I was then but a child, around 8 years old, when I had my first heartbreak. At that tender age, I came to realize, deep within, that I was unusually unlucky, when it came to relationships and love. With time, of course, this absolute absence of good fortune began to show itself in other things, as well. But that is neither here nor there. What I realized, growing up, was that life is a battle, and that I was destined only to fight and fend for myself, with no other weapon, save determination. So I started metamorphosing into a bull, so to say, both inside and out: a bull that gores its way through, trampling all that comes in its way; and like a bull facing a storm, I began to dig my feet into the ground, facing the storms, as they came, with angry eyes, waiting and watching as they tried their best to put me down, once and for all before passing over.
So at the age of eight, I’d had my first of a series of heart-breaks. It must have been love, as deep a love as one stupid kid could have for another; why else would I still feel the pain of losing and have to live for ever in fear? I used to go for drawing classes to a house across the street. One day, it was announced that the classes would thereafter be held in the house of some fellow-student, whom I had never known until then. So, from then on, I started going to the new house, half-afraid and half-diffident, as I was the youngest and newest member there. The elders had their own group and their own pranks, while the younger ones, all except me, had their own share of the fun. As I was the loner, I became the subject of the pranks, played by both the groups, with the result that, more often than not, I would be teary-eyed and red as a carrot and as impatient to get back home, as anybody can be, by the time the teacher came in. The boy of the house, A, used to take an active part in causing me trouble. In fact, he simply loved to annoy and torment me. This continued for a while, and then, one day, I mustered up enough courage to put up a physical fight. I kicked and tore at their hair, and thrashed around, and for a few moments I was a raving fury. I hurt them enough to cause them to complain to the teacher about me. Of course, my parents heard of it, and I received not a few slaps, but all in all, I felt quite proud of myself, and safe, because I was sure that I would never be troubled again. And I was happy about one other thing- A, who was my age as well, started to admire me. His interest in me grew everyday. It was as if I could actually see it happening. So the classes continued, and the admiration in his eyes turned into friendship. That summer, we spent a lot of time together, and if anything, it strengthened our bond. I came to know that he could be really nice once he got to know people and that he had no fear other than that of strangers. He was beautiful as well, and I’m not ashamed to admit that that certainly increased my interest in him. Around that time, my kid brother started going to a preparatory school, which was at a stone’s throw from my friend’s house, and it was my pleasure to drop the little guy off to school every morning and bring him back at ten, a duty which I willingly took up, because my brother meant the world to me. He still does. So then, every morning, when I went to drop my brother off, or when I went to bring him back, I used to gambol around or talk to A, and he used to play with my brother as well and offer him chocolates, so much so that my brother began to adore him. And it was around then, that I realized how beautiful men really are, when they play with children or carry them around. Of course, it was more a realization of the soul, for which I have found the right words only now. This continued, for I know not how long, though I now feel that it didn’t last long enough, not more than some months at any rate. A- was my only friend, my best man, from childhood to the very end of my school-life, long after I had lost him.
When he wasn’t there anymore, the memory of his friendship was still there to guide me through many a rough patch. He went away as suddenly as he had come, for one evening, when I went for my drawing class, I found the house dark and locked up, and a note from the teacher, saying that that day there would be no class, and that from the next week, we would return to our earlier haunt. Soon as I had finished reading the note, my eyes were flooded with tears- I still don’t know why. He might have gone away with his family for a vacation, and one of these days, he would soon be back again- I tried to reason with myself, but still my tears wouldn’t stop, probably because, somewhere deep inside, I realized that my worst fear, of losing him, had come true. I have never, ever, been as afraid in my entire life – never as afraid to lose, as I then was. I came back home in a trance; for the rest of that week, I cried frequently and, apparently, without any reason; and next week when I went to class, I was thoroughly attentive to all that was being said, in the hope of learning something about his whereabouts. But nothing was said about him, and I was more than disappointed: I was afraid. And I couldn’t ask about him, for what would I have said, had anybody asked for a reason for my interest in him? Days passed, and weeks, and then, months, and still nothing was heard of him. I began to lose hope and at the same time started to pray more diligently, for who knows what; but all the while, I felt as if I was dying inside, that I was falling into the darkness of a chasm, from where there was no way out. Daily I felt more and more lost, I stopped playing or even going out, and then I stopped talking, even at home. My parents started getting worried, upon repeated reports from school, regarding the sudden change in my behaviour; and I saw all that, but failed to resurrect myself. Then my results for the class 3 finals came, and I was thrashed to nearly within an inch of my life by dad; but, after he had gone out, amidst all my tears and pain, I blurted out the reason to mom. I think she understood much more than she let on, and she started doing all that was in her power, to help me live again. I still often wonder what might have become of me, if I hadn’t had her.
It took me a long while to return to normal, though I am not really sure that I did, because for years afterwards, during my evening rambles, I used to stop in front of the house and search for any sign of his having returned. And even now, when I am past 30, and no more fit to behave like a young, sighing lover, I still do it. I have watched new people come to live in the house, I have watched them leave and others come and then leave, as well, while I have continued my vigils, but I’ve never thought of giving up, because in my clouded reason, I have somehow felt that, for as long as I continue to visit his place, he’ll be alive and well, maybe even happy, wherever he may be. Perhaps it’s nothing but some sort of superstition, but I can’t take chances – not when it comes to him.