Febuary 2000

Natasha : Do you still feel the same way about me?

I held my breath as i clicked send. 

 Sameer : Yes. Always have. Always will.

I had goosebumps all over me. How could i have not seen it then? How could i have been so stupid as to not feel his love for me? How could i have been so ignorant?

And now exactly after a year this same boy is halfway across the world from me and all i want to tell him is to please dont stop loving me. To wait for me because i think i had started to love him too. But i said none of those things. Instead i just stared at the computer screen and typed nothing. 

Sameer : is offline

As Sameer went offline i pondered about our recent conversations. Ever since his birthday we met online everyday. And everyday i felt more and more inclined to him than i ever had. For starters, he was the first guy i hadn’t fallen for where looks was concerned. Not that he was bad looking. Infact he looked great even more so now when i started seeing him in a different light. 

But what i fell in love was with his soul. As corny as it may sound but i felt connected to him on a level i never felt with anyone. I could talk to him about anything and i could be silly, sexy, atroxiously obnoxious and he would still get me. Still understand me and most of all still love me. 

Yes, the thought of his alleged rumours with Priyanka still bothered me way too much. I still remember Ayesha telling me distinctively that Sameer and Priyanka were a couple and that everyone at school and all our common friends knew about it but everytime i broached this up with Sameer he vehemently denied it. I wonder why though, why did he have to lie to me? All he kept saying was they were really really good friends and hung out often and thats why people had started misjudging them. I bought that because i personally had been linked to several guys in Dubai just because i spoke like 5 words to them.

Meanwhile, i had pretty much settled down in Ahmedabad. It had been 8 months. I started appreciating the city a bit more and complained lesser. I made more friends. Celena being another good friend i’d made. She was from Delhi basically but had now left Kanpur as her parents had a transferable job and had now moved to Ahmedabad. 

‘So how is Kanpur? Is it like a village or something?’ Celina just stared at me like i was out of space and after what seemed like an eternity she bursted out laughing.

‘Hell no ! Its a beautiful city, just like Ahmedabad!’

I winced at her statement but agreed on it nevertheless. The problem of being an NRI and to have never have lived in India is that you feel any other city other than Mumbai and Delhi are small towns. I later learned that Ahmedabad was a far bigger and better city than towns like junagadh, jamnagar etc. whose names i had never even heard of till i got here.

‘I miss Varun!’ Celina exclaimed during breaktime at school.

‘Whose Varun?’ I asked quizically.

‘My boyfriend dodo, its been a month since i’ve seen him and god knows when i will ever see him again’

She looked rather upset, but i liked celina already. How her chocolate colour eyes lit up when she spoke of Kanpur and her school and boyfriend. 

‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ She asked like having a boyfriend was the coolest thing in the world.

‘Er… not really. But i do like someone and im sure he likes me too’

‘So then why aren’t u in a relationship if you both like each other?’

‘Long story’ i said.

‘Do you have a flight to catch?’ Celina asked impatiently.

‘We’re at school having horrible canteen food, i surely dont have to catch a flight to Dubai right now’ rolling my eyes.

‘So tell me. Every detail.’

And i told her everything about Sameer, how we met and everything that happened till i left Dubai and how we reconnected again now after a year. And most all how i started falling for him.

‘So you tell him how you feel!’ She said matter of factly.

‘I think thats a guys job’ never in my wildest dream did this thought occur to me to make the first move. 

‘And you think he is going to ask you out again after you clearly showing him the door the first time around?’ she asked.

I knew she was right. If i really had started feeling so strongly for him i had to tell him! I dont think he would really ask me out again even if he wanted to.

So it was valentines day, a year later when Sameer first confessed his love for me and this year it was my turn.

I went to the local internet cafe which had almost become my second home spending most of my evenings there after i got back from Dubai, i went online and thought i’d write an email to Sameer.

As soon as i started to type the email i ran out of words to say to him. I tried to recollect all the guys who asked me out in the past few years and i hated to admit it but Aman had the best proposal. The letter he had written to me was the most romantic thing that had ever happened to me. The letter was the only thing that was great in our relationship.

After a lot of pondering i just went to 123greetings.com and decided to send an e-card.

Dear Sameer,

I love you,

I want you,

I need you

Love,

Natasha

Are you sure you want to send this ?

Yes

The e-card was sent and almost immediately i felt like a fool. Was i even sure i loved him. ‘Want u’ and ‘need u’ ? Jeez i was acting like Miss Desperado 2000 ! 

This had to be the worst confession of love ever.

November 1999

Sameer Singhania

‘Happy Birthday Jaan’ Priyanka was the first one to wish me on my birthday. She actually insisted she be the first so she called me half an hour before midnight. My friends were bickering behind me to get off the phone as they wanted to celebrate and the phone call was delaying all our plans.

