We found us.
I still remember the day we first met. Years have gone by. But still the memory is so fresh. I was 16 years old and it was the first day of my high school in a new institution. I had arrived early and was sitting with a group of girls. He entered the class, hesitating a little by the door, scanning the class room.
I liked him on the first sight. With a canada kuri and a pleasant face he seemed to be from a good family. As his eyes scanned the class room for a vacant seat, our eyes met and that look created butterflies in my stomach.
That was the starting of our lovely life. I had no idea of the twists and turns that life was about to throw my way. During the two years of our school life, I knew enough to guess he also had a crush on me, or something more than a crush. But both of us refrained from talking to each other. I still can't fathom the reason.
But we created many beautiful memories. He would follow my scooter in his moped all the way back to my home after school. I would choose the longest route back home and drive slowly to make those moments last longer. He would smile, I would smile back. But not a word to each other.
One afternoon, our school had arranged a show of some kind and the entire school was gathered on the ground. Well all the boys at least. The girls were given desks to sit in the first and second floor balcony. I don't even remember what the show was about. Because both of us spent the entire time staring into each other's eyes. Time froze that day for me. It was the day I realised that he was in love with me and I with him. Yet not a word did we utter. From then on we exchanged many smiles and nods. And whenever he would look into my eyes, I would start blushing. We both enjoyed those moments. Yet again, not a word did we utter.
Every single day I would ring up his landline. Mobiles were uncommon those days. Every single time he would pick up the phone. I rejoiced hearing his voice. I wouldn't utter a word. Not yet. Hearing his voice from the other end was big victory for me. I spent a huge part of my study time dreaming about him or trying to write a letter to him. I wrote many letters. But every single one ended up in shreds. One such shred found its way to my big bro's hand. He guessed my feelings. But was unsure who the object of my affection was. Or at least I thought so. But I stopped trying to write letters. I wanted to be careful. There was ample time left.
My love lived less than a km away from my house. I thought we had all the time in the world. Time to concentrate on studies and board exams! I was so confident that I would meet him again after school.
But things were not to be so. Soon after school, against my wishes I was sent to a college 800 kms away from my hometown. I protested at first. But had to give in to my parents' decision eventually. My plans to talk to the love of my life were crushed. But I wouldn't give up so easily.
For every study holidays, semester holidays and what not holidays, I was back in my hometown. My good old scooter took me around the town, visiting all the places I could think of where I thought he would be spending time with his friends. I met many of my school mates in the process. I met even his father many times - at the temple, at their shop. But not him. I even thought of visiting his house directly. But the very thought petrified me. His home landline was no longer working.
Try as I might, I couldn't find him anywhere. As days went by, as semesters went by, I was falling into depression. I could tell no one about my situation. No one would understand. I loved him dearly.
True we hadn't spoken with each other. But what about the gestures. The loving looks for hours together. The smiles. Those spoke volumes and volumes about our love. But can make someone else understand it. No one could understand it. I spoke to no one about us. I learnt to put on a mask in front of others. I became a loving, caring friend to many. But I let no one come close to me. I had built a wall around me. In that beautiful place there was only us. Me and him.
I treasured the beautiful moments of our school days within those walls. I locked myself up within those walls, my dreams of a happy life with him. In that small beautiful world within me, we were married. I thought of him as my husband. Not my lover. He, me, his parents, 2 dogs, a beautiful garden. This was the world I made for us. I spent time with him in my world, while in reality I was doing experiments in the lab, or doing daily chores. Every single opportunity I got at being alone, I would be back in my imaginary world with him.
As college progressed, I made many friends. I would laugh with my friends. I would cry in the shower. My pillow had seen more tears than my friends had seen me laugh. Few boys at college proposed. But I paid no attention to any. My heart was full of my dear love. There will be no one else. I missed him terribly. It hurt. I would hug him in my world. It eased my pain. That's how I learnt to live. I hid myself from the world. No one knew the real me. Not my friends. Not my mom. Not even him.
Towards the end of my college, my parents started making plans for my marriage. That was the first time reality hit me.
Four years had gone by. And still I was unable to meet him again. I didn't know which college he went to, what stream he had chosen. Nothing. During my subsequent trips to my home town, I frantically tried to find him. But in vain. When it dawned on me that I was not going to have a life with him. Marriage with another meant I was not going to be his forever. Nor he mine. That first blow with reality. That moment of realization. The pain was so intense. Tears flooded me. I passed out.
