Isn’t it always hard to imagine that first impression of our closest friends – we might be thick as thieves today, but was it also the same when you first met them? The very first time that you bumped into each other, or were introduced by a common friend – at that moment that person is a stranger, someone whom we instantly judge subconsciously in some way or the other, someone whom we look at in a sort of neutral way, as simply another face, another name, just an acquaintance.
But when I think back to when I first saw her, I cannot remember a single ‘neutral’ thought. I can still remember vividly the way she came bursting in through the office door, backpack slung over one shoulder, wearing some cool t-shirt and jeans, hair open, falling onto her shoulder, a wide smile of pure delight on her face, and balloons. She had these balloons in her hand, complete attention on protecting them, scrunching her face and looking here and there to find the perfect spot to tie them to, while everyone in the office stopped what they were doing, a smile on their face, and looked at her, happy just to see her. She was like a performer with a spotlight on her, while the rest of the room, dark, and the audience, spellbound, captivated by the star on the stage, watched her act. I didn’t know her then, and yet, I found myself smiling – a smile that came naturally, not induced by a joke, not because of a compliment I received; in fact, I think now, that the smile I had on my face was of simple, unmeasured happiness, induced in me by her mere presence – the presence of a complete stranger; and yet I felt as if I already knew her.
What does it take to love someone, I think, as I sit here sipping my chai, the light from the TV as it plays another Netflix show lighting up the room in a sort of waving glow, bathing Luna’s flickering tail as she’s curled up on the adjacent sofa in a variety of shapes created by the light. I think – about each memory I have with her – the first time we kissed, the first time we fought, that chilly monsoon walk on the beach, that rickshaw journey through the desert. Each one of those hundreds of thousands of moments I have spent with her flash through my mind, making me realise that every single one of those milliseconds, every single one of those snapshots that now scroll before my eyes as if frames in a film reel, have created what is us. What I feel about her is ensconced in those little thumbnail memories in my brain – those moments that sometimes were boring, sometimes long, sometimes crazy and sometimes fun. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes funny, sometimes ridiculous and sometimes simply happy. Sometimes erotic, sometimes peaceful; Sometimes stressed, and sometimes painful. And yet each of those moments was beautiful, even when we loved each other, even we hated each other; Even when we worshipped each other and even when we were tired of each other.
What is love, I asked myself, but I already knew it. Because the first stroke on the anvil was that day I first saw her, she – laughing like a child, heartily, full of energy, enthusiasm, listening to something told her with the utmost attention, yet managing to hold on to her bit of impishness, talking with each person as if their best friend, with an almost impossible genuineness; and this unexplainable sense of freedom, of aspiration, and of unbridled joy, and I – unknowingly smitten by this – this creature, simply basking in her afterglow. And thus painstakingly, carefully, yet firmly was forged, with each subsequent crash of the hammer on the anvil, that sword – a work of art so unique that nothing in a million universes can ever hope to replicate it, drawing its beauty from each imperfection, each little tilt and curve, each tiny atom that shaped it; That sword which never stops being made, every second of our lives etched on it, to always remain; that sword which keeps becoming more beautiful with each touch of the hammer;
That sword, is what love is.