After what seemed like an enternity Priyanka hung up. I know she missed me and i missed her too. But the last thing i wanted to do was being clung to the phone while i could be partying at this moment at some cool club in the city. I was in the U.S of A baby, i wanted to party, get drunk with my friends and get laid too. 

Roshan was my roomie while micky and Karan stayed in the adjoining room. We all were basically from Dubai apart from Mickey who hailed from Delhi. These guys had become an integral part of my stay here. We 

That night we ere 

September 1999

Natasha Walia

‘Mom ! Why the hell are there so many cows on the road in Ahmedabad?’

‘I dont know, this is India. This isn’t Dubai, the sooner you accept it the better your life will be!’

‘But i cant mom, my school is like a ‘purani haveli’, the people here dont even speak proper english and i just cant understand Gujarati!! I miss Ayesha and Serena, i miss the clean roads, i miss my life there. This just isnt fair.’

My mom sighed and looked away while we were on the road to a relatives place. She was tired of my wining. It had been three months since we moved here and all i did was complain and vail.  Im pretty sure she was as upset on moving to India as much as i was and on top of that i wasnt making her life any easier.

Later when we returned home, i overheard my mom crying and telling my brother how impossible i was being rather than understanding the financial circumstances i was just increasing their worries. My brother, Dhruv, on the other hand didnt like Ahmedabad one bit but made no qualms to my mom about it. He always put up a nuetral front and as much as i hated him for being the better sibling i did admire him for balancing the family.

‘Your so fake Dhruv, i know you dont like Ahmedabad one bit, why are you behaving like the nice guy ?? Dont you miss your gangster life back in Dubai?’

I had to confront him when he was alone. I knew in reality he was the black sheep of the family with gangster friends who always got in trouble in school but somehow the entire equation had changed when we came here.

‘Firstly, knock! And yes, i hate it here, even more than you, but think about it, im actually here for just two years and once im done with college im outta here.’ He gave me his famous evil laugh and then added ‘But you my dear, are stuck. You have two more years of school plus three years of college. So in reality you need to accept your situation more than i and i feel bad for mom. Your being a pathetic daughter. You dont need to make life tougher for her knowing dad isnt around. So get a life!

For the first time my brother was actually right. There wasnt any hope of going back to Dubai so i might as well start liking this place.  

The next morning i got up with a changed attitude. I kept repeating to myself that i wouldnt complain. I reached school and decided today i would try and make friends. Anytime anyone in class tried to speak with me, i maintained a distant attitude and replied with answers like a yes or a no. But that was going to change today.

So i sat on my seat and struck a conversation with my benchmate. Her name was Aditi and she was Punjabi too. She seemed really nice but she didnt seem too friendly to me maybe because she was tired of my attitude. I couldnt blame her. I had been a super bitch when i hardly responded to her attempts to speak with me. This is going to be hard i thought to myself. Across the class i saw another girl who always beamed at me and i made a mental note to speak to her at lunch break’ 

‘Hi… your name is Jesley right?’ I asked as soon as we were on lunch break. Jesley was a short and dark south Indian girl and didnt seem like she had been living in Ahmedabad.

‘And your Natasha right??’ I smiled with a nod. ‘Im from Abu Dhabi and all this while i have been trying to talk to you but you’ve been on a rather off mood and u never really spoke to anyone’

‘Abu dhabi?? Your kidding??’  I squealed. I was thrilled to bits. I had found my middle eastern counter part in the middle of this purani haveli in Ahmedabad. It was the first genuine smile i had given since the past few months.

Jesley Mathew had become my first friend in Ahmedabad and from here my journey of loving this city began. 

August 1999

Sameer Singhania

I was in love. Again. Priyanka was everything Natasha was not. I met her the night of the farewell party the time when Natasha opted for Ayesha and took her hand and fled when i asked her for a dance. It was so hard understanding her, just when i thought she was just a teeny weeny bit interested in me she’d surprise me doing something totally the opposite. Maybe she was a lesbian. Her proximity to Ayesha was alarming. But her history of boyfriends told a different story. Alright, im clearly over reacting. She was not a lesbian and i was hurt. I wanted to dance with her. Feel what it would have been like to be so close to her. To look into those beautiful eyes. To just be with her. But she ruined everything. 

So, while i was sulking on what i had missed out on, Mihir, my best buddy introduced me to Priyanka.

‘Sameeer…i’ve heard soo much about you… so nice to finally meet you’ she said.

‘Nice to meet you too’ i smiled at her and she blushed.

For some reason she seemed thrilled to meet me. And honestly i was enjoying the attention she was giving me after the bruised ego Natasha left me with.We got talking and later exchanged numbers and said we’d keep in touch. 

