“I know you like experimenting things but I am not your experiment. I am not!” I shouted my lungs out not caring to wipe off my tears that ran across my cheeks to neck wetting most part of face along with the sweat.
“You are not my experiment Megha, you are my love, and you are m….”
“Enough” I shouted again. “Is it love? Is betrayal love? You just played in the name of love” I said in between my uneven breath.
“I didn’t want to lie to you but when I knew you loved me the way I was, I could not dare to tell you the truth but be like how you like me”
“Is this a movie? For how long you wanted to pretend like this Param? Till you get bored of me?”
“I wanted to tell you but you found out before I could tell”
I was so disappointed about the whole discovery of my ‘milk man turning into a richest heir of the town’ , I didn’t want to know anything more from him.
“I still cannot believe all this is real” I said pressing my head. My head felt heavy and dizzy. I did not want to stand in that place anymore. A bungalow, swimming pool and a big garden looked so unrealistic like an illusion. If I hadn’t followed him I might have never known he was such a good damned actor.
“Megha please let me..” the feeling of being cheated by a love of one and half a year had made me deaf to whatever he was saying.
I was tired and hurt. My legs were about to give away any moment. I could not hear my heart beating. Not wanting to see his beautiful face and listen to his sweet voice that can deceive me again I walked towards my scooty.
He came behind still pleading me to calm down and listen to him. He held my hands to stop me and that was all it needed to rise my rage. I turned back and slapped hard on is cheeks. His tears melted in my palms. The same clean shaven cheeks I kissed countless times now had my hand prints on them. His eyes reflected the pain my heart felt.
The watchman & the car driver standing at a distance came running but Param signaled them to stop. I didn’t care who saw or where I was, my mind was covered by the cloud of betrayal I felt. I only remember walking away from him and riding back home.
My mother did not ask what happened. Even if she had I would not have answered. I fell on my bed wetting the pillow under my face.
“Coming to café?” Anu asked
“I don’t want to” I replied. I was acting normal. But I cannot blame if my bestie had figured out I am not really normal.
“You need a change, come” she pulled me up from my place.
She seemed to know everything that happened. I hate this- when your best friend gets to know about you before you tell them yourself. I blamed myself for giving Anu’s contact number to Param. All boys are same I thought.
“Stop looking at me like that” I said sensing her continuous stare on me.
“Ha? Yeah, why is your cell switched off for long?” she asked.
“I know you know already. Did he tell you everything?” I blamed myself for my damn mistake of giving him her number. I gave it as a backup. Thinking if he cannot reach me than he could speak to her and not to inform all the bullshit he did.
“No, he did not tell, I knew this would happen” she said thoughtfully.
The sip of the coffee I took suddenly felt hot and burning. Things are already getting hard past a week that nothing is making sense anymore. I had switched off my cell phone for 7 days now. And I am attending the classes for the sake of not wanting to have attendance shortage and I am barely making it to college to have a degree and get out of this town soon. And here is my friend telling me fortunes.
“What are you saying?” I asked her casually yet confused.
“Megha, I knew who he actually is and what family he came from. I know him since I was a kid and I always mentioned him. My father works at their estate”
“You kidding me? When did you ever mention him? You know what, I am trying to forget things and move ahead and this is really not a way to cheer me up.
“Kittu! You definitely remember Kittu right? The estates owner’s son”
I had heard that name like more than a thousand time in these 18 years of friendship with Anu. There was a time when she always used to tell about him. ‘Kittu did that, Kittu did this, Kittu said that, Kittu brought this… all about Kittu. The sound of his name blurred my vision.
Holy cow!!! Kitty, Kittu is my first crush. I remember seeing him first time when he had come along with Anu’s father to drop her to school. I had instantly blushed seeing him smile at me.
I remembered playing hide and seek with him & other kids in the estate whenever I went to Anu’s house in 4th grade summer holidays.
I remember this incident where he was a seeker and purposefully did not catch me even when I was so close to getting caught. And well, I remember my first kiss. He had kissed me on cheeks bidding a bye saying he would leave the town the next day. I was shocked to receive a kiss in front of other kids and Anu’s parents. Later Anu had explained that’s how they say good byes in America and I got little upset thinking that’s how he would say bye to Anu also.
Once he went back to America and didn’t return for a long time, Kitty’s memory eventually remained in the closed shell until now.
How come I couldn’t recognize him? how did I fail to recognise Param is the adult version of Kitty. And that both of them are a single person? The similarities between the kid and a complete 24 year old adult hit me. The unmistakably the same chocolate brown eyes, silky black hair, sharp jaw line charming attitude and a birth mark on left hand crossed my mind.
I did not know whether to feel happy about my first crush being my first love or to feel sad that my lucky love story did not end well. I was also angry on Anu for she also hid the truth from me. How can my friend just sit and watch things happen. A drop of tear fell inside my coffee mug that had turned completely into a cold coffee by this time.
