“War? You are fighting a war? What do you mean? You mean you are involved in killing people?”
I thought I knew everything about the man I love, but this was something I wasn’t expecting. I don’t believe in war. I believe in peace.
“Do you know who is my favourite singer?” He asked me
I looked at his beautiful eyes, trying to figure out what exactly was he trying to talk. Here we are talking about war and killing and he is asking me about music. What has war got to do with music?
One of us for sure is gone mad and I hoped it wasn’t me
I shook my head and said “No”. I was too numb even to guess who would be his favourite singer.
“Bob Marley. Do you know him?”
“Well, he was born in Jamaica to a Jamaican woman and a English army guy. I like his songs, because he sings about his people’s struggle to be free from the modern slavery. Do you know about African history?”
“Good. Because of their colour, they have been enslaved by the whites. He wanted his people to break free from the clutches that enslave them. He said “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight” Nina, I am doing just that. I am standing up for my right”
“But what if anything happens to you? What will I do?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if you get killed?” I regretted the moment I uttered the word killed. I was afraid to jinx everything.
“Nina, the only sure thing in life is death. Everyone dies, Fear of death shouldn’t prevent you from living your life. Look at it like this. Water always flow from the streams in to the river to the ocean. No one can change the course of the streams or the river. Life is like that. You have to let your destiny takes you where ever it is meant to take you”
Destiny? I believed in destiny, but not the destiny where I might lose the guy I love because he was stupid enough to fight a war. He doesn’t have to fight the war. He can live peacefully in Bangalore. For that matter, any part of India. he doesn’t have to involve himself in the fight. That is the least he could do for me, right?
“What are you thinking?” He asked me
“Nothing” I shook my head
“hmm?” I asked
“hmm! hmm!” he started to smile and though I was afraid of the unknown future, I had him that moment and that is all mattered at that point of time and I smiled, but I still had thousands of questions that needed to be asked
“Nina, Can I ask you something?” He asked before I had a chance to ask him my questions
“Why do you love me?”
Why? Why do I love him? I never asked myself that question before and now when he asked me, I didn’t have any answer
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. Why do you love me?”
“because you are crazy”
“What? How dare you call me crazy?” I playfully punched him”I am not crazy, do you understand that?”
“You are fighting with me? You want to fight with me” He grabbed my hand and I tried to pull my hand away.
“Let go off my hand” I screamed
“tell me one good reason!”
“Because it is my hand”
“You are mine, so your hand is mine”
“Please let go off my hand” I pleaded
“Why Nina? why are you afraid of me touching you?” He let go off my hands and I pulled my hand and shrugged my chest.
“Don’t know” I whispered
“It is ok baby, I won’t do anything that you don’t like. Nina, I won’t hurt you”
“Thanks” I mumbled
“Do you want to go back?”
“Yes” I nodded my head. There was something about his touch that changed everything. I wanted him to hold me, yet I was too afraid of my own feelings. I was afraid to feel such a way. I shouldn’t even think such things, I tried to tell myself. Some where at the back of my head, I could hear the other Nina trying to say, there is nothing wrong in feeling that way, you love him and it is ok to feel that way.
He got up and extended his hand to help me get up. I wanted to hold his hands, but the two Nina’s were still arguing as to if it is right or wrong, So I got up on my own self. He was looking at my eyes.
“I love you Nina”
“hmm” I replied
“hmm? What about you? Do you love me?”
“What do you mean by hmm? Say, you love me”
“Say you love me” I replied
“I said, say you love me” He sounded annoyed
“I said, Say you love me” I replied
“God! you are insufferable”
“Thank you” I replied
“Do you know something? I know you love me.”
“Good, then you shouldn’t be asking me if I love you or not”
“Fine” He started to walk towards the bike and I stood where I was standing, feeling like an idiot. What exactly is my problem? Why couldn’t I tell him that I love him? Why did I have to make him so upset?”
“Are you coming?” He turned to look at me. I wanted to so badly tell him that I love him, but the words didn’t come out. I, the proud grand daughter of fearless Methran Thambi and equally fearless Thangamma, suddenly was afraid of my own feelings. He started the bike and I walked towards him. He didn’t say a word till the bus station. When I got off the bike I said
“Bye” Hoping he would say something to me. I wanted to talk about meeting each other tomorrow.
“Bye. Oh!Do you have money for the fare?”
“Do you want me to wait here till you get in to the bus?”
“No” I shook my head. I was angry with him for being so aloof.
“Ok” he started the bike and left without even turning to look at me.
I was still mad when I came back to the hostel. I was mad at myself and mad at him. I was mad at everyone. If only life wasn’t this complicated!