Much to her promise she did. She called me the very next day and made plans to meet at our local club which we called ‘The Indian Sports Club’. Priyanka turned up in a casual pair of blue jeans and a maroon top with full on makeup. She looked cute, i noticed that day she was half of my height, quite shorter to me actually but it didnt matter she was still cute. Im afraid i hadnt noticed her much on the farewell night as my thoughts were still distracted from Natasha’s sudden disappearence. I even learnt she was a year older to me. Mihir had joined us as well and the three of us chatted and laughed and i loved the vibes i got from her.

We met everyday after that. If we werent meeting up then we were on the phone. Slowly and swiftly my thoughts from Natasha had now totally centered around Priyanka. 

It was sometime around mid of August, while we were sitting and chilling out on the tennis court of the club, i first kissed her. It felt good and she was more than happy to oblige. With that kiss we sealed the deal. We were now officially in a relationship. I didnt propose and she didnt have to answer. Our hearts understood that we were meant to be.

‘I love you…’ she said

‘I love you too….’ was my reply. I was the happiest guy in the world yet there was something at the back of mind tat said something wasnt right but i shood off any negetivity. I was happy and i wanted to make her happy and thats all that mattered.

Meanwhile, the application that i had sent to the Purdue University, Indiana had been accepted. My family was esctatic and although i had intimated Priyanka that i might leave to the US for undergraduation i had a feeling it wasnt going to go down well with her.

‘You cant just leave… how am i going to live without you?’ Priyanka sniffed with tears running down her cheeks. She still looked cute even when she cried. 

‘Oh c’mon jaan im not going there forever, its just for my studies and i’ll keep coming back after every 5 to 6 months. And ofcourse we’ll talk everyday. I’ll keep calling. We’ll mail and chat. Dont worry Jaan.’ I tried my best to reassure her and she finally relented a smile and hugged me.

‘Can i ask you something?’ She looked up at me earnestly.

‘Ofcourse… anything’ i said.

‘Will you marry me?’ I almost choked at that question but when she looked at me with those questioning eyes, something came over me and i just blurted out a ‘yes, i will’ without thinking of the consequences of what i just said. 

What the fuck were you thinking, you could have just said maybe or that we’re still young to think of all that now. Your just 18. Dumbfuck.

But Priyanka took it quite literraly. The next day she made herself meet my family. I actually feel my mom, dad and my sister are the kindest people on earth. Which parents wouldnt freak out if their 18 year old son got a girl home and introduced her as the one he would be spending the rest of his life with? Even though they were apalled at what their son was upto, they were awfully kind to Priyanka and made her feel welcome at home. Everything in my life was going perfect, and as much as i was fond of Priyanka, i started feeling uncomfortable with the recent events.

I hated to admit it, i had started to miss Natasha.

June 1999

Natasha Walia

Sameers words kept running through my mind the next couple of days. I liked him. He really was a nice guy, like i could talk to him for hours and chill out with him but i wasnt attracted to him. And attraction was the first step of being in a relationship right? Besides, i had a lot on my plate already. My boards were coming up in a few months and our schools farewell party was just around the corner. There were too many things to be decided like what outfit to wear and shoes, accessories, the works. And just like that i forgot about Sameer.

I finally ended wearing a grey shimmer speghetti short dress which i thought really accentuated my figure. Ayesha looked really good for a change in a classic little black dress and Serena looked gorgeous as ever. We three were right in front of the mirror doing our last minute touch up, make up – check, hair – check, front profile – check, back profile – check, smile – check. And we were ready to go.

The party was awesome. At 15 we didnt drink but we knew how to party. And trust me, the people of Dubai know how to party. The older you get the better your parties are. Anyhow, it was a great night, we danced, we clicked pictures ( i made sure i was in more than half of them ), we bitched and we flirted. When the party had almost come to an end, the lights were dim, and the last set of people were slow dancing, i sat down exhausted from all the dancing and listened to the music. Sameer came out of nowhere and sat besides me. I dont know how i failed to notice that night but he looked really good in his well fitted black formals.

‘Hey,  whats up?’ He asked casually.

‘Nothing, just enjoying the music’. I smiled at him. ‘Careless whisper’ was being played which was one of my favourites.
‘ You like? ‘ i asked.
‘Nah, im more of a ‘saat samunder paar’ kinda guy’. I grimaced. And we both laughed.
He wasn’t into english pop or rock but preffered bollywood and desi stuff which was the complete opposite of what i liked.

‘Wanna dance?’ He asked. And before i could gather my thoughts to accept or decline Ayesha grabbed me by the hand and told me we had to leave. Her Dad had come to pick us up and we were way past our deadline.

‘Sorry Sameer, gotta go… maybe some other time?’ Shucks. I hated that look. He was really disappointed. And we both knew there would never be another time.

Heading back home i thought about Sameer, how funny he was, how at ease i always felt around him. But i knew there was no point in dwelling for a possibilty of a relationship as i was going to leave Dubai.

