In the last 2 weeks, I've seen a neurosurgeon open up a skull and scrape off infective material off a brain, I've seen a kilo of ingested sand removed from a neglected one year old child, I've seen a 22 year old woman crumble after finding out she had got AIDS from her husband. Yet, it's none of this that has given me an aching chest.. it was seeing a small innocuous chocolate in a store that really got me reeling. It's weird isn't it. Medically, I can't explain why the chest aches when we think of sad times ; I don't know the chemical reactions involved. I'm kind of hoping that it's just a coincidental timing - that it's nothing more than a "obesity - atherosclerotic artery - impending heart attack" thingy. If only. Because I know better than anyone the pain of a memory flooding back through the senses.
Someone once said that when we look back upon our life, the things we remember the most are the things we did in love. He was right. For of all the events that have crossed my paths, it is these moments that come back with a fresh essence. The little chocolate, one which you would probably take as a last option today, if nothing else existed, for me meant, nay, means a lot. For 12 years back, it was a means for a shy girl to tell me something I was too dumb to realise from her eyes. Of course, in time, even I realised the love that existed and reciprocated.
The memories still tease when least expected - of the day I convinced her that I loved her too, of the cute cards that arrived in the mail even though we chatted daily, the surprise visits I'd arrange just to see the joy in her face, the secret codewords, the conversations that would carry on till early in the morning, the big act of avoiding each other in class lest anyone spotted us ( even though everyone knew !!! ), walking miles during a bandh to visit her in the hospital... the trust that seemed ironclad till suddenly, it wasn't ; breaking her heart unknowingly and being unable to repair the damage. Being able to think of her now married and settled in life and finally smile, knowing she's happy and finally got a guy who could give her the life I never could.
It's been over 12 years since I was given that chocolate.. I still have the wrapper tucked away safely at home. I still have the thoughful gifts and the beautiful painting she made for me. As part of an unspoken promise, I no longer have the cards and declarations of love. But damn it, why do I have to keep the memories ?
You never forget your first love and that's not fair, Mr God... you allow us to forget the first time we walked, the first movie we saw, the first chocolate we ate, the first teacher who taught us, the first exam report and the first disease we suffered.. all milestones of our lives, but not this. Damn this heart. It's learnt at an early age to settle for less, to bear a huge amount of suffering and carry on. It has learnt to make others laugh so that there is no time to cry.. if only there was no time left after making everyone laugh.
But I guess, I'm blessed. I have been touched by an angel. Thanks to her, I learnt to express myself rather than stay hidden in the corner. I learnt to live instead of being alive. I learnt to be strong seeing her courage in adversities. She will probably never read this post, but if she did, I can just picture the mischievious smile on her face as she nods and says - "Oof !!! Finally, after all these years, he acknowledged all the trouble I took caring for a nincompoop like him." I do.
Senti fool that this heart is, it is content with what love it has recieved over those years even while it awaits more. The recent past is long forgotten, riddled in comic tragedy worthy of an 80s Hindi flick, even as the distant past belies hope for gaining true love once more. Glutton for love or punishment, time will tell.
But that brings me to what I want to ask you today - "what 2 lasting memories from your teen years will you be carrying with you forever ?"