The first time he saw her , it was because the general talk in school was that she looked very good. His eyes fell on her in the school canteen and since then he was not the same boy. He attempted to look good , walk better , smile more when she was around. Her presence gave him butterflies in the stomach. Friend’s usual teasing and hooting added fuel to the fire of his fancies. He wanted to be with her , to know her better. The term has just started and there is the whole year to become her friend he thought. Her eyes gave him a feeling he was at home . The following week in between a biology class .She entered the class and the teacher asked her purpose. She said ” Ma’am can I know who is Raj ? The principal wants to meet him” . The teacher gestured at Raj to leave the class while she kept looking for him in the crowd. His friends started giggling , he mustered courage and stood up and their eyes met. He had not expected to meet the girl he loved in between a biology class with so many people around , he silently walked to her, she was still waiting. When he reached her , they started walking towards the principal’s cabin. ” Why does he want to see me ? ” He some how blurted out. ” How would I know ? ” She said. Of course what a stupid thing to ask , he thought. ” My name is Roohi”, She said , ” I am Raj” . He looked at her and smiled, her cheeks went slightly pink when she smiled back at him. Blessing the principal for calling him ( rather sending her to call him ) , he entered the office, she left when they reached the office. The principal told that he was selected to dance for the school and was supposed to stay back after school and come few hours before school beginning tomorrow morning to practice. It was a competition in an international school and he was supposed to represent the school . He ran to the dance teacher ( his best friend in school ) and told her about it. She was not at all surprised but acknowledged his enthusiasm . The dance teacher was the one teacher with whom every student ( who ever danced )had a close bond. She was very young and just like a friend , not a teacher at all. And since she taught dance it was all the more fun to be around her. It was supposed to be a group dance with six boys and six girls. Then Raj asked the question for which he had come running to the dance teacher. ” Ma’am one girl was sent to my class saying the principal is calling me.” It was a statement not a question. The teacher replied, ” Oh ya, she is also in the dance group now , new entry. Principal sir says she dances really well . We’ll see. Tomorrow morning 7:00 am come here , Now go! your class is going on i suppose.”
He got up and walked in silence to his class. Now he had a chance to make friends with her, he hoped she would become his partner in dance , smiling he went to bed. The next day he was early to the practice. On the first day generally the teacher told them the type of dance they were going to do and the boys and girls danced separately and then according to individual performance they were alloted partners. Roohi came into the room slightly nervous at being the only new one. The rest of the team was the same old one, except for a new boy and Roohi. She looked at him and smiled. He replied with a thumbs up wishing her all the best and praying she dances as well as him and they become partners. All the boys sat down to watch as the girls stood in line. She was standing in between the line. She moved with grace , had beautiful expressions, all her movements were nice and crisp , but she missed a beat in between ( this was the teacher’s feed back ) , to Raj it was THE moment to watch her dance. His mouth was open all the while when she was dancing( thank fully she did not notice ) . She was alloted a partner in the middle of the group where as raj got another girl and was positioned centre stage. With her not as his partner , he felt the curtain fall. Then they started the group practice. Six boys stationed in a V formation with six girls , co-ordination was not a problem for everyone as they had danced before together. Only Roohi had little problem breaking the ice with her partner. The guy who was Roohi’s partner was Farhan. Everytime he would hold her hand or place his hand on her waist , Raj would wince. Love is indeed pain he thought. Within few days of practice Roohi gelled in the group very well. After two weeks the principal came to watch how the practice was going on, the group danced well , but Raj’s partner missed a beat and forgot a step in between the dance. This was it. The principal told the teacher to change Raj’s partner and with an all knowing smile , the dance teacher told Roohi to go stand beside Raj , Raj smiled back . They danced again with the changed partners. It was perfect and then the principal said this would be the final arrangement of partners. The following week Raj and Roohi got to know each other better, Raj would wait for the part in the dance when he had to look into her eyes , or she had to place her hand on his shoulder. After two weeks of the dance practice, Raj and Roohi were the best dancers in the group. The teacher said it was a good decision to bring Roohi centre stage as their chemistry was so good. Also outside the dance room , they both had become best friends. One day Raj asked Roohi what she thought of people who fall in love. ” I feel 11th class is too early for love”, she said. After one week the dance happened , it was the first time their school was going to an international school to perform. The performance was excellent , the whole crowd was cheering. When the results were being announced the whole group was anxious , Roohi stood beside Raj and moments before the first prize was going to be announced she held his hands. He did not care now if they won or not. He put his other hand on her shoulder and side hugged her. The result was announced and they won the first prize. Everyone was cheering and shouting , Roohi was close to tears , she hugged him very tightly , his heart did a sommersault. It was the happiest moment in his life. After the dance when they returned, the dance teacher said that all of them had to come that evening for party to a mall. All of them got excited. Everyone assembled at the mall , and sat down for food. It was the dance teacher’s treat so they ordered to their heart’s content. Then one by one people started leaving. At last only roohi and Raj were left. Raj looked at her and asked ” Roohi you did not have ice cream , do you want an ice cream? ” She looked at the ice cream shop and said ” Yes” . He went to the counter ordered the ice cream and vanished from there, When the ice cream reached the table roohi was in tears , this what what raj had ordered for her :
It also had a letter with it. The letter read :
People say love is pain ,
I dont know what love might be,
but i think if you are with me ,
I can handle any pain in the world.
