[Not] Love

There’s a magical quality to falling in love for the first time – it’s dreamlike; pixie dust in the air.

By Trisha Dhar Malik

Illustrations by Krupi

The thing about the first time you fall in love, is that you don’t really remember most of it. It’s a blur of feelings and emotions and colours. A lot of neon spots and worms too, the kind that make you very dizzy, but in the best way. The mind fills in the empty spaces – caused by overwhelming emotions that cause you to forget – with possible versions of what could’ve been. But you can never be too sure. There’s a magical quality to it, dreamlike; pixie dust in the air.

Trembling, spastic fingers; when you’re usually a vision of elegance. Fumbling, gibberish words, when you usually sound like a poetic masterpiece. It’s very confusing; emotional turmoil can be handled, but sudden physical inabilities in a perfectly healthy body can be terrifying. But that’s what love does. Actually, just the idea of it is enough to take over your body, control you, become you.

I remember my pencil of choice, it was light green. Too light actually, and not too green either. It also didn’t work that well, breaking in between words and not writing smoothly. It was terrible basically, at doing its job.

I think I was in the fourth grade, my hair pulled far too neatly back, into a long braid. I had good hair, perpetually oiled by mom and her persistence. I had no knowledge of grammar and language, forget romance. It’s the age where you don’t feel the need to experiment with hairdos, or clothes. You just wear whatever’s on the top of the pile. Do what you feel like. And just, be.

This is the age where you have no idea what love is. You often confuse your crushes for love. The idea of love, you see, is painted so grandly and romantically on the walls of the universe, it makes children curious, full of awe. “What is this love?” “Who is this love?” And because the answer doesn’t readily show itself most times, we say, “He is.”

I think I tore a piece off of a class notebook’s crumply, last page. Most of which was covered with lost x and o games, which I had to dodge as I tore through. Then I wrote something like, “I like you” without a full stop, almost like it was just an impulsive thought. An inconclusive, unsure, abrupt, undecided broken but meaningful, true and innocent thought.

And that was it.

I remember folding the too-tiny-to-fold piece of paper, and placing it into his wooden desk which sat a sad and infinite three feet away from mine. It looked like a little white lump of crumpled paper, ready to throw away. An outsider would ignore its presence and think of it as a residue of some sorts. But then, he wasn’t an outsider.

I remember it clearly, dark brown, which in the sunlight and whirlwind of emotions looked almost mahogany. Shiny surfaces and light brown, coarse insides that almost looked half done. You know, like only the outside mattered. But at that age, it was quite sadly true.

I’m sure if you asked him out of the blue who sat next to him back then, he wouldn’t even have remembered the girl with a glowing face and dirty, crusty hands – from playing outside too much. I remember waiting to share readers, do partner projects and basically anything that made him reluctantly push his little desk closer to mine, so maybe I could catch a glimpse of his eyes and a look at the shape of his small nose. And more than anything, I remember the truckload of butterflies I felt in my little stomach, when he did have to do so.

About three minutes later, the gravity of my act of obvious stupidity and shamelessness hit. I could see the little note in his desk, which he had – being his oblivious self, not even noticed. He was bent over away from me, talking to some friends when I leaped in and took the chit back out of his desk. I remember it feeling a lot heavier back in my hands again. I remember his eyes hovering just a little, before going back to not looking. Not noticing. I put it into the pocket of my tangerine uniform. Looking at it again only when it came back from the wash, clean and white like before, brand new – no green marks. All evidence of my little romantic disaster erased, like it had never even happened. Like it was all a figment of my imagination. Some nights I even challenge it. I’m sure it didn’t happen. Other nights it’s all crystal clear, like it was yesterday. I like looking back, giggling a little at my innocent self, dying to get a taste of love.

“What if I’d left it there?” I think. Then my mind wanders to my embarrassingly quick recovery that had followed. Then I think, of course, because it wasn’t love. Was it?

Trisha is an 18 year old budding writer, hoping to study Creative Writing at a Canadian university later this year. Since as far back as she can remember, she’s been writing. Heartbroken, hungry or in love, you’ll find her just writing.

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