An Ode To Anja

I was a shy girl back in my school days, wanting to be left alone. I never liked the aspect of making friends, it felt like a useless chore. I felt more so disdain towards making friends because I did not want attachments to the city, that I would have to leave in two years.  But things changed in Class IX when our classes were reshuffled.  The moment you walked in, I felt the need to know and remember everything about you. You came and sat a few benches in front of me. From behind, I saw your low ponytail shaped like a paintbrush head which is about to smear rainbow colors into my life.

You were my reflection in the mirror, introverted, gawky, and shy. If I had left our journey to the stars and who I was back then, we wouldn’t have ever said hi. So, for the first time in my life, I remember taking strides. I tried to sit next to you, I initiated conversations. For someone who doesn’t spill guts at knifepoint, I bared myself to you, in hopes that you’d do the same. And you did.  With every little step inside your life, I got more mystified. But they also made me dazed about the whole purpose of the steps I was taking. Your touch did not help either.

We basked in our similar fondness for books, movies, clothes, and songs.  I remember you being excited that our favorite movie is “You’ve got mail”. You said, “Finally! Someone that gets me.” We also shared a similar penchant for writing. I was good with metaphors and you were a wizard with descriptions. 

In our conversations, we also realized that we converged in our likeness for the same boys. These boys were out of our reach and with whom we could only dream conversations. I tried to show that I was jealous of us liking the same guys, but I don’t think I cared for them anymore. But during a history lecture, you tried to tame my fake jealously by saying that the boys are way out of reach and all we can hope is that they inspire our writing.

“Let’s get together and write romantic fantasies together”

You described your problem with writing romantic fantasies. You could describe people vividly enough to bring them to life, but you struggled with romanticizing it. You appreciated my metaphors and poetic flair enough to inculcate it in your works.

I asked you, “How exactly do we do that?”

“We fuse ourselves.  We take both of our best features. For example, you have the prettiest eyes, a nice nose, and a good taste in clothes. What do you like about me? We combine our best features to form a girl and name her and she gets to date the guy we like in our fantasies. “

When I had the chance to describe your face, I felt like a kid finally being able to recite a Bible verse that it had read for a thousand days. So I began…

“I like how your lips never give away that you’re smiling, but the slight contractions around your eye proclaim to the world that you’re smiling. I like your eyebrows thicker than the blood of the covenant. I like how you bend your knees slightly when you stand and take the support of something nearby.”

As I said this, I saw your eyes smile, the way I had just described them. You looked away and said that we’ll name her Anja.

As we weaved our skills in stories of Anja, we stitched each other’s wounds that we thought would never heal. But with the needle, you stitched my wounds with, you poked my heart with confusion about the way I felt for you. On one occasion, we struggled hard to imagine a romantic scene where Anja was with a boy. We entangled our fingers for you to describe hand-holding better.  In your touch, I found a calm in the confusion you were putting me through.  But sometimes you describing boys, set out bombs inside me. There were so many times that you stood there, a few inches apart from me, talking about your encounters with guys. They would tear me apart, but the smile in your eyes would soothe me.  

In all that we were, I forgot all that we wouldn’t be in a few days’ time. There was barely a month left for me to leave. The last term exam we spent together, we were in the girl’s washroom before every exam, revising notes. In the dim-lit washrooms, I tried to soak in every each of your face and body that the light would let me. The last exam of the term, when it was the last time, I ever saw you, I kept you a little late than usual, clarifying which state has the most iron ore reserves. A teacher barged in, asked us to go to our exam rooms. We said we would. But as she closed the door behind her, I suddenly held your hand and blurt out “I love you”. You came close and hugged me with your hands around my waist, and said,” I love you too”. We stood there hugging. Your soft hug and loose hands over my body gripped me tighter than all the possible confines in the world.  Your touch soft like Lavender petals, but managing to penetrate deep within my skin.  And, your smell, the home I was leaving for another city.

For years to come, I held on to my feelings and those words you said. They felt like a holy scripture that commoners weren’t meant to interpret.  The little areas of my body that you had touched, felt like gold engravings on pottery I wasn’t meant to see. But now I know that I am bisexual, I know my feelings for you was my attraction. I know that I wanted the gold engravings all over my body. I know why you could chisel at my heart when you used to talk about those boys.   As for what happened in the washroom, I am too scared to know if you meant it platonically or romantically. It still feels like a remnant of the romantic scripture that I am never supposed to interpret because the truth will haunt me.

They say your first is always special, and it must be true for me. I am yet to meet someone with better eyebrows than yours, whose eyes smile, the way your does, someone who can describe things so vividly. I am yet to meet someone that still retains their mystic over me, separated by a distance of seven years and 2,000 kilometres in between. This is the honour to my first, by telling our story the way Anja would.

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