When I came to my senses, I was in a hospital bed. My parents and brother were sitting beside my bed. They were worried sick. 32 hours. I had blacked out. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. They finally blamed the intense heat that year for my condition. That incident also changed my parents' decision about my marriage. Thy said it could wait. Thy encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I was overjoyed. I found a job in my home town itself. Who was I kidding. I refused offers from the city to stay in my town. So I could spend my free time finding him. One year. Search as I might, I couldn't find him. His house was locked most of the time and his lovely dogs were always guarding the gates. His shop was functioning. His dad was always there. But his moped was no where to be seen. And I couldn't gather up the courage to ask his dad directly.
Little by little I began to realize that I was the only one searching for him. He wasn't searching for me.
If he had, he would have surely found me. I was always looking for him. So all those things in high school meant nothing to him? Surely not. He loved me. May be he got over me. He has forgotten me. Surely he might have found some one else during college days. I had to let him go. At least I had to try. I applied for my masters. This time I chose a faraway university willingly. Except for the times when the hostel was compulsorily shut, I didn't come home. At the end of one such semester holiday, I was on my way to the railway station from my home. The moment I crossed his house on the way, my eyes caught sight of him. He was on a motor bike. All grown up. A little moustache. And my god. So manly. I was blown away. I fell again for him. He saw me. Smiled a little. I was too shocked to react. His face changed. He overtook my vehicle and was gone from my sight in a jiffy.
Things hadn't changed. He hadn't forgotten me. I was overwhelmed. Tears were my company the entire train ride back to my college. I faked illness and returned two days later. Search as I might, I couldn't find him. His house was unkept this time. The dogs were also gone. He had vanished again. Like a magician. I returned to college. Time flew. I had a job in the city. My parents were looking for alliances to get me married. Things hadn't changed much with them. And back in my world, I had two kids with him. Things hadn't changed at all. I never missed a single opportunity to look for him. But everything was in vain. Orkut, Twitter, Facebook didn't help. My schoolmates whom I met, had no idea where he had gone.
Finally fate favoured my parents. They found me a bridegroom. I agreed to make them happy. But I was unable to start my life with my new life mate.
In my mind and heart and soul, my husband was the one I fell in love with long ago. But soon I started to realize that I shouldn't be punishing my husband. I had no right to do so. So I gave myself to him. But it didn't feel right. There was no love making. I just allowed myself to be used. After all he was a man. He had his needs. And I had a duty to fulfill his needs. That was all. I would be repulsed after every night I spent with him. Once again my pillows were wet with my tears.
Every time I had sex with my husband, my heart would swell up with the guilt of cheating on the love of my life.
My husband is not to be blamed. He is a good man. Patient. Humorous. And kind. But there was no love between us. But the time I spent in my imaginary world with my lover didn't change at all. With time this became my talisman. I thrive on the energy it gives me.
Now, eight years of marriage and kid, I finally found him. By pure chance. On social media. His profile picture gave me goosebumps. He was married. To a beauty. And they were in love. It showed on their faces. I was so happy. He was as manly as ever. Beside his lady. Against my best judgement, I sent him a friend request.
Within a few moments he accepted it. I was overjoyed. He still remembered. I pinged him. Asking him if he remembered me. What a silly question. He accepted my friend request just moments earlier. Honestly, I didn't know how else to start a conversation with him. I had never ever spoken with him in my entire life. Other than through gestures of course. Minutes later he replied. "Yes dear".
I was over the moon. Did he call me dear? OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. What followed were sweet conversations. The words that we'd never said. The feelings never shared. After 16 yrs, I felt like a 16 year old again. A long time to wait. We both were happy that we had settled well. Professionally and personally. But our feelings for each other remained the same. He had secured a professional degree and two masters and worked as a research scholar before moving abroad to his current job. His family had relocated to another town. No wonder I was not able to find him. He was covered in books and work.
I reluctantly told him of my imaginary world, our children. He did not write me off as a nut case. He rejoiced. He wanted to know every single detail of my world. Thus my world is our world now. Messages soon turned to calls. Hearing his voice was another blissful memory.
We recently added another baby girl to our flock. In OUR world of course. We are not going to abandon our families for the sake of our love. We are committed to our respective spouses. We know what and how many lives are at stake if we decide to throw that away. At the same time, we can't refrain from rejoicing each other's company.
Time kept us apart in the past. Commitments may keep us apart now. We know we can't ever be together in real life. And we don't mind it. Finding each other after so long is a blessing beyond words.
We don't have any expectations of a future together. May be. In the distant future. When my eyesight falters, my steps slow down, I would like him to walk beside me holding my hand. If not in real life, it will definitely happen in our world. This is US.
We were both lost. We have found ourselves again. And we promise to never let go.