To All The Boys I’ve Loved After… by Anushree Srivastava

A year, they say, is more than enough time to close old chapters. So here I was, hoping to start new chapters with you.

Act 1 Boy 1:

Like freshly brewed coffee, I was bursting with energy and the lovely aroma of some very expensive perfumes, when I saw you smiling at me through my cell phone screen. Well well well… maybe online dating was not so bad after all. We connected. You made me laugh but I was prepared to have you make me cry. Oh, wait. I was healed. I was annoyingly optimistic about life. We decided to meet at an exotic place for our first date. You brought me my favourite flowers or the ones that I told you were my favourite because nobody really understands why I like genda phool. So there you were, standing in the doorway, orange lilies in hand, and a nervous smile. My thought right then was, “He is shorter than my ex. Does size matter?” Despite what I’m convinced were my best efforts we did not hit it off like a haveli on fire. I spent an entire day preparing a premature breakup text because that’s what the cool kids do, but you sir, one-upped me right there. You ghosted me. My ‘pehla pehla’ almost never would’ve been-pyaar’ after the life-altering breakup remained incomplete. But guess what, it took me just a week to be alright again. Is that what they say about being healed against future heartbreaks too? I now remember you as the guy who wasn’t as tall as him.

Act 1 Boy 2:

So there I was, minding my own business, occasionally checking out some dating apps, when you happened. What a beautiful face, I must say! When I first saw your face, I could no longer distinguish if my heart was beating faster out of attraction, or if it was my usual anxiety doing its thing. With trembling hands, I matched with you, and we started talking. You spoke well. You were hilarious, and I’m sure you felt the same way about my extremely funny self. You made me look forward to the irritating message-tone on my phone. I even went a step ahead and kept the vibration alert on so that I could literally feel a tingle every time you texted. The attraction between us was palpable, and this was the most I’d looked forward to meeting anyone since you-know-what. Okay, since the last breakup. Let’s not bring that up over and over again, shall we? We met and it was nothing short of surreal. No no, your beautiful face had very little to do with it. I realized we were meeting at the same place where I used to meet ‘him’ whenever he was in the city. All evening, I was sitting on a cloud that was floating above the city of Exboyfriendville. Needless to say, our first date was the last one. I now remember you as the guy I’d met in the wrong place at the right time.

Act 1 Boy 3:

By the time I met you, I was convinced that my rebound phase had left me a long time ago. Had it, though? As per the universal law in the land-of-the-rebounding-folks, within days of knowing you, I was convinced that I was in love. Yes, this was it. I was so sure I would rather fall in love than into a tub of chocolate. Yes, you were the real deal. One day, while talking, you called me by a nickname. Ouch! The same nickname that ‘he’ had given me. I managed to smile through it, until you said, “I just got out of a long relationship. I don’t want this to be a rebound, and I’m not a good guy. You deserve better”. Now now, everyone in the world of mortals knows that these are words of a classic fuckboy. I may have acted cool but I’m pretty sure that my awkwardness shone through like the rainbow from a unicorn’s butt. I now remember you as the guy who gave me the same nickname as him.

As curtains fell on my potential relationship with each of you, and on my quota of ‘could-have-been’s for 2018, I became increasingly aware of how healing too leaves behind a scar. The scar I carried with me had always been raw while I interacted with each of you. My heart yearned for love, and I tried so hard to find it in you. Maybe, I wasn’t ready yet. Maybe, being healed did not imply being ready. For now, I’ll remember you as the boys I met too soon.

A year, they say, is more than enough time to close old chapters. Why then, do I still look for signs of him in every guy I meet?