Raw, unfiltered expression of love is one of the purest, most blissful feelings conceivable! Liz, the love of my life, introduced me to this beautiful facet of existence, and I’ll cherish her memories till the day I die! Lishash is my heartfelt tribute to her.
I still remember, in gruesome, vivid detail, the pain I felt seeing her walk away! Scorching heat was pounding down from the skies that summer afternoon, but I kept sitting helplessly on the road anyway, crying, for hours maybe, desperately hoping for her to come back! She never turned. Liz was one person I could not imagine living without, and now, she was gone, and with her, all my life, it seemed! I was in depression, for months, and all my dreams just evaporated! All I wanted was her!
When I was younger, my dad: a self-made entrepreneur, “Guru”: a poor villager who becomes India’s biggest business tycoon, and Steve Jobs: who loved to make dents in the universe, were my heroes. They all established their empires from nothing, and that fascinated me no bounds! I too dreamt of creating something so revolutionary, so transformative that it would change the world forever! My grandfather, and books like “Autobiography of a Yogi”, described states of eternal bliss, and the almost superhuman feats that followed. Since childhood, I found these accounts incredibly enthralling! Simultaneously, at school, we were getting a very scientific take on life, through Physics, and how anything in our world could be modeled mathematically. I wanted to build scientific tools that would allow us to understand, and utilize these spiritual phenomenon on demand. A dream that consumed me so wholly, that it became the most important thing in my life! Yet, now, it was all gone in a snap!
Liz and I got to know each other at UCLA. Our first conversation, was about her experience with Buddhism, and it’s profound impact on her. I was obviously fascinated! From discussing life, science and spirituality, she annoyingly switched the topic to love: something I felt to be a waste of time, and a big distraction at that point in my life; research was my only focus. “Have you ever cried for someone you love?”, she asked. What? This girl is definitely crazy I thought. “That only happens in movies Liz, grow up!”, I responded. What irony! Anyways, irrespective of our differences, there definitely was something magical about her, something I had not felt for anybody else. We started to talk day and night; time used to just fly with her! We especially loved each other’s honesty and rawness. She used to write poems about the time we spent together, and how our bond was the most beautiful relation in her life. We made plans to travel the world together. I started skipping work, to spend more time with her. If something hurt her, I felt the pain. Liz became everything for me! I genuinely felt she was the most beautiful girl in the world! During the several hours we spent together everyday, she used to just keep sitting in front of me with her beautiful, innocent smile, and pointy, Chinese eyebrows, and everything else around us just disappeared! My dreams, my goals, my friends, all of my life’s hard work. Everything! If I was with her, there was nothing else I wanted; I had never been so content in my life before! It was a magical time!
Unfortunately, being the philosopher Liz was, she had a very weird take on relationships. On one hand she expressed that she loved me the most in life, and on the other she insisted that she did not love me “that way” though.
Due to some experiences she saw others have in her past, Liz firmly believed that romantic relationships do not last forever, and their charm just fades with time. “Friendship is the purest and ageless relationship that exists”, she said. I, obviously did not understand any of this non-sense. When I loved her, I didn’t use my brain to first compartmentalize her in different categories. I just loved! Was she my friend, my sister, my lover, my colleague? I don’t know! And I don’t care! All I understood is that I wanted to be with her forever, and being just friends was simply not going to let that happen, obviously.
All this tension was making everything in my life fall apart. One day, Liz came to my place, took a piece of paper, and started drawing a bunch of different bubbles enumerating the problems in my life: “Can’t focus on work”, “Destroying relationship with parents”, blah blah blah. At the center of all of those bubbles she wrote “Liz”, stating that she was the source of all problems in my life, and I should push her out. Genius! The most precious part of my life was saying that she was destroying it; what analysis! I found that whole experiment quite funny and adorable actually. To my horror, she was very serious though, and just disappeared for the next few months! She blocked me from all contact channels, and made it impossible for me to meet her. Remember the gruesome summer afternoon? After a lot of searching and asking, I found her in a public library a few months later, on that very horrid day. Both of us had a mandatory, happy crying session for starters, and then she explained the reason of her stupid behavior. “It would help you move on I thought, and then we could just be friends!”. What the hell? She was still stuck there? “You say you love me the most, but are going to spend your life with someone else. What kind of a person are you Liz?”, I said out of sheer anger and frustration. That deeply hurt her! Horrendous statement in hindsight, and I am still really sorry for it! She had never shown any romantic interest in me, and had already tried her best to make me understand, but nothing would enter my thick head. In shock, without saying anything, she just started walking away dejectedly, and never looked back. It’s been years, and we have never met since then!
