By Talib Gibran
Love is a myth. Having felt and ‘unfelt’ what everyone calls love so many times, I’ve come to a conclusion that whatever I felt wasn’t love. It was lust. It was obsession. It was infatuation. It was all combined. And all these are bound to agonisingly disappear somehow along the way. Love is supposed to be the oldest feeling in the world, yet somehow it always feels new. Tell me if there is any mystery more mysterious than love. But I got confused sometimes, especially after meeting Anna. How do I know what I feel is love? The idea that a human being is willing and able to love multiple people at the same time or even one after the other is confusing to me. But for now, I will pretend what I feel is love.
I spoke with Anna only three times; once on the beach and twice on the phone. I thought I was trying to know her better but I was wrong. I was getting to know myself better. I was raking over the past and reawakening my dead heart. Now I understand my status. I’m ready to try this again; the horrors, the heartbreaks, the fights, the anxiety, the tension. All over again.
It was a Sunday morning and having religiously done what I usually do in the morning, I thought of chatting with Anna via SMS, for the first time.
I looked at the screen for minutes without blinking….and anxiously kept looking at it. The message was sent and delivered itself. But why isn’t she replying? I started to get worried. Thirty minutes. One hour. Two hours. The wait continued. When it was night, I knew sleeping in that condition was impossible. I must do something. I must at least hear her voice. So I picked up the phone and called her. It rang just once….and she picked.
I wanted to complain. I wanted to tell her how worried I was. I wanted to argue…and told her it wasn’t fair that she never replied to my text. God knows everything came right on my lips…but I rolled it all back after hearing her first words.
Anna: “Please don’t be mad at me”
That’s it. Only that and, by the stars of the ancestors, that genuine remorseful request would have made me change my mind even if I had started signing a divorce paper. It was real, precise and heart-wrenching. Anyone who acts up after hearing that, trust me, their heart is cladded with metal.
Me: “(Sighs.) That is not gonna happen. I was just worried”
Anna: “I know. It was totally my fault. I should have replied or even called”
Me: “I’m glad you are okay”
Anna: “You didn’t ask if am okay. How do you know?”
Me: “It’s true I didn’t ask…..but that voice and the serenity it goes with could only mean peace. Except if you want to tell me otherwise.”
Anna: “(Chuckles). You are right. I am fine”
Me: “Good. So you wanna tell me what or who stole you from me the whole day?”
Anna: “Haha, funny. No one can…but the irony is something can….and it did”
Me: “If no one can, then that is totally okay with me. I can compete with ‘something’”
Anna: “(Giggles). I was on the highway when your text came in and it wasn’t safe to chat with all these drivers veering towards unsuspecting pedestrians. I wanted to come, relax and then before going to bed, have a quiet chat with you. I was about to do that when your call came in.”
Me: “No worries. You got a genuine reason. Besides, it’s better to wait for you to come home than to wait forever…”
Anna: “I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen anytime soon. Insha’ Allah”
Anna: “How was your day?”
Me: “Nothing interesting. Anyway I never thought I’d ask you this question…this soon but here I am, when can we meet again?”
Anna: “Hmm…I don’t know yet. But we can plan a day. When will you be free?”
Me: “Oh I am free”
Anna: “Haha… Don’t you go to work?”
Me: “Yes I do…but I have been doing that for God knows how long. So if I have a chance to do something I rarely do, hell I will grab it.”
Anna: “So you mean you are going to skip work to meet me?”
Me: “Those are your words… Haha…”
Anna: “Okay then, pick a day.”
Me: “If I pick a day, you gonna pick a venue.”
Anna: “That works for me.”
Anna: “Perfect. Your home”
Me: “Oh, I wasn’t expecting that.”
Anna: “Do you have a better place in mind?”
Me: “Nope. My home it is then.”
Anna: “Cool. I will text you a little later okay. Don’t sleep off”
Me: “Yes Ma’am.”
Anna: “Haha… Ciao.”
Love makes us better; it makes us wiser and brighter, so I think. Coining Henry James’ immortal expression, I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything or anyone better than having Anna.
