- First Love
- by Sita Krishnan
It was quarter to one at night when I hit the door bell. My wife opened the door. She had been awake as usual. Waiting for me had become a daily routine for her. Unlike I expected, the house looked normal. I put my laptop on the recliner and went straight into my bedroom, freshened up and got busy with the book - "An autobiography of a yogi."
My wife came in with a piece of cake in her hand. "We waited for you till 9. But it was getting late and your parents pushed to carry on and finish", she said handing over that cake to me. Something stung me deeply for it was my daughter's first birthday.
I had almost forgotten that I had a daughter and a feeling of guilt told me that I did not deserve that piece of cake; it felt heavy when the first bite went down my throat.
"Karthik," she used to call me by name, "look at me", she said. I turned my gaze away from the book onto her face. I saw tears in her eyes. "Have I, in the last two years, ever asked you why you come home late every day? Have I ever asked you to take me out with you, even to the temple that you go alone every weekend?
Have I ever told you how it feels to attend family functions without you?" I turned back to the book. "Karthik, please look at me, will you? I need an answer today."
I always knew that I would have to face this sometime. "No, you wouldn't understand even if I tell", I replied. "Really? What is it? Please tell me. I know that you agreed to our marriage only because you did not want to disappoint your parents. I know that I'm your wife only for the sake of it. But why should Gaargi suffer because of all this? Doesn't she deserve to be called your daughter? What is her fault?" my wife asked with tears running down.
She had never cried in front of me. I looked at my one year old daughter; Gaargi was special to me, for her name reminded me of a very special person in my life.
"Srishti, I am really very sorry. I don't know how to tell all this and I'm not sure how you'll take it. You are not my first love. I had never liked any girl in my life until I met a very nice person who, I decided, would not only be my first love but also the only love in my entire life", my eyes started to fill up, "I can never imagine my life without..."
"Your mother told me. I know everything but I wanted you to tell", she interrupted. I wasn't surprised; two years is a very long time for a secret to be kept in a family. It looked like she wanted me to somehow raise this and then she started.
"Karthik, have I ever made you feel that I had been betrayed by someone who I thought would be the only person in my life?" Her question confused me for a moment, 'Is she talking about me?' I asked myself. "He, not you, was the first man in my life and I too had dreamt that he will be the only one ever.
But our relationship collapsed after 5 months of our engagement when I came to know that he was already married. My parents were more than broken when they found this out, for they were the ones who had found this person through some marriage bureau. I went into depression and had attempted suicide twice, but somehow survived.
See, even God does not want me. So I decided to live on as life takes me, although I knew that I will not be able to forget any bit of it."
It took some time for all this to sink in. I was perplexed.
"Karthik, I know that you too had given all the love of your life to her. I also know that she never reciprocated your love and that she was never ready to accept you as her man even though you were ready to sacrifice yourself for her. But don't you think it should always flow both ways?
Don't you think that it is not worth crying over someone who cannot feel your love? Is it fair on your part to ignore someone who is craving for your love and actually deserves it? Look into my eyes.
Don't you see anything which suggests that I deserve to be loved by you? I know Karthik, I know that there's some space in your heart that has been made for me. I can see it in your eyes too.
When I look into them I do not feel sad that there's a lot of pain in it. Instead I see that part of it which tells me that I'm not completely unwanted.
So I ask you the same thing that you had asked her, 'Please give me a chance'. Don't tell me that you cannot love me even a little. I know you do and Gaargi is the proof."
I could not speak more. Srishti too could not. She rested her head on my shoulder. For the first time I kissed on her forehead.
I guess that is what one has to learn. First love is very special. It is something to be remembered for a lifetime but not something for which an entire life can be wasted in grieving over it.
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