Christmas Eve

His lips finally touched mine and we kissed. It was like a small explosion between us. The whole world went still. The rhythm of the waves continued at a distance but it didn’t matter. We were in our own universe. It was not planned, there was no reason. Suddenly it just felt like something that was always meant to happen. On the beach, holding hands and resting in his arms. We were not thinking. It seemed like this was where the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
    Three hours ago the campus was abuzz with plans for Christmas eve. “He” had gone out for a good friend’s birthday treat. I had chatted with him on Whatsapp after a really long time and I hoped that things would get better. He had promised to meet me when he got back but it was getting really late and he was probably drunk. I was thinking of going off to bed but a part of me still hoped to hear from him. Meanwhile my good friend George called and asked me if I was up for a walk. That sounded like a good way of killing time while I waited. So I agreed. Still hopeful of meeting “him” I dabbed some kajal on my eyes hurriedly before going downstairs and joining the few people on campus who had not gone anywhere to celebrate Christmas eve. I could not take my eyes off the gate. I kept hoping to see him enter.
    George knew. He always knew. “Are you going to meet him tonight?” I was caught off guard but I pretended to be unaffected. “Yeah, we were planning to meet and talk.”
“Not going to happen.” He said and smirked. “That guy is having the time of his life getting drunk while you are wasting your time in depression. He’s going to be back really late. Harshita, pay attention to your life, stop going after people who have moved on. It will be very bad for you. Friendships break, it happens. You have to accept it.”
Irritated with his pessimism I said, “We’ll see. Let me meet him.” Refusing to speak further on the topic.
“Good in a way. Atleast you’ll stop whining” he commented and smirked again.
I wanted him to go away and leave me alone here. Somewhere deep down I knew if “he” saw me with George, it wouldn’t work out well for the friendship I was trying to save. It was past twelve now. Our hostel entry deadline had been extended. I was getting impatient. People started trickling in from the gate in groups. I was looking forward to seeing “him” and at the same time worried that George wasn’t leaving. George and I were standing with a group of friends. They were mostly teasing me with George and it was irritating me. I was looking for a way to excuse myself when “he” came in through a rickshaw. He paid the driver some extra money for Christmas and climbed out. He was dressed in a black jacket and had a wild look in his eyes that made him more attractive than usual. He saw me and then he saw George next to me and the look in his eyes changed. He laughed. I can’t forget the mad look in his eyes. Others just thought that he was really drunk but I could see his anger and I felt helpless. I didn’t get a chance to speak to him. He kept saying that he wanted to take a ride on his bike but people stopped him and forced him to go back to his hostel room. I just wished that people would all go away and leave me alone with him for some time. I badly wanted to speak to him. I wanted that look of hurt and anger to go away. But he was gone.
    Dejected, I said that I would go back to my room. George saw that I was upset. He didn’t taunt this time. “You don’t look ok. Don’t worry, you can talk to him tomorrow! What’s the hurry? Come out with me, I want to go for a smoke. I doubt you will be able to sleep tonight any way.” He didn’t get it. That look in “his” eyes. I didn’t feel hopeful about a meeting the next day. It seemed too final.
    We walked out of the gate to get a cigarette. I couldn’t help leaving a last message for “him”, saying I was waiting for him to be back and wished I got a chance to speak. He replied.
“I don’t care about anyone. I just want to go a for a ride on my bike. Anyone who wants to come along can come.”
“I want to come.”
“I’m coming down then. See you in 5 minutes.”
“He’s coming down” I told George. “Let’s walk back”
“Wait!!! Let me at least finish my cigarette. How rude. He’s not coming down. They won’t let him. He’s too drunk.”
“But he said he’s going for a bike ride”
“That’s too dangerous. He’ll meet with an accident”
“Then he shouldn’t go alone. Someone should be there with him”
“So you will go? Who do you think you are?”
I got irritated. “Let’s go near the gate. I want to try and meet him.”
