Let’s call him Rehaan.
The first time I met him, I was conscious of something different. An unknown quantity had entered my world, a thing whose existence I’d previously never imagined. As he spoke, I felt like I was staring into a very bright light, but it didn’t sear my eyeballs, and I could stare at it endlessly. Or I could reach out and touch it, know it, become one with it.
I tried my hand. I spoke to Rehaan, argued with him, flat-out fought with him. I found out that I could relate to him differently, as compared to most other boys my age. We thought alike, but so, so differently.
Sometime over the course of fights, walks, troubles and laughs, I fell in love. I was fifteen years old, and convinced that he would change the world. I wanted to be beside him as he did it, and after.
I fell hard, and I fell fast. I fell, and landed painfully.
There was a lot of pain.
When you put a person on a pedestal, and they fall, there is shock. There are tears, and there is disillusionment and a tiny sense of betrayal. And maybe somewhere, there was a little bit of relief. I didn’t need to look up anymore (unless you count the height difference). I could look Rehaan squarely in the eye, talk to him as to an equal, tease him, insult him, slap him if he deserved it, be myself with him without reserve. And I loved him even more, allowing myself to see him as he was, and not as I wanted him to be.
I loved him more than anything; for a while, more than my family. I loved him after the ‘rejection’, and after I fell out of love with him, and I love him now still, when he is hardly anything like the man I fell in love with.
Love builds some and tears others down. I like to think that I grew as a person after I made friends and fell in love with Rehaan. And I hate to remember how Rehaan’s love stripped him down to the bone, tore away the things that made him happy, made him whole; I hate remembering that all I could do was watch.
There is a bitterness in him now, a cynicism that shakes my belief in innocence. I see his fear and insecurity in himself, and I think that this is what rejection can do. I see him hold himself back, restrain his lips, and remember how once I watched while he let go, let loose, and left us behind. And yet.
There are still touches of that freshness. Sparks still dance madly in the depths of Rehaan’s eyes, and somehow, that keeps me anchored, perhaps, to hope. To him, and sometimes I think, to love.
Three years later, I still think that he will change the world. I only wonder how