Today, I had a bath. It doesn't happen usually during winters that I bathe because I want to. I wanted to have a bath. I put on fresh clothes, and not the t-shirt I'd been wearing for two weeks straight, because I didn't want to dress-up and be tidy. I had been doing that because I didn't have you to dress-up for. I didn't have you to see my combed hair, which usually spills over the corners of my forehead, fresh clothes straight out of the washing machine - un-ironed though - men's cream on my face, and my smile. I did all of this today. I dressed up for you. Because, today, I was in a mood to love you - notwithstanding the history, or shall I say, because of the history.
I have warm water at my disposal now, quite unlike Delhi where we had to use the stove and still not get the requisite quantity. So I can afford long showers. Have you noticed that immediately after getting a hot-water bath when you walk out of the bathroom or while having your shower when you pause to apply soap, you feel cold? That's the body adjusting to the temperature around you. So you hurry up and apply soap as quickly as you can - don't know how women do it - or dress up immediately after walking out of the bathroom.
That brief moment of unwelcome coldness, which makes you numb - quite surprisingly - is what we had this year. That is what happened to us. After years of warmth and love, we - or rather, I - goofed up and submitted to the cold without looking at the clothes you'd kept ready on the bed for me to be warm again.
As the year, a turbulent one for me, draws to a close, I recall, for some reason, this caption that you'd put up alongside a picture, which you had updated immediately after my departure from your college.
"Winters are cosy until I'm warm."
This isn't exactly what you'd written - pardon me for my fading memory - but I remember exactly how you were smiling at the camera - a blue pullover complementing how sedative the smile was and your teeth complementing your moles. Your teeth always complement your moles.
A friend had commented, "Seedhi-saadhi Gorakhpuriya."
That is who you are: a seedhi-saadhi Gorakhpuriya. Pardon me for making you anything but. Pardon yourself for turning into something else, if you have.
So I bathed, put on two pullovers, and basked in the Sun. I sat on the bench - do you remember the bench? I strolled around and chatted with an autowallah. He was worried if I had taken the picture of the number plate on his vehicle in order to report to the police. I assured him that I had no such intention. I got a dejavu - you had no such intention either, didn't you?
This year, we've fought more and talked less than ever before. This year would hold the record for the fewest number of conversations that we've had. Also for the distance we've travelled away from each other. And yet, because of the history and not despite it, I write this letter to tell you: My dear, I have loved you and I'll always do, just like I have since I have known you. I have forgiven you and would keep forgiving you, just like I had been doing.
While taking a stroll around my locality, I was overcome with just how much we'd once meant to each other. To cite an example, I remember that you had called me sometime in September 2014. You were sick, and your mom was there with you. You called me and cribbed. You were complaining that she'd been making you uncomfortable. I was sitting outside Saket Metro Station - Saidulajab side - with my roommate. I had told you that it's okay to have differences with your parents. I'd told you that they are the only ones who'd love you because of the differences as well as despite them. We talked, and I tried to calm you down.
A few days later, I met you at Noida City Centre and you greeted me with a swollen face and a scarf tied around your neck as if to strangulate you. I wanted to hug you there, immediately upon my arrival - out of pure, unadulterated love - but the exit gate got in between. Also, I was shy. We sat outside the GIP and talked, I brought you biryani - to your delight - and by the time I saw you off, I was convinced that I had made your day. Your happiness at the sheer number of edibles you had at your disposal that night confirmed that the day which had a begun with a phone call over which you'd cried, "Kislaya, milo yar. Mere paas kuch nahi hai," and ended with another phone call, "Mere paas, biryani hai, cold drink hai, fruits hain..." had been a token of the love I had for you.
The months May to October 2014 defined the kind of love I had for you. It was the first time that we were in the same city, and I couldn't help being ecstatic - not because we were meeting or going out every day, but because you were there, so close that I could hop onto a metro and reach you. I had always longed for closeness when we were in college, and I finally had it.
That's how I felt today. I felt that I still have unconditional love to bestow upon you. Last night, I had this weird fantasy that made me feel how I had felt while looking at the aforementioned picture on THAT birthday. I want to plan one more birthday for you. Last night, when this thought crossed my mind, I was magically empowered to bury all the pain in some corner of my heart and think about just that - planning your birthday.
"Mere birthday pe humse zyada khush to tum rehte ho," you'd said. It holds true to this day. I cannot describe why it happens - maybe because I travelled to you only to stay for a few hours, which was an act of love I couldn't make out then. Today, I felt as if there'd be no repercussions even if you go away with someone else. It felt as if I was born to love you, and not ask for it in return. Today, my love went one step closer to unconditionality.
So after returning from the mini-stroll, as I sat on the bench, again, and watched the Sun set, I couldn't help but recall your face resting on the support pole in the metro. All eight of us were returning to the campus, and you, in an act of complete nonchalance, closed your eyes and leaned against the cold metallic body. There were so many shoulders around but you chose the pole. Maybe because you'd always been independent.
Your black sweater gently hugging your breasts, my yellow sweater which you had cradled between your arms, that strand of hair, which always rests on your forehead, your blue shoes and your closed eyes - illuminated by the setting Sun - made me believe with absolute conviction that I was in love. I knew then that she is the woman I'll always love, with all of my heart. Today, at this moment, as I write this, I can say that I love you with all of my heart.
As the train moved cities, I likened it to the long journey that lay ahead for us wherein we'll move cities, grow up and apart - as we did - only to come back to each other. You were my home. You are my home. You'll always be.
"I am lucky to have you. Don't ever ask why I sent this."
I would not ask you why you'd sent this. I'll just rest in piece tonight knowing that it still holds true.
I must post this now before I walk out of the bathroom, fail to bear the cold, and pollute this letter with my desires.