One Hundred Eleven

How do you know you are in love?

A question that has troubled humanity from time immemorial. Every individual has a different answer to this question. All the songs develop a new meaning, the person you love start coming in your dreams, you start searching for that person in inconceivable places, et cetera, et cetera.

I have a different answer to this question. I believe you are in love when your heart starts skipping a beat every time you see him or her. A simple answer, yet a very personal one.


“She was like Julius Caesar invading the Gauls. She came, she looked at me, and she conquered my heart before I could say ‘hello’.

She was the Helen of Troy, and she was Aphrodite. She was the smell of fresh air in spring, and she was the smell of damp earth during monsoon. She was Beethoven, and she was Mozart.
She was perfect in every sense of the world. And yet she was more perfect than the most perfect person you can ever imagine. And I’m pretty sure you don’t have a fucking clue of what I’m talking about. Unless you have loved someone like I loved her.

Her laugh was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, her smile could put the fabled Mona Lisa to shame. Her eyes were two gigantic pools of magnetic water on the surface of Uranus. Her hair were like Rapunzel’s, brought to reality for us mortals to gaze and admire.
Now you need to understand a little about my background. I did my schooling in an all boys institue, and I never had any proper chance to interact with the opposite sex before entering college. I wasn’t good in any sports. I couldn’t play any instrument. I danced like a drunken idiot, no poise or grace. My parents were strict, I was good in studies and wore thick glasses. I was christened as ‘the Nerd’ by my classmates. You could say that it suited me perfectly.

It was tough for me to walk up to her and speak. I had to summon up every single drop of adrenaline present in my body so that I could perform this task. When I spoke to her, she must have thought I had a stammer.
And yet, she replied to me. I was ecstatic. I wanted to leap in the air, scream and shout and dance and go completely crazy. I still wonder why I didn’t do all that?
Have you ever heard about divine intervention? I am an atheist, but nothing short of a divine intervention stopped me of doing all that, and saved me from making an utter fool of myself.

She was in the dance team, the debate team and the table tennis team. She worked for an NGO in her spare time, and still managed a CGPA of nine point something. As you know by now, I did none of this. She had a boyfriend, who was almost as gifted as her. It was a rare case of a perfect couple. The fact that I was friends with her was a miracle in itself.

But there was one area where my expertise overshadowed that of her boyfriend, pop culture. It turned out that she and I shared many mutual interests. The Beatles, George RR Martin, Martin Scorcese to name a few, resulting in the developement of a wierd kind of camaraderie between us. We talked endlessly about abstract things like who was better, Paul or John? Which is the best Harry Potter movie, the third one or the last one? Do Aliens exist or not?
And everytime, we ended up on the opposite sides of the argument. The debates never ended, and eventually ran late after midnight. And when sleep would come over her, she would say something like ‘You know I love you, right?’ and then hang up the phone.

I knew she meant it in a harmless, ‘best friends forever’ kind of way. But those mere words were enough to stimulate vivid dreams in my sleep, dreams where I was the prince and she was the princess, and together we lived happily ever after.
Yes, I knew that such wishful thinking ultimately leads to disaster. Yes, I was still happy dreaming about me and her. After all, dreams were all I had.

Unrequited love is a peculiar phenomenon, and a misunderstood one too. When you love someone without them having the slightest of hint, its painful and beautiful at the same time. To keep loving someone with no reciprocation of your feelings from the opposite side is the painful part. But when that same person does something that, albeit unknowingly and with pure intentions on their part, tugs at your heartstrings makes up for all that pain. An unrequited lover continues to oscillate between two extremes, with no end in sight, and is still never miserable. He can sacrifice his dreams and desires in a second for the sake of one loving smile from his beau ideal.

You don’t believe me, ask anyone. Every person has at one point in his or her life been an unrequited lover.

Things would have continued in this manner only, if it would not have been for her boyfriend. He broke up with her, I do not know all the intricate details. What I know is that she was devastated, as if heart had broken up into two. She became depressed, negligent and completely isolated. There was only one person in the entire college who was in regular touch with her during these bluesy days. And still, she never revealed to me the true extent of what went wrong in her previous, perfect relationship.”

111 was now looking directly into the nurse’s eyes, who had been intently listening to his story. The abrupt silence stirred her back into reality.

“What happened next?” she anxiously waited for him to narrate rest of his story.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow.” Patient no. 111 did a little stretch and slowly made his way into the garden, leaving the nurse to ponder.

The doctor came up to her, “That was a particularly long medication session. What was one hundred and eleven telling you?”
“He was telling me about his love story, and about her. And please sir, could you call him by his real name, instead of referring to him by a mere number?”

The doctor chose to ignore his subordinate’s pleas, “You are aware that the woman 111 refers to is dead, right? She died three months after he took admission in that college, in that accident. The same accident because of which he is here. You know all this and still choose to entertain his fabricated stories. It’s all just wishful thinking, she didn’t even knew his name.”

“I know about everything sir. But these are not fabricated stories, nor is this wishful thinking. They are his dreams. And I don’t think it’s wrong to stop someone from dreaming. After all, dreams are all we have, don’t we?”

And as the doctor and the nurse watched on from behind the one way french windows, Patient No. 111 enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon in the garden of “Mother Teresa Public Psychiatric Center” oblivious to all that surrounded him, lost in his dreams. Dreams where he was the prince, and she was the princess. And they lived happily ever after.

Vikram

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