“I’ve been avoiding your calls, please don’t hate me.”
So I was right, he was avoiding me. I think it’s been a month since we last talked, and I’ve been calling him everyday for a week. I’m such an idiot! “So why were you avoiding my calls, Neal?”
“Well, I was trying to figure some stuff out, so I had totally disconnected myself from everyone.”
“I see. So are you talking to people now?” Rhea asked.
“Yes, that’s why I answered the phone.”
Oh and I have been thinking that I am special. “So what were you trying to figure out?”
“Well, you know, the usual stuff that people try to figure out.. How can I get a better job or higher salary.. How can I find a better boyfriend/ prettier girlfriend/ spouse.. The same stuff that everyone tries to figure out..”
Rhea knew that he didn’t care about any of that stuff and didn’t have the patience for this right now, not after having called him so many times with no answer. “I didn’t ask you what people are trying to figure out. I asked you what you were trying to figure out.”
“How does that matter? We all have patterns. The patterns are the same for everyone.” After Rhea didn’t say anything, Neal added, “you’ve called me at a bad time, I’m quite drunk right now.”
That is actually a good time for me, Rhea thought to herself. You will talk about what’s on your mind, hopefully! “Well I don’t mind that! So what have you been up to? Are you in Delhi?”
“Yeah I am back in Delhi now. So I have been trying to figure out love.. I want to share it with you, but it will ruin love for you. I don’t know if I should. Are you ready?”
“Well, keep talking. I don’t know if I’m ready. But I’d like to hear what you’re thinking.”
“I’ve been thinking about love, and different kinds of love.. One kind is the normal love that we all experience.. you know, love between you and Sameer, or you and me, or you and Tanya.”
What the fuck… Did he just say love between you and me.. Does he love me?! Has he been thinking about me? Rhea’s heart began to race with excitement and she tried to quieten her thoughts and focus on what Neal was saying.
“So this love that is based on the desire to possess or to be with someone you love.. Like feeling that I don’t care how but I just want to be with this person right now.. Or I can say that you are mean because I love you and and you’re so far away.. And then there is another kind of love that’s pure and unconditional.. like a mother’s love.. or true love for another person.. Are you following what I’m saying?”
“I guess I am.. Although, isn’t all love selfish? I mean people love each other because it gives them happiness..”
“Well yeah, but let’s leave the motive aside for a few minutes.. So here’s what I have been thinking about and I have two theories.. I could be wrong, there are many psychologists who work on this and probably know more than I do.. But here’s what I think.. So I was talking about pure love, like a mother’s unconditional love.. Your mother is going to love you no matter what you do, not because of your actions or your individuality but because you are a part of her.. And then true love for another person that is not dependent on possession or physical presence, that transcends the boundaries of time and space.. It doesn’t matter where you are, or how many people you sleep with, it will just always be present.. So I think this love is based on the concept of ‘I’ – you exist and you love someone.. If you were to die tomorrow, that love would cease to exist.. Do you agree?”
“I think so.. But isn’t everything in life based on the concept of ‘I’ or personhood? Anyway, carry on.. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking..”
“So here’s my question – are these two loves really different? Is this pure unconditional love different from the deep desire to be with someone that comes out of love?”
Hearing Neal’s question, Rhea burst into laughter.
“Why are you laughing? I think you get it, that’s why you are laughing!”
Rhea didn’t know why she laughed. Was it the stark comparison between philosophizing about love, and the naked reality of just wanting to be with someone. Rhea wasn’t sure what Neal was trying to say, or if she got it. “Umm you tell me what you’re thinking, and then I’ll tell you why I laughed.”
“C’mon, are you laughing at me? Life and love is so fucked up Rhea.. Tell me, Rhea, do you get it?”
There was something about the way Neal said her name that hit Rhea. All she wanted in that moment was to be with him and she didn’t care how. The sad reality was that some eight thousand miles separated them. Rhea just wanted to ask Neal one question. As she was trying to phrase the question before she said it out aloud, the phone line got disconnected. She frantically called back several times, but could not get through.
Distraught with emotion, Rhea kept thinking about her unasked and unanswered question ‘I don’t want to sound presumptuous, Neal, but have any of these reflections been induced by our conversations or my presence in your life? Do you love me, Neal?’