It was the last few days of college. I was beginning to get a different kind of feeling in my heart and soul. It was an assortment of gloominess, desperation and few other feelings that you usually associate with separation and parting.
I had made some good friends, got actively involved in student politics, bunked classes for movies, and done all that needs to be done to make college life the most memorable.
And yes, I had also met my first love…..
February 2003 was tough. It was the last time I could walk through the corridors of SN College the way I was doing now. After that, there were holidays, exams and then by the time college reopens I would be a Bachelor of Commerce, and doing Masters somewhere.
During the lunch break, I stepped out of the classroom. Walking past the Post Graduation department and the Commerce staff room, I inched closer to the Malayalam department. No, there was nothing special here, but this was the only way that I could move to reach the Economics department where my sweetheart would be waiting for me in her classroom.
The girls in Malayalam department knew me well. Right next to the Economics department was the Mathematics Department, and this was where I had first tried hard to woo a girl, and failed miserably. I was after this unsuccessful attempt that I get to meet and get hooked to my sweetheart. (That’s a small and sweet story; most of you would have already read it here).
So, every time I pass by their corridor, they would ask – “Innu Maths aano Economics aano subject?” (What’s the subject today – Maths or economics?). The BA Malayalam girls would sometimes make fun of my failed attempt at wooing the B.Sc Maths girl.
I usually get goaded hearing this. My most common reply was – “Onnu jeevichu poatte pengalae, enthayalum njan Malayalam padikkan udeshichitialla”(Please let me live, sisters. Anyhow I don’t intend to learn Malayalam). My Malayalam, at that time, was a bit crass, so I could never even think of hooking up with a BA Malayalam literature girl.
Crossing this hurdle, I climbed the stairs towards the Economics department.
There she would be waiting, just starting off her lunch. It was that time of my college life that I would not bring lunch from home, and what she brings was ours. Once lunch done, there would be a walk across the patio of the college.
It used to be the shortest and sweetest one hour breaks of my life. It used to get over in a jiffy. Then, after that, we could meet only after the last hour. The walk back to the bus stop, just 200 meters, would take us almost an hour. (Mom always used to wonder how I reached home late after college)
This day, I took the regular walk to her class in the afternoon. There she was as usual, ready with her lunch. We finished lunch, after that, it was time for the regular walking sessions. Her face was unusually ashen that day. Maybe, that my term at the college was ending, and she had still one more year to go – I thought.
She did not speak much that day. I noticed that there was a flurry of emotions that was going through her pallid face and expressive eyes. Add to that, a tinge of moisture to her eyes.
I asked – “What?”
She said – “NothingL”
It was a response that was almost a whisper. I could barely hear the words. It was like, she would cry any moment.
I looked at her. It was then that I noticed that she had taken her bag with her.
I asked her – “Are you not going back to class? Why did you take your bag? In case we need to bunk class afternoon, my bag is still back there. Need to get it”
She just looked at me, did not say anything for a moment.
Then, she took her bag from her shoulders to her hands, opened it slowly. Her hands were looking for something inside. Slowly, she picked something from it. It was nicely wrapped in the gift paper, a sweet pink colour paper with lots of roses and hearts.
Leisurely, she placed that into my hands. I took it.
Now, as GB Shaw said – “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity”. I was not always the archetypal amorous boy, so my first intuition was to ask – “Is this something to eat?”
Boy, some questions that you ask have the potential to ruin your love life even before it begins. And I did not want to take that risk. So I slowly held this question back.
“Darling, this is my gift for you. I wanted to give you a special gift, something I made with my own hands. So this is it”
She is a wonderful artist. And the gifts were a set of three paintings that she had created – just for me. It was wonderfully designed depiction with the perfect mix of her skill as an artist and her love. I did not unwrap it then, but when I reached home and opened it, what I saw was the most beautiful paintings I had seen in my life.
“Do you know why I am giving you this?” – She asked.
I did not reply. I had realised why she was so silent that day. Why her face and eyes were so expressive. She wanted to give me a part of her which was so valuable – her talent.
Seeing that there was no reply from me, she continued.
“This is for you to remember me always. You look at these pictures, you will see. You touch this, you can feel me. You hold them in your hands; you can feel my love……”
And there was a lot more that she said. It was in Malayalam, and those words are poetically too beautiful to be in interpreted in English. As Plato said – “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet”
I hung these paintings in my study room – all three of them prominently displayed in the most beautiful spots on the wall. That day, I looked at these for almost three hours before I slept. She was right. There was love written all over it. And I felt lucky that I had three beautiful treasures hanging magnificently on my wall.
“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination”
Time and years have passed, almost ten years. These paintings still adore the same wall, and nothing about them has changed. The grace and elegance of the paintings still exuberate by just looking at it. And every time I glance at it, the lovable and sweet memories keep flooding back to my mind. Most love stories don’t end up with a “happily ever after” climax. And this chapter in my life was one of those tales. We have moved on different paths later on in our lives.
They speak her words – “When you start to miss me just remember, I didn’t leave, you let me go and you lost something great forever”.
Some of my friends reading this would want to tell my wife this story and have some fun watching her get under my skin. But don’t expect that to happen. She already knows this story, at least a major part of it.