What happened? Tell me, what happened?
We started out, as everyone does, with a Hi. We were in the same class. Fortunately (never, ever, regardless of what may or may not happen, unfortunately) we happened to end up in the same group. The same friend circle. All of us bunked classes. Sometimes, you wouldn’t come. You’d look at us and go ‘You silly boys and your ideas of fun’. I’d stay back with you in class. Sometimes you’d yield. Then all of us would spend hours lazing around on benches, stairs, empty classrooms; anywhere but where we were supposed to be. We spent hours, days even, sitting on those two-three benches, remember? But never you and me alone. It was always all of us. We never even sat next to each other. Not once in those days. Always opposite each other, so that we could catch each other’s eyes if need be.
Then we started noticing those little things. How we looked at each other when we said something funny. Or anyone did, for that matter. Making sure the other was always included in whatever the group was doing. Staying back till the last moment to make sure you were coming.Valuing each others words. Beginning a conversation in my head, uttering a sentence and ending it in yours. I didn’t want to believe at first. How could I? I’d dared not hope that I’d find it some day.
I knew what I’d found. I’d found my best friend for the rest of my life.
Slowly, others started to notice too. They began to understand. No questions were asked, none were ever needed. Funnily, they noticed that too. That we respected each other too much to “go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid like I Love You.” We valued what we had with each other. And we were comfortable with it. Far, far beyond what we should have been given how briefly we interacted with each other. Tell me, how many times did we speak ‘at length’? It was always subtle, a relationship based on subtlety. Handing over a bottle of water without turning around, without being asked, drinking from the bottle and returning it kind of subtle. Days spent with nary a word.
And then there were those rare, rare talks. When they happened, they were so far beyond amazing that I still get goosebumps thinking of them. Those ideas we had, the ideals we shared. I lay myself completely bare, I like to think you did too. Dammit, I know you did too. Has anyone understood me better? Did any single conversation feel forced? Weren’t there times when after months, and months, random circumstance put us together and we spent hours talking as if there had never been any interruption in the first place?
We both knew, right from the first time we met, where precisely the limits of our relationship would end. And that is what made it so wonderful. You knew the type of guy you wanted to fall in love with, I was nowhere close to that.There was never even a hint of physical attraction. Sure, you were beautiful, but not my kinda girl. And you knew that. You always did. What happened then? Agreed, I could’ve conceivably fallen in love with you. But you knew me. Better than anyone else. And knowing what you did, you knew it was perfectly impossible. What happened then?
All of us went for that trip, remember? I helped organize it. We screwed up and I used my personal standing with you guys to plead for support. I looked at everyone, but begged only you. You stood up for me. As I knew you would. I didn’t even feel grateful, I just knew.
You used to sing beautifully. I hope you still do. Remember that time, when you had a bad throat, and I asked you to sing? You did. I haven’t forgotten it. I doubt I ever will.
You were sunshine. Not the glare of the afternoon or the heat of summer, but the mellow soothing rays of dawn. I was sarcastic, cutting, cold and hurt with a smile. I couldn’t help myself. You understood. You were the only one who did. Others noticed my torture, my self-denial, my put-on cockiness and interpreted it for iron will, self-control and level-headedness. I cried out for a friend, and you answered. I left myself vulnerable to you and you never took advantage. You supported me where you had to, disagreed when you thought I was wrong and exercised your rights on me when you thought I was stepping over a line, any line.
And that magical night, do you remember that? The night we first opened the windows to our soul. Your sunshine hid some darknesses underneath and you chose to share them with me. I felt delivered. I left my grays and exposed my blacks. We wondered about the bright yellows, the greens and blues. What we are, what we seem to be, wherever did we come from, why we are what we are; nothing was sacred then. If there had ever been such a thing as the bonding of souls, we had it that night. Till today, I hold that night to be one of the best I ever had. I still maintain that time stopped that night, how else could 7-8 hours be enough for what we did then?
And that night changed us, in ways I know not, but I felt lighter from then on. Somebody knew me. I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was. I broke my own rules for you. Ones I haven’t broken for anyone else, parents, family, girlfriends, whoever. But for you, I dropped my guard. I let you into places no one has come since, or had come before. I told you the truth, all the time, every single time, about everything I did, everything I felt, regardless of how it reflected upon me. I didn’t care, I wanted you to know. Did you feel the same way?
What happened? Give me closure. Please. The lightness turns heavy again. The shadows sense it. They know the sunshine hasn’t been home for a long time. There are barely enough sunbeams for me to hold on to. The shadows are coming home to roost again, and so Help me God, I need you to fight them. I find myself in this spiraling whirlwind of darkness which coils itself slowly, surely all around me till I cannot breathe, cannot see. I needed you once before this year, and you weren’t there. I forgave, not that I had a choice. Its the night. The night always gets me. When I’m out late, and it rains sometimes, and the weather turns magical, I think of you. My will is still iron, but the very thought of you turns it into rank butter. I was defenceless then, I made myself so for you, I am still the same now.
Tell me why you abandoned me. You know our relationship doesn’t need the sustenance of constant conversation or meetings like others do. What we need is just a few hours a year. You know it to be true. Is that really too much to ask? It has been a few years now. I always expect the call to come, sometimes I go against myself and try to get in touch with you. I find your number from others and drop a line. Sometimes, you don’t recognize the number, but always by the second message, you guess it to be me. You seem to know and recognize me so quickly, am I chasing an illusion?
Do you not understand your importance in my life? You were the only friend I ever had. I know it wasn’t the same for you. You had your fair share of close friends, and the couple I know who were closest. You even deign to call them sometimes. Do I not even deserve that? Even you have to grant me that whatever we had, it was something special. Did you outgrow it? Or did you just find it not worth your time?
Please. Just answer me this one last time. Don’t make me spend the rest of my life with this hollow, heavy heart. Just tell me, what happened?