I am 17 years old today, writing to you after witnessing yet another one of those moments where people said you were alive. Glittering brighter than the stars scattered in the night airglow, merrily circulating between two bodies. With hands embraced and lips intact, I was told you were present in the eyes more vehemently. Love, I was taught to picture you in my fantasies.
In seventh grade, I read my first romance novel. When the protagonists were busy procuring a home inside the hearts of each other, I was envisioning what love would look like for me. In eighth grade, I first visualised you, love. My fingers filling the gaps in someone else’s fingers, my eyes glistening like a mirror, showing a map of my lover.
But then, I was told that love is only for the privileged. And I started guffawing.
I wanted to believe you when I was hiding behind the library books, my eyes failing to find someone who would hold me. In the corner of the cafe at 7:27 pm in the evening, sipping my coffee and constantly passing luscious grins and passionate glares or perhaps bumping into someone while rushing to reach back home. That is how I presumed you to be, love.
When my heart started throbbing and my stomach turned into a garden of bright flowers, I expected the butterflies to sit and fly about, I had decided that I was in love; that this is what love feels like.
Well, isn’t that how you are described to us, love? From the obscure Netflix series and the profoundly draping movie screens?
Then why was love different for them?
Them being the two people, compelled by the thread of sharing a house, nurturing the kids, and loving each other. I always heard them say the “three magical words” and I paused for the charm to rupture, but nothing happened.
I despised you, love, because I was told that they, my parents, were always staying together since they were in love with each other. But they never really revealed it the way I had anticipated, the way I was taught you were supposed to be seen, love. Were they really in love?
One day, while humming to a song that I now associate with just sadness, and nibbling on the tip of that pen, I could feel myself drowning in the ocean of dread and agony as the voices entering within my ears from beside my wall were increasing. As if each high pitched word was a thorn clasping itself within my trembling body. That was the first time I ever contemplated whether you are real or not, love. Whether the love that I had seen and perhaps wanted, was even love?
One thing that I was shown, thanks to the countless online documentaries was, lovers don’t really suffer heartbreaks. Even in the midst of those arguments, the conclusion was always with the hands of the lover encircled around the waist of the other.
In short, the separation was solely the absence of love.
You don’t really have to hold someone’s heart in order to break it. That is what I have learnt from you, love.
At ten in the morning, I woke up from my deep slumber when my mother invited me to sit between both of my parents. With a cup of coffee in my hand, I heard her say, “This is not working out. We may plan to go on different paths.”
You know love, memories of events, timelines, and conversations fade; but memories of feelings felt don’t ever really go away. And before the wetness of my tears washed away the hopes I had held within, my heart sank deep inside, in a pool of oppression and terror. As each drop of that pool caressed the surface of my heart, the pail of salty liquids on my tear-stained cheeks multiplied. I cried because I was scared of separation.
I cried because I was scared of the absence of love.
And on that day I discerned that love actually is for the privileged. Except that I am privileged too, but not enough to feel the love. For I thought of you like a shower that would wash over me and paint the cracks on my body, the same way the first rainfall does to the surface of the earth. As each artist paints a picturesque scenery of paradise with variants of colours, each stroke multiplying the happiness and the dreams.
Maybe that is what made me fall out of love with you, love.
But on the bright side, I could relate to break-up songs, which broadened my musical taste a fair bit.
It’s been years since my parents last had such a conversation with me. They are still enduring the string of love, even though it bears a few heavy knots. I have ceased watching the films that defined you for me, love.
Here is what I have learnt.
When we are moving from one place to another, the slow departure of various things doesn’t really matter. At first, it’s the obnoxious dressing table that is removed, then the air conditioner, then the bed. And gradually the room becomes blank. As soon as the room becomes empty, absent of all the materialistic things, we are awash with our memories, we remember each time we giggled in the room, each tear, each moment spent there.
It’s the separation that stands for love, right?
Paavni Kaur Mago is a class 11 student at Sri Venkateshwar International School, Delhi.