It was a strange feeling. Very strange. Very special. Sweet Sorrow? Lovely longing? Didn't know what it was. A warm inner glow. A calm simmer of joy. Didn't know what it was called.
It had been happening for a while. Everytime I met her. Everytime I talked to her. Evertime I laughed with her. Everytime she laughed at my jokes. A lump in my throat. A gulp to swallow my thrill. Trying to keep a straight face, when my knees grew weak. Trying to speak normally when my heart thumped at high speed. And I hoped, desperately, that she was feeling the same too.
Then, I decided. I decided I will tell her. I decided I will let her know this. But, do I have reasonable education? Do I have a reasonable job? Well, I think I did. But, will she get angry? Will she give a smile and hint favour? Maybe she will. Maybe she won't.
Destination - Greeting card shop. In 1991, internet, or internet greeting cards, were unheard of. In 1991, we didn't even have telephones. In either of our houses. But she had a friend. A more trustworthy medium. I stop by, at her friend's. Pass on a letter. The friend then will stop by, at her house. Passes on that letter. A fool-proof postal system.
But that system developed - between 1992 and1994 - after the first greeting card. The first card was a direct delivery. But it was a delayed delivery. The greeting card was purchased alright, but it had soon undergone strange metamorphosis, under my hands. Its chocolate coloured side was cut, into a heat shaped card. And pasted on a white card. Also cut into the same shape. Then, on either sides of heart - brown on one side and white on another - were pasted tiny stickers of flowers. And then one sticker had a starry-eyed, Archie Andrews, saying 'I think I like you' and a dizzy eyed, Betty Cooper looking at him.
This newly manufactured heart-shaped small item went into a tiny envelope. Then, the tiny envelope, went into my shirt pocket. And I went with these two, to a youth group meeting. That was where a lot of young people were supposed to meet that evening for a choir practise.
But my objective was a singular one. To muster enough courage to hand it over to her. The day was a special one. 14th February 1991.
Well, in 1991, in a city like Hyderabad, Valentines day was not a popular day. Special TV Shows and satellite Channels were yet to come; and media and marketing hype was yet to be made. And, in 1991, it was a bold move, to even talk about Valentine's Day, in a Christian youth group! It was a 'oh-my-god-with-a-hand-on-mouth' kinda taboo. So, my mind knew that the operation I was embarking upon was a dangerous one. It was almost, 'mission impossible".
But that was the mind. What about my heart? It had started beating erratically - when I saw her. What about my throat? It had become completely dry. I must have had three glasses of water, which didn't do any good. "Happy Valentine's Day", she said shaking hands, when we were slightly away from the others. Bold move. Very bold move. And seizing the God-sent opportunity, "Here, I got a card for you", is what I should have actually said and given the card to her. But I didn't. I just mumbled a quick "Thank you," and moved on.
Strange. Very Strange. It hardly took one second to mumble, thank you. But it had taken me a full One-hour to make up that card, the previous night. Now, the decreasing thumping of my heart, was a relief and a disappointment at the same time. I walked home with my heart heavy but still thumping - Underneath the shirt which had a pocket, which had an envelope, which had a card, which had a sticker, which had my feelings. Unexpressed.
It was only the following day, at another meeting that I was able to regain confidence. It was only then that I was able to go close, hand it over, and whisper, "Here's an envelope with a card for you...and don't open it here. Open it at home alone".
There. It was done. Thats what I meant when I said 'a delayed delivery'. Not on Valentine's Day, but the next day. But I am glad it was not the next year. The next year was 1992. But 1991 to 1994 was an exciting time, with three valentine's days in them. A three-year period during which our courtship, and our self-developed communication system, flourished.
But the day, 14 February 1991, will forever be remembered by me, as 'Courage Lost', and 15 Feb 1991, as 'Courage Regained'.