Marías at Sampaguitas
Essay by Isha Sharma
Love and Longing and the Impossibility of Us
It has only been a few months now, but it feels like ages, an era, an epoch. Since I began feeling for you, since I fell for you, since I realised that another human being, just by his sheer existence, can bring with him a tremendous amount of joy and jubilation, hope and happiness. Your entrance into my life can perhaps be compared to a matchstick that lights a candle, bathing the room into blinding light; a desolate, bleak room that knew no other friend than darkness. Sometimes, when you unwillingly live with something for ages, it grows on you, it becomes one with you, it creeps upon you, it sticks to your soul. This is what darkness was to this room. This is what darkness was to me. I hardly knew what love meant, I seldom experienced it, it rarely crossed my mind. And then I met you. Honestly, if it were possible, I would grab every clock in the world, from the one in your home to the one in mine, turn back time, and relive all the moments that I have shared with you. How careless, how foolish of me to have not praised you the way I should have, when you were still by my side, when you talked to me ever so often, when meeting you wasn't just a stroke of fortuitous luck. You were there, all along, I just never saw you.
Until I did, one day.
One fortunate day when it dawned upon me that the person I have scoured the world for, is right here, right in front of me. I don't know about other moments, I don't remember many, but meeting you tops the list of the good things that have happened to me lately. The smile that rests on my face for several seconds as I talk to you, no matter the frequency or intensity of our talks, cannot be compared to any other delight. True, other things usher in a wave of exultation and an overwhelming feeling of ecstasy, but there isn't anything I would love better than sitting by your side at a cafe, when cold breeze will kiss our cheeks, when my eyes will switch between my watch and you, when I will feel whole, complete, and safe- all that in one moment of serendipity that I would very much like to transpire but don't envision happening, not in the foreseeable future. I know I won't ever ever be able to tell you the euphoria and respite that courses through me when my phone informs me that I have one new message from you- and even though it's nothing but a meme, I am happy, I am content, because I know you thought about me. I constantly look for images and links and books and what not to send you because how else will I get to talk to you? How else will I make it seem evident that I have a thing going on for you? Always have. Perhaps, always will.
We have come a long way. Haven’t we? From the first time that you sat by my side in that cramped room that hardly had any space to house us, to now, when I don’t seem to get tired of talking, writing, and thinking about you. Back then, I didn’t pay much attention to you. A glance here and a glance there, but that was it. Nothing more, nothing less. You seemed disinterested in talking and I was quick to jump to the conclusion that perhaps you are quite aloof. Absolutely indifferent to your surroundings. Happily oblivious of your environment. You came across as someone who didn’t want to give two hoots about what was happening around you. I tried talking. You weighed your words. You just responded. You didn't talk much. I gave up. Never to think much of it again. Ever.
I was proven wrong.
I met you in the lift or at those corporate events and we exchanged pleasantries. But that was all. I didn't know anything about you except your first name and you could say the same for me. Until one day, when we collaborated on a project and began talking- in a truer sense of the word. In a real sense, that’s when we became friends. That’s when the line between acquaintances and friends got blurred. This marked the complete erosion of the familiar-yet-unfamiliar vibes that reverberated between us, and paved the path for what would turn out to be one of the most visceral experiences of my life. I still remember the first time I asked you to accompany me to the famous event that was the talk of the town, and as I saw those grey ticks turning blue and then you suddenly began typing, I felt the insides of my stomach burning. I wanted you to come but then I didn't want you to, because looking at you and talking to you made my heart forget its usual rhythm and I wasn’t ready for it. I still am not. Never will be. But the butterflies in the stomach? Check. The weakening of the knees? Check. An inexplicable euphoria I never knew existed? Yes, check.
I had deemed myself utterly unlucky in love, I still do. I believe Cupid has paid everyone a visit but me. But it seems like half of my wish has already materialized. Because my search for the perfect man has ended. But alas, this is both the beginning and the dead end. This feeling leads to a buoyant joy that might disappear too soon. It's a bittersweet feeling, much like a setting sun. There is no way to tell what you think about me, what you feel about me. Do you ever think of me in the way I think of you? If there is no someone special in your life, have you ever pondered over the possibility of us two? Hopefully yes, but possibly no. I have been suppressing a barrage of feelings for too long, locking them up in a part of my heart, having purposely thrown the keys away. Every time you cross my mind, I instruct it to think about something else, anything else; I absolutely cannot afford to lease out my heart to you permanently. But no matter what I say or no matter how much self justification I inexplicably feel responsible for, I cannot run away from myself. From my feelings and desire -all those unrequited inklings. I cannot detach myself from the sudden gush of emotions that I feel for you, which I frequently find myself overpowered with. You find a place in my mind even when I do not intend, which is, almost always.
I do not get tired of talking about you, and trust me, I talk a lot about you. To friends. To strangers. To anyone who would lend me an ear. You and everything associated with you sparks joy in my mind and tenderness in my heart and at times I am truly truly afraid of falling in love with you, because it is set in stone that you will not reciprocate any of it and falling in love with you will be the end of me. But that worry, that sense of foreboding is deserved for later on. Not in this moment. Not right now. Right now it's just you in some other city perhaps lying down on your bed reading or watching something. And in this moment there's me in a different city struggling with what to make of my feelings for you. You aren't my partner, you will never be. You aren't my close friend either, I don't know whether you will ever be. What are you? Who are you? Perhaps an alluring enigma that electrified and rejuvenated my withering heart once again.
You tantamount to the feeling of tranquility that the first showers of monsoon bring with itself; the first drop of water that drowns my throat on a sultry afternoon; the first bite of my favourite food-the taste of which lingers for a long, long time; the sense of elation that accompanies holding a new book in hand; the hope and light that is equated with a rising sun; the oasis a traveler finds in a godforsaken desert; the shimmer of moonlight that guides a pedestrian home; the blooming of a flower after prolonged winter, you are all these things and yet, much, much more than this. I am not certain which way will this progress, if, at all, it will. But at least I now know that skipping a heartbeat is not merely figurative, it's very much real, possible, and for that, I will forever be grateful to you.
Isha Sharma is a Delhi-based professional writer, presently working with an education consultancy. An English literature graduate, she is passionate about reading, writing, feminism, social issues, and binge-watching. When not busy writing, she can be found snuggled up in a blanket rewatching The Office or trying her hands on the piano. She is also up for a Harry Potter quiz at any hour of the day, and aspires to have a small library at home some day.