I ran into Padma last night after eight years. It was a little strange because I used to love her once. Back then, I never had the guts to tell her and then we went our separate ways. Last night, as we spoke, I thought, ‘This is strange; here is this woman who I was crazy about and now we are here, so close I can feel her breath on my face, but I don’t feel the confusion of love; I feel in control. Has she changed or have I changed?

Padma was no more the same…

As I listened to Padma talk, I recalled how I used to fantasize about her eight years ago, how I used to visualize her in my life as a romantic, mysterious presence and that’s when it hit me: that vision was not Padma; it was a myth of Padma I had created. This woman here, this moderately attractive, moderately interesting woman was the real Padma. I was seeing her clearly for the first time in my life. And the truth was I didn’t find her very interesting now.

Disenchanting effect of time

Time had either streamlined my desires or dismantled her appeal or both. How does this happen? If you love someone shouldn’t you always love them? If not, then did you ever really love them? Or was that just infatuation? But isn’t infatuation sometimes a stepping stone to love? As I looked at Padma, a melancholy filled me. She felt like a once beautiful memory adulterated by time and other clarifiers. Padma didn’t sense any of this; she laughed and spoke gaily. But I felt strange. It is both liberating and unnerving to run into an old love and talk to them without feeling unhinged. One part of you wishes you could feel unhinged again. But another part knows it is not possible anymore. Something is irrevocably lost.

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