The excruciating period of depression that followed, was the most horrible time of my life. I lost all appetite for eating, working and meeting people; I became a lifeless vegetable basically! One evening, I and my parents were sitting in my bedroom, with my mom sadly gazing at me with a concerned loving smile, and my dad gently massaging my head with his characteristic selfless love. Tingles started flowing down my spine! After weeks, for the first time, I felt alive. There was absolute love, peace and serenity in that moment! Their selfless affection put me in tears, and I felt really ashamed for taking their love for granted all throughout my life. Earlier, all of my attention was on my dreams, and then on Liz, but I never genuinely appreciated the two humans that loved me the most! Losing Liz made me realize that one day everything and everyone goes away, and we can not always get what we want in life, but we can definitely cherish what we have!
And cherish I did! This experience gave me an extraordinary sense of gratitude in life! From that day on, my love for my parents, and everyone for that matter, increased manifold. I dived straight back into work, and eventually got the zeal for my dreams back as well. Moreover, I started traveling a lot more; during the past 3 years itself, I have traveled to more than 25 countries.
This February, I went canoeing in Thailand, with Lucas: one of my closest friends, and co-founder at Lishash. We were floating in the center of an extremely serene bay, with the sun setting at the horizon, blue water all around, and an encompassing, marvelous red hue. Suddenly, our eyes locked with the most beautiful island we had ever seen: white pristine beach, gigantic mangrove laden peaks, and not a human in sight. We rowed there, got out of the boat, swayed our arms wide, and just let the heavenly breeze kiss us, with our eyes closed. There were no thoughts, no plans, no future or past in that moment, all that existed was sheer bliss; synergy with nature! Life was showing us its beauty, in incredible grandeur! It was almost telling us, “Dude, I am too short to waste in planning the future, or wailing for the past, it’s my present moments where the magic happens! So, live in the now, and cherish each moment to the fullest!”.
Yes, there is still a burning hole in my heart; I miss Liz dearly, everyday, and pray that she comes back somehow, but I have now realized that it is not under my control, so there is no point crying about it! Life moves on! Time can heal almost anything. You learn to laugh on yourself, and take things more lightly. My dearest friends(assholes) have hurled numerous friendzone jokes at me, and I actually find them quite humorous. Anne, especially, is a rather quirky friend.
I am only severely hurt when people say, “She did not love you. Why are you wasting energy on that bitch? It does not make sense!”. Love is not a deal! Love is about selfless expression, not reciprocation. Both of us love each other dearly, in our own ways, without expecting anything back. That is what makes our bond so pure! Not everything is rational in life, not everything makes sense! Everywhere I travel, in everything I do, Liz is with me, in my heart. I used to write her name on beaches, she was the name of my first computer program; almost everything in my life revolves around her! Lishash too, is a combination of our names: Lishash = Liz + Shashwat. Liz has made who I am. She has given me the most beautiful memories of my life. I love everyone around me so much, only because of her. But now, I am supposed to just throw her away somehow? Just because it does not make sense?
I was a very driven and logical person too, right? What happened? As soon as I fell in love, my rational constructs were the first to evaporate! Love starts where reason breaks: Let your brain, logic, goals, and plans have some rest folks! Open your emotional side up, be your raw self, and just let go! You’ll be surprised by how beautiful and fulfilling life can be!
Liz, I love you! I always will!
Thank you for everything!