I want to know ,
I want to care ,
I want to share.
Do you ?
He waited for her reaction hiding behind the water cooler , she was looking around for him. Love is indeed pain he thought. He could not walk up to her. All possibilities that she might get angry or reject him came to him. Wiping the sweat and anxiety from his face , he walked up to her. She looked as he came , he sat down and did not speak anything. The ice cream was melting. She showed him the letter. He looked into her eyes. So ? he asked .. Do you ? . ” Yes I do. ” They both smiled at each other and did not know what to do . Raj felt as if he has passed the toughest exam of his life. Raj had written in the letter that love is pain, but in the following two years he had never experienced pain at all. It was all like a dream. Whenever he met her , nothing but she mattered , when she held his hand , he felt a sense of security. They met everyday at the park above the hill , they talked till sunset and then walked back. Many a time they would see other people kissing in the park. Roohi would blush and look away , raj never bothered about it so much. Getting physical was the last thing on his mind. Of course he wanted to show love to her , but given a choice this was not the expression he would choose. He did not know if she felt the same way. One day he asked her,” Roohi what do you think of people who keep kissing and touching their partners all the time ? ” . She thought for some time and replied , ” I think its cool . ” Slightly surprised , he asked her ” but don’t you think its kind of unsafe, letting anyone getting so close to you ? ” . As he finished the sentence she came towards him and the next moment she was kissing him , she was for him, he was for her , Raj initially caught by surprise kissed her back . After what felt like eternity she parted from him, still locked in his arms, she asked ” Does it feel bad letting anyone getting so close now ? ” No is does not , he said. After two years of school now was the time to decide where they went and what they were to do in future . Raj asked Roohi ” which colleges are you applying to ? ”
” I am planning to go into designing, you ? ”
” I think I will go to a film school “.
They both looked into each other’s eyes , the possibility that he might have to live away from her pained him. But she seemed confident. ” I will still love you. ” She said.
After the exams followed a plethora of farewell parties, lot of them involved drinking and the likes. Roohi almost always got drunk and Raj was the one who would control her and take her back safely. Next day he would sulk at her behaviour and she would opologise. This cycle repeated many times. He could not take it. They were sitting in the park above the hill , he asked her ” Roohi do you love me ? ” She looked at him ” what kind of a question is that ? ” He said ” I dont like you drinking so much , its not good for you either.” She said ” Ok i will try to stop “. But rarely did she keep her word. Soon the arguments they were having started turning into fights. One day roohi shouted at him ” If you cannot handle me or accept me as i am we might as well stay away from each other”. As she finished her words met silence. Raj just walked few steps towards a tree and stood there. Shocked at what she said and also feeling guilty she went and hugged him. love is pain indeed Raj thought. Such kinds of fights started happening very often in the next few days. One day Raj lost control ” FINE GO THEN , LETS END IT ! ” he said . Shocked at what he said , tears filled his eyes but they refused to flow out of his eyes. Roohi slowly came to him , also in tears, she closed her eyes , kissed him and walked away. He wanted to stop her but he stood there. Let her go.
Yes love is pain he thought. She never came back , he never hoped that she would.
Now he lives , scared of love , scared to love. The heart that he put in the ice cream long ago was now locked in an iron box. It refuses to open for anyone. Alas … love is indeed pain , he says 😦
Lots of love/pain