This story could or could not be about me. Don’t ask.
Love at first sight is a concept I have never believed in. I mean how could all the chemical elements that combine to create this thing we call love happen in just one day and one moment? For my lack of belief, I like to call this encounter attention at first sight.
It’s been nearly six years since this happened but I have still been unable to figure out what it was. Was it the smile? The shy disposition? The cuteness that came as a result of the shy disposition? I can’t tell.
I attended my first meeting of a group in my church that late Saturday afternoon. Since it was a meeting to welcome new members, it was a day of introduction and interaction. This was going on when he arrived. At first glance, he intrigued me. Just by looking at him, I felt there were a lot of questions that I wanted him to answer. Only problem was I could not put a finger on those questions. Just when he had sat down, the moderator for the day introduced him and made a side remark about his late arrival. Everyone laughed while he covered his face shyly. I was not using Whatsapp then but I can say today that he really looked like the monkey covering his eyes. Of course, in a good way. In a cute way. A very cute way. I don’t remember what happened for the rest of that meeting.
The next time I saw him was at another church group meeting. This time, I was annoyed to realize he was part of this group as well. Worse still, he was the moderator for that meeting. I had struggled to keep his cute expressions out of my mind so seeing him was definitely not part of the plan for that day. I did all I could to avoid him.
About a week later, we had a retreat. Our group (the first one) was in charge of setting up. I got there at the required time and took active part in the set-up. The program went well. I paid attention. Not to him. Well, until the end when he was called up to give the vote of thanks. He walked up shyly. He spoke shyly. Confident, but shy. The curiousity I had on the first day returned. I silently ignored it. After we had packed up, it was time to say a prayer as a group when he announced that he had to commend someone, a new member who had impressed him by arriving early for the set-up and staying till the end. As he called on the group to give me a hand, my heart was jubilating at the prospect that I had caught his attention. Of course, that was not what I set out to do by responding to the call of duty to God but was glad that it had brought me a reward. Later that evening, he called to commend me once again. He had gotten my number from my ministry head. Wohoo! I was excited that we could finally break the ice.
Did that happen? Unfortunately, no. I had to endure the hard truth over the next few weeks – I was just a hardworking group member that he had commended.
The next heart-lifting moment came one Tuesday evening after Mass. I had put some books I was holding on a pew as our group shared the grace. Just when I was about to pick the books up, he grabbed them, gave me a wide smile and asked if he could walk me to my room. Of course I agreed. We took the fifteen minute walk chatting like friends who had known each other for years. I loved it so much. When we got to my room, he had an expression of wanting to stay a while but at the same time unsure if he could. I said nothing and he chose the latter.
Although he did not walk me to my room everyday after that, I was glad the ice had been broken. On the days he did walk me, we talked in a very relaxed way.
On the last day of the semester, he came by to bid me farewell. We talked as usual and shared our first true hug. There was something about that hug. A kind of confirmation that between all the walks and talks, I had fallen for him.
I thought the vacation was going to put a strain on our thin friendship. Was I wrong! He called me the day I arrived home. He called me every day after that. I called him too. The minutes we spent on the phone turned into hours. We sacrificed our sleep at night to chat. I finally got to ask him all the questions I could think of. The most interesting part was that the more I got to know him, the more he intrigued me. I never got to the point of knowing him enough.
One day, he broke my heart. Without knowing it of course. I finally gathered courage to ask about his love life. He told me that he had great ambitions to achieve before thinking about getting himself a woman who could be his wife. Ouch. I should have stopped there, right? But no. My desire to know him more did not die with those words.
On 31st night, I sent him a message thanking him for his friendship and for being a part of my year. His reply ended with a prayer that our friendship would go to greater heights. What did that mean? I pretended not to know.
Just before we resumed, he told me he would like us to have a discussion when we get back to school. I pretended not to think this was the moment I had unconsciously waited for. I convinced myself that there were several other things he could want us to discuss. The tiny voice in my head told me to stop lying to myself but I didn’t listen.
The moment arrived. We were sitting on my roommate’s bed. I could read the nervousness in his eyes. His words were fewer. He seemed restless. And then, he finally said it. He had found a treasure and that treasure was me.
I lost view of the world I was sitting in and entered another world. He smiled and I smiled back.