Tuesday, January 09, 2007
An unrealised romance is always more charming and tantalising, for the possibilities, in this case, are infinite.
Her name was Nadia and I never knew till then that it was also the name of the smile that stealthily crept on my lips every time I saw her. Her very presence softened me, tempered my exterior, while every inch of me throbbed with the pleasure in that togetherness. She was perfect in every way (and to a student that I was then, she impressed me with her scores in school, too). Nadia, dear Nadia.
She was all of 11 or 12 years old then; I, 15. We were vacationing in Yercaud in the Sterling Resorts (which seems to have vanished now) when she and her family arrived. She was the oldest of the children in her family. There was Nadia, Mona and their younger sister whose name misses me in the flooding memory of her elder sister. They also had a younger brother who was mostly found clinging to his mother. Mona loved to talk and was the most boisterous. She cracked all kinds of jokes and we had a ball of a time playing games. But Nadia had to simply walk in and nothing else mattered to me. Mona would get irritated with my distraction but I couldn't help it.
Nadia dressed in beautiful clothes, like the black lycra pants and magenta pullover, which she wore on the trek that was organised by the resort. I am glad that we walked through the toughest paths, for it presented several opportunities when Nadia would look up to me for help. Her hands were soft in mine, like white cotton-wool, and she let them stay in mine well after the help sought.
We became good friends and spent several games of Uno, carrom and table-tennis into bonding stronger. We read Archies and other books that the resort had but preferred spending a lot more time simply walking around, with Mona or my sister as avoidable company.
Nadia. Jet-black hair framed her ivory face in straight lines. She would often wear her hair in a pony-tail or occasionally (and once at my request) leave it unrestrained. Her eyes were deep and would peer deep into you. I liked her for her silence and how her little laugh was clear as it stood out even in the party din. Her lips would smile just at the right time and just to the right extent. She wasn't given to excesses, although she left me with an excess of yearning for her.
I would be the first to rise (which had less to do with her than I now imagine) and rush into the resort common area so that I could get the most of her. While in the van transporting us on site-seeing tours, I inched my way next to her. I hated it when another friend's father was speaking to her and hence, didn't like that friend too. Nadia made me what I never was with anyone else.
It's more than 12 years since this happened. Today doesn't feed me a different emotion than what it did then on the hills of Yercaud when someone called out: "Nadia". I remember rushing to wave out to her as her family left for another segment of their vacation. She told me that she was from Hyderabad and was going to Madras to visit her cousins (I reeled out all the Muslim friends I knew in Madras but none of them turned out to be her cousin). I vaguely recall a surname that ended in a "waala".
I'd like to imagine that she liked me. Still does.
I'd like to imagine that she still thinks of the days in Yercaud.
I'd like to imagine that she is still single on a solitary hope.
I'd like to imagine that she smiles when someone across the road calls out my name.
I'd like to imagine that when we meet, she would swallow her tears and hug me.
I'd like to imagine her looking out of the van when she visits Yercaud again.
I'd like to imagine that someone points this post to her and asks: "This is you?"
I'd like to imagine her shake her head but be unable to take her eyes off this post.
I'd like to imagine that she would drop a comment here....
As I said, that which holds the potential of being love is sweeter than that which is.