“Sounds interesting! Tell me more”, she exclaimed. I was more than surprised by her reaction. Something about life, something so particularly opinionated caught her attention amongst a million things we spoke of that night. I was shocked, no sweet surprise was the reaction. I continued, “It’s that phase in one’s life when one just needs others to make them feel complete, make them feel that they are worth living the life that they have and they give them a sense of whole, completeness. It’s not something that they need but it’s something that they have just got addicted to, like hung over on that.” Her interest in the topic suddenly vanished. She just didn’t want to talk about it anymore. So she asked me if I was hungry and wanted to grab a bite. I looked at the watch, it was 2.30 am and not a fan of Subway, I offered to cook. She politely refused and said she was just going to sleep. I said, “There’s pizza in the fridge if you want some just in case” and I headed over to the kitchen to grab a coffee.
I knew she wanted to say something, she really wanted to talk about something but she never did. I come back with my coffee and I see her sound asleep. I open my laptop and start working on something when suddenly I find her looking at me, her eyes welled up and she was like my 7 year old kiddo again. I said, “I know there’s something, and I know you are not ready to talk about it right now. Just to let you know, I will always be there for you, for you are my bud and will always be. For now a hug would work wonders for me.” She jumped across, hugged me and cried like a baby that night. No concern of the world, I closed my laptop and just listened to my friend cry for hours together. I wish I could console her, but I somehow didn’t. Just listened to her weep all through the night. Sometime around 5.30am she finally slept. I kept speculating if I should have “the talk” with her, then finally at 8.00 am I decided against it. The next day went pretty well, she never mentioned a word of what happened the previous night and I didn’t say a word. She had to catch the morning flight the next morning. I dropped her at the airport, hugged her and here I could just say, “Remember my love, just a call away!” She knew what I meant and gathered all the courage to fake a smile, her eyes couldn’t hide the tears so she just put on her shades. She said, “Love you” and hurried to the check-in area. I got a text when she reached safe.
Two years rolled past. We spoke every month, never specifics but we both knew something was really bothering her. One day she said, “Let’s meet up, bet we both need some girl time. How about you fly down?” As much as I wanted to, I was tied down by my work to stay in station. I asked her instead to come down. She was jittery, I bribed her to buy tickets to the game next week, and she agreed. That instant I knew something was wrong. We finalised her travel plans and hung up. I could not make it to the airport to pick her up. But the cab is safe, I knew. So I let her commute on her own. I reached home at around 11pm, tossed my keys onto the table and just fell flat on the couch. Well, indeed this is my Friday night! Right that moment, I hear her voice, “Ass! As much as I am mad at you for not picking me up, I want you to have a better weekend. So let’s make your Friday special.” I gasped in joy, went and hugged her, confessed I felt bad about it too and said “I am glad you here babe”. That moment she knew something was wrong with me too. But we didn’t know what we both needed.
“I hate growing up! So much to think, so many responsibilities and bills”, I said laughingly. “I wish we could party like the good old days!” She smiled and said, “You know what? I got something from the Duty Free for a colleague, but what the hell! I can always say, “Weight Restrictions” and make a sad face.” She winked at me, ran to the kitchen, grabbed two glasses and some snacks. Before I knew, both of us were laughing like maniacs and talking about past! The good old days! Then we did something, something bad, started looking at pictures from undergrad. Before we knew, we were laughing and crying at the same time. I finally gathered myself and said “ We had some great times, I am sure we all agree, even if we are not in touch with each other anymore, I love you all as much even today.” She just looked at me and didn’t say anything. I knew she wanted to say something but I didn’t push her enough. She said, “Let’s just go to bed”. I was in a bigger apartment now so I showed her way to the spare bedroom and went to my room. I was just about to fall asleep when I heard a knock on the door. I said, “Since when do you need my permission to enter?” She just walked inside and said “I can’t sleep in that room, it’s haunted”. I was laughing now. I said, “Aww it’s not, but crawl in”. She jumped into my bed and said, “I am so happy to be here.” I smiled and just slept.
The next morning was fun, we went cycling and then later walk in the park! We had brunch at our favourite restaurant franchisee and decided to go for the movies. We headed back to my apartment and I decided, enough is enough. I saw her in the kitchen, walked up to her and said, “Got a minute?” She looked puzzled. She said, “Yeah, wassup babe?” I continued, “I am happy that you are here but we both know meeting me is not the only reason you are here. So what’s the other reason that you are here?” She was shocked, she knew I had waited long for this and there was no escaping it now. She said “Let’s go to the patio. I need air”. I complied. She stood by the iron rails and said, “So you knew huh”, I didn’t speak a word. She continued, “There is something I never told you, but I bet you know”. I said, “I want to hear it from you now.” She didn’t turn back and staring into the black starless sky, she started pouring her heart out.