There are people who don’t wait to ask someone out. In their subconscious, the longer they wait chances are someone is going to snatch the person…and then their heart will be pierced. While others hesitate, calculate and meditate everything, even the ugly aftermath assuming it doesn’t work. But in between these two is a unique group of people who allows whatever they feel about each other to naturally develop so none of them will have to profess anything to the other. Just get close to each other, close enough that whatever is pounding in your hearts is telegraphed on your faces. And then, you know, start something proper without having to promise the other person heaven and earth just to get them. I belong to that group. Professing love is the scariest thing for me. I rather never say it and rely on whatever chance there is to have her or maybe pray she is my opposite so she would carry the burden of professing. The reason? Simple. I’m not good on promises; that’s why I hardly make one. But since people in our generation are not ready to say yes to a proposal until you promise to love only them for the rest of your life, think about them every minute, the only person you will ever love—all of which are illogical and untrue at once—I usually decide to keep my mouth shut because of the promises no one hardly keeps anyway. Again, I blame my inability or otherwise to understand what love truly is.
Me: “Yes Anna”
Anna: “What’s on your mind?”
Me: “Are you Facebook now? Lol…”
Anna: “Haha… Kinda”
Me: “You are on my mind”
Anna: “Hmm…care to elaborate?”
Me: “I thought that was explicit enough”
Anna: “Still, I want to know more. How and why am I on your mind?”
Me: “I can’t answer the how…but the why, I believe at this moment there is no one I would rather have on my mind.”
Anna: “That is sweet. But you probably have said that to so many girls”
Me: “Yes, but each girl is different. You are different. What I feel inside makes every prior feeling or expression totally irrelevant”
Anna: “Someone is very nice today. Maybe I should screenshot that and share it on my status. Or should I say ‘screenshoot’ since it is a verb?”
Me: “Well if it makes you happy”
Anna: “Wait, you don’t seem happy about that”
Me: “Not really. I’m just not the status or the screenshot type…”
Anna: “That is another way of saying you don’t like to share stuff on social media”
Me: “On the contrary. I share stuff on Facebook, usually links to my essays. I’ve never put anything on my WhatsApp status though.”
Anna: “So why did you say screenshot isn’t your thing?”
Me: “Well most of the times we screenshot or screenshoot, like you said, our private conversations with people on Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS and share them with other people. For me, whoever shares a screenshot of their private conversation with someone, anyone—good or bad—has completely lost my confidence. I could be wrong but I strongly believe that if you share with the world a good chat you had with someone in private, nothing will stop you from sharing a horrible chat you had with that same person when things go wrong. And believe me, things always and eventually go wrong.”
Anna: “Wow. That’s a unique perspective. So does that mean I am gonna lose your trust if I share our chat on my status?”
Me: “Oh yes, most definitely. I’m not necessarily bothered by what you would share right now but I’d certainly be bothered by what you would share when things turn ugly between us”
Anna: “I will keep that in mind, Mr Principle. But things won’t be ugly between us, be positive”
Me: “If you say so”
Anna: “But you’re right. I don’t think it’s cool for anyone to share their private conversations.”
Me: “No it’s not cool. Besides, isn’t it why it’s called private? It is supposed to remain private. And you know what’s even worse? When someone dies, even before their corpse is shrouded, social media would be flooded with screenshots of that person’s private conversations with others. Everyone tries to tell the world that they were in touch with the person…or sometimes trying to deceptively show to the world that the person knew he/she was going to die”
Anna: “Oh yes I don’t like that part myself. It’s creepy”
Me: “It’s not only creepy; it is somehow defamatory…so to speak. Imagine if you share a screenshot of a private conversation you had with someone who died but instead of sharing everything, you just tippexed some chat threads so no one would see what the dead person had said to you when they were alive. What that denotes is that the dead person was involved in some kinky stuff with you before God took him or her. That’s textbook defamation of the dead, if anything like that exists”
Anna: “Haha…you are tickling me here. Thanks for sharing this with me. I’ve already lost track of time. I just realised it’s way past midnight and you’re going to work in a little under six hours. You should get some sleep…..”
Me: “It was nice chatting with you. Sleep tight…”
Love at first sight? Maybe. But Hazel Grace said it perfectly for me. I fell in love with Anna the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. The only time I felt at ease was when I talked or chatted with her. I found peace in her. I was addicted. It was like heroin; I wanted it to last forever.