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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A stranger to love

"...We are not criminals. We are not disillusioned. We are not drug addicts. We are not naive children... We are one massive, global, tribal village that transcends man-made law, physical geography, and time itself. We are The Massive. One Massive. We were first drawn by the sound. From far away, the thunderous, muffled, echoing beat was comparable to a mother's heart soothing a child in her womb of concrete, steel, and electrical wiring. We were drawn back into this womb, and there, in the heat, dampness, and darkness of it, We came to accept that we are all equal. Not only to the darkness, and to ourselves, but to the very music slamming into us and passing through our souls: we are all equal...."
- Unknown

It is highly implausible but true, I have learned more about love from a stranger than most people I have known for years.

It was one of those days again, when Murphy's Law is the only adage that holds true. The perversity of the universe nauseates you and you want to break free of every possible norm. A thousand desires and a thousand more. And yet, I saw myself standing alone.

When DJ asked me if I wanted to join the gang to go clubbing, I didn't say 'no', I wanted a break. I wanted to dance like no one was watching. Dance and release all the demons that were gnawing into me. I wanted to feel free.

There were seven of us, four guys and three girls. DJ got me a drink and we hit the floor. Initially, the group was closed and we danced in a circle, the guys nudging away anyone who wanted to dance with the girls. But soon, they lost interest in their roles as protectors. And when I saw DJ dancing with some babe who seemed to appear out of nowhere, I smiled at him and winked, glad that he was having fun.

And then I saw that guy again. He didn't seem to have budged from where he was standing some twenty minutes ago. Right behind me. I wasn't intimidated. Far from it. He amused me with little eyes and a ready smile. He held out his hand for a dance.

DJ looked at me but I couldn't read his expressions. Maybe he just wanted me to be careful. The little guy whispered into my ears: You dance like a Bollywood heroine. Indian? I laughed at the outrageous comparison and nodded. We had fun dancing together and I even showed him some Big B dance moves when the Disc Jockey played some desi music. He seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

He asked me if he could buy me a drink, and I thought another Long Island Iced Tea wouldn't do me any harm. The bar was too crowded and I was feeling suffocated. We decided to go out for a walk.

The open air was refreshing. There were couples sprawled on the park in front of the club, most of them in intimate embrace. It was little embarrassing for me to walk down there with a complete stranger. We sat down at a bench, and he looked at me the same, warm way. Suddenly I asked: What color are your eyes?

I don't know what made me ask that of all things. He laughed aloud: What is that? My eyes? Brown, I think. What do you think?.

I peered hard, it was too dark to discern. They look green to me. Can't really say. Maybe I am high.

Oh no! You are not. You are doing fine.


I gave out a snort. The truth was - I didn't feel fine. And it had nothing to do with my being tipsy. I was feeling lonely. I wanted some kind of assurance. And I was not going to say that to this strange guy whose name I didn't hear well in the glaring music on the dance floor.

I said to him: My friends might be looking for me, why don't we go back?

He said: If you want to.

I would like to.


The crowd at the counter had cleared by now. I had a tab open, but he insisted on paying for my drink. We hit the floor again and I felt I was really enjoying dancing after a long time. He held me by my waist while I bent backwards in abandonment. He was strong. Ruby whispered into my ears: He is so decent with you and so gentle. She almost coveted it. I asked her if she wanted to dance with him. Oh no ! You guys make such a cute couple. I laughed at the thought.

I went to the restroom once and asked him to wait. One my way back, a hunk stood in my way, asking me for a dance. I said: Someone is waiting for me.
Are you sure?
he asked, with a incredulous look on his face.
Yes. Not sure if he was still waiting for me. But there he was, looking like a lost puppy.

I thought you'd never come back

Why did you think that?
( And I thought, you wouldn't wait)

Soon, it was time to close. I didn't realize it was 2 AM already. He asked me if I'd need a ride home. I said I'd rather go back with my friends. He said: As you wish. And then, he asked me: When can we meet again?

I teased. Tomorrow. The day after. Maybe next week. Maybe never. I will call.

The following day he smsed me. It was a great night. Waiting to see you again.

I felt like a teenager again. There was so little excitement left in my life. Everything seemed predictable and dull. But his eagerness was so fresh, I felt enlivened by it. I told my guy the story. He seemed entertained, asking me if it was a French kiss. I was shocked and humored at the same time.

Debating whether we should meet, I replied to his sms the day after. He wanted to show me the pedestrian bridge at Harvard. We met up at Tavern on the Square on Massachusetts Avenue, where he told me about a Hindi song he had heard as a kid: Jaane tu ya jaane na.

I translated the lyrics for him. Then we walked by the bridge and took some pictures. And we talked. He cracked some delightful jokes about his workplace - how one of his colleagues exaggerated his French accent and copied him, while it was usually him who would imitate others. I had a pleasant evening and promising to meet again, I left for my home.

Back in my apartment, it was the same tense environment between my roommates. I hated coming back. I felt I should have stayed out longer. Soon, I found myself seeing him more often. He'd make me eat like my mother does, always insisting I could eat some more. Now, where would you find a guy like that ! He'd tell me tales of his ex girlfriend, his colleagues, about a young girl battling with cancer.It was around that time I had met someone getting treated for cancer, whose positive attitude has changed my perspective towards life.

In a lot of ways, we were different. But in a lot of other ways, we were very similar. We were foreigners in a country that we had chosen to live in. We both wanted to give back something, but were not sure how much our roots would hold us back.

One day, he emailed me saying:

..I might go back to France by summer, not sure yet, but possible. I know you are a wonderful girl and you are full of love and life and a very smart girl too. We both have a great time when we meet, but I don't want to be selfish and continue doing so if you are seeing a relationship and I don't.

I hope to hear from you,

D"


I assured that there was no such danger. He seemed relieved. And I was relieved too. We were like two ships meeting at a harbor on a dark, stormy night. The following morning, we had to set out on our own journeys. There was no 'together forever' for us.

Sure enough, it was time for him to leave. I knew I was going to miss an amazing friend. He advised me on matters of my family, my love life, and teased me about getting a 100/100 even if I did not study for a test. He taught me a few of his recipes, got me to develop a taste for White Zinfandel and French cheese, most notably the creamy Saint Marcellin. It was he who reminded me that : If he doesn't love you the way you want, it doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't love you.

* Dear D, the last day we had met, you said that SG is a very lucky man. And the best thing about me is that it is not hard to make me happy - 'cause I can cherish the little things someone does for me. I said that I will write about you. It has been a while, but I have kept my word. Bisou*



A desert rose. A parting gift from D.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW, very nice story...

Surya Kannan said...

Awesome!

Amitabha said...

Undoubtedly, the story narrated by you is from your life but it reminded me of 'Na Hanyate' by Maitreyi Devi.

Aparna Kar said...

I hope (I am sure) the Mircea Eliade of my story doesn't have a different version of truth to state :D It is the eternal classical tale. Has been, and will be. Repeated over time in different places, with different people. Nothing new. Yet novel.