The first time I saw her, I must have looked right through her, because I didn’t know she existed till she was assigned to work with us for a college festival. Both she and I were assigned the position of team heads. I sensed she was as nervous as I was, and I found myself drawn to her. She carried her vulnerability casually and without much thought, like a shawl she had carelessly flung about her shoulders before leaving home. She was reserved, but I liked what little I saw of her, the snatches of her personality which I caught a glimpse of once in a while. The way she’d handle upset participants, the way she’d mediate between warring volunteers. I was intrigued. Although she barely looked in my direction, I would try to catch her eye. I was curious but hesitant, I had no words for her.
I’m no stranger to obsessions. Sketching is my kryptonite and I always have a (female) muse by whom I am completely enamoured. I fall in love and I don’t fall out. I don’t think it was much of a surprise to me then, that she slowly became my muse.
I began noticing her. I drank in the details – the shape of her lips, the sweet fullness of her lower lip in particular, her slender hands and fingers, the beautiful hollow of her throat where the shadows danced, her chin, her cheeks, the way she applied kajal on only her upper lid, how inviting she looked when she crossed her legs, the hesitation in her voice, the way she zoned out often, the way she raised that one eyebrow, her double tooth, her smile (oh!), her eyes, beautiful and expressive but far-away and distant. I feverishly sketched her. Not once, not twice, but several times. I couldn’t capture her on paper, it was sweet surrender. In a way, it was symbolic of my complete giving in to her.
It grew into a full scale restraint-order category of obsession. I’d ask about her when she was absent, I’d try to ‘accidentally’ bump into her through the day by memorising her routes around the campus. During the festival meets, I fought hard to keep my eyes off her, but even then I could sense her sitting two spaces behind me, I could feel her concentration, I could sense her lapse into a daydream, I could almost physically feel her shift in her chair. I would lose myself in my hyper-awareness of her. And at times, I was so tuned into her being, I could hear only the rhythm of her breath in that room full of heated voices. In my defence, I was on psych meds at the time!
We spoke on-off via WhatsApp, her display was nearly always with this one boy. He looked slightly like her, the slant of his nose and his eyes, I assumed (read : ‘hoped frantically against all odds’) that he was just some annoying touchy-feely cousin of hers. Turned out to be her boyfriend. I had never been so jealous in my entire life. Jealous of him. I was drowning in unfamiliar emotions. My mind, upon which I usually relied to come to neat solutions, worked at a frustratingly slow pace. She did, however, go on to leave him later. However, by the time this happened and by the time the festival was over, I had conveniently shoved her into the deepest backroom recesses of my mind and slammed the door shut. As it happened, she developed in the darkness of that backroom, and the sketchy outline of her being filled out with vivid colours that ventured bravely out of the lines, and I was terrified of opening that door.
It struck me late at night, after a difficult bout of insomnia, about a year after meeting her for the first time, that I had feelings for this woman. And this was approximately the time when I had started reading up on the LGBT community. I had seriously begun to consider the possibility that I wasn’t as straight as I’d have liked to be. I don’t know what came first, coming out to myself as a queer woman, or realising I was in love with her. I think it happened simultaneously when I realised my physical attraction to her. I traced my finger backwards along the proverbial time line of our relationship, trying to feel the raised edge or slight bump which corresponded to the jolting point-of-no-return. It wasn’t there. I realised I never saw it coming. Something had gradually shifted in the way I saw her, and felt about her, it had crept up on me and made a home between my heart and my lungs and in the spaces between my vital organs, and in the throb of my blood in my veins.
I made my confession to her. I’m about as restrained about my feelings as a five-year-old on a sugar rush is around a jar of cookies. And she was kind and accepting, sweet, and caring. I love her for the patience and gentleness she hads shown with me.
I was completed deconstructed and remade by this love. It broke me down completely and softened my hard exterior. I owe her for the warmth which has entered my personality now, and the confidence to let myself be vulnerable. What I feel for her has shattered me and my preconceptions, it brought me to my knees. I think I understand now why hurricanes are named after women. Loving someone, wanting them, this was all alien to me. I’ve woken up at 3 in the morning covered in sweat, heat radiating from the center of my chest, craving her presence beside me. She was intoxicating, my senses were saturated withby her. I remember, on countless such occasions, desperately cajoling my memory and imagination to work together to try and simulate the feel of her touch, the sensation of her soft warmth against me. I’ve never experienced such desperation and desire before. I remember one instance when I allowed a guy to get physical with me in a desperate attempt to scribble out and write-over my physical attraction to her. In retrospect it was stupid, but I was so embarrassed by the way my body would react to her, just the thought of her would bring goosebumps. Just her words on my screen would induce that cringe-worthy plunging, swirling feeling in my lower abdomen. I’ve cried, over and over. I’ve cried through the night clutching my pillow and inhaling the comfort it offers. I have broken down and have had no one to text but her, and she has always been there for me, supportive and understanding, but distant and unreachable, like a flag fluttering upon a mountain peak left there as a beacon of hope and strength by a climber who has braved the odds. She was always too damn far away for me. She is the pain, she’s also the mercy. She wounds me, she heals me. I keep telling myself, I have to let this one go.
Now, a little over a year later, we’re a bit closer. Our relationship is undefinable, I don’t know what I am to her, honestly, I would ask but I’m too afraid to hear ‘friend’, or worse, no reply. It is something out of the theatre of the absurd for me, I think I bring out the hidden bipolarity in her. By night, she is understanding of my expressions of love to her, she’s caring almost to the point of tenderness, but in person she is dismissive and distant, and looks right past me. This makes me wonder whether it is wrong for me to express myself to her, and at what point I would cross the line from simply being expressive to cornering and suffocating her. In her absence, I fall into a rut. It’s my personal hell, I tend to distort my peace of mind, the way those carnival mirrors so grotesquely do, your image. I get mad, ignore her, long for her, crave her, but refuse to cave in. I tell myself that she’ll get in touch when she misses me. And then, end up texting anyway because of the cold dread that she won’t.
She’s a straight woman, and take it from me, impossible love isn’t as romantic as it sounds. I have no idea where I’m going with this or what I want from her. All I know for sure is, I will never be the same. I hope that, one day, looking back on my life, I will be able to join the dots and then this will all make sense.
But as for now, I only wish she were here right at this moment, sharing a cup of tea with me.