He said he wanted to kiss me. My eyes grew wide… and my heart skipped a beat. I was all of 20 years. My mind was racing… would I be able to handle it. Would it stop there? Damn… this is crazy.
I smiled weakly and managed to squeak out a yes… but I immediately wanted to know how this whole big kiss was going to be orchestrated. He had it all planned, he was going to kiss me when we were going on the class trip to Alibaug. Aah… that didn’t sound bad… nobody knew me there.
The trip was a few days away. My parents had finally caved in and allowed it (the trip… not the kiss. Never a kiss.)
I liked him… a lot. But we weren’t in love… at least, I wasn’t. I did not recognize the emotion. I was apprehensive about the upcoming kiss… a day before the trip, it eclipsed the rest of my thoughts. Was it fear… but what was it that I feared? Was I scared of my strict folks? Was I afraid I would be a bad kisser? No, that thought did not cross my mind… because I wasn’t planning on kissing back. Heck… I didn’t even know how to kiss back. I had read somewhere that a kiss was the most intimate display of affection, of love. I was confused… I wasn’t in love… and somewhere in the back of my head was this meek little thought that it was just a kiss. The poor little thought was bullied by the biggies of the ‘What the f*** have I gotten myself into?’ kind.
And so the fateful day dawned. In the early morning, packing my backpack for the trip I had totally forgotten about ‘The Kiss’. I reached the spot where we had to board the bus. I was excited, this was a trip I was finally allowed… after being denied every picnic and excursion for years. There were a couple of other friends of mine boarding the bus from my spot and when the bus came, we all trooped in.
Just as I entered the bus, I spotted him sitting in one of the mid seats. He smiled at me…and all the thoughts about the impending kiss came rushing up but I managed to smile back at him… I think that might have looked more a grimace than a smile. He graciously offered me the window side. Of course, he was the perfect gentleman… he took my backpack from me and stowed it on the rack overhead and stood aside in the aisle until I made myself comfortable on the seat. And then he sat beside me and asked me how I was feeling… that one question calmed my nerves a bit. He gently patted my hand and I felt less like a bundle of nerves and more like I would actually have fun at this trip. Soon the looming kiss and its implications were the last thing on my mind with everyone in the bus talking, singing, and shouting at the same time. The ubiquitous game of Antakshari has that effect.
In about 2 hours, we had reached the Alibaug beach. The bus backed into a parking spot close to the beach with palm trees provifing the shade. A whole day at the beach… yes, an exciting prospect. I love the ocean, the waves, the sand… but the sun and I don’t get along very well… so I had donned a churidhar-kurta with full length sleeves and was wrapping the dupatta around my head to get off the bus when he asked me to wait. Oh! Was it time already?
The others bundled themselves out of the bus… and we got a few winks from some very observant and comprehending friends of ours. We waited till the lot was clear… our bus driver too had left.
He turned towards me and asked…’Do you want to kiss?’ I think I did… he was the sweetest, kindest soul I had known till then. He was smart, intelligent, had a great sense of humour… and I knew he loved me… and really cared. I did not reply… I just closed my eyes and tilted my face up to him… but my body was rigid, it still hadn’t agreed with my heart about the kiss. He placed his finger on my chin and corrected the angle of my face… and then brushed his lips against mine. He whispered that closing the eyes were a sign of trust. In my head I told him that it was a sign that I am not very good at multitasking and being kissed and looking at him at such close quarters counted as multiple tasks. He increased the pressure ever so gently on my lips. I think, for him, it must have felt like he was kissing a stone… because he immediately raised his head and asked me to relax… and he didn’t want me to be so scared. I told him I wasn’t scared… realising it as I said it.
And then we kissed… properly… or he kissed me, properly. He took his lips away and I still hung my lips in place… eyes closed, and when nothing happened for what I thought was an eternity but really was perhaps a second or less, I opened my eyes. He was smiling… his Buddha smile. He said, ‘You are shy… I didn’t expect YOU to be shy!’
‘No, I am not… come on… kiss me again’
He kissed me again… this time I kissed back. Kissed back measuring out a bit of passion. It was a very short kiss… I realised that breathing too was one of the multiple tasks I had to do. And I had to break the kiss to breathe.
He said, ‘You kiss well… how do you even know how to!’
‘I am a natural,’ I winked at him.
He took his hat from his lap and placed it on my head… and together we made our way to the beach. The complete ‘The One With The Kiss’ episode had lasted all of 7 minutes! But, there’s a memory that would last me a lifetime.
That was my second kiss.
My first kiss was when I was 5 years old. Onstage. Romeo & Juliet. 😉