This is the first Food Fiction entry in my blog.And thanks to Bong Mom,Sra and Aquadaze,this is also my entry to Aquadaze's event 'Of chalks and chopsticks'.Thanks to the trio for coaxing out our writing juices from their shrivelled selves...Happy reading!:)
I fell in love the first time when I was 16.The first day he came over to our place,it was an official visit.He was supposed to give me lessons in maths.Not a regular teacher but to help me out with my studies.An erudite elder cousin,whom my mother had somehow yoked in to tutor me,was finding it hard to make time and so he had brought in a close friend to do it.I passed on my textbook for him to take a look and he motioned me to sit down.Sitting close to him I felt weird.He pored into the book while I stole glances.He was not handsome but there was a simple elegance about him. He had a stoic look in his eyes but the gaze was soft and went deep inside.This way or the other,I was not interested somehow to be taught by him and the initial reaction was disappointment.I was angry with my cousin!
The lessons went on and before long I forgot being angry.He had a nice way of teaching.He had a strange calming aura which he wore around him always.He would be in the moment always,not in the past not in the future.And the gaze.Behind his glasses,he had soft sensitive kind eyes.As the lessons went on,I gradually found myself waiting for his classes.
My Maa made lovely crispy French toast almost everyday that he would come over for my classes.She would break the eggs,mix in the chopped onions and green chillies and with an expert hand,strew over a pinch of salt.White loaves of bread would be cut into halves,dipped in the beaten eggs and soon the aroma of fried eggs and onions would waft through as he would delve deeper into explaining the equation of a hyperbolic curve.One evening,when the table had become too crammed with books,Maa asked me to pass on the plate to him.I was passing it over to him,when our hands touched.It was unintentional,but it took me a second to retrace my hand.He did'nt look up but the sensation took time to go.Something struck me somewhere and that night I lay awake thinking of nothing in particular.It was a hitherto unknown feeling.I thought And thought and everything seemed to be hazy.There was something going on in my head...but I knew not what.
The next morning I knew what it was.I was surprised and happy.I never realized that I had actually started liking the person so much.And French toast.It somehow reminded me of our classes and of him.I said a silent prayer.
I started waiting up for the days when he would visit.He was slowly getting into the intricacies of the real world.His studies were getting over and it was time to think about life ahead.I had a pretty blurred view of all this and thinking about that would seem like the last thing to do at that moment.It was now a long time that we had met and he was much warmer than before.His stolid and firm countenance now gave way to a subtle smile which would now appear quite often on his face.I would muster the courage to cough up convenient one-liners which he would appreciate and enjoy.If the smile on his face would be because of what I said, I would feel like the drudgery of the whole day has been washed away in a second.And I would glow inside.
I passed my tests with flying colors and the grades surprised even him.He was happy and I was the happiest.I had done something to make him smile his beautiful smile again.It felt like the best time of my life.But then the truth started setting in.He had just got a splendid opportunity to study overseas and it would build him a good future.To me it was heartbreaking to even think him go,but I kept my feeling of disappointment from him. I never understood if he ever realised how I felt about him and my naivete kept me from letting him know.But I knew that he enjoyed my company.Or so I thought.
He left after a final and proper goodbye at our home.That evening I felt rotten to the hilt.It felt as if the juices of a succulent life had withdrawn from my insides leaving it wiry and emaciated.I felt hollow.The smile of my face stood perfect and not for one second did I show him the remorse I had.I never wanted him to leave and I never wanted the evening to end.I kept on watching him go from our balcony.Something told me that maybe I had lost him forever.
But I was wrong.The first letter arrived and it was a total surprise.Ohh,so he remembers me,I thought with glee!I tried to smell him inside the folds of the letter.He had touched it with his hands,penned down the words.He was there all over it.I was overwhelmed and sure that he had finally understood my feeling.It was a battle half won,almost effortlessly.The letter told me that he had taken out time in between his numerous chores to write the letter.And he asked me the recipe for French toast-the way my Maa made it.lt brought me closer to him as I never had before.I was finally getting to be a part of his life...maybe.
The letters gradually cut down on the number of pages.It would initially be four or five pages,scribbled on both sides.The later ones would no longer need to be stapled.That would be obvious,I reasoned to myself;his courseload must be getting heavier and that would naturally leave him with less time to write me long letters.But it hurt somewhere.It was always as if I expected this every moment but could not accept it when it actually happened.Because inside me,I hated this to happen.The letters grew few and far between and finally stopped coming.I almost said to myself that I should no longer be expecting anything more.I had after all never made it clear to him.The usual knack for taking responsibility for everything that I was not even responsible for took over me.
But then he remembered me.Almost two years had passed by,when he visited us again.I was both happy and dismayed to see him.All this time I could never forget him.He was there with me every moment that I lived.When I failed to concentrate on my studies, his eyes would give me a gentle stare and I would be back to work.I lived and breathed him.Without him knowing even an ounce of it.I was amazed at myself.I wanted to tell him how badly I wanted his presence back but I only managed a curt smile.The small talk came to a pregnant silence when he reached into his duffel bag and brought out his wedding card.He was getting married.And the purpose of his visit was to invite us to his wedding,the most important event of his life.My insides suddenly grew cold;so cold that I could not feel the life inside it.My mind went blank.I let out a jolly smile and asked him how he fell in love.He happily narrated how he had fallen in love with this girl who had been a friend of one of his closest friends.It was not love at first sight but the subsequent meetings had gradually brought them closer.So close that one day they realised that it was time to walk down the aisle.My breath got stuck somewhere in the abyss of my dark black heart and I felt ill at ease.
It was time for him to leave again.I offered to walk him to the door.The happiness in his heart had made him such a changed man.He seemed happier,merrier and more cheerful than I ever had seen him be.I realised that he has found his ultimate happiness almost the same time that I lost mine.We engaged in unnecessary small talk.I wanted the door to be nearer than ever before.Bidding him a passive goodbye,I could feel him look at me.The soft sensitive guileless eyes as he walked down the stairs.I froze that moment in time.I knew there were things that would remind me of him...the aroma of Maa's French toast,my math textbooks,the memories of our brief time together...and I promised to live with all of it my life.