Rakesh come back into the world and looked around him. The sun was still shining and the kids were still playing. Reema switched on the portable music player and the Bee Gee’s 1977 song, ‘How deep is your love’ started playing. It was their favorite song from the time they fell in love. Reema looked in his direction and gave him a wink. Rakesh smiled in spite of his serious mood. He found it amazing that his kids still swayed to the tune of the song that was more than 30 years old.
"I know your eyes in the morning sun…
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain…
And the moment that you wander far from me…
I wanna feel you in my arms again…
Then you come to me on a summer breeze…
Keep me warm in your love…
Then you softly leave…
And it's me you need to show…
How deep is your love…"
But this triggered another memory in his head. The person who made him ask himself the question for the second time.
August 1997, Virginia Tech University, Roanoke.
“Love? It sounds like such a plastic word already.” Were the first lines she spoke to him.
She was two years his junior, doing her under graduation in the same department as his. And just like him, she was nursing a broken heart and had become skeptical about the veracity of love. Being a part of a very small community of Indians in the University, soon, they started seeing a lot of each other.
The first half year of their knowing each other was spent in philosophical discussions pertaining to various things like life, love and how they impact the human life. And not before long, they started liking and respecting each other. And not too long after that, they started dating each other.
Soon, the city was theirs. Weekends were almost spent entirely with each other avoiding all other human contact. Movies, restaurants, parks, long drives in rented cars. In a few months, they visited almost every place that had chairs to sit or some food to eat.
“We’ll make this work. We understand each other completely, we have the same set of ideals in life and we can have a wonderful life together.” She said to Rakesh on a cold December evening as they cuddled up with each other.
“Yes, we will make this work.” Rakesh said, beaming with pleasure and happiness, looking at the girl who mended his broken heart and made him believe in love again.
They were insanely happy as they slowly waltzed to the song playing on the tape recorder. The Bee Gee’s accentuated their mood by singing ‘How deep is your love’.
“We need to give each other time. Maintaining a long distance relationship is going to be very tough. “
Rakesh had graduated out of college and was about to get back to India to work in a reputed company. They had spent the last few weeks preparing each other mentally for this very moment.
“Yeah… I totally understand all that” She said, as they looked into each other’s eyes.
“We need to give each other time to adjust to our new lives. It is not going to be easy for both of us. We are going to meet new people and going new places. All I am trying to say is that, we need to take this break to learn how to live without each other.” Rakesh said, as he held her tight.
They spent the rest of the day with each other planning how they would talk to each other every day and how they could meet once every year.
The last image Rakesh had of her was in the airport. Her face was white with the physical strain of holding back her tears. He felt weak in the knees and his heart heavy.
As he boarded the plane, he wondered.
“Is this love? Is it a convenience? Is it something that can be paused because the people were going away to different places? Something that distance can decrease? A feeling that can alter because the physical distance is increasing?”
He felt stupid about the whole ‘giving each other a break’ thing. But, he was still unsure if he could stand the darker emotions like doubt, insecurity and jealously. He was trying to barricade love so that none of these unpleasant emotions could creep into his head.
But somewhere, deep down, he had faith that he could still make this relationship a permanent one.