Earlier this year, I took my father to an ashram in Kerala (incidentally the state he from) for a cure of his illnesses. That sentence probably raises numerous questions, and each of those questions deserves a post at least in answer. However, this post is about a boy I met there.
Brij was an attendant to the swamiji of the ashram, and was hired to help with the day to day activities of swamiji’s manic schedule of seva. Being in his early 20s and from a relatively rural part of India, he not surprisingly presented as a shy person, not completely at ease with young women. Of this latter category, there were two at the time: I was one, and the second was an American devotee.
She is a wonderful person, around my age, and I grew to love her dearly. This is the time I lost my father, and she was by my family’s side throughout the ordeal.
(The ages are relevant to this story, so please bear with me.)
One morning, she came into our room, looking half amused and half stunned. Apparently, around midnight, she had been doing yoga to get to sleep, when she heard a knock on her door. She opened it to find Brij on her doorstep, blitzed after drinking copious amounts of alcohol. He then proceeded to claim undying love for her.
Now, she has some experience with drunkenness, and knows well enough that it is never the right moment to negotiate with someone. She quickly dispatched him, and went to bed.
My mum and I listened to this story in open-mouthed astonishment. Regardless of anyone’s belief in God, we can all agree that an ashram is meant to be a haven of peace and spirituality. Women should feel safe within its confines. Anyway, I digress, but of course she felt the same way, and she was going to talk to swamiji about it when she got the opportunity.
Brij of course panicked in the morning, and went rushing to her room to apologise. She forgave him, but she insisted that she still needed to have a word with swamiji. Brij begged her not to, but her stance was unwavering. She did tell him that he should do it himself, as it would be better all around if he admitted to making a mistake. He of course did not have the courage to do so.
Soon, we left the ashram, and she did have a word with swamiji about the incident. He shook his head sadly and admitted that this was the problem with young boys. It was the age with them, and he would deal with Brij. Long story short, Brij was asked to leave.
And we thought that was the end of the story. Apparently not.
A few months later, I received a message from an unknown number. It was, no prizes for guessing, Brij. He had left the ashram, but had somehow gotten my number from there.
I was surprised to hear from him, and thought that perhaps he was looking for a job. Oh, how mistaken I was. He was messaging me to declare undying love for me this time. Because, of course.
I have nothing against relationships that transcend great age barriers, but I reckon there needs to be some meeting of minds to make it work. After I stopped laughing, I told him as gently as possible that I didn’t return his love. And because I realised what a sheltered upbringing these boys have, where they aren’t allowed to interact with girls naturally, I also said that he was certainly not in love with me either. Remember what happened in the ashram? I asked. That was a mistake, he averred. Oh brother.
Brij is clearly not a person of means and also absurdly young. So he kept calling and disconnecting, in the typical fashion of missed calls that college students use to communicate. I refused to call him, because I was working at the time, and I didn’t have time to deal with this sort of childishness.
In the rare moments I had free, I spent time and energy trying to reason with him. He unfortunately took that to mean that I was interested. I finally gave up in a couple of days, and stopped responding to his texts.
It was a lesson for me too: luv is sometimes more tenacious than real love.