It took me years to realize that I need to love myself first before I loved someone else.
It started during February, when with career related uncertainties in my mind, and a broken heart beating in my chest, I left for Mcleodganj to meet Jay after his Tushita’s course. I wanted to be away from Delhi, and from ‘her’ for a dew days. In a way, it’s Ritika whom I should be thankful, for starting this chain reaction.
Jay’s a great musician, and the plan was to open the guitar case once I reached Mcleodganj, and jam throughout our trip. So, when a setting sun lit up the sky like a golden flame that continually reflected off the snow covered mountains, we sat in the balcony of our room and started.
It was also the evening when we met Amy, our French neighbour, with a strange love for bollywood songs.
That evening, Jay’s fingers slowly strummed the guitar, as the rain joined in rhythmically while we sang our hearts out and Amy danced in her balcony. This wasn’t the Mcleodganj I knew about; this Mcleodganj was carefree in its soul, with twinkle in its eyes, with a laughter on its lips and a song in each of its step. It was a Mcleodganj where I wanted to go out on streets, and find people like us, to sing with them, to dance with them, to hear their stories, to share my experiences, I wanted to live with them.
That evening we played till our throats were sore, and then came the moment, which made me change my outlook towards this place. When, while sitting in a restaurant later that day, a random girl approached us to inquire about Mcleodganj’s live music scene.
It was my third trip to this town, and I was baffled by her question, since I never considered this place to have any kind of night life. For me, it slept at 9 PM. Though we never saw her again, but her question stayed with me; each of my previous trip felt a bit more incomplete, because there was something I was missing, and this time I was determined to search for this other side of Mcleodganj.
As luck would have it, we had a chance to perform live at Seed Café the next day, a rather non-descript property off the Jogibara road when you look at it. But I did attend some parties there, it was the place where ‘the crowd’ came together during those winter months to drink, to dance, and to sing. However, that night, audience included just few of our friends. Though it was also the night that led us from performing outside our balcony to performing at different places till Jay left.
It rained the day when he left, a rain that continued for next three days, while Amy and me, we went out a few times during those three days. Meanwhile, I was also discovering a great friend in Olivia, who became like a second mother to me; a 47-year old woman, who travelled half way across the world, spent time with me practicing her hindi and head wobbling skills. We regularly met at different cafes across the town, discussing our philosophies, our lives and our worries.
It wasn’t all rosy for me after Jay left, I was back to square one, huddled midst my uncertainties, and a broken heart, which made me keep delaying my departure; and then one night before I left, Amy and I went out for dinner, where she promptly left me to join her friends for the rest of the night, who were at the same restaurant. I was left alone that night, without an escape from my personal issues.
I did cry that night, sitting next to Olivia in her room; she had asked me to come over that night. She tried cheering me up, but in the meantime she also planted an idea into my mind, about asking Jay if he’d like to travel with me.
She said that we could’ve done something related to travel and music. The idea didn’t resonate with me at that moment, while I was stuck in my own sadness. I wanted to break free from my life in Delhi, I wanted to travel and write for myself. I wanted to start with everything I kept delaying during past few months, but still the thought of travelling with Jay wasn’t the first thing on my mind.
But that night on my way to Delhi, as the bus sped along the highway and Kasauli’s cluster of lights, which seemed to be hanging from the sky in the darkness when seen from the plains, was passing by my left, I was the only one awake.
Just like that hill station dangling in the darkness, some thoughts flickered inside me midst all the confusion. I had an idea, a small dream I had kept hidden for long, it was about time I stopped running from everything.
It felt like the perfect moment, or maybe those were just desperate times, and I was actually planning to run far away from Ritika, from Delhi, and from myself. There was a commotion in my head, but the chill in the air slowly seemed to be whispering into my ears that everything would be alright.
Or was it just another of my imaginations? But before I could ponder more over it, the bus reached Delhi and I received a message from Ritika. However, under that message was one from Jay as well, a message that changed everything.