“Sohini, there is something that you should know. I am seeing a guy. He confessed his feelings for me almost a month ago and now we are together. I am really really happy. Very few people know about it and you happen to be one of them.”
I listened to my friend who bared her heart about her new found love over phone. After exchanging the usual parting notes, I put down the phone and took a deep breath. It is still hard to contain myself to keep my big mouth shut and pretend to be an attentive listener while someone confesses about their crush or hush hush romance to me. For the past one year, I am on a discovery spree, being taken into confidence by quite a lot of people. Had they found me during my school days, I would have treated them as archenemies. Thankfully, three years of college had knocked some sense into me. But the journey from an Anti Relationship to a Can tolerate Relationships has been quite eventful.
It happened sometime during my first year winter vacations. My Aunt called up my Mom and the first thing she did after picking up the phone is to lock herself in a room. It was baffling as if some calamity had befallen upon our peaceful family. 20 minutes later, Mom emerged with a weird expression on her face. Apparently, my cousin, my Aunt’s daughter, had fallen in love with a guy and she (my Aunt) feared if I came to know about it, it will have a bad effect on me! Which explains the talking on phone in a locked room. My Mom found it funny and assured her that I was safe because all my friends were girls! So true! But this revelation about my closest cousin did have an effect on me, though of a different kind. She is about 2 year younger than me. ‘How can she even think of a guy when she is in midst of her most important academic period?’ Yes, I judged her.
Some months later, I went to my hometown. As always, the big joint family descended at my maternal Granddad’s mansion from the nook and cranny of the country. She was there too. Whenever I saw her, I was reminded of her little secret. (I doubted that everyone knew about it!). I avoided her for obvious reasons even though we were really close. She tried talking to me but I escaped. Love life was the last thing I wanted to talk about, with anyone. I invariably built an invisible wall between us and thought I was right to do so. Well, I was damned wrong.
Third semester started. And thus started a different kind of relationship with friends. Casual acquaintances became buddies. And close friends became confidants. Gossips and teasing became abound in daily chat sessions. “I saw you talking to him. What’s going onnnnn?”, “I spotted you having coffee at Tiffs with him!” and the list is endless. I took everything with a sporting spirit and a pinch of salt, considering my awful attitude towards teasing during my school days. Then came a time when certain friends of mine confided their past romantic life to me. At first, it felt bizarre. After all, I am definitely the wrong person with whom such stuff should be shared. Wish I had told them that I didn’t relate to love, boyfriends, relationships etc. As expected, my ruthless judgement sense prevailed. But it didn’t last long. Because those friends were amazing in themselves and their romantic experiences are just a part of their life which needn’t necessarily define the real person. I couldn’t possibly judge them and strain my friendship. They weren’t at loss; I was. And this realization brought me back to my cousin.
Next summer vacations; same place, same people except one. My grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary was being celebrated. Elders took charge of the duties so the kids had noting much to do. (Yes, I too belong to the kiddy generation!). As far as I and my cousin were concerned, the tables had turned. I was desperate to talk to her but scared at the same time since I was totally unenlightened about such things. She looked visibly pained. Maybe she fought with him. I knew that her parents didn’t approve. My other aunts made fun of her. And her own sister was in kindergarten. So she practically had no one to share her problems. I gathered courage and finally asked her the forbidden question, expecting to be snubbed at any point of time. But she was so kind and gracious. She treated me with the same love and respect which we had between us before I fell to my misleading judgements. She summarized the events and confessed that she indeed was having some issues. I gave some clumsy consolation and I fared badly at it but at least I no longer judged her. She smiled and told that she had already thought over it and trying to work it out earnestly. I suddenly realised how mature she had become over the past two years and I had just stop growing since my school days. My respect for her grew immensely from that day on.
Fifth semester brought out more revelations. By now, I had learnt to lend a patient ear and enjoy the stories as a impassive listener even though I really couldn’t relate to this love-relationships-boyfriends/girlfriends thing. Sometimes I feel that love life is like a theater. Innumerable shows are going on different stages. I am sitting among the spectators, witnessing some of the plays to which I have been granted admission. Other plays are private. Some actors are my friends, family and some are strangers. Presently, some people have left the stage and joined me in the audience. They look at me and ask, “Are you soon going to be on stage?” “No.” I smile back. “I am just not made for it!”