Childhood sweetheartI don’t know from where to start this story. This happened around six years back. I was a very shy eighth-grader back then. I was naïve and a nerd who knew little about the world.
I don’t know from where to start this story. This happened around six years back. I was a very shy eighth-grader back then. I was naïve and a nerd who knew little about the world. I was a very obedient child. Life was normal, I used to go to school at 10 am and return at 4pm, do homework and watch TV serials. And that was pretty much about it. Things were going on smoothly and I was going with the flow.
Then one day I met him. He was a student at my school so there were many times when we crossed paths but never had I really thought that someday I will care so deeply for him until one day he came to me—or to my rescue.
On a chilly winter night, there was a puja in the village. I was sitting alone, isolated from the crowd, quiet, privy to the puja proceedings. A boy came near me and started questioning why I was standing alone. I was embarrassed at first—I could hardly utter a word in response and was trying to ignore him in every possible way. But nothing worked. He kept teasing me, continuing his mean behaviour. Then abruptly, another boy came out of nowhere and started scolding the one who was teasing me. I don’t know what conversation took place between them but the other boy quickly turned away and left.
I remember at that moment, I was feeling little fearful, excited and even thankful. We’d never talked with each other before and it was the very first time when we heard each other’s voice. He spoke very few words and softly. “Why are you here alone?”
“I am not alone.”
“Okay, it’s already so late, maybe you should consider going home?”
“Yeah sure, I’m going now,” I replied and left that place.
The next day at school was different for me. All the things that happened the night before were spinning into my head. I was thinking what I will do if I see him? How should I react? I was already a bit nervous.
I was seated in my classroom and I saw him idling outside. My heart beat very fast and loud—I felt as if I could almost hear the sound of my own heartbeat.
I was impressed with him from the very first day but I wasn’t ready to accept it. There was someone who could make my knees weak but I tried to ignore it as much as I could. I don’t know whether he noticed the change in me and that I was secretly looking for him. Watching him covertly became my daily routine, if he was absent for a day, I felt like something was missing. But it was my secret—for many years.
As the time went by, I was in grade nine. I couldn’t exactly remember for how long I pinned for him. But my feelings never faded. Somewhere I knew that he was aware of my feelings and I had a hint that he too liked me but neither of us acted on it. But time wasn’t kind for us, or we just couldn’t gather the courage to confront our own emotions. But to my dismay, towards the end of the high school, I could feel that he had moved farther from me. I could see that he no more cared about me, he stopped stealing glances and hover around me as much as he used to. I had to come to terms that this feeling—infatuation or love or whatever it was—was ending.
But little did I know that our story hadn’t met its full circle.
Many years after completing high school, it was the age of social media. It was a big relief in a way—it was a good outlet for a shy, introverted girl like me. I could hide behind the screen and make new friends with just a click. One random day, when I was just scrolling through my Facebook, I heard a ping and a new notification of a friend request. It was him!
All the memories of the school days flooded through my mind. I stared at the screen, conflicted whether to accept the friend request or not. It had been years since I last thought of him but I didn’t know if I was ready to let him enter my life again, even in social media. But then I thought, “What do I have to lose?” And we were virtual friends in no time.
“How are you?” he messaged in the matter of minutes after I accepted his friend request. I was the same little girl who was sitting alone outside and when he came to my rescue. I clearly didn’t expect anything from him but I hadn’t expected for me to feel so excited on the prospect of talking to him either.
We had a formal conversation, just catching up really. But after that day, he was my regular chat buddy. We talked about everything that could be mentioned under the sun. We told each other about our lives, studies, and friends. As our conversations grew, we exchanged our phone numbers too, and the chatting shifted from Facebook to texting.
Then suddenly one day, I got a call from an unknown number. I picked it up, “Hello?”
“Hello,” a male voice returned my greeting.
“I am sorry, who is this?” I wasn’t paying much attention.
“Prakash,” the voice replied.
It was him! It was him! I panicked. I was in shock. After all the mindless texting I didn’t think I would react like this. But my mind froze and all I could do was hang up.
I was happy, frightened and somehow excited during that time. He asked me some formal questions and I too replied in a formal way. He started deviating and indirectly expressed his feelings. I sensed all those things but I was not able to readily accept the fact.
But he gave me my space. He let me take my baby steps towards him. He let me get accustomed to his voice. And it was all over the school days again, I used to wait for his calls every night and his-“Good morning sunshine”—text every morning.
He still grows on me after all these years. After all the ups and downs, I hope we can find the strength to conquer every obstacle. What we have is precious and I intend to save it from the world and keep it for ourselves—he was after all my secret!