Monday, 27 September 2010

the l-word

We were on the phone. He was at the opposite end of the country, perfectly illustrating how different our viewpoints were at the time. I was in Calcutta, he was in Bombay. He was talking to me about a girl. It was one of the few times he ever did.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really think I’m in l…”

“Ahh noo! Don’t say the l-word, please, please. I’ll lose all respect for you and whatever little love I have for you.”

“Wait. You just said it. What’s the big deal?”

“No, but see, what I feel for you is genuine friend to friend lowe,” I tried to explain, using the pronounciation used by half the pedestrians in the country.

“Uhm. Your point?”

“It’s biological, my dear Watson.”

“Oh god…” and he started muttering something in Hindi which I’m guessing were cusses.

“What, what? No, listen. I’m not saying it’s fake, I’m just saying it’s not what you think. Ok, wait. How hot is this chick?”

“She’s not a baby hen. And she’s pretty hot.”

“Ok. And you’re a 25-year-old, fairly good-looking (I got a sarcastic “thanks” at this juncture) red-blooded male.”


“It’s hormones.” I paused, waiting for his eruption. All I got was silence.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Waiting for the rest of it. Or is that it?” I rarely got sarcasm from him so I was a little taken aback. He must really have liked that girl. It came as a slight shock to me and I was surprised at myself for being, well, shocked. But I never really analysed that. Maybe I should have. It would have saved me a lot of time. Anyway, getting back to the scene at hand.

“So see. Our friendship is not based on hormones. It’s real, it’s right there, based not on chemical reactions in our body, but on the past few years.. whatever we’ve shared has obviously made us close and well, I’m very fond of you.” I cleared my throat.

“Uhm. Are you telling me you’re in love with me?”

“No, jackass. I not in love with you, I’m just differentiating what you feel for her and what I’m presuming you feel for me.”

He sighed. I took it as a signal to continue.

“She’s probably nice, you’ve said she’s good-looking. Now you’re seeing everyone around you hook up with people. Get married, have babies, or have amazing sex and consciously or unconsciously, you’ve felt alone. Let’s face it. Humans are not designed to be alone. Mentally and emotionally.”

“Whoa wait, I thought this was physical. Now you’re saying it’s mental and emotional? Make up your mind, woman.”

“I’m not done, sweepea. Shut up and listen.”


“It’s social conditioning and your er bodily needs. Don’t roll your eyes. So, anyhow, what I’m saying is… you maybe really fascinated by this girl, but don’t call it love just yet. Have as much sex as you want, date her for at least a few months, then tell me you’re in love with her and I won’t burst an artery.”

He never did tell me about being in love again. I don’t know if it was because he knew I’d argue him out of it, or because he knew it hurt me slightly. Or maybe I give him too much credit. I never saw him as a potential lover. He was always the shoulder I cried on. When I was frustrated with my life and how it wasn’t going anywhere, when I hadn’t painted in months because I was too busy designing lame advertisements, when I fell for my best friend’s extremely messed up cousin.

And sometimes I could go weeks, even months without really talking to him. A few text messages here and there, but not much communication otherwise.

I loved Calcutta. Even when it was re-named and more people moved there, and the city expanded. It was my home. So when I started feeling restless, I blamed it on my failed friendship with aforementioned cousin of best friend. In hindsight, I am relieved it never happened. Hindsight is one of the most satisfying things in my life. When I can look back on my irrationality and smile over having the wisdom to know better now.

But we never really do know better.

After several years of being single, trying to figure my life out, having a few one night stands and never having them again, I finally realised it was possible I had feelings for Kashyap. It made no sense to me. At first. Which is why I re-visited the above conversation several times.

Imagine my surprise when it dawned on me that I had probably always had feelings for him. More than just good friend to friend feelings and “lowe”. Why was it I hated discussing my problems and weaknesses and irrational behaviour with all the other people I knew, but could always bank on him if I wanted to discuss these things? Why did he always know just how much to push me if he thought something was bothering me and he felt I needed to resolve it? How in god’s name did he know I needed a break from a city I loved? All this and much more in next week’s episode of Sleepless in India.

Oh wait, this isn’t a television show. It’s my life. Sigh.

So it’s been almost seven years, and it turns out that the thing I’ve been both avoiding and looking for all this bloody time, could be right under my nose. And it’s possible I’m too late. You see, once I discovered all this mush in my perfectly scientific head, I did something irrational. I planned a trip without telling the person I’d be staying with, or rather, the person I’m hoping to stay with.

Kashyap is now in Singapore, studying. I haven’t really spoken to him since the last Skype conversation we had two months ago, which lasted three and a half hours, after which I found myself strangely yearning for him and proceeded to realise I am probably in love with him. I managed to get his address under the guise of posting him a fabulous book I wanted him to read. But in fact I’m being incredibly irrational and surprising him in Singapore. Possibly with a declaration of my undying (well considering it’s been seven years, it could last another seven years. And 14 years is practically forever) love. If he’s alone in his apartment, that is. I was too scared of the answer to ask him whether he was seeing anyone seriously.

I’ve practiced the declaration several hundred times but still haven’t figured out what exactly to say. I’m hoping he knows me as well as I think he does and interrupts me before I make a blundering ass of myself.

I wonder how I’m going to feel about this in hindsight.