Preet lit up a cigarette. Avi and Ranjan waited for their friend to start the story, which they did not know till date. All of them were happy high. Ranjan smiled gaily at Avi. Preet started unfolding a hidden part of his life.
“I do not know where we would go with this but as I state this, we must be truthful. Sharing a secret without any further hidden corner is the aim of this game” said Preet clearing his voice. “It happened to me long back. I was in high school. It was when I started taking opposite sexes differently. I am not sure about you people, but I never thought girls who wore fancy dresses with makeup on to be attractive. I always liked girls who talked in a straight forward manner and did not believe in so called modern beautification using products. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholders. I truly believe in that.
I had seen many of my friends infatuating over teachers of our school. I thought of these ideas to be very childish and ignored their conversation anyway. Some of my friends were very popular to have befriended a very beautiful girl in tuition class or art class. I was not at all comfortable among them. What I really believed that beauty was more than how you appeared, rather than how you represented yourself. Beauty without brains and attitude was never appealing to me.
There was a girl whom I knew since my child hood. She was four years older than I was. She used to come to our house with her parents in every small or big occasion. She was more interested in cricket rather than doll house. She was more into story books rather than natters. She had a different world which seemed to be more substantial rather than glittery and void.
Yeah. Believe me. I am not bragging a bit. I thought of all these at that very age and I still believe it. She was very different than the girls I mingled with in my school. I really adored her pigtails. She was in senior high though. Many a times, I tugged her hair and ran away just to make her mad but she never reacted or scolded me. She would ask me not to do that again as it hurt. This calm and composed nature of her mesmerized me.
Although she was not my friend, I felt the closeness as we were together in every small or big celebrations of our life. I knew her from my childhood. I kind of started idolizing her. It was the first perfect woman I had ever come across. I remembered those happy days that I spent with her. Every small or big moment that only we had come across. It came really naturally to me. In fact I started comparing other women I met with her and she always won the in my mind. Other women were no match to her. She was brilliant and had such a different viewpoint in every matter which compelled me to get attracted towards her.
Once I scored very low in my exam. I was very poor in mathematics since childhood, and my private tutor made it my worst nightmare. It would have been easier for her to lecture on me as she was brilliant in studies, however, she did not do so. On the contrary, she started helping me in mathematics every now and then. Although my performance did not improve much after that and I totally blame myself for that. It was a very nice gesture that I could not forget.
I moved to senior high and she started college. One day she told me about a guy in her college. The guy was a good friend of her and eventually they moved into a relationship. She used to tell me about the guy for prolonged hours and what she really liked in him. I really felt jealous.
Now, I do not want you to tell how the guy was and what I felt about him. It is really not important. The part of my life I am sharing with you people just belongs to me and that girl whom I liked very much. You could call it teenage infatuation and I could not agree more.
Five years later, both of them landed jobs in a good company and they got married with each other. Now, where was I in their story? Frankly, it was their story and I am not bothered. I was only concerned with my story. I started looking for some answers. I had some questions in my mind regarding this whole situation and was looking for answers badly.
Just for your information, I am still in very good touch with her and we will be very close to each other for life. There is a strong bond in between us and it will always be the same. It has been long fifteen years and now I have a girlfriend whom I am very happy with. Now this entire scenario seems very childish to me.
The questions I had in my mind were more of a guilt driven. I could not tell her about my likings because I was worried that it would break the social barrier that we live in and I would not be able to handle the consequences. She was only woman close to my age and with whom I could freely share most of my feelings and she would understand for some reason. I had seen her growing from a teenager to a woman. Our customs, understanding of relationships, environment where we were growing up was so similar that we could share with each other most of our feelings. I do not want to drag psychoanalytic theories to justify the feeling that I had that time.
I could bring up some big names like Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein or even Satyajit Ray who might have had felt the same and did what they wanted. I do not want to justify my stand in by lurking behind the big names and big theories. I just want to tell you why I could not tell anyone regarding that girl. Even the girl did not know about it and she still does not know. Anyways, she does not need to know about this. Why I could not tell her and ask what she felt about me? Well, we are free by birth but post to this, we are burdened with customs, social bindings which actually determines how we function in this world.
I am very glad that due to the guilt in my mind, I could not tell her how I felt. Trust me, I saved a lot of disappointments and may be hell lot of future troubles not doing that at that point of time. Even if the feeling had been mutual, it would have made the condition worse. I am quiet fortunate in that way. It was guilt and fear of being judged by others that had made this a secret kept to myself.”
Preet paused for a moment. He stubbed out the cigarette. He waited for a while to let his friends speak.
Avi and Ranjan could get the whole story but failed to understand as to why they should consider this to be a secret. It seemed more or less describing an old untold feeling which, driven by guilt was hidden for long. They did not entirely understand why. Some last remaining slots were yet to be added to complete the jigsaw puzzle.
“I do not understand you completely Preet. It could have been with anyone. Why would you feel guilt to like a girl? What is the problem in that? Why would you think that you saved yourself a lot of misery by not letting yourself express your feelings? Why this should be a secret?” asked perplexed Avi.
With a deep breath and after a short pause, Preet replied “Well. The girl in my story happens to be my cousin.”