First Love

For today’s offering on the altar of my blog, I was thinking about writing about my first real boyfriend. Then I remembered I probably have a post written about him somewhere, and I should dredge that up first.

[I’ll add my 2016 bits in post the recap. So stay tuned.]

When I was dating my exes, occasionally I would remember my first boyfriend. Well, technically he was the second, but then again the actual first was a total wash-out. So NAM was whom I considered my first real boyfriend. I would feel horribly guilty, because whenever I thought of him, there was a wistfulness that crept into my mind. He and I were so good together – we laughed, we quipped merrily away, and we were so young. But it was a doomed relationship from inception because he was a Arab Muslim and I was an Indian Hindu – and never then twain shall meet. (Although he was rather liberal in his outlook.)

However, I am not going to dwell on the pitfalls and the eventual demise of our short relationship, but more on the parts that still make me smile when I think of him. He had to be the most intelligent, romantic, exciting, charming individual I had ever met. He was kind and sweet, and he had a roguish twisted grin that used to melt female hearts left, right, and centre. His jet-black hair flopped cheekily over his brow, and he had the most chocolate-y brown eyes I had ever seen. It was no exaggeration that he could have had any girl in the entire college, but for some bizarre reason decided I was the one for him.

There was the complication that my best friend at the time was completely bowled over by him. It also helped significantly that she was also Arab and Muslim. I really didn’t think I stood a chance with such a dazzling character, so I didn’t try. (I was seriously overweight and had hair that went beyond my knees. DWEEB!) Oh and I was all of 15, whereas both of them were 18.

I suppose we started becoming friends because we lived near each other. I would spend hours after class in the IT centre, and he would be hanging around as well. Just goes to show how incredibly innocent I was that I never thought it was odd that his and my work finished at the same time. I lived about 45 minutes away by foot, and I used to walk that distance (I was in England, and I loved the countryside). He had a bicycle, and again it never occurred to me that it was odd that he pushed it all the way home. Just to walk alongside me.

I still remember the day we actually started dating. He had been coming over and spending time with me, watching stupid movies and chatting into the small hours of the night. My best friend obviously didn’t appreciate our budding friendship, and talked to me at great length about how she and NAM were dating and hitting it off so well. It never struck me to consider WHEN they were actually dating. I was such a DUMB kid. The feelings continued to develop and I continued to deny they existed. I had only confided in my landlady’s daughter, Stacey.

One evening, NAM and I had had a small argument – which I can’t even remember right now. He called me up saying he had something to say to me. I stood on the porch in the freezing cold and waited for him. He showed up, and stood making small talk. I was so mad that I didn’t want to invite him in, but Stacey overruled me. (She was really fond of him.)

The mother and daughter pair were going out, so they were off getting ready. NAM and I sat watching TV, and I refused to speak to him. (Yes, I am aware that was infantile, but ‘poise’ wasn’t in my dictionary at that time.) Stacey hung around trying to get us to talk, till she lost her temper with me altogether. It was her belief that NAM fancied me, not my friend, and therefore I should tell him I liked him too. (She was a much smarter 11 year-old than I was a 15 year-old.)

Finally they were on their way out, and she left with the parting shot that maybe I stood tell him that I fancied a bloke. I couldn’t believe my ears, and I stared at the shut door in abject horror as she winked out of sight. I mustered up every inch of courage and looked at NAM, and I remember squeaking out, “Didn’t you want to tell me something?”

Every trace of the grin habitually on his face had been wiped off. He replied, “Yes, but who is the guy that you fancy?”

Me: “That’s irrelevant. What did you come to tell me?”

“You first.”

Even after that tell-tale remark, it didn’t strike me that he had come to tell me he liked me. I cringe at my stupidity.

I looked at the carpet for approximately half an hour, while there was pin-drop silence in the room. Finally I realised he wasn’t leaving without an answer, and wanting desperately for the earth to swallow me up, I blurted out that I liked him.

Again with the pin-drop silence.

And then a few seconds later, I was in his arms, looking up into his smiling face and doubting my hearing because he whispered, “Me too.” in my ear.

So many years later, and this story still brings a smile to my face. It was in 1999, and here I am 17 years thence, still thrilling slightly to the romance in that interlude.

NAM – those were his initials – was far more mature than I was, and there were many reasons our relationship failed. I expected our romance to unfold like a romance novel, and of course it didn’t. In retrospect, I would have to experience the requisite misery too, and that would have been awful. I just wasn’t very smart at the time. [Still not smart, but at least now I know it.]

NAM and I broke up in a few months, and I played the role of tragedy queen to the hilt. Thank you, exclusive diet of Hindi movies. I thought that a first love was the last love, and I was resigned to pining away the rest of years in solitude and melancholy. Ha. If you have read my Spring-Summer Connection series, this happened shortly before those events. Stacey’s house was my first paying guest accommodation in Scunthorpe, and the hero of the series owned the second. Altogether I lived in three places during my two years there.

[Also, the best friend in this story, and the best friend in the next series are the same person. I was a terrible friend clearly.]

Eventually, I came back to Dubai, and I think NAM went back home to Doha. He emailed me a few times, just as my family was moving back to India. The better part of two years in England, and me acting like a ridiculous movie trope, wasn’t enough to convince him, but in early 2003, he suddenly realised that he couldn’t let me go.

Finally, I lied to him about being in another relationship to make him go. That moment in my life was about my family, not about my love life. Certainly, it wasn’t about a doomed relationship at the tender age of 19.

NAM and I didn’t keep in touch. I did try looking for him many times, but he doesn’t seem to have an online presence under his own name. To be honest, part of me is glad. Because, as I’ve said before, nostalgia is a dangerous thing.

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