If I am not wrong, I can perhaps pinpoint the exact moment cupid first struck its arrow. I was sixteen, the perfect age for cupid to get engaged in his mischief and the object of my affection- a belle at my tutorial class. She was the epitome of the Bengali belle. Dark skinned with long silky hair that reached beyond her waistline, she was aware of her forte.
Nahleen was not beautiful in the purest sense of the word, but there was something in her persona that set her apart.
“In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote….”
Getting back to the moment when it all started. It was a Wednesday in all probability and I was rather late for my class. Unfortunately the class had not yet started and some of the students were chatting outside the locked room.
Nahleen sat at her desk, one of those chairs with a writing handle extension. I said “Hi” to which she gave a feeble “hello'. She seemed lost in a world of her own. Softly placing her head on her left arm she played with the wristful of bangles she would always wear and looked out into the gloomy sky, canopied by the darkness of the clouds. I looked into her eyes; those sparkling brown eyes, and I was lost.
In the end, that was the start and finish of it. I never told her; she never knew. We remained friends for a long time, and then slowly drifted apart, finding new things to capture my fantasy.
All things bright and beautiful
Love comes in all forms, strikes when you least expect it, and where you least expect it.
My uncle bought me the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on my eleventh birthday, and I was hooked, bemused and completely taken aback by Tom and his daring friends. It opened up a new career option for me…piracy! I dreamt of sailing the seven seas, drinking rum and singing merry. Plundering merchant vessels but never harming women. Almost two decades have passed since and I can still feel the rush of adrenaline that I got from reading Tom Sawyer. He was truly my first idol.
For Sakeb, first love came in the form of sausage breakfasts. “I used to dream of living in a house made of sausages. I loved eating them, and look at me now,” he smiles, patting his generous tummy.
Farina's first love was her pet bird Tweety, whom she rescued from a storm-ridden asparagus tree. “I was too young to find a more original name for it, and I don't even remember correctly what species of bird it was, but I remember the special feeling I had when caring for it.”
Screen idols frequently become objects of crushes. The flamboyant moustaches of Tom Selleck and Ravi Shastri would create a lifelong fascination for Irene. “I still feel like that flushed fourteen year old whenever I see them on television”, she gushes.
They tried to tell us we're too young
Childhood crushes are often dismissed as 'mere infatuation', but one has to wonder if that isn't one of the purest forms of love, one untainted by the cynicism born of experience. This is the only time you will love for love's sake, and not because the other person meets your criterion for compatibility. Consider that Juliet was only thirteen when she met Romeo.
“Things are sweeter when you're young”, says Raisa, with a reminiscent smile. “If first love comes when you're still fresh and wide-eyed, it's all soft and innocent. Things get complicated when you get older.”
Love comes and goes. We outgrow many of our earliest loves; as we ourselves change and grow, so do our perceptions and our desires change. Yet there is some nostalgic magic about that first crush, the songs of old, a story of our childhood, or even an old favourite treat that makes us look back with a smile and sigh.
By Pothbhola and Jade
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Make up: Farzana Shakil
In those early days of Fall, when it was already too cold for me, I started waking up from the sound of him shutting the door behind. I knew it was exactly 7:30 am. He was like that, to-the-dot kind of a guy. He had his ways of making the clock carry him to the exact moments and even halves, something I never wish to learn.
My work commute was around 30 minutes during those days. Two changes in the metro, six blocks of walking, two sets of stairs and then an elevator to lift me up to my office. I was always late. Especially that Fall I always took longer to get ready. Mainly because I would run to the computer right after he would leave for work. He would say a silent goodbye by kissing my forehead and I always pretended to be fast asleep.
I waited for two minutes always after the sound of the door shutting. Then I would log in to his computer, his passwords were always saved. I would go through his emails.
I started all the way at the bottom dating back five years. Read email exchanges between specific ex-girlfriends, intimate passionate exchanges of love forgotten, love cherished, love ending… they created a strange sense of pain throughout my heart.
It felt like as I got to know him better I knew him less. There was a bug in my heart biting constantly as I read those emails, a bug that I had put in there myself to understand what he meant to me.
After my morning sessions of reading stories written to the man I was tied to, I would slowly get ready for work. I always gave myself half an hour of reading time, then 15 minutes for a shower. By the time I got to work, those words of his would take on a life all their own.
I would walk around all day with synchronised alphabets running down my eyes, juggling in my stomach, words which were not mine, words which I was never supposed to read or know of. Words that helped me create imageries of people, he would speak out to me. I wanted to scream and cry or cheat on him for things he did in the past.
In the evenings we went out for walks, Autumn walks through fallen orange leaves. He held my hand, we ran through forests in the middle of the city. When he would look away I would try to take my other arm and reach down my throat all the way to my heart, in search of the bug that wouldn't stop biting.
I always found her. She wasn't good at hiding. I would then bury her under the fallen leaves in the middle of the woods where she belonged. He and I would come back home happy.
Dinners were served on clay plates; movies gave lessons on life and fights ended in smiles… I would wrap myself with shawls; cool fall breezes teased me down to just that. Then we would sleep as the night grew colder and the morning came again for my half hour reads, and by then the bug would find her way back home and crawl back inside me, moving in for the day.
And that's how I remember that Fall, when I had learnt to read things that shouldn't be read, and write things with borrowed expressions and learn to hate the one you might love… in that Fall, life was really that simple.