“I made a mistake, I fell for someone and never got over it. What followed was a chain reaction, another mistake to cover up for the previous one. I guess I became emotionally insufficient”. She choked but later continued. “I knew we were just not meant for it, just not the kind of couple! But who would explain the people that good friends do have some “Chemistry”. They do love each other but just not enough for them to get committed for life. So we did date but we knew it was not it. But you know what happened at the end? I finally fell for him, with all my heart and soul. He did too. I never told anyone, not even you about how heartbroken I was, how I felt when he told me that he didn’t love me. You know why? That’s because I knew it from the very beginning and I didn’t love him either. But we both fell for it, the game called love. The strange feeling in your gut when you say that word, you know that makes you sick and happy at the same time. He never once told me, let’s give it a shot! And I called it a day.”
“It’s been years and I still hold myself responsible, falling for him was my only mistake. I should have let him know. More importantly I didn’t make sound decisions back in the day and one fine day I had to make one. I should have either let him go or stayed with him. This half and half life is painful. I sometimes wish I had a future with him but at other times I feel happy that I ended it. You know what I mean right?” She went on and on about it, how the two met, how they hung out, chatted, how they would sneak out and make sure no one noticed. Date nights and parties, birthdays to valentines. She was happy to talk about it.
It was around 5 in the morning that I finally said, “Let’s get some coffee”. She was laughing now and just said, “Really?” I said coffee makes me smarter and I walked to the kitchen. It was pretty cold so we decided to stay indoors. She made herself comfortable in the couch and I said, “Do you want me to say something?” She knew I would say it anyway so just smiled at me. I said, “You know what you are going through, you know the symptoms of your disease and you told me the cure as well. Why are you scared to face the truth then? I know you have dated after that, but you never found “the one”, do you know why? That’s because you never wanted to make it work, you always wanted something better, something as carefree and something as perfect as the one you already had. Let me tell you something, it will never happen again, because it never happened in the first case. Yesterday is always better that today and future is so uncertain. Give yourself a break from looking out for your perfect relationship and make peace with your present. You need to love yourself with your heart and soul for someone else to love you more. And trust me, the perfect one will come to you when you are ready for him, not just today but someday. Love yourself and be the person you have always wanted to be. Love the skin you are in.”
It was as if she understood the meaning of every word I just said. At times I feel we all know what is right for us all the while but we just need reassurance from the people we trust to make us believe. It’s totally human to fall and give up, it’s a different ball game to face the consequences and live and it’s another life altogether to keep trying till you get something your heart always longed for. Sometimes we do things that’s not in the best of our interests but we still do it, I guess that’s what makes us human. Something someday someone. I just said this to cheer her up, “Someday someone will make you realise why it never worked out with anyone else, hope you find him soon” She just hugged me and we sipped our coffee engrossed in thoughts.
We had an amazing Sunday, wildlife safari and an evening by the beach bonfire. We both wished the weekend never ended. I dropped her to the airport later that night and drove back home. I was missing her already, I opened the folder with my undergrad pictures and changed the wallpaper to my favourite picture. The picture had all of us, the crazy bunch of pranksters laughing and posing. I smiled at the innocence on my face and the friendships back in the day. I had a few pending mails and a lot of unanswered questions now. I just grabbed the pillow and forced myself to sleep for I knew the morning was going to be pretty rough.
A couple of months went by and I didn’t receive a call from her, I was busy with my work too so kept postponing our monthly call. One fine Sunday morning, I get her call. I was at the children’s home so I let her reach my voicemail. By the time I reach back to my apartment, I had forgotten about her voicemail. I checked my phone and it was 6.30 in the evening and my phone rings again. She was bubbling with energy, “Pack your bags sweetie, we are off to Vegas for my bachelorette weekend.” I was jumping with joy by now. I asked her for whereabouts but she won’t disclose any. Finally she said, “I could not wait for anyone and I knew I was not strong enough to let myself go through the same thing again. So when dad asked me if I wanted to meet Rajat, I said why not! Turns out he’s the one. I don’t know much about him, all I know is I love the security he has brought in my life. I may not love him right now, but I am sure I will someday, for dad has never made a wrong decision for me.” Satisfied with her answer, I congratulated her again and promised to be there for the wedding. I checked my schedule, emailed for a couple of reschedules and then assigned myself a holiday, for I knew I needed a break now.
Like any other day, I minimised all the applications on the laptop just to look at the desktop background before I called it a day. But today was different. I looked at us, I looked at only the two of us, and I said “But I will wait for you.” I shut the screen and waited for the night to end and waited for dawn yet again.