What I’m about to tell you happened a few months ago. It’s my true story, you know. To give you the full picture I would need to backup a little... a ‘few years’ little.
We were best friends, she and I. We hit it off the moment we saw each other. She was as crazy as I was, we shared the same distaste for some movies, music and people, and our common interest were few but sincere and we were passionate about it. Her wave length matched mine. We were inseparable. Her friendship was solid, dependable, interesting and magical. She was such an angel. She is Meera.
But slowly, as is the case, things started to change. Or that was what I felt, being as good as I’m with those kind of things. I was sure I felt some undercurrent. From her end, that’s to say. And frankly I was not sure how I felt. I felt she seemed more inclined toward the ‘us'. That feeling intensified with the passing days. Although I was sure that if I proposed she would agree, definitely, I somehow did not take that step. The more I thought about it I was confused. I did not know how to deal with what I was feeling and what I should feel . That was where the intermission happened.
What followed was the usual cry fest, sob story rom-com, only that I couldn’t see the com part of it anytime. She waited. I hesitated. She moved on. I said. She denied. Then she said. I denied. And she had to move on.
Anyways, what’s important to the story I’m about to narrate is that we both moved on with our lives. She once said to me, in a very convoluted thread of conversation, to take hope in the fact that she was in a better place, and that she would hope the same for me. Maybe she was in a better place. But I doubt if I have ever had one such place. Ever since I decided to stay away from her hoping it was for the best, I have regretted it. Who’s best? Arguably hers, of course! No day passed when I didn’t feel like I had missed making mine the most precious thing that ever crossed my life. Every day when I saw young couples walking past me I have repented what I had lost. I had -still have- the nagging worry ‘What if no one else comes a-calling?’ And with loads of guilt at the fact that I had made the sweetest-of-all-hearts to go through much pain, I slept every night, hoping next day would make me feel better.
Years rolled on and life happened. Time really did heal the wound, although, as she would say, it did not have means to make me forget the memory of all the pain. But she was always in my mind, in the image of the petite girls I saw, in someone’s whispered laughter’s and giggles, through some dialogues and music, in a random scent. And I always smiled when I remembered her or if someone brought her up in conversations.
Being in such bizarre state of mind, you can imagine the high I would get if I was to meet her after a few years. She had called and I took the offer immediately. I wanted to see her more than anything, see how life had treated her, hear her voice again and see her look at me one more time. Although I dreaded seeing the remains of hatred that I last saw in her tearful eyes, I wanted to look at them again. I was ecstatic. Well, more than that.
And when I met her, I was shocked. Well, more than that. She had not changed a bit. It was like rewinding the time. She was as I left her that afternoon, in that food-court without even so much as a backward glance.
She looked good. Well, more than that. She looked as I remembered her. It was difficult to keep sense of time. Was it a dream? Was it for real? If that was what was real and if that was how my dream was too, then was that the real ‘dream come true’? Was it the lighting striking? Again? I mean, properly again?
She was surprised to see me too, I could sense from her expression. Maybe she did not anticipate me to just accept her invite. Perhaps she called as a mere formality. Or she could have been returning my previous call which she didn’t respond to except for a few cursory comments. So as I stood before her expecting a cold shouldered welcome she came over beaming.
We shook hands. I don’t think I would be able to explain the sensation that I felt that moment.
We talked for some time and the in-between dark days seemed like a bad dream. We discovered a lot of things. We spoke about things that were too difficult to discuss in the past. We non-stop argued on what transpired during the turbulent final episode of our friendship, understood why the other did what they did and how our actions had been interpreted.
Soon it was time to leave. I did not want the time to end. Neither did she, I felt. She had lots of reasons to leave. Somehow she was hesitant and I didn’t ask ‘what’s and ‘why’s. I was merely glad that she let me again in her life, and after all that I have put her through that she could talk to me again and let me be a friend.
I went to meet her that day resolving that whatever happened that day would be her choice and that I would take all the precaution that I could to make things go her way. It would all be her choice and her choosing. I wasn't ready to do that once before, but that day I was and so I would; I should, that’s only right, right?.
Finally when we had to make a move, when we couldn’t stall any longer where we were, she asked ‘Movie?’ And I believe I replied ‘if you want to’ to which I think she replied ‘Do you want me to me want it?’ or something idiotic like that. Finally the issue was resolved and we went to the movies when I replied, ‘I could make it happen if you want it to happen’. Her choice, you see! Whatever she wanted!
Inside, we were seated next to each other. I was consciously aware of the proximity and warmth of her body. If everyone would just shut up I would even hear her heartbeat. I silently wished it were too as accelerated as mine were. I noticed she was too sitting very stiffly, holding her hands rigidly on her lap. I wanted to rest mine on the hand-rest but as I felt I was already too near her, I kept my hands in my lap too.
We were silent. The weight of the past we had just discussed was weighing silently upon us. All we did talk about was the past and the past and nothing but it. Why didn’t I ask her about her current relationship? Why didn’t I even think, when we were seated in a brightly lit coffee shop, that she would have had the chance, that she could have had a life outside the realms of me?
The movie was about some nonsense of which you couldn’t pay me to care about. I had a more lively, entertaining situation going on beside me. Soon after the movie started she leaned a little to my side. She slowly placed her right hand on our hand-rest and sighed. I stole a look to her side but she seemed intent on the movie screen. But after a few moments she completely leaned to my side, so much so that there was touching. As my left hand was awkwardly placed in that cramped space I lifted it and placed nonchalantly over her seat’s headrest. She smiled a little and confidently leaned some more.
I was like... it was like... totally like... my salvation, way and way beyond my dreams. Although confessional-ly that was not true; my dreams had been worse. But , let's, for the sake of decent narration stick to the idea that that day was beyond wants. I knew what I had to do next and what I can do. But I was somehow hesitant. Few minutes passed and she made a slightly irritated and impatient noise and placed her hand on my hand that was above her seat and pulled it over her shoulders. It was like things fell in place. My face was mere inches form hers. I could smell her talc. I kissed her.
She abruptly turned toward me, pulling herself slightly away from my lips saying ‘DUDE! I leaned into you only because the guy next to me is leaning on me’.