The dreaded board exams were finally over for class 10 and class 12 and i think i faired pretty okay. Over the years i think my hormones chewed on my brain cells because as a kid i was pretty bright and one of the top scorers in class. After class 7 i became less interested in academics and more interested in backstreet boys and fashion. Damn the teenage years.

The next few months just breezed through. It was time for me to leave. But i didnt want to move an inch. I thought if id believe that nothing in my life was changing, that if i pretended i was going to stay here forever, i would. But unfortunately that didnt happen and reality creeped in on me sooner than later.

A few days before i was to leave, Ayesha and Serena had organised a farewell party for me. It was a total surprise. The first surprise party i ever had. All my other friends were there, the important ones. Priya, mona, deepal, Sidharth, Rahul, Kevin, Rishabh and ofcourse Sameer. I was touched beyond words. All i wanted to do was hug them all and never leave. It took me all my willpower not to burst out crying.

Word was out about Sameer’s massive crush on me. So while cutting the ‘we miss you cake’ all my friends chanted ‘Sameer.. Sameer’ and i had to make Sameer eat the first slice of cake much to my embarassment. Needless to say both our faces had turned crimson.

After my farewell party all i did was cry. I got my board exam results and i got a 68 percent. I cried. While seeing my friends off for the last time i cried. While doing my last minute packing i cried. At the airport i cried. While sitting at the aircraft i cried. And most of all the thought of moving to the city of Ahmedabad in India, i cried the most.

I knew my life was never going to be the same.

Febuary 1999

Sameer Singhania

It had been 3 days since i proposed to Natasha and i hadnt heard from her since. She hadnt been coming online and i was hesitant to call her. I almost already knew her answer which was definitely a ‘no’ but it was better to see it on the computer screen than hear her saying that. It would break my heart a lil less than a million pieces.

The last time we met i had fallen even more in love with her. Her laughter was like music to my ears. Her smile made me go weak on my knees and her eyes… her eyes so big and expressive, bore through my soul. Shit. I knew i could never feel like this for anyone again and when she unintentionally held my hand at the haunted house in some scary moments, i felt… something. Close to magic maybe. I was a gone case.

I had to express what i was feeling or i’d explode. I didnt want to stalk her, pester her with calls, stand below her house with flowers or send her meaningless gifts trying to woo her, i knew some of the guys who did that. But it was such a waste of time. They’d spend hours on the phone talking to a girl, give them gifts, take them out to fancy places and finally when the girl was all ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ she’d say yes. I could do that too, believe me, but i wanted to cut the crap and get to the point.
I wanted Her and if she felt the same she would say ‘yes’ right?

It was on Valentines Day that i decided to make the confession. So when she was online on ICQ i seized the moment and i sent her a poem which i’d recited in my head a million times. With my heart pounding I clicked send. And then i waited… waited… and waited. She went offline. Fuck. Who does that ?? I hated her that instant with the same intensity as i loved her. She never showed up online after that. My mind racked on possibilities and probabilities Maybe there  was a power shut down. In Dubai… you gotta be kidding me. Maybe her computer crashed. Maybe she was ill. So the last two probabilities were a little higher on the list.

I decided to take the matter in my own hands. I needed an answer. The silence was killing me. I called Ayesha and asked her if Natasha was fine in the most casual way i could. She said yes totally. They were hanging out a while back and infact she was online right now.

I hated her guts. She was clearly avoiding me. Its not like i was stalking her. I just told her i loved her, atleast i deserved an answer. How could she be such a bitch ?? Fuck chivalry and being the nice guy.

I went online on ICQ and she wasnt online. And then it dawned on me she was on the invisible mode. My anger had now reached its peak. She was avoiding me all along. I messaged her.

Sameer : Natasha… are you there?

And almost instantly she replied.

Natasha : Sameer… hi! Yes, how are you??

Was she kidding me?? I was dying!! And i was going to kill her too.

Sameerulz : Good! Umm… you didnt reply to my last message?

Happiness : Which one?

Sameerulz : I wrote you a poem, to that one!

Happiness : You did?? Aww… but i never got any message from you.

Sameerulz : Are you sure??

Happiness : 100 percent.

So she never read the poem. She explained to me that the last time i messaged, her internet had been disconnected and she never got any message from me since. She went on to the invisible mode on ICQ because there were some people on her list that she wanted to avoid. Not me. Thankgod. I love her. I was going to tell her that now. And i did. I sent her the poem that i had luckily saved in my drafts.

Sameerulz : (poem)

Happiness : Sameer, i dont know what to say… i am pleasantly surprised. I had no idea you felt that way. And im flattered really, but i dont want to be in a relationship now. Besides im moving to India in a few months.

My heart broke. But it was atleast better than imagining she ignored me. But i dont know what i was more sad about, her moving or her refusing my proposal. We spoke for a while and soon bid our goodbye’s.

I missed her already.