Just when I was nearing the gate, “he” came out on his bike. He didn’t see us. My heart sank. He was going away. I felt a rush of anger towards George for delaying me. But to my surprise, George shouted out “his” name and “he” stopped a little distance away from the gate. I ran towards him and held his arms tight. He still looked wild and lost. He wouldn’t look at me.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“Don’t know. Haven’t decided.” He replied.
“Are you ok?” I tried again.
“Yes I’m perfectly fine. I just want to go on a bike ride.”
“But you are drunk”
“No I’m not so drunk. I can manage.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“No.” he replied again.
“ I’m hungry. I didn’t have dinner. I was waiting for you.” I lied.
He finally looked at me and his eyes were pained and confused. I held his arm tighter. “Let’s go!”
He gave in and let me come with him. He didn’t realize it but his driving was wild just like him. I held on tightly to him as the cold winter air rushed on my face and made me shiver. He just drove on. After a while he asked me where I wanted to go. “To the beach” I said. That was the only place that I could think of. And we both liked going there so it made sense.
He was still quiet as we got down near the beach and started walking. “What happened? Are you angry with me?” He just shook his head to indicate no. “But you don’t seem ok.” He shook his head again. “You would rather not talk about it?” “Yes” he said.
So I kept quiet. Or I rambled about something else. I don’t remember. But we were on the beach. Holding hands.Walking really close to each other. The cold air seemed to have cooled down his anger.
“I missed you.” I said.
“I missed you too.” He replied.
Hearing him say that made my eyes well up with tears. I tried to keep the tears down. “Then why did you stop talking to me.”
“I just thought that it was best for me to step away and not come between you and George.” He said.
“There is nothing between me and George!” I replied angrily.
“It seemed like that to me”
“He’s just a good friend” I said vehemently. “There are some things about me that only he understands because he has gone through the same things. I just get helpless sometimes I really need someone to talk to. That does not mean…”
I couldn’t hold back after that. It was like a flood of tears had suddenly been released. I cried bitterly. Feeling helpless that my actions had led someone so important to just step away. He got really worried..
“ I didn’t realize I hurt you so much.” He said and hugged me tightly. We sat down right there. He let me cry softly in his arms and held me tight. We sat like that for an eternity. Hands tightly clasped together sitting really close to each other our cheeks touching. He was trying to comfort me. I don’t know how it happened then. He didn’t kiss my lips immediately. His lips touched my cheeks and I pressed my cheeks against his lips. And then he started kissing my face. My cheeks, my chin, really close to my lips and then finally my lips. And then we kissed like mad lovers. He kissed my neck, my face, my breasts, my ears. It was a pure moment. Not lust, just pure affection and care and love. Something I had never experienced before that and I never experienced since. I would’ve never imagined doing all of it, so late at night on a beach. But those worries seemed insignificant compared to the magnitude of the moment. All that mattered right then was that he should go on and we should stay like that forever because…that was how we were meant to be.
But reality intervened and I saw a bunch of guys laughing at us. I was jerked back to reality and stopped “him”. He looked like I had awakened him from a dream. Still dazed we walked back holding hands. I wondered as we walked what this meant and if this night would ever happen again.
They say souls plan meetings before we start living our lives in this world to pass on a message or a lesson that will help our purpose in life. They say karmic soulmates are not meant to be together but they have some past connection that draws them together and then throws them apart with the same intensity. When the student is ready the teacher will appear. And then one day he will leave.
I sometimes did not know what to talk with him. I could connect with him only through silence but it seemed like in this world there was nothing to say to him. We just knew each other too well on a soul level. The intense connection on one level and the lack of it on another level frustrated me. Since then in emotional moments I have asked myself several times what this meant.
I never got my answer. All I know is that it was one of those nights when it was not me but the universe that had planned and made sure that I met this person and it has been so far the most beautiful night of my life.

