Kavya, 21, is a graduate in Psychology and an author and lives in Jaipur.
Out of the movies
Around the time of puberty, when love hormones spike inside us love birds, I too had the teeny-weeny feeling bloom within me. I was 12, studying in Grade 7 in a reputed school in South Delhi. I had a crush. Let's call him Arnav. Arnav was tall, his hair hazel brown, the kind you see in movies. He looked exactly like he was out of one.
I first saw him on our first day of Grade 7 in early April. He was a new admission and our class teacher had called him up to the front to introduce him to the class. He was smart, lean and extremely cute. He had the perfect teeth and a sparkling smile. Arnav had a wheatish complexion and eyes as blue as the ocean. In the young heat of April, he felt like a whiff of cool breeze.
The back bencher
As the days passed, I got to know that he was a sportsperson as well. And as stories of his sportsmanship made rounds, I got to know that he'd set the basketball court on fire when he played. I, however, never got a chance to watch him play live. The teachers in my school were very scared that the ball might hit and injure me and thus, I would stay inside the classroom during PT periods.
You could find Arnav sitting in one of the last benches while my seat was reserved in the very front, just across the teacher's desk. So, while it is evident that we were far away in terms of physical proximity, somewhere deep down I had the feeling that we were even farther apart in other terms too – I was a girl with a disability and he was non-disabled.
Love is all around
During these delicate years, everyone around me was in love, tasting crumbs of the newly-born relationships. Love was in the air quite literally. My friends would tell me with a lot of excitement about how their boyfriends and girlfriends gifted them chocolates or how the date they went on was, and I would think to myself when would I get a chance to be the protagonist in a story like this. Or will I ever get one?
So when love surrounded me, I was skeptical. None of my friends really knew if I also liked someone - someone from their own class. I don't think they could fathom that I was capable of having a crush because my heart knows how to love, even when my body might not be able to express. All my fantasies stayed where they were - inside my heart.
Almost told him but...
Even Arnav didn't have the slightest idea how much I liked him. A part of me wanted to break it to him when he came back one time to class to grab his water bottle during a lunch break. It was a Wednesday, the day when we would have our PT class. (I remember because he was wearing the sports uniform - blue house t-shirt and dark blue track pants. He looked like his usual self - hair ruffled, frameless specs perched upon his nose making him look like the greatest nerd ever and his skin glowing beautifully even in May heat.)
But a part of me was scared of what might follow. I didn't know how he'd react. I also didn't know if he'd laugh, or say that he didn't feel the same way and all my yearnings would come crashing down right there.
Though we didn't date, we were friends - really good ones. Over the years, we talked about psychology, books and poetry. I'd call him up and we'd talk about anything. He was an extrovert and I, an introvert. So, he was the one who did all the talking, and I listened patiently.
His thoughts were deep, people with thought processes like his are rare. His sense of humour was great. He had this magical power to uplift anyone's (read: my) mood with the click of a finger. Being with him felt like being free, owing to the space he had provided me with. He was a movie lover and would binge watch his favourite blockbusters as soon as they'd hit the screens. His favourite movie was the psychological thriller named ‘Split.’ Of course it had to be - love for psychology ran in his blood. With all that he was about, how could I not fall for him?
We had become friends over a piece of literature. It was when I had written a piece for an online publishing website that he'd pinged me personally about how he'd loved it. Though we were in the same class, this is how our first interaction turned out to be!
Out of sight, out of mind?
As the years flipped by, our friendship grew. Though I couldn't devour his matches live, I made sure that I wished him all the luck before every match. Once when I wished him best of luck, he said, ‘Now I'm certain that the victory is ours!’ He even winked!
Trust me, it was everything I could ever wish for. But once we were out of school, our calls lessened and our friendship faded. We're, however, virtually connected through social media and sometimes, I even stalk him online. I still think of his sparkling smile and all our treasured conversations, and wonder if he remembers me too.
I never told him what I felt for him and how could I? He was in a relationship already and he looked happy too. Moreover, I wanted to keep this little friendship of ours safe. Seeing him together with his partner made me feel jealous. It also made me hate my naïvety of keeping mum. Sometimes, I do think that if he had hinted on his likeness for me (if there was), maybe I'd have let him know about my fondness for him too. But I think we were both headed on the same path with different intentions.
My idea of relationship
When I think of being in a relationship, I think of two best friends living together. These people are free to share whatever they feel like, not judge their partners and love them a lot. They crack jokes, go out on dates, or have a date night at home itself.
That's the relationship I want for myself - where there is loyalty and freedom, care and compassion, love and tussles, and I know one day, I'll have that someone special in my life too, with whom I'll share a relationship like this.
Names have been changed and the person in the picture is a model.
Love Matters, in collaboration with Rising Flame presents a series of essays on love, intimacy, relationships and disability. Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar is an effort to amplify voices of disabled women; narratives on love that seldom are seen in mainstream discussions on romance. Starting February 14th, we will be releasing several pieces authored by women with disabilities giving us a sneak peek into their lives.