“I guess he is home!” I heard his bike roar in the parking. I rushed to the balcony. He must be walking upstairs now. I met him every day, through the silent spaces between our apartments, through the unsaid words resting on my lips, through the love that reflects in my eyes and is waiting to meet his. Our apartment structure was such that I could have a sweeping view of his kitchen, his living area and a part of his bedroom. He lived alone, opposite my apartment on the second floor. I loved sitting in the balcony and gazing at his apartment, empty or full. I know it sounds creepy. It in fact is! Yet for me it was my little fort, where I spent a lot of time waiting for him. Just like Rapunzel, waited up on her prince.
I could see him walking into his living area. He looked a little different, a little more energized. He vanished for some time and re-appeared looking fabulous in a blue shirt. To me, he was always ravishing. I saw him a couple of times up close, when I went to the park with Aditi, my best friend. Aditi knew every bit of what I felt for him. There is a discernable calm on his face, the one we feel when the sun sets, on the hushing of trees as wind blows, the silence of a full moon night. I admired the nerves that could be seen so vividly on his arms, they somehow were so manly. He was not a handsome-hunk, the way other girls liked. Tall, brown, with biceps that bulge, but somehow with his average stature and a beaming smile that brightened my day; I fell in love. Gathering my thoughts together, I was looking for him again. He left in a hurry. Is he going on a date? Has he met someone he loves? Is he getting married? The rest of evening I paced about in the balcony. I read in one of the Mills & Boons, the guy goes out on a date with beautiful, witty girl, they hit it off and the guys gets the girl to his apartment. Was that going to happen today? After four hours of mindless, anxious pacing in the balcony, I finally saw him. Alone. Yay!
The next day, Aditi stopped by, it was a Saturday she had a day off. She usually spent a few hours on Saturdays with me. Aditi and I sat in the balcony, like I said my little fort. He was leaving for office, we both sat there giggling like little girls every time we saw him. He left his house. With a sigh I said, ”I got to wait until evening now, to see him again”. Just as I turned, Aditi saw him pass from under the balcony. She dropped a book in his direction. Shocked I stared back at her. A voice form below said, “Hey, is this your book?” I nodded. He called out to a little girl playing downstairs and asked her to give me the book. I slapped Aditi’s lap, pretending to be really angry, but instead I just smiled, and the secret was no more a secret.
Day in and day out I learned a little things about a stranger who was all mine. All assumptions, but all an important part of my reality. The time he made coffee, his favorite color, some of his best friends who visited often, binge watching of a combination of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Game of Thrones back to back on a Saturday night. I just learned it all. I knew he was a sweetheart, I saw him help an old lady with her groceries one day. How I wanted to know more than just bits and pieces of him, but I knew, distances were best. I could silently love him this way, without the fear of being judged, being looked upon. I still had a fear of losing him, fear of losing something that didn’t even belong to me. Fear of facing the day when this beautifully decorated world of mine would come crashing down. From someone who doesn’t even know I exist, I wanted promise; a promise to just be. Be, so that my existence becomes a little more bearable to me. Aditi efforts to convince me to talk to him were futile.
I sat there contemplating my life, confined to only a certain spaces. Tied down. But now I had entered a new phase of my life. Love. The sound of this word soothes my soul, and also rises a tornado within. I knew Love was for me but also, not for me. In the books I read, love came in all hues. Love was a dying person’s last wish, love was a psychopath’s agony, love was what a husband had for his wife, love was also friendship that started in the third grade and lived long till the 80th anniversary. Love was also defeat, it was a cry for help. Love could make one strong, love could also weaken. Somewhere it grows in spite of distances, somewhere gets used up in the journey. Here love was just tied, tied to a wheelchair. Silently wrapping the turmoil within, I rolled my wheelchair to the balcony again.