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Escape 2

As I climbed the stairs, I became acutely aware of the fact that this was a date, not a casual networking meet where the guy flirts and I try to keep it business. I had agreed for this one to be a date and that made me feel conscious. Did I look ok, was my hairdo looking awkward. I was split into one cold and practical person who thought this was just a casual meeting with a musician who she really wanted to connect with and another person who was looking forward to a date and wanted to leave this person with good memories about her.

As he walked towards me to greet me I froze because I had to recondition myself to be warm and friendly and not cold and distant. I was expecting a quick friendly hug but he wrapped his arms around me and held me close for a second and I was pleasantly surprised by the hug and by myself. Usually hugs make me want to push away the person and build a wall that he must not cross. But this time I didn’t feel repelled at all. It didn’t feel like I must just tolerate and get past the hug for the sake of politeness.

And so that night I genuinely smiled and felt amazement at this warm and positive person who seemed to be wanting a casual emotionless relationship for fear of emotional investment. Yet his actions showed warmth, respect and a desire to have something more meaningful with someone than just physical intimacy. There was no false flattery, no manipulation or deceit nor direct comments on physical desires that I had seen so far. He seemed to have little experience with the ways of someone who wants to have a casual fling with a girl.

And so I genuinely smiled and felt positive and didn’t hold myself back. We spoke about music, he shared his story of how he learnt to play the keyboard in his childhood and when he started to feel good about it, how he learnt to play with two hands in few days’ time because he got a second chance to play in a college band after getting rejected once, his relation with his parents, things that are important to him, how he respected my decision to leave my job and take up music full time, how he thought I could improve my singing. We spoke a lot about music and we wouldn’t stop talking. There were hardly any pauses. What I didn’t realise then was I was getting quietly impressed by his determined nature, his proficiency in music, his sense of affection towards his friends and sense of responsibility towards his parents. At that point of time all I noticed was some feelings of amusement at how he kept affirming that we had spent so long talking without realising the time so it meant that we had a good date and how he was surprised by my choice of location for the date/meeting. It seemed to have overwhelmed him and his fear somehow amused me because I considered myself immune to being affected by feelings.

As we took a walk in the neighbourhood of the restaurant he asked me if he could hold my hand and I laughed. Who asks. My ex would sort of just make our hands subtly bump into each other and suddenly hold it tight. And I would get pleasantly surprised. That warm memory of holding hands was somehow very special to me and since we broke up I would pull away when someone would try to hold my hand. But my ex was no longer special and this guy had asked so politely. You don’t discourage when someone treats a girl with so much respect. I was used to people who spoke of respecting the girls in their lives yet their actions showed a sense of entitlement and dominance. The irony made me laugh though I shyly said yes.

“Why did you laugh when I asked?” He enquired as we walked side by side holding hands.
“Because you asked. I’m not used to it.” I replied simply. It was hard to go into complex explanation. It didn’t seem apt for the sweet moment we were having.

“Don’t worry. I don’t have that kind of feelings for you. I just find you physically attractive.” Despite myself, despite things being already clear between us, my heart sank. So he didn’t find me attractive as a person. As a person I could be anyone it didn’t matter to him as long as there was a possibility of physical intimacy.

“You smell good. I guess I am being upfront but this is how I am. I find you physically attractive. There was a moment there when I wanted to kiss you.”
I smiled.
“Can I? Can I kiss you?” he asked.
“No.” I said. The thought of kissing felt too much suddenly.
He didn’t protest. No expression of disappointment. No subtle attempts to guilt me into saying yes. Usually I would’ve given in to guilt and distanced myself later. That’s me. I play my part obediently in a show run by the opposite person without asking questions. And one day it gets too much and I close the book without warning. This is what I was used to. It allowed me to remain a cold unattached observer able to walk out the moment I chose to do so. But this guy was treating me with respect while simultaneously telling me that I as a person meant nothing. Why did I not protest? Why did I not speak my mind? Because I was confused about what was hurting and what was endearing. And I was afraid I would say something that would drive him away. After getting abandoned once I had carefully made sure that I would never be the one getting abandoned, I would be the bird that flies away when she chose to, not the other way round. Never the other way round.

I booked a cab and literally wanted to run away from there before I said anything to ruin the beautiful night. As I was taking leave he hugged me and yet again it felt so warm and safe. He held on a second longer and kissed my forehead. I looked at him surprised and he looked away with a slight smile that he couldn’t hide. And yet again that exposed his pure affectionate side that I found so endearing.

As the cab drove away I closed my eyes and held on to that hug and kiss for as long as I could. Because I knew from experience that it would not last forever. Did he know he had shown affection and respect to a person who had only experienced lust, deceit, force and violation? There was only one other person who had done this before and he too had changed when the break up left him with feeling only hatred and occasional longing for physical intimacy alone. Did he realise that he had stirred emotions in a heart that since then only smirked and felt disgust when men expressed their emotions for her. It was hard for him to understand. But it was getting difficult for her to dismiss him and forget. That made him dangerous. Beautiful though that night was she knew that he had opened some doors she had locked away forever and she didn’t have the freedom to just fly away when the time comes. So she had to escape now before it was too late.