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Love's Labour Lost
Akash Shukla | 01 Jul 2009

I still remember the day I first saw her. She was like a whiff of cool air. I was determined to see more of her. It never struck me that I should consider exercising caution.

I STILL remember the day when I first saw her. She was a whiff of cool air – she crossed me and eventually passed me by. That definitely was no meeting but I really wanted to see more of her. I never realised the fact that one should exercise caution with wishes because they malevolently turn true when you least expect them to. I hit bonanza when one day she greeted me with a smile and a hello.

Late bloomer that I was, I took no time in ending the conversation with a smile and without a word. Destiny didn't forget to return the favour and her vision didn't cross me for weeks. The only place where I met her was my own head. But, I think my head was worse off than an empty tin can, I wonder why it didn't even return an echo. Speaking of echo, I did get to hear one, a familiar one. It was her, the girl I was thinking of, the same I never made conversations with.

This time I was determined not to let her go. I talked, I asked, I enquired and when she told me something I didn't forget to show amazement as well. And, then our conversation neared the difficult word 'so' from where it became impossible for both of us to carry forward. We bid each other goodbye. I don't know about her big Hema Malini eyes but I had the feeling we would meet again soon. Suddenly, I recalled that I didn'tt have her number, even worse, no names too. It was time for damage-control and the worst part was I didn't know how to do it. I tried the most pathetic way out. I tried stopping her on the way. I asked if I could drop her somewhere. Maybe if she fell for this I would finally improve upon my follies. But, as we all know God has this weird way of turning things odd when you least expect it to. “No thanks,” she said blatantly somewhat astounded by my audacity.

One day I finally got to know her better when I shamelessly confronted her in front of a teacher. I had my reasons to do that and they were not technically 'romantic'. She was almost in tears when I asked her “why?”. She smilingly asked me how I was and I somewhat got irritated with this worthless courtesy but didn't let her see it. Never mind that, I said. She told me she had an exam and had to leave but this time, unlike me, she didn't forget to take my number. After she left, it was me who was left perplexed that should I be overjoyed with her promise to call or should I think of the teary-eyed circumstance in which I actually got to know her. This course of dilemma started to fade in me and we started talking and hanging out. I got to know of her unending sob stories. I tried to replace them with mine and asked her at the same time to have courage. If things weren't entirely happy, they weren't exactly sad too. By and by my wit and random efforts started to pay off. It was a routine effort with her and I found it exhausting too. Until the day, her father lost his job.

A situation as I recollect went out of hand, really bad. Every day, when she used to cry her eyes out to me, I consoled her with an enfeebled heart to pull her back together. My effortless ease was replaced with a strain in the heart that was very much reflected in anything and everything I said to her. Apathy went to the extent that there was no food, and no money left in the home. The girl I loved started to lose her sensibilities before me. What could I do except be a mere witness to everything. I might have been her everything, but I certainly wasn't her bread-winner. For the first time in my life, I hated myself for being a student. Why couldn't I be some business tycoon by birth who could appoint her father, pay her fees and ask her “Are you happy, now?”

I never wanted that last wish to come my way. I still remember this girl as a shopaholic; a maiden who never knew any distress except which dress to choose among the already purchased 10 for the same week. I was shocked when she asked me 2000 bucks to go to her hometown. I barely being a student somehow managed it through my meager resources. It was only her happiness that mattered to me after all. I did see her leaving in the train with the hope that she will come back to continue her education. Even in those last moments she amused me with her words, “You know this is the second time I am sitting in a train?” In an uncanny fashion, we were each other's love-puppets. We laboriously worked our way, but strangely it all went against us.