I was 21years old when I met her. Right from the start, we never had a name for this thing we had. Or have. I don’t know. I didn’t know then and I still don’t know. It’s all so mixed up in my head – the beginning, the middle and the non-end. Tangled up so much that I doubt there will be even a semblance of order in these words that come pouring out now. Where do I start? How do I begin to describe something to someone else that I myself don’t comprehend? If label it I must, for lack of a better word, it was a relationship. My first and only. An intellectual, emotional and physical one. And we sort of just fell into it. Can you fall into a relationship? Can you do that? Have you ever found yourself smack in the middle of it and struggled to pinpoint exactly when it had begun? We never discussed what it started off as and what it evolved into. Never talked about it. Or gave it a name. We talked for hours on the phone. Spent hours together. Stayed over at each other’s homes. And we had sex, both of us taking turns to question what exactly it was we were doing, for somehow it felt wrong and right, all at the same time. Thrilling and illicit. For her, it was simply an extension of how she felt about me. She loved me and it was yet another way of showing it. But she had contradicting feelings about it. She pushed, she pulled. She gave in, she held back. I don’t know what it was for me. I wasn’t thinking. I was too busy being in whatever it was I was in. I look back at it all and one thing stands out so much that I feel like the world’s biggest fool. She never once initiated anything. I was always the one doing things. Often, she would come and then curl up and sleep, leaving me confused and used. I tried asking what was wrong but the only answer I got was that she didn’t like it. Didn’t like touching me. But as the years went by, it changed slightly. She reciprocated, with a reluctance that wore down as the days went by but never quite wore out. The last time we had sex, if you can call it that, the tables had kind of turned. I was the one curling up and going to sleep. And no, she didn’t initiate it. We cuddle up and sleep on the same bed, one of us getting up and moving to another bed after a while. We have done that for as long as I can remember. At the fag end of whatever it was before it segued into whatever it is now, we used to slip into sex from the middle of deep sleep. But it all changed. I don’t know when it did, but it did. It’s been months (So many that I’ve lost count as to how many) since we got our hands on each other. Because somewhere along the line, it had started to feel wrong. The sex. Both of us were nipping anything sexual right in the bud. Before either of us got a chance to take it forward. The occasional slip ups on particularly horny days thwarted. We still cuddle. Peck (not kiss) each other on the lips. Say ‘I love you’ several times a day. Talk to each other on the phone who knows how many times. Mollycoddle each other. Wake each other up in the morning with squishie hugs and kisses on the cheek. Make cutesy talk. Call each other made up names. But the one big, big, big difference now is that, it’s all platonic. It doesn’t sound like it, but it is. I don’t know how to explain it. The one and only person I have spoken to about all this laughed on my face and said it sounded complicated. But it isn’t. I know. I feel it. Somehow, this thing that we had got up one fine day, walked over to a different zone and nailed itself down. We went from ‘I’m in love with you’ to ‘I love you’. From ‘I can’t live without you’ to ‘I need and want you in my life’. From don’t-know-what-we-are to best friends. I absolutely and completely adore her. No doubt. But now, I feel free. Like I can look at another woman or man and not feel like I’m cheating even when I wasn’t really cheating. I can talk about the men in her life without bursting into tears. The change has reached a point where she wants me to meet guys she likes. Get my stamp of approval. And surprisingly, I’m concerned and okay enough to want to make sure that she ends up with the right one. She has been good for me. She still is. The fact that I like women crystallized after my time with her. She made me question things. And every time I worried that I might be bisexual or gay even, she was the one who told me labels don’t matter and I am who I am. She was the one who set the ball rolling. She doesn’t know it, but she made me more aware of my sexuality. An awareness that got more insistent with time. An awareness that became stronger after I fell for and struggled to get over yet another girl. An awareness that ripped through my denial a year back. An awareness that is slowly making me whole and happier. She was with me when I took the first step towards coming out to myself. And even though we don’t talk about this part of my life, she’s still with me as I’m coming out to the world, one step at a time.