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A Strange Love Story

© Surya Murali

True Love.  There are unaccounted number of stories that tout its existence even though it is a much maligned emotion.  From eras gone by to this day, love has been an emotion that has been both tragically successful in claiming its victims and yet has been immensely profitable to the hundreds of people who have realized the sway the emotion has over human minds.

Poets of yore and songwriters of today, moviemakers, novelists and writers… everyone has cashed in on the emotion. Reams of paper & rivers of ink have been used up in tribute to this emotion. Of all human emotions, love has never had an equal. Even the other powerful emotions of hate / hatred that can change people’s lives and create enough reasons to fill history books stem from love or the absence of it.

They say true love only happens to you once in your lifetime. Some even say that it happens when least expected or when totally unexpected. Well, they also say that life happens to you when you are busy making other plans. So, we do equate life to love in more ways than one.

Now… I have questions… I always do. Why only once? Why can love not happen more than once… after all we are dealing with the finicky, fickle human heart here. Our brain and our heart aren’t the best of friends at all times… one could fall in love and give oneself up unconditionally to someone at one point of time. Things go bad, there could be a lot of reasons… bad things are always waiting to happen. So, things aren’t that great and the two people drift apart… still bound by the threads of love. Distances creep in, sometimes physical and often in the heart. The heart keeps hoping that it would turn around and everything would be all perfect again. But, the brain goes in to defend & repair mode… at times shutting down social interaction, at times creating invisible walls around you to prevent you from putting yourself through the drier only to be wrung out emotionless again. At times like these, what if someone outsmarts all the ploys of your brain, gets through its defences and once again strikes at your heart. Would that second time be true love?

There was this girl… she had never known loneliness… not even when she was totally alone. But, she wasn’t alone. She had a lot of friends… friends who liked her and cared for her and who enjoyed her company. She also had a lot of admirers, and there were well-meaning guys who wanted to get past the tall concrete walls with concertina fences she had built around her and to touch her heart… because they probably believed in love. She didn’t. 

She loved to be in her own little world filled with so much wonder that exploring it took up all her time… she didn’t have time for love. In the middle of a crowd, she could flip on an emotional switch and leave the rest of the world behind and cocoon herself in her fantasy realm. It was not much unlike a drug induced high and just as addictive.  At times like these, to the outside world, she appeared melancholic… but in her head she was having a ball.

It so happened that of all the guys who wanted to be included in her world, there was one guy who persevered harder than the rest. He understood her unlike anyone ever before. He saw the gleam in her eyes where everyone else saw a sadness, an aloofness. He alone saw that she was having a hell lot of fun in that head of hers. They soon became friends… though they were like duellists in a fencing match… eyeing and anticipating the other’s move. His concerted efforts finally broke the concertina fence… and slowly but surely they were in love. She wouldn’t have termed it love… but to her he was part of that colourful world which she loved to retreat to. Charming, charismatic, along with being headstrong and argumentative… he was everything she was.

It is nearing the interval of the story. And like all love stories this too has to have a twist, a period of tragedy… and in their life it came with her going away to a foreign land. In the beginning their relationship was like an elastic band… the tendency on both sides was to pull each other back… but a band stretched for long eventually has to break.  Every time it snapped they would re-tie the ends and continue. But, by then the band had lost its integrity… it was just a series of worn-out knots. The alone time she enjoyed started to close in on her… where there was a world of fantasy, there was darkness and zero-visibility.

She decided to let go. No more tying knots in the band. In the battle between her heart and brain, the latter emerged the victor and soon set about changing the rules of the game. New walls came up… stronger than before… the barbwires sharper than earlier… defences that were meant to inflict pain on an intruder.

No sooner had all the construction been completed, there came in to her life a ray of hope… that kept jabbing at the darkness surrounding her. This guy hadn’t even met her. They had been acquainted before online and even then she had a certain respect for the guy. They chatted online… sparring and duelling with words… and she found herself being increasing drawn in by his character. She had no face to put to his words… but his words and soon his voice were like a talisman against her loneliness (which she now really felt.)

By the time, they decided to meet up, she didn’t need a face… she already knew she loved him. He was to her the spring after a cold, long, dark, drawn out winter. Yet she was cautious… too cautious, maybe… she did not want to find ‘true love’ again and see it slip through her fingers. She did not want her best assets to become liabilities… she didn’t want a repeat of how her USP of finding happiness in being alone was turned against her when she fell in love.

And then… they met. There were no extra sparkle to the twinkle of stars… no soft strumming music heard only by their ears nor did the fragrance of fresh love envelop them. They met like old friends who had known each other for ages. His face was new to her… yet, the fact never occurred to her. It wasn’t a stranger she was meeting, but the man she loved. The man she was convinced she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

Her life took on a new and beautiful meaning… she loved every moment she spent with him. She enjoyed their lengthy discussions and absolutely loved their arguments and at times altercations. He was arrogant and regal just as much as he was kind and sensitive… if he was a lion, she was no pussy-cat… her claws were just as sharp and her tongue quite acerbic. And so, on the foundation of pure trust was built her passionate relationship with this amazing guy.

With him none of the traditional methods worked. Their being together was meant to be but as much as he loved her, he feared hurting her and so losing her. Though she would argue endlessly over everything else, she could not argue or convince him that nothing would make her leave. She wished he would realize that she would fight him tooth and nail to stay. There was never a question of getting hurt and leaving. It wasn’t like her to give up on something she so coveted. But, he would not be convinced.

She then decided to take matters in to her own hands… if the traditional way of getting married would not work with him, she knew she had to get what she wanted through other means. And what she wanted was to be with him… forever. 

Her folks had no issues with their relationship… in fact, they looked forward to them getting married. She was amused at the irony… in most love stories, you have to fight your folks because they stand against your relationship… and here she was about to take a decision where she had to fight her folks because they wanted her to marry the man she loved and who loved her.  But their love was too strong for her to back down… she decided that her folks would come around soon enough if they knew she was happy with him… even in a live-in relationship. It was a tough decision for her… to decide to move-in with him… against what her friends, folks and society thought was right. It was also extremely difficult for her to get anyone to be on her side… from where they stood, they couldn’t see why two people so much in love couldn’t just marry and be together and had to resort to a live-in.  But, she had him by her side as she stood facing the world that had turned against her.

Once again, she turned to what once was her way to survive the real world… she sought to be alone with her thoughts. Closing out the rest of the world, she withdrew within. It was just him and her in a small little happy world. She had no one else but him, so whenever there was the tiniest of friction between them… she would be absolutely alone… with even him outside the perimeter of her world.

And soon the girl who once never knew loneliness… had just that for company. Loneliness became her life… The loneliness of true love.

© Surya Murali

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