The first one
Let me tell you about my first love. Love
is too strong a word, actually.
His name was Nikhil, and he was just one of the milky-white twenty-one year old Punjabi men who dot the landscape of Delhi. There's no way you can tell him apart from the other Nikhils. He was unique, though: the Nikhil of my folly. I met him online, in a chatroom that I have now come to despise for its sheer lack of depth
, and we hit it off instantly. We were both staying in Central Delhi, and we decided to meet that evening. The Jaypee Hotel, in Rajendar Nagar, was the venue. He was wearing a black tshirt and jeans. I was wearing something similar.
I thought he was cute. We talked. We walked the half-hour walk back to my place. The landlord was in, so we sat outside on the pavement and carried on chatting. We spoke about his life, his college marks, his brother, his boyfriend, my job, my stint in Delhi, what we were both looking out for, crummy jokes, and the like. We talked. And talked. And talked. For six straight hours. We were immensely comfortable with each other. But because the landlord was still in the building, we parted - a quick hug, and a promise to meet soon. He messaged me within five minutes of leaving, how he was already missing me.
The first time I had sex doesn't seem momentous to me. It was just one of those things I'd been planning, and one of those things that felt necessary. The first time I made love to Nikhil was monumental. I had never kissed anyone like that before. Forgive my dramatics. We made love for seven hours. On and on and on. I never wanted to let him go. He was special. He had a boyfriend, and I told myself that Nikhil and I were only about sex, but... he was special.
That facade ended the next time we met. It was another stormy session. We met, we walked, we kissed, we kissed, we kissed, and we made love. And then he told me, he was in love with me. I balked. That's ridiculous! You have a boyfriend! We've only just met! It takes more than that to be in love!
he shrugged, told me to take my time, but made it clear that he was in love with me.
I refused to believe it, then. But then, there are things that you... believe in, even when you know you shouldn't. There were phone calls, sms messages, meetings in my room, fantasies shared. I would travel in the Gurgaon bus, looking out at the rain, and wish I could make love to him there. He would call me at random hours, and say that he was missing me. He kept on telling me that he was in love with me. And while we did all these crazy, lovely things, I found myself needing more and more of him. I sent him poetry sms messsages. Ridiculous
. I've never done that since.
And so I told myself: perhaps, just perhaps... this is love.
And one evening, as we lay on my bed, spent, exhausted, yet very much eager, I whispered in his ear that I loved him. I loved him.
Nikhil and I were together for five and a half months. They were glorious. They were tempestuous. I hated the fact that he refused to leave his boyfriend, simply because I don't want to hurt him - we've been together for four years!
I found that silly. I decided that I would come back from Bombay, after my impending transfer, so that I could be with Nikhil. He would leave his boyfriend then, he said. We told ourselves that we must not get too attached to each other, because my transfer was coming closer and closer... three months, two months... But then, we would pant that we loved each other too much to take it slow. And the poetry sms' continued. Ridiculous.
We broke up twice. One weekend, he went away to Shimla with his boyfriend, and I was left behind in Delhi, hissing with jealousy. So, I went online in search of a mate. Just for spite. I found one. I cheated on Nikhil. Again and again. With a little affair on the side. I reasoned, if he could not leave his boyfriend, he had no right to demand fidelity from me. Nikhil found out. We fought, and he broke up with me. I cried then. The first time I'd ever cried for a boy. I bawled my heart out. I begged him to come back to me. I pleaded my case: jealousy. After a week, he decided that he would forgive me. But, he said, things would never be the same again. I knew they would, though.
And I was right. We were together again. But not for too long. I could not handle his boyfriend. I could not handle my own jealousy. So I still slept with my little sex interest. I still found other dalliances on the side. Sometimes, Nikhil called when I was with one of them, and I lied that I was out with my friends and I would call him back later. When I got back home, I would call, and Nikhil and I would chat on the phone for an hour or so. And then fall asleep. My phone bills skyrocketed.
