“You know, I really love you! If I could just cut myself open to show you how much in love I am! Only if I could make you touch this thing in me, you would believe me. I had never hoped this would happen to me.” The first time my partner said these words to me, I was sitting with him in his bed looking at him. I could see how vulnerable he was. He was smitten. The only problem was—I wasn’t.
I wanted to run out of his house, jump into a bus, delete his number, block him on Facebook, go back to my room and cry holding my pillow.
My last relationship ended a year back, with my ex-partner begging me not to do it, that he couldn’t bear it. That he would do anything just to be with me. He was undoubtedly deeply and desperately in love with me. I wasn’t. He didn’t know that. We never discussed it. We should have. Instead, I would always end our calls with the customary ‘love you’. I would always kiss him goodbye. I would buy him flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s, and take him out on his birthday for a slow boat ride.
But I didn’t love him
Realising that love wasn’t coming to me, that maybe he wasn’t the right person for me and that he deserved someone who could love him truly, I finally decided to tell him abruptly over dinner at Domino’s that I don’t love him, and we should part ways. He couldn’t believe that I didn’t love him. He thought there was something else, perhaps someone else. Maybe he’d made some mistake. He took a Nux Vomica seed I’d picked up from my med school, and ran away to swallow it and die. Thankfully, he didn’t.
Related reading: Two decades of dating, and still waiting for love
So when my current partner said that he loved me immensely, I was afraid and overwhelmed. I didn’t want to leave someone I really liked so much, even though I couldn’t give him what he rightly deserved—my love, for I had none. Because I’d never knew love like this, felt love like in the movies—watching that beautiful face in a crowd and suddenly being unable to think about anything else, yearning for someone’s touch. I’d never felt what people call love at first sight. I never felt acute gushes of strong emotions for anyone.
Was something wrong with me?
I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I thought maybe because of my inherent cynicism I wasn’t able to locate love in me, that maybe because I grew up witnessing conflict at home I couldn’t relate to love, maybe there was something neurologically aberrant in me, that I was some kind of beast.
After hearing his confession, I wanted to run, but I didn’t. He gauged that I didn’t reciprocate his feelings and how overwhelming his sudden love for me was, for we had met only a few days back. He knew that I needed time and space, that love doesn’t necessarily come in the same form and ways for everyone and for some, love takes its own time to grow and bloom.
Related reading: You can fix a cricket match, not attraction
He explained that it’s alright if I don’t love him now. Instead of jumping from one person to another looking for the fabled love, I should give myself some time.
Emotions that erupt like volcanoes don’t survive long if they are not anchored by something solid, and fed by kindness and warmth.
It took months. Often I met other people who fascinated me, people I thought could become a part of my life and all of them passed by like seasons. What remained constant was him and his unbound patience.
You don’t have to accept anyone’s definition of what love is and how it should happen in one’s life. Sometimes, you have to define it for yourself.<
When we went to Gauhati in December after my exams to meet his parents and spend the holidays, I was a bit afraid. I didn’t know how it would be to live with his parents and spend so many days solely with him. But I was glad I made that journey. I found how it felt in the rooms of silence we built during our walks by the banks of Brahmaputra. We lived each second with each other. I was discovering love as a child discovers a lap.
After six months of spending time together without the pressure of hopes and expectations, I realised that finally I was in love. I couldn’t be more content.