was okay. I replied yes and said that I’d be out in a moment. I kept the tap running for a bit. He signalled that I go out first and leave the door unlocked and he would follow after two minutes. I left, took my sister into my room and distracted her till he came out. He quietly went.
My brain hurt. My heart ached. I didn’t understand what to do or how to behave with him anymore. I wish we could all just move on without further complication.
But this guy seemed to be in love with me. And I didn't see the point of this relationship because we couldn't be together.
Eventually, he got married and I had to attend his wedding. I was given the special honour of conducting some of the traditional parts of the ceremony. It was torture.
I was laughing and joking but seeing him next to her, his bride, killed me.
His eyes pleaded with me. I stayed until the end. Back home, I was envisaging him being with her. Was he kissing her the way he kissed me?
Was he holding her the way he held me?
I was tormenting myself. Life was utterly unfair. Why couldn't we get married? The next day, there was another ceremony, and both of them looked happy. That crushed my heart. I wondered when we could see each other next. My heart was bleeding. He was there, seemingly enjoying himself. I left him to it.
I was adamant that I could not allow him to convince me to wait for him.
It was too much for me bear. Months went by, and I accepted that he had to move on. Finally, I got my heart to calm down. I returned to England, back to school life and was settling into my routine and guess who came along? It was him! I discovered that he had visited my dad at our house.
My heart ached with disappointment; it reminded me of what could not be.
Before I left for England, I visited his wife's house, as she had given birth to a baby. That had sealed everything; he had indeed slept with her. How could I even think that he wouldn't, she was his wife!
Everything was over. Everybody had moved on. All was done and dusted.
But this visit caught me unaware. I didn't expect anything from him anymore. He was just a bittersweet memory. But that wasn't to be either. He did his bathroom trick again.
He went to visit the bathroom, knowing that I’d be alone in my room. I didn't think he would come in. But he did. He smiled and asked me how I was, as he came towards me. I knew that move, but I couldn't avoid his advances. Then he pulled me into his big powerful hug and kissed me.
I tried to push him, to get him to let go and insisted that he could not do this anymore. I stood my ground. He let go of me when I stopped resisting and went back to the room where the rest of my family was sitting. I ignored it all. I didn't want to get sucked into it again. Not this time. But his visits to our house increased. He came once a week, got his way and got me hooked to him.
He began calling me, and we'd talk all night until the early hours of the morning. I kept reminding him that he was a married man. However, he told me to forget everything and think about us. He told me he loved me and could never forget me. He always told that me that he loved me before we hung up our calls.
I never told him that I loved him too. It just felt wrong.
We met a couple of times and spent the day together. He asked me if I would sleep with him. He wanted me to be his in every way possible. But I reminded him that I couldn't be his. I declined his invite. He took me back to his room and tried to convince me.
When I refused to budge, he tried all kinds of foreplay to get me into the mood.
But I was adamant that I would not allow him. He understood why. Saying no to him was the hardest thing ever. But I did it because he was married. I could not give him everything since he had nothing to offer me.
I didn’t want to regret my first time. And I knew I would if I had given myself to him.
His wife haunted me as it was. It would be so much worse if we crossed that line. And I was thinking of his son too. This continued for the next few months till I realized that I could not handle it anymore. I needed to get out. I needed to move on and end it once and for all.
And so, I began my search for a lasting relationship, a relationship with a definite future.
I soon met my husband-to-be and told my ex everything. He told me I shouldn't do anything in haste. But I ignored his warning. He knew this meant the end. And the end it was. Between him and me.
Although, a part of me will always love him and wish we could've been together. Even after 14 years, I still wonder what could've been. I see him now and then during family gatherings.
I worry that some day, my eyes will give away what I still feel for him.