‘We are full of stories’, writes Ravinder Singh as he opens up his collection of love stories from vastly different lives. Stories create empathy, they open up the seams of our capacity for wonder and compassion, and broaden our understanding of the vagaries of human lives. In You Are All I Need, twenty-five authors share their stories and their worlds with us. Today, we bring you a few of those:
‘Something in the Rain’ by Kaustubhi Singh
I take a little walk in my cubicle for one last time because I’ll be given a clearance today. I sit on the brown wooden chair I used to kick when I was so miserable that the doctors had to tie my hands up. Alcohol was my escape. The idea of alcohol was not pleasure but an escape, because when that warm liquor burns your throat, it starts dissolving the hurt stuck down there and slowly numbs you so you don’t feel the hurt. Heartbreak isn’t beautiful; it isn’t some literature; it’s not listening to sad songs or something like that. It’s feeling okay for a minute and then starting to feel their ghost around you, their touch on your skin. You miss them, you miss them so much that you choke on your memories with them.
Dr Mayank Sharma, my shrink, almost my age, tells me that it will always hurt, and it will make one cry and scream till one’s nose is blocked and eyes puffy; that hurt is inevitable but it will hurt less, and I will see and understand why someone did what they did. And I think I understand. When I look back to the day Robbie left me for another woman, he said he had grown out of love and I stood there thinking: Where did I go wrong? But thinking about it now makes me realize I did everything to truly belong to Robbie. I changed myself for him, I changed my ways and choices for him when I should have let him love me for who I was, because that’s what love is, that’s what love is supposed to be—loving someone for who they are.
‘A Tender Ray of Love’ by Nandita Warrier
She was six; he was eight. He found her irritating and called her a ‘complaint box’; she found him obnoxious and called him a ‘monster’. They fought in every get-together.
…She was twelve; he was fourteen. He secretly detested her scholarly attitude; she was swept by his charm and wrote about him in her secret diary.
…She was eighteen; he was twenty. She aspired to be a doctor; he was determined to be one of the ‘Men in Blue’.
Their paths were growing apart, just like their personalities. They rarely met, and when they did, she was more awkward than before. He didn’t seem interested in her and she was torn whether or not to share her feelings with him.
And then something happened. He did something terrible—unforgivable! She had held him in such high regard all along, loved him with all her heart, but he had treated her like trash. She was shattered.
…She was twenty-seven; he was twenty-nine. She was a bright, young surgeon winning people over; he was a lost and bitter soul, spewing venom at everyone.
She was twenty-eight; he was thirty. She was full of dreams; he was broken.
That night, she slept early because she had a morning duty in the ICU. That night, he slept late after emptying a bottle of sleeping pills.
Just as Ramya reached the hospital, she was summoned to the OT for an emergency procedure. ‘Suicide attempt,’ someone whispered. Dr Iyer was instructing the team when Ramya joined them in her OT scrubs. She threw a casual look at the patient and immediately recoiled. It was Rohan! Oh no, how could this be? Memories from her childhood, locked away in some corner, defiantly barged in, making her want to sob.
He looked so pale and pitiable—a mere shadow of the handsome young man she remembered from their last meeting years back! Rohan had had everything going for him—what could have possibly gone so wrong? Sensing her discomfort, Dr Iyer enquired, ‘You know him?’
‘Family friend,’ she uttered nonchalantly, hiding the wave of sadness sweeping over her.
‘Love in the Times of Marriage’ by Aparajita Shishoo
When Adil saw her across the room, his heart skipped a beat. He couldn’t take his eyes off Meera’s radiant face. He decided to walk up to her.
‘Hi,’ Adil said.
Meera was standing alone, enjoying the party her friend, Kanika, had thrown. Meera turned to look at Adil and smiled back at him with a soft ‘hi’.
Adil continued, ‘You seem to be the arty-farty type. What are you doing at a filmy party?’
Meera was a bit tipsy by that time, so she retorted, ‘I am definitely farty, but with some arty. What about you?’
Adil laughed out loud at her candour and asked her again what she was doing at such a party.
‘I am fishing for some juicy stories for my publication. You?’
‘I am trying to make some juicy stories!’ Adil winked at Meera.
Meera laughed and asked, ‘Are you flirting with me?’ ‘Are you noticing?’ Adil said.
Meera shot back, ‘I am ignoring . . . I don’t flirt with boys who have just entered puberty.’
‘Oh! That hurt . . . really hurt!’ Adil said, imitating a heartbreak. ‘By the way, I am twenty-five, well beyond my puberty years.’
Meera laughed again at Adil’s dramatics, and they continued their conversation.
Adil was a cinematographer in the Hindi film industry and the camera was his first love, but right now his own lenses were fixed on Meera’s face. ‘So what brings you to Mumbai?’
‘Change,’ said Meera, after a pause.
…At the other end of the room, Kanika noticed the chemistry between the two and was happy that her friend was finally enjoying flirting and chatting up guys.
Lose yourself in stories that will stay with you for a long, long time.