I suppose he guessed what was happening. On one of those rare nights that he spent the whole night at my place, in my arms, he went through my cell phone while I was in the loo. he found some messages a dalliance had sent. He didn't say anything that night, while we made love, and only told me the next morning. How strange: I was furious
. I'm not sure, at what. I was furious that he would go through my phone. In my book, that was a serious breach of trust... but then, I was sleeping around, too... but then... there were tioo many 'but's in my head. I stormed off. I told him that I wasn't ready to see him again. In some strange calm, I told him, I'd probably said the love
word far too soon. I wasn't ready for him, for his complications, and he wasn't ready for his. I was willing to take it slow, if he wanted, but I would not want to say that I loved him anymore. Because I wasn't sure if I did...
The funny part: the sms that he saw was from a dalliance I hadn't actually slept with, as yet!
Another week passed by. I agonised over my decision. I tried to meet other people. And then, Nikhil called back. We argued, we fought, I never cried though. The old flame was over, he said, he would pay more attention to his boyfriend from now. But... he wanted to see me. He didn't want to lose me... as a friend. I was satisfied.
But in the gay world, friends
are a funny creatures. The next time Nikhil and I met was stiffly formal. But then, we had a burger and we chatted, and we loosened up. The time after that, we ended up in bed together. None of the original passion was diminished. We kept meeting after that - once every week, and we would go straight to bed. It was a funny arrangement. I started dating someone else, but then, those once-a-week thingys carried on. Funny arrangement.
The time came for me to leave Delhi. Nikhil called, and said he would miss me. He said, perhaps, it was all for the best that we had broken up. Broken up. I laughed, and said, 'perhaps'. He wanted me back in Delhi, and I said, 'perhaps'. Three weeks later, while I was in Bombay, he called me to say that he didn't want to be in touch with me anymore, because he was totally committed to his boyfriend: he didn't want me to call.
I cried that night. It suddenly struck me that Nikhil was out of my life for good, now. Yes, I'm a pansy at times. I'm more cynical now, though.
The disillusionment came later. I had introduced Nikhil to some of my dalliances and friends, after that last break-up. He said, he wanted to meet other gay people, since he lived a fairly cloistered life, and so I introduced them. A week or so after the final phone call, I learnt that Nikhil was hardly being the devoted boyfriend - he was painting the gay town red with all of my dalliances, and many others of his own finding. My cloistered ex was the new party boy in saddi
! The clincher, however, came later: a close friend of mine refused to sleep with Nikhil, because of the boyfriend factor. And it was then, that the skeleton tumbled out of the closet: Nikhil didn't have a boyfriend. He never had one.He never had one.
Why did he do it? I can't explain it, to this day. Some sick machinations to make me fall more in love with him? Feel more jealous about him? Could anyone be that depraved... or even pitiable? I found the whole thing loathesome. I was glad he was out of my life. I couldn't stand the idea of meeting the person who made an utter fool of me for so long.
And of course, I met him again. When I was in Delhi, in May. He heard that I was in town. He called me. He asked to meet me. I said yes.
A cafe in a Gurgaon mall. Nice and glitzy. I ordered a chocolate mousse and waited. He was late. When he finally came, I smiled at him. He smiled back. He was looking stretched. Pale. Thinner. There was acne on his face. I told him he looked tired, and he replied that he was. We talked about life in Bombay, life in Delhi, Pegs and PInts versus the GB parties, whether we were dating anyone, etc. I asked him about his boyfriend, and he said he had broken up with him. I smiled. I finally did what you wanted,
he laughed, now you can come back to Delhi
. I laughed. He was making a joke. A bad joke, but one that deserved a laugh.
It was a strained conversation. Not the seven-hour sparkle like when we first met. Too much history for that now. Too much agonising. We talked for about an hour, and then I got up. I had to meet an old friend, I told him, and he nodded. I have to go too,
he said, keep in touch.
I will, I replied, and shook his hand. Patted it.
And walked out of the cafe. It was a hot Gurgaon afternoon.