You seem nice.
No really, I mean that, you do.
But there is only so much I can say from staring at eleven pictures a hundred and eleven times.
I know that you looked gorgeous last Navratri in your peach halter blouse and mustard saree, your hair gracefully twirled to one side. Those modest jhumkhas you wore probably drew his eyes to your face every time your head made the slightest move, as though his eyes weren’t on you already.
I can say that some of your best memories were probably gallivanting narrow, arid roads surrounded by overgrown shrubbery. I don’t know where you were headed or how you ended up there, but I know that you were probably having an adventure when you paused to click a photograph with the girl beside you, your hair unkempt and sun kissed, your eyes a little worn from the long day. But that grin on your face, that grin could mean nothing but the entire day being worth it.
I saw your picture on the beach and at a concert. I saw you in that little black dress perched on that red couch for what I think must have been a family event and I saw you almost candidly smiling for an au naturale in your classroom, almost.
You seem nice, you feel like a person, of course you are a person. Except I have never met you or even spoken to you so there is no need for me to think of you as anything more than a name. But no, you seem like a person.
You’ve lived over twenty years and created over twenty thousand memories. There must be twenty important people in your life and twenty million times you’ve cried for them, and twenty-two million times you’ve laughed with them.
It’s odd how we can live a whole life in those many years, several lives even and then one day we hop on a flight, move to a new city and start another life. And we meet other people. And we make other memories. And they somehow become a part of us and we become a part of them.
Except, I keep asking myself, how much do we even know about these new parts of ourselves?
Do we know that he was born in a little town in South India which he swears was where everyone in that state was given birth to at the time? Do we know that he was an ideal student up until he was eight or nine years old, and then his parents got called to school every other week because he was the biggest brat you could ever meet?
Do we know who his first crush was, or how he still thinks of her and wonders why he never told her about his feelings every time he hears Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hain? Do we know that he wasn’t a ladies man in school but was the captain of every other sports team? Do we know of his juniors who still call him up when they have a relationship crisis and that he swears he has no clue how that happens?
Do we know of the first girl he fell in love with, how they took turns breaking each other’s hearts? Do we know the story of how his silly, stubborn, youthful, confused self just let her walk away but how he could never bring himself to call anyone else the love of his life? Do we know that on his first day of college he was carving her name on his desk?
Do we know of his rickety Maruthi 800 that has been the scene of many a liaison in his life? Do we know of how he was caught by his professors for wearing bangles and playing with his classmates long locks, or by the security guards for embracing his friends? Do we know how he loved to play bra-pong or how the entire university stared at him when he strolled in with a stuffed penguin in his shirt pocket?
Do we know how every third girl in his class had a crush on him? Do we know of the girl who cheated on him and left him damaged beyond his most cruel nightmares? Do we know of the many hearts he has crushed since because he was too afraid to say yes and even more so to let go and say goodbye?
Do we know that on his 19th birthday his friends planned him a surprise morning visit which never happened? Do we know that the ugly collage they gifted him that year filled with terrible quality photographs printed in a college store is still up on his notice board in his bedroom? Do we know that he got a cake printed with Jennifer Love Hewitt in sexy lingerie for his 21st birthday which he was allowed to cut wherever he wished?
Do we know that he has stolen a beer keg or danced on a table top at a pub or spent the 2nd of August 2012 trying to reason with a raging woman by a mall who beat his ear up bloody, just because she was a friend? Do you know his favourite hot dogs are from Hungry Hogs and he will tear apart his friendships for them? Do we know that the first time he got stoned he left behind a gift given to him by a friend in an auto rickshaw and never forgave himself for it? Do we know how many terrible movies he has gone for on Wednesdays because he was never one to pass up a show with a friend for 100 bucks? Do we know how petrified he is of tomatoes or that he can knit a torn sweater right back up?
Do we know of his beautiful, elegant house, or of his colourful cast of family members who sing and dance and bring in every Friday with a party? Do we know of his dogs that lived way longer than dogs are supposed to because there was just too much love in his house and the poor things didn’t wish to leave? Do we know of his cat that meanders in whenever she pleases but is treated like his queen? Do we know of his parrot that creeps every new person who goes to his house yelling out a lot of names, but mostly his?
Do we know how he spent his two years after college, working, sleeping, interning, playing, numbing himself to a lot of things that he didn’t want to figure out? Do we know beautiful his soul is but how distortedly cynical his mind is? Do we know boundlessly he can love but how fervently his ego will never allow him to apologize? Do we know that he lashes out and says I love you the same number of times to those closest to his heart? Do we know how he is now set free from all of it and is trying to define himself without any of this?
Do we know?
We needn’t really because when we meet a person they say that all that should matter is who is standing before you now. But I always wonder, if you don’t know how he has lived and loved and lost, what is the point of any of it?