‘If you don’t really feel the urge to rest your head on his shoulder, but you just want him around, is it love?’ She wondered sitting in her room appearing lost in deep thought. Her head pressed against her thumbs as she leaned forward and tried to find all the answers by deduction and reasoning.
She was jealous of him. ‘How could he be so sure of what he wants? I have never been sure of what I want. Event the grandest of my dreams have a hint of fear in them. I am not even sure if I want to sit or lie down right now and he knows that he wants me.’ Her thoughts kept her awake. He had made her feel important and she didn’t find it comfortable. She was used to being insignificant. A guy would look at her, like her and tell her that he likes her. She would be affable, not play hard to get or anything and the guy will slowly drift away. No harm done. She thought of herself as a milestone in someone else’s long road journey. She wasn’t headed anywhere. She was scared of change. She thought she was the girl guys would leave behind when they’re on their way to better things.
‘Let’s meet tomorrow’ A text appeared on her phone. She typed a response without promising anything. It was him and she was unsure.
The next day, in the evening, they sat and as he looked at her, she melted. His obsession was disarming. Her disheveled hair, her weary eyes, the closely shut lips, none of them had left a gap in the wall that she had constructed around herself. How could he still look at her and not feel even the slightest bit of it? The way he looked at her, it was clear that the wall was invisible to him.
She was mildly annoyed at this persistence. It reeked of a lack of honour. This man was no knight who would just throw her a glance and gallop away when she would turn her gaze away. This man was more of a beggar. He stayed praying for some love. She didn’t think highly of such love which needed a vulgar display or expression. More than annoying, it seemed unsightly. There were people around, people who expected a man to be a certain way and a woman to be the other. The man is supposed to chase the woman, court her and win her easily. The woman is supposed to play elusive and rude at the starting and then slowly become a trophy in the man’s shelf.
It is another thing that she wasn’t herself okay with the conventional role assigned to her gender in these cupid games. She herself took pride in not conforming to the norms set by the people. She would sit cross-legged at restaurants and eat with her fingers but, that didn’t mean she didn’t care what people thought. Quite to the contrary, she was worried about what everyone thought of her. She cared too much about not letting anyone know that she cared about what they thought, so much so that she pretended not to care. So she was conflicted and her logic was twisted.
We can’t assume that he was a simple man either. He was twisted in his own way. He did believe in all things she stood for. He regarded pride as a big virtue and would have played the part of a knight who just walks away when his glance is not returned. He believed in the ‘all or none’ law. He thought that a girl would either love him or not at all. Love isn’t for the unsure. But, he believed in one more thing- he took his decisions not based on words but those unsaid little nothings.
He would have left if she would have turned her gaze away in disgust or pity and not out of a sense of inner turmoil. He wouldn’t have held her hand and kissed it with surety if he wasn’t sure of the strings he was pulling. He could feel that all this was not comfortable for her and he was there because he knew behind that veil of conflict and fear, there was girl who just was uncomfortable treading on an uncharted territory, regardless of how she felt. He believed in the fact that when we are about to do something of remark, we are the least comfortable. All we need at that moment is someone to believe in us. And he believed in her. It was not about being sure, it was about believing.
So, they were sitting and she asked him- ‘I am so unsure of us. I am not even halfway to the point you have reached. I am broken, I haven’t known love my whole life. I am never intense enough with my display of affection, I am scared of hurting you. Why do you continue to ask for my hand to hold and kiss? Why don’t you ever get tired of me?’
He smiled. He reached out for hand and held it. Her hand which was lying limp in her lap suddenly came to life. He pressed his palm against hers and reaffirmed the familiarity. She still had the same confused expression. He said, ‘Of all the hands I have held, not a single one could fit so easily into mine. They took effort. You say words like fear, brokenness and yet, it is only your hand that has the skin that feels comfortable with mine. When I am holding you, I am not waiting to kiss you. When I am kissing you, I am not waiting to hold you tighter. None of my acts with you is a lead up to anything. I talk to you to talk to you, I hold you to hold you and nothing more. There is no rush, all those things happen like I have known you a long time.
There is a rush of the other kind though. The head rush of knowing that I am with the prettiest girl in the World. And the rush gets stronger when I realize that you don’t know it yet.
I know you say you’re not sure but, when I am about to leave, I see the flutter in your eyes, whenever I mutter a parting thought, I see you cringe just like woman in love. You might not agree with me, you might not even know it but, I have seen you love me. I have seen you grow impatient like a mad lover. The fear of hurting me, the fear of not coming through, the fear of the word ‘love’ itself – believe me or not, are all good signs. They mean you’re headed somewhere.
When I say I want you as my girl, I do not say it without my doubts. I am sure we will fight, I am sure there will be times when you and I will not like to see each other’s faces. Love is not about living a smooth life, it is an assurance. When we were brought in this world, we didn’t know where to go. In our early years, we were told the basic concepts of love and family and then we realized that there is a place we can call home and there are people we can love. But, there is still a part in all of us who feels alone. It is the deepest sense of self. It is your innermost person who is all alone. It just needs an assurance that there are more people, as alone and as scared as itself. When I see you, I see myself. When I talk to you, the words that come out from your mouth are just the words I want to hear to know that I am not alone.
That is why I have decided to pursue you. I have decided to follow you. You are not a stone lying on the roadside, you are a temple covered in dust. Your heart is the holy shrine I have sought all my life. How am I so sure of it? I am not. But, I believe in you and I know for a fact that you’re not as cold as you make yourself look.
I have seen that look in your eyes when you feel unsure and fearful. Only the best kind of people can feel this way. It is the feeling you get when you take someone seriously. I love to be taken seriously by you. I love the way you spare your thoughts for me. Believe me, my dear, what you do for me is much more that what I am doing for you. And that’s why I know I want to be with you for a very long time. I am not saying ‘forever’ because I know the word scares you but, as I said before, it means you give it thought. You have kept me close to your heart somewhere and I am not letting you go easily.
You can spell out all your doubts, all your misgivings, all your confusions. I will hear them, feel them, with you. Until you are sure. And beyond.’
The Earth tilted a little. It was a bit even now.