LOVE…OR MAYBE NOT

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP. THESE TWO WORDS CAN NEVER BE INTERMINGLED TOGETHER. I BELIEVE THERE’S AN OCEAN OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THESE 2 POLES HAVING A VARYING ESSENCE OF BOTH OF THEM. SOMEHOW, LIFE DROPPED ME IN THAT OCEAN, AND SINCE THEN I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE UP MY MIND AS TO WHICH SHORE SHOULD I HEAD OUT FOR. OR RATHER, ON WHICH SHORE WOULD I BE ABLE TO LAND SAFELY? THAT’S THE BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO I CAN PROJECT TO EXPLAIN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH LOYA.

 

IT IS OFTEN SHOWN IN MOVIES THAT TWO GOOD FRIENDS END UP BEING GOOD LOVERS TOO. BUT SOMETIMES, THEY JUST END UP IN THE VACUUM BETWEEN THE TWO POLES. I MET LOYA BY CHANCE AND NOT ON INTENTION. SHE WAS THE GIRL-FRIEND OF ONE OF MY BEST BUDDIES OF MY SCHOOL DAYS. THEY WERE THE MOST TALKED ABOUT COUPLE IN MY SCHOOL AND EVEN ELSEWHERE. PEOPLE THOUGHT THAT BEING THE MOST FAMOUS COUPLE ALSO MEANT THE MOST COMPATIBLE. HOWEVER, THEIR INNER CIRCLE OF FRIENDS INCLUDING ME KNEW BETTER. ALL COUPLES QUARREL, BUT THERE WERE SOME SERIOUS PROBLEMS BREWING UP BETWEEN THE TWO. LOOKING BACK, I REALISE THAT THE ONLY ASPECT WHICH DIFFERENTIATED ME FROM THE REST WAS THAT I TRIED TO MAINTAIN AN IMPARTIAL OUTLOOK OVER THEIR QUARRELS. WHEREAS ALL THE OTHERS WERE EITHER BIASED TOWARDS LOYA OR AGAINST HER, NO MATTER WHO WAS RIGHT.EVERYBODY KNEW THAT HER BOY-FRIEND WAS OF A SHIFTING NATURE; THE POPULAR GUY IN THE BATCH, WHO ALWAYS TRIED TO FLIRT WITH EVERY OTHER GIRL HE SET HIS EYES UPON EVEN WHEN BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP. IN THOSE DAYS HE WAS ONE OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS AND WE SHARED MANY A FLIRTING MOMENT TOGETHER, BUT I DIDN’T APPROVE OF HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS RELATIONSHIPS. OFTEN I USED TO TELL HIM, “LOOK MAN, FLIRTING IS FINE… BUT ONLY UPTO A CERTAIN EXTENT. BESIDES, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP, AND SHE LOVES YOU A LOT”. HE’D ALWAYS LAUGH IT OFF, “I KNOW SHE DOES! AND SHE AIN’T GOING ANYWHERE. SO, WHAT’S THE HARM IN HAVING A LITTLE FUN?” PERHAPS THAT’S WHAT DRIFTED US APART; BOTH IN TERMS OF PERSONALITY AND LATER, FROM OUR BOND OF FRIENDSHIP.

 

HE WAS NO DOUBT THE NUMERO UNO IN FLIRTING, BUT I WASN’T TOO FAR BEHIND EITHER! INFACT, PEOPLE CONSIDERED ME AS THE SECOND-IN-COMMAND IN THE GAME OF LOVE. I WON’T DENY THAT COMPLETELY, BUT THERE WERE MORE FACETS TO ME THAN WHAT IS SEEN ON THE SURFACE. I HAD RESOLVED THAT NO MATTER HOW MANY GIRLS I FLIRT WITH, IF AND WHEN IT CAME TO A RELATIONSHIP, I WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY FAITHFUL TO MY GIRL. I BELIEVE THAT SOME FEELINGS ARE MEANT TO BE SINCERE AND EVERLASTING. SILLY OF HIM, HE NEVER REALISED THAT GIRLS ARE TOO POSSESSIVE TO NOT MIND SEEING THEIR LOVED ONE ROMANCING WITH ANOTHER GIRL. PEOPLE CONSIDERED ME AS THE SECOND-IN-COMMAND IN THE GAME OF LOVE. WHAT MANY DIDN’T KNOW WAS THAT I HAD HELD THAT POSITION IN MORE ASPECTS THAN ONE. EMOTIONALISM IS INHERENTLY IN THE GENES OF GIRLS AND IN LOYA THAT WAS THE MOST DOMINANT CHARACTERISTIC; IT WAS AS WELL THE THING HE UNDERVALUED THE MOST IN HER. SO, WHEN IT CAME UPON HIM TO CHOOSE A GIFT FOR HER BIRTHDAY, TO BUY CORNER TICKETS FOR A MOVIE, TO ‘MANAGE’ HER WHEN HE WAS BUSY WITH SOMEBODY ELSE, TO COMFORT HER DURING THEIR INNUMERABLE QUARRELS, I WAS THE ONE– THE SECOND-IN-COMMAND. THINGS CAME TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT I HAD TO REMIND HIM OF THEIR ANNIVERSARY AND BUY A GIFT FOR HIM. IT SEEMED AS IF I DID ALL THE GROUNDWORK AND HE WAS THE ONE ENJOYING THE BENEFITS. A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED. I INDEED BECAME ONE OF HIS CLOSEST FRIENDS BUT DIDN’T REALISE AT THAT TIME THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY HEAVILY FOR THAT FRIENDSHIP. TO THIS DAY I’M NOT SURE WHY I DID ALL THOSE FAVOURS FOR HIM. MAYBE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO SEE LOYA SAD AND HEART BROKEN, BUT ON HINDSIGHT I KNEW THAT UNKNOWINGLY I HAD PLAYED THE ROLE OF AN ACCOMPLICE IN DECEIVING HER. THE RUMOUR MONGERS, WHO WERE BETTER THAN SHERLOCK HOLMES IN PICKING UP A CLUE, SOMEHOW GOT THE HINT THAT I HAD FALLEN FOR HER. THANKFULLY HE DIDN’T MUCH BOTHER ABOUT SUCH RUMOURS. GIRL FRIEND STEALERS WAS THE WORST CATEGORY OF SOCIAL STRATA FOR A GUY. THEY WERE THE OUTCASTS, THE SOCIALLY & MENTALLY DECREPIT LOT, AND WERE COMPARED WITH VULTURES WHO’D ALWAYS SWOOP DOWN ON EASY PREY. I FOR ONE NEVER WANTED MY NAME AMONG THOSE VULTURES AND SO MENTALLY SHRUGGED OFF THE MERE IDEA OF HAVING ANY FEELINGS FOR LOYA. ALAS! THE HEART IS A MYSTERIOUS AND UNTAMED BEAST! AS HE BECAME MORE AND MORE OF A WOMANIZER, EVEN SECRETLY PROPOSING TO ANOTHER GIRL, I SOMEHOW FOUND MYSELF MORE AND MORE CLOSE TO HER. I KNEW HER LITTLE SECRETS, HER FEARS; WE SHARED THE SAME SENSE OF HUMOUR, THE LATE NIGHT CALLS, AND THE MISSED CALLS! , SINGING SONGS OVER THE PHONE, THE FREQUENT TRIPS TO THE MALLS, TO THE PARK, TO HER HOUSE… ALL EVENTUALLY COMPELLED ME TO GET SMITTEN WITH HER. ADMIST THIS DIFFICULT PERIOD OF EