Sunday, 24 March 2013
His eyes blazed at the sight of me. My body melted in his burning gaze. Suddenly the air was sucked out of me , as he smiled ever so slightly, my lips curving in response to his.
We had a very strong history. Born just six months apart , we have shared most of our lives. We cannot think of our childhood without remembering one another, we have been friends, cousins, enemies and each others interests.
As kids we were pretty close, him a little careless yet protective about me and me carelessly intricate with him. We ate out of the same plate after fighting over whose turn it was to eat in the special plate, we walked to school together - me almost running to catch up to him and him reducing his speed to slow down to my pace. We sat next to each other in kindergarten , had the same set of friends and came home together for lunch. He was a hyper kid and I was the smart ass for my age- naturally making me the brain and him the brawn of all our missions. We would fight with each other if either of us ate chocolates without the other , we stole ice and sweets for each other and shared them. If we were mad at each other our we would pronounce our punishment - I'm not sleeping with you tonight. A childhood innocent romance carried on until I left the country to join my dad.
I became the urban girl who couldn't dream of life without tissues and he remained the country boy that would stick to handkerchiefs. Yet our friendship remained strong now almost stepping up to sibling rivalry. We became competitors, comparing marks, sports abilities, extra curricular activities, talents in general. We even argued about who loved whom more. Inspite of our petty fights we needed each other to play with and we were complete with ourselves - we didn't need anyone else to play with. Being the country boy he had now mastered the art of climbing trees & dodging stray dogs, while I would just freeze at the sight of a stray dog and he would have to retrace his steps to come back for me. My hero. And I was quite the urban damsel in distress. Those were the days of skaktimaan - even though I loved the power puff girls, I agreed to making skaktimaan my hero so that we both liked the same superhero. I would pretend fall of the bed and he would catch me and we giggled and laughed. Those were also the days we sat up in the night huddled under a blanket watching horror shows and getting scared and laughing at each others fear all the while pretending that we weren't afraid.
As time went by we grew up, hormones began ruling the institution and boys and marital activities became the topics of our hush discussions at school. I had proudly announced to my friends that since I was not going to leave my family to get married the best option would be to get married to a cousin and I had just the cousin in mind, but since that talk with my friends it bothered me what if he didn't want me for a wife. That vacation I told him of my plans and he laughed along and said why not,We could have a lot of fun together, it will be perfect. I blushed since he was clearly uneducated in matters of matrimony. But my heart was at ease. My life was well planned. Or so I thought. I just forgot one key factor - that we might grow up and change.
We grew up even more, and these thoughts became distant memories. He looked forward to being cool - low waists, cigarettes, bikes, spikes, gels, and beauty products. Girls were on his mind for alI the reasons boys were not on my mind. I had morphed into a headstrong feminist - anti-marriage, women's rights, treat the girl child equally, say no to boys, fight them, see them as the enemy. Now our meetings were no longer as playful or as cordial. I was always criticising his thoughts, he was always arguing back and we began spending more time giving each other the silent treatment. Having being brought up in the village his mentality was a complete 180 degrees to mine. Inspite off that we talked and argued but we could not stay away for long - eventually we would forgive the other and start over again the same routine of talking then arguing then silent treatment then forgive and back to square one. Before we left I told him that I was not going to get married at all and that he would have to look for another girl - he shrugged and said it won't be the same with any one else they won't understand our private jokes they won't know all the things we did as kids. It will just not be the same. But if you change your mind back to wanting to get married don't change your choice of the guy. I smiled sympathetically and said no I am sure that I will never want to marry. I left thinking that I would be lighter without the burden of my self proclaimed relationship but somehow I left with a heavy heart. I pacified myself with a million reasons as to why it was the right thing to do.
He never left my mind as I grew up, went through a series of crushes on different types of boys, began believing in the hijab, started covering myself headscarf and all, defending my beliefs and started planning my career. That vacation was a trip down our memory lanes, we pulled out old photos and talked about the things we did as kids. We had grown distant but somewhere in the back of my mind he lingered - waiting for any opportunity to pounce back into my head - flushing me with memories of us. People would talk if we remained as we were before so we drifted apart physically. We talked less and it wasn't the same. I would catch him looking at me and he would look away. We would be in the same room but not look directly. We took care of each other discretely and more quietly. When I wasn't with him - he didn't rule my head. But every time I was on vacation he took over - messing my thoughts, making me wonder what it would be like if we were together. I couldn't bring myself to a decision so I slept on it.
The next time we met I was still the same demure feminist chic but he had changed - a lot. smoking like an addict, he had become a self-centered emotionless jerk, nothing that hurt my feminist sentiments but everything wrong about it - on so many levels. That vacation he had a showdown with my father - my overprotective dad and my senseless carefree cousin - It was a hush showdown - Not many knew about it - Nonetheless it shook the very ground we stood on, And to some extend I share the burden of being a part of the show down. I cannot stand any kind of disrespect of any degree towards my parents and in that light I began to hate him. We never talked about it - but it became clear that we could not stand the sight of each other, he thought I was defending my father and I thought his tolerance level was extremely low, though I never got to telling him that. As if by some unknown understanding we kept out of each others way, stopped talking altogether unless absolutely necessary.
That didn't help change my deep rooted feelings for him. He was a troubled kid and had seen some harshness at a very young age, For that he had my sympathy and it was the reason I longed to love Him and care for him. I cannot tell whether my love for him arises out of sympathy or my Sympathies for him are due my love for him. But I do know that I Care about him enough to Defend him and hate him enough to never want to see Him again. The boy he had become was not the boy I had imagined he would grow up to be - He had changed far too much for my heart to say yes to him but my heart remained steady.
Now when we meet there is absolutely zero congeniality, we don't talk or even look at each other - there are moments of sudden arousals, but nothing concrete. The relationship in our own words is that of hatred, spite - an enemity that chains the other in our thoughts without reason. It sounds like a pathetic excuse to me - I freaking hate him so he's freaking on my mind all the freaking time - but I fail to understand why he creeps up in my head, why he shows concern for me at the most irrelevant of times. Why when I look at him sometimes I find myself breathless, Why I catch his sight grazing my form but don't feel violated, Why when our eyes meet the world slugs away into blindness, Why when ever I prepare to leave he starts to linger around me.
There are moments when I look into his eyes and see the loathing - feel the hatred burn within me and then there are moments when he does ridiculous things like offering me his hand while I get down a bus and the touch of our skins is electric - But we don't deny each other that pleasure.
I could never admit not even to myself, that I care about him loads more than I want to. And perhaps hope for us to have a future together.
Specially when it came down to moments like this. Standing on the other side of the glass wall at the airport his eyes blazed at the sight of me and my body melted in his burning gaze. He smiled a sad smile like he was allowing me to leave, I smiled a reassuring smile back.
Next years vacation was quite some time away. Enough time for both of us to decide what or rather whom we wanted in our lives. For now I would rest my senseless heart.