“No Anu, let’s leave it here”
“I want you to listen”
“I don’t want to. I mean you could not just stay quiet about everything that involved me right?” I tried to remain even sounding less pathetic.
“No I could not, but you loved him that way, as a milk boy who struggled to stand on his own”
“Stop telling me you guys lied because of me. You don’t decide what I love or like” the tightness in my throat bulged to next level pushing tears out of my control.
“You think I like being fooled by my lover and best friend? And you? You think it is a movie to just accept and laugh it off?” my sadness took over my anger. I continued-
“If it was you, would you have just nodded and get over it that easily? This is not a story where the frog turns into a handsome prince. And I am not the princess.”
“I understand, I knew this day would come and I had well known you would be heart broken. But I know Kittu well. I know he would be there for you no matter what happens. I had to hide it for my brother like Kittu.”
I wiping my face with a tissue stood up to leave for the class.
“Think about it, you did not care when you thought he is poor. You did not care when you thought he had no home, no money and no proper living. You loved him just as he is and not for what he has or does not have. You loved him as a person and your sudden discovery of his mere status is not going to change it. You were even ready to go against your parents for marrying him if they would not accept him. You love him Megha, and now you are running away from his status thinking you are running away from him. I care about you, you are like my soul sister, and you were there with me for most part my life like how my parents are and how my siblings would be if I had one.”
I stopped walking and turned to her “you see him like your brother?
“Yeah, I always wanted a sibling and he is like my big brother, but why do you ask?”
“Because I thought you liked Kittu”. I said. A smile crossing my face.
She put her hands on my shoulders knowing well I was feeling good now.
“But that does not mean I am letting this go” I said.
“I know” she said biting her lips reminding herself how arrogant I could be.
That was Wednesday. It was an unspoken law that we meet every Wednesday afternoon as we both had no classes. His college was half an hour journey from mine and I would stand near the gate waiting for him to come and then we both ride in my scooty to have lunch. Today looked different. I did not still switch on my cell and he had stopped coming to deliver milk. We didn’t see each other since I slapped him. I stood unsure if to wait for him or just get back home. He came exactly on the time smiling sweetly. My heart skips a beat every time he smiled. I stood looking elsewhere trying hard to ignore him. His smiled widened seeing me acting hard to suppress his presence.
“Where shall we go today? “He asked casually like he always did.
“May be nowhere” I replied.
“Then whom are you waiting for?”
“Okay, this is hurting. Megha, I know I lied you but I did not cheat you or betray you. I was so much blindly in love with you I did not realize that the truth would hurt you one day.”
I did not reply.
“I am ready to do whatever you say, please forgive me”. He said.
“If so please leave now.” I told looking firm.
He nodded and left the place without a second word.
I knew he loved me. It was not a betrayal. Is not the saying “everything is fair in love and war” true? Lying to love someone did not appear very bad now. What matters most is that we are being loved. What would I do if it was me in Param’s shoes? He was in no position to tell the truth. I slowly closed my eyes and let myself free in his thoughts.
Mom was surprised to see me happy after almost a week. She usually never asks about my mood swings. She is wise enough to let me correct things on my own. Yet sometime her silence makes me fear she knows everything about me and that’s why she never takes the trouble to ask me anything.
I lay on the bed switching on my mobile for the first time in that week. Messages flooded in my inbox. I quickly opened them to see Param’s. There were 3 from him. Two of them are photos and one was a text message.
One photo was of us taken last December in the chilled cold morning. I had sneaked out of the house 4 in the morning in my scooty to the milk parlor to find him loading the milk packets to his bike for house delivery. I had stood at a distance admiring him work hard in that cold. And when I went near I could not help myself from hugging him. I was not sure if that was cold or the long moment of close observation of his well-built body through the thin cotton t shirt he had worn. This photo was taken when I was about to kiss him and he moved suddenly making me kiss the air. I laughed remembering how I faked anger and did not let him go until he gave me a peck on my lips.
The second photo was ours as kids-I, Anu and Param were there. It was taken probably when we did not notice we were being captured by a camera. It looked like Param was saying something to me and I was laughing and Anu was looking at the photographer. I tried to remember when it was taken but I hardly remembered anything.
The third message was a text message that read-
“You may not remember the second one, it was when you were calling me Kitty and I was correcting it saying that it is Kittu and not Kitty.
I loved you when I was small, I am sure I was the first guy to kiss you and I love you always. It looks like I have never grown at all. Meeting you after so long and falling in love with you again is a beautiful coincidence.”
That feeling of knowing my first crush’s childhood crush was me, was incredible. And now it all looked like a fairy tale. Ultimately we all reach where we belong, that is to where we are loved. Rich or poor, truth or lies, we loved each other was all that is enough.
“I love you kitty” I replied to his 5 days back message.
“Love you too” came his instant reply.
I parked my scooty in the side parking outside my college gate and waited for him like we had agreed the day before. I realized things won’t be same as before now. Now there is no need for him to pretend. The golgappas, movies in common theaters, lunch in Rama hotel, the small yet lovely gifts will be replaced by posh hotels, costly gifts, and malls. I would definitely miss our old time. Our long rides in my scooty is my favorite of all. But it’s time for me to accept who he really is.
The way things turned out amuses me. I am still not ready to analyze how it all happened or how it even started. I met Param as a milk delivery boy first time in front of my house. Later mom had told me he is doing his M.B.A. and is helping himself by working early in the morning supplying milk and paper to the households.
A boy just 2 years elder to me being so independent and determined in life attracted me. It all started with curiosity. I started peeping through the window every morning to see him work. He carefully took the milk packets and placed them in the baskets tied to the front gates, the way he rolled the newspapers in a thin plastic covers before keeping them along with milk packets, how nicely he greeted the people who walked and jogged on the roads.
Initially I was curious about sincerity he showed in his work but soon I began to notice each small things about him. The freshness in his face, the genuine smile, and the way he walked and rode his bike, the never ending enthusiasm that challenged the early morning’s lousiness. I wondered why he never wore a sweater or something because our town has the lowest temperature in the entire state.
Gradually watching him became my favorite part of the day. I was worried why I was getting up early just to watch him for 8 to 10 minutes. Soon I began to fall for him unknowingly. I knew it was stupid in all the ways but I was afraid it was true.
And when my college started after a month of semester holidays I came to know he takes the same route as mine to his college that’s located 5 kilometers after my college. Soon we became ‘bus friends’. We sat together till I reached my college and thereafter there was no stopping me from falling for him.
he had said he was somewhat new to town and his family is in a far off village. and he had just moved here complete his masters , against his family’s wish. He had spoken the truth but I wasnot wise enough to realise it then.
Now I understand why he was not so open about himself or his family. May be he was avoiding more lies. He kept listening to my stories with so much interest. We started meting outside college. There were days when I silently sneaked out of my balcony to meet him and he would take me to that beautiful place near to the estate where Anu’s father worked as a manager, where we would sit and enjoy the sunrise in the clouded weather, the cuddle and kisses we shared in the midst of orange and litchi plants, the memories we made in the morning cold, the hotness of his body in such a chilled climate, the way he held me close to him, the silence his words had… now I know how I had been with him in his own estate without realizing it. Now I know why the watchman who sometimes spotted us just smiled without asking why we were trespassing the property.
I was curious then and I am curious now, he always kept me thinking about him. Isn’t it too filmy? But who cares? I love him and he loves me. I know his family is the richest of all in the town yet he chose to be a simple and normal person for me. He could have had many other ways to love someone but he chose this simple me in this simple way of life. he Ordinary yet extraordinarily loved me.
Just as I turned towards where everyone stared with their mouth open, Param got down from his jaguar and walked towards me. I looked at the car and let out a sigh. He came smiling like he did always. He was the same old Param but the way I see him now is different. The scooty key in my hands suddenly felt tiny.
“How was the internals?” he asked me.
“Yeah, was okay” I replied.
“So let’s go?” he asked. I don’t know why I feared a change when it’s not a bad one.
“Yeah” I managed to say.
“Ok then, am I riding today or you want to?” he asked surprising me.
“Ha?” I looked up trying to understand what he meant.
“What? I got my helmet. Do you want to ride the scooty or should I?”
I don’t know why I was overwhelmed, I hugged him tightly to his surprise and released him only when the other students waiting for their buses made an “ooooooooo….” sound, some clapping, and some laughing at my sudden reaction.
“You surprise me always…” he said smiling.
As he rode the scooty to his estate, I asked him,
“Param, so you knew I was the same girl you kissed long back”
“Hmmm… yes, once I found out there is a girl stalking me secretly from her window, I had to do a back ground check” he chuckled.
“You knew I was secretly watching you?” I was shocked.
“What do you think? I have that ‘love sense’ that told I was being loved by a cute girl”
“Yes, like sixth sense”
“But you did not know I was the same kid in the beginning right?”
“Megha, I coming there as a milk man, falling in love with you, finding out you are the friend of Anu whom I met long before was all a coincidence. But I am glad it happened that way. And you know, the happiest part was I had no reason not to fall for you. It was like the entire universe wanted us to be together. Falling for a girl who loved me just as me feels so beautiful like you.”
“Ah… that was the longest sentence you ever said” I told hugging him from behind.
“I love you Megha…” he said looking at my reflection in the mirror.
“I love you too coffee prince Kitty” I said making my hug tighter.
We continued our journey on the wet road of our coffee town. The smell of the coffee filled the air welcoming me to world of coffee prince kitty.