4 Jan 2015

To the boy I loved

Since 2007, this blog has undergone several changes. Some deletions, some fresh new posts and some randomness. One thing that had remained constant was the presence of 'R' in my posts. Some were mere mentions. Some were all about him. This space was a reminder of everything we've shared. 
This post oscillates between the past and the present. 

Barista: What you like to order ma'am?
R: She would like a hot mocha and a strawberry muffin.
Me: How do you know my order?
R: I just do. Now, would you like to have that mocha with me?

R had always been forthright to the point of being obnoxious. I don't quite remember when I found that charming as opposed to annoying, but that must be around the time I thought of the possibility of 'us'. His brutal honesty bugged me, he never sugar-coated his words, but his sincerity soothed me. Our relationship had always been bipolar - a study in contradictions.

Did you hear the news? I'm so sorry I'm the one to break this to you. 

Me: Why didn't we go party this new year?
R: Because the best way to start this new year is to cuddle with you.

We weren't the one for observing traditional holidays. He made me feel special and cherished on a Wednesday. And on my birthday. Especially on my birthday, when I insisted I be treated like a princess. And whenever I was sick. Especially when I was sick, when I insisted I be treated like a princess. 

Blog quote: R and I spent the day making snowflakes. We promised; no, not undying love for each other, just to finish the lego-truck that we started building. Its yellow. And bright. It was the best Valentine's day I ever had in my life.  

I don't know any details. I don't know who to speak to. I'm hoping this is a mistake. I haven't heard anything about it yet. Let me try Shubh's number again. 

R: Baby, you should try the Guntur chilli chicken. It is awesome!
Me: Thanks. I don't want diarrhea.
R: But baby! They're worth a measly diarrhea. 

For as long as I've known him, he'd been a foodie. He loved experimenting with different cuisines. He enjoyed the meals I made for him as much as he loved going out. His single greatest pleasure was a well-made dish. Hyderabad is littered with restaurants - small and big, which we'd visited.

Blog quote: In my little story, R made his way into my heart through my stomach!

I'm booked on the 5:30 am flight...earliest I could get. I'll reach Hyd by 6:45 am and come straight to your place. 

R: let's go on a trip to the mountains! Nepal or Bhutan.
Me: I've heard it is a beaut! let's goooo.

R and I have traveled to many places, but Bhutan has by far been the most exciting, adventurous and memorable one. 11 days of unadulterated mountains, exploring the villages, seeing snow for the first time (him), climbing treacherous trails to monasteries and snuggling in front of the heater at night. It was one of our best trips together. 

Blog quote: Nighttime is a volley of noises in Paro. Still, in this town where everyone knows everyone, I snuggled up to R and slept late.

His girlfriend is handling everything. She's being strong, holding everyone up, insisting they eat. It isn't easy, but she's taking charge. I'm glad they have her. 

R: Let's get a kitten
Me: But I don't know anything about cats. I'm a dog person
R: I'll teach you. Trust me.

R and my baby - Ginger, our adopted kitten. She changed my outlook on things. I was more patient, maternal and willing to clean vomit & poop when I was around her than at any other time. He was right - I did become a cat person very quickly. Each time I saw them together, I felt he'd be the greatest dad. He was one of the rare males who was born to be a father. 

Blog quote: The idea to adopt a kitten was R's. I declared that I was taking both kittens home. I saw a glimmer in his eyes.

They are asking for an identification mark - a birthmark or a mole. She didn't remember, so she reluctantly looked at me...I couldn't remember either. It was a terse moment. 

R: Congratulations baby. I knew you'd get through.
Me: You believed it more than I ever did.
R: Because I always knew.

R believed in everything I hoped to achieve. He was my biggest cheerleader. He'd criticize me from time to time, took me out to celebrate little things like when I came in third in the Karaoke contest, nothing was insignificant. I'd gratefully look at him when I messed up - he'd be right there to take my hand and suggest a Guntur chilli chicken. 

Blog quote: My time with R. Every moment magnifies and stretches itself, preserving it. His  presence makes everything else inconsequential. The rest will come, I suppose. Soon enough.

He got a new house and a new red car. His mom loves houses with big balconies and the color red. They moved in a month ago. He was planning to start a family there.

Colleague: Why don't you write poems anymore?

Blog quote: I don’t write about togetherness because I'm living in it. I don’t write about the smell of the breeze on the beach during twilight walks because I’m walking in it. 
When you live, the poetry is that much farther apart. Sometimes, when the night ends, you pick up the pen and try to capture everything that the walks on the beach or the giggling on the road represented. But you just write ‘I Love You.’ Because it is appropriate. It fits. And its much more than imaginative poetry. Its real life prose. 

Our relationship didn't last, but R was the first person to love me like I'd wished someone would. We cherished each other a lot and never missed an opportunity to express how we felt about each other. 

I approached his girlfriend, hugged her and said "I dated RC, the boy. You dated Rajesh, the man. Our love was young, carefree and in wild abandon. Yours took roots, made him want a family. I'm glad he experienced fatherhood with your daughter. I can see why he chose you. 

She looked at me through teary eyes, hugged me back and said "He saved everything you ever wrote, gave or doodled for him. I'll send them to you. 


I understood what legs turning into lead meant. He was a few feet away from me, but I couldn't move a little further to get a look at him. I stood there, hot tears burning my throat, unable to breathe. He was covered in a white shroud...only his face visible. Familiar shaggy eyebrows, squashed-in nose and full lips. 

A fly kept hovering around his face. The embalming fluid smell was cloying the air.

"You should be doing this for me" his father wailed. 

I kept the yellow flowers on his feet and approached closer. I knelt softly beside his face and whispered the endearment, that in another time used to be shouted in glee, said in exasperation, whispered in passion and bound us in love - "Shona". 

I stopped breathing in the embalming liquid smell, closed my eyes and imagined him lying on my lap, sleeping. I kept my palm on his cold forehead and looked at R for a last time. 


Akshaya Nandakumar said...

I'm so sorry. This was heartbreaking. To love and be loved like that is special. I'm glad you have the memories, and that the girlfriend is generous enough to let you keep the tokens.

I hope that time can lessen the pain somewhat, but that the remembrance never fades. Big hug.

Nagalakshmi V said...

one of the most heartbreaking things i've read in recent times...

Pragi said...

Hamsi, im so sorry. Hope you are holding up.