Soon the anger turned to fear. I was afraid that he might leave me because I refused to tell him that I love him. I couldn’t let that happen. I had to do something. I thought of going to the phone booth and calling him up. I had to apologize. But he may not have come back to the hostel and besides anyone can hear me talking at the phone booth.
It will be better if I can write it down. I tore a piece of paper from my record book and started to write.
Dear Beautiful Eyes,
Dear beautiful Eyes? Gosh, that sounds so formal. I struck that out. What do I write?
Then I remembered his question. “Why do you love me Nina?”
I thought hard and I started to write
Each time I see you, I want to run to your arms. I want to be close to you.I want to with you.
Each time I am away from you, I miss your smile, I miss the twinkle in your eyes, I miss your songs, I miss everything about you.
But when I ask myself why I love you, I don’t have one single answer, but I have so many reasons to love you,
I love you because you are you, that makes you unique,
I love you because you have the ability to make me smile,
I love you because you make me feel happy and contended.
I love you because I can look in your eyes for aeon and not be bored
But most off all, I love you because you are the missing piece of puzzle, that would complete my life’s puzzle.
I looked at the piece of paper in my hand. It was the first love letter I ever wrote, so it felt special.
When I read the last sentence, I realized why I love him and not Arjun. Arjun could never fit in to my life. He was not the missing piece. But how was I going to tell him that? I didn’t know the answer.
I had to give the letter to him. So I placed the letter in an envelope and sealed it well. I locked my room and walked to the Canteen. Aparna was with her boyfriend and as soon as she saw me, she got up and came towards me
“Hey, did you go to the clinic? What did the Dr say? are you alright now?”
“Yes I am fine now. It was just an allergic reaction. Dr. gave some Antihistamines”
“Oh ok. Do you have to go for some allergy tests?”
“Oh No. I am fine” I was about to say it won’t happen again. I had no intention of consuming an aspirin for the rest of my life. Fortunately I thought before I opened my stupid mouth.
“You guys carry on. Let me get something to eat”
I hoped against hope that he would come to the canteen. I couldn’t risk giving the letter to anyone else. I waited and waited. Few minutes before the canteen closed, he walked in with few other North Indian students. As soon as he entered the canteen, he saw me. He didn’t even acknowledge me. My heart sunk. I watched all of them going to the counter to buy cigarettes and pan parag. I hoped he would look at me, so I can give the letter to him. He didn’t and I wasn’t going to give up on him.
“Excuse me”I got up and started to walk towards him. Aparna was looking at me, so was the other North Indian guys who was with him. It was too late to walk back. He was looking at me and I could see a mixture of surprise and happiness in his eyes
“I have something for you” I gave the envelope to him and walked off.
“What is it Macha?” I heard one of the guys asking him
“Oh She was giving me her uncle’s contact details”
I thought of saying ‘yeah right’. But at that moment I was glad that he lied.
Now that he got the letter, what would he do? He would surely call me! As I walked back to the hostel, I was convinced he would phone me.
I gave him 15 minutes to read the letter and after 15 minutes I walked to the phone room and stood on the corridor.
“Waiting for a phone call madam?” One of the junior Malayalee girls standing near the phone room asked.
I looked at her. She was Anitha’s good friend. Always with the prayer group.
“Madam, you can stay in your room, I will come and call you”
“No it is ok. I will wait here” I wondered why she was being so nice to me.
“I am serious Madam, you don’t have to waste your time standing here. I will come and call you. Any way I am standing here and waiting.”
“It is ok.” I spoke again
I heard the phone ringing and both of us ran to get the phone. She reached first and picked up the phone.
“It is for me madam” she spoke. ” I will call you when I finished speaking”
She was looking at me and I knew she wanted me to leave the phone room.
“Ok” I walked out. I stood near the veranda.
I could still hear the conversation outside. It didn’t take too long to figure out why she didn’t want me to wait for the phone call. She knew I speak Malayalam and didn’t want me to hear her conversations with her lover in Kerala and when they would be meeting each other in Bangalore.
This was the same girl who spoke against love marriage and wanting to marry the guy her parents would chose, during the ragging time.
When the phone call was over, she came out and I could see the shock on her face when she saw me still standing there. I ignored her. Her life is her business. I have more important things to do than worry about her hypocrisy.
Every time the phone rang, my heart would miss a beat while I ran to get it. It was always for someone else and my heart started to feel heavy. Is he going to break up with me? What would I do? He was everything I ever wanted and I was stupid enough to not to tell him a simple I love you. I hated myself. I regretted not telling him that I love him.
Eventually at 12.30, I gave up waiting for his phone call, but not before telling Gangamma to call me, if I get a phone call.
He never called.