The Pure Beginnings of Love

Author: Yugal SehgalOriginally published on March 7, 2020

2011. 8th Grade. A simpler time. She entered the class with a strangely exotic aura. She was new to the school, new to my class. Something about her was very different from the other girls. She made them look familiar and boring. And she was quite confident for a newbie. Wasn’t she supposed to be nervous? A little bit? She had all eyes on her, mine probably went unnoticed.

An illustration of the scene by the author. © 2020

I knew I was looking at someone in a way I had never before. After all, I had never been nervous just by looking at someone. I didn’t even know this girl. I probably never even would, I thought. But why was I glancing at her every now and then? Was I just curious because she was new? Or was I, perhaps, hoping to catch her glance at me?

A few days later I looked her up on Facebook. She was quick to accept my friend request. Then one day we were online at the same time. Oh Goodness! My heart was beating a little faster. Did she notice I was online, too? I recklessly sent her a message that looked frighteningly like “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!” (enthusiastically typed on a good old computer keyboard). Thankfully, and surprisingly, she replied.

She was talking to me. SHE was talking to ME! It was too fantastical. With all her air of confidence and exoticness, talking to her was strangely easy. Surely it should’ve been more difficult to talk to her? And why was it pleasing to talk to her? Each message from her gave me a strange tingle in the gut. It excited me to see her typing. I kept responding to her messages right away.

Then I noticed she was responding right away, too.

Over the next few months we developed a close friendship. We couldn’t sit together in class so we would sit on seats parallel to each other's. She would sit on the right side of her seat, I on the left side of mine, or it was the other way round. That way we were still in each other's reach.

I would sometimes make origami frogs and send them hopping towards her from my table. She would keep them in her pocket or her bag.

An animation of the origami frog by the author. © 2020

She would also (sometimes) write my assignments for me. On one such assignment about currency, she pasted a real 10 Rupee note with Fevicol on my notebook. That was when I discovered she was crazy.  I think I was just as crazy because I never returned that note to her, or spent it. I kept it in my wallet as a token of our friendship.

In addition to being together all the time in class, we now shared the same tuition classes. After those classes we’d linger around for some more time together. Then we’d talk for hours on phone calls. We just didn’t seem to get enough of each other. Nearly every waking moment for us was around, and about, each other.

Then I confessed my feelings to her. She reciprocated. And our lives changed forever.

Soon we would sit on the stairway of my house for what felt like hours, simply looking at each other, half-worried someone would see us, half-lost in each other’s gaze. Her gaze had something entrancing about it. Meanwhile, I would give her hair a clumsy combover. She wouldn't mind.

We would take each other’s notebooks and write our initials on them, mostly on the last page. She would make the occasional heart here and there. She particularly liked doing that.

An illustration of the notebook by the author. © 2020

She was also quite fond of greeting cards, gave me quite a lot of them, usually with something lovely written on them by herself. Some were accompanied by gifts, once an alarm clock, another a tiny heart-shaped photo album with our pictures in it. I must admit she was way more generous when it came to gifting than I was. She didn’t need an occasion either. She would just show up with something. I would make up for my lack of presents by singing songs to her, drawing something for her, or writing something lovely. I liked expressing my feelings like that. She liked it too because it would make her ecstatic.

It was a good amount of give and take. Sometimes tangible, mostly intangible. At times, more was less. But it was always healthy.

We were great together. Deeply and purely in the expanding bubble of love. It encircled us well, wrapped us closer, and sheltered us from the external nonsense of everything that was not love. But like all bubbles, it burst. That story is better reserved for another day but I would like to say that, looking back, it was a rather ceremonious break-up for someone of our age.

The purity of it all shocks me to this day. You may call it childish love (and rightly so), but I think kids love purely because they haven’t been contaminated by the compromised existence of adult life just yet. Perhaps it is the shelter of the various bubbles that enclose them. Nonetheless, knowing that I may never be able to experience the purity of love like that again makes me all the more grateful that I did get to experience it.

We are very good friends to this day and have developed high respect for each other over the years. Our friendship has seen (a fair share of) mindful evolution, and we are better for it.

All those years ago on that fateful day when she entered my class, I knew it wasn’t only the class that she was entering, it was also my life. I knew that my nervous glances at her meant more than just curiosity. Something, even back then, told me that the course of my life was about to change drastically that day. And indeed it did. Because love had walked into my life.

Yugal Sehgal writes about life, mindfulness, and people. He lives in India. Follow him and @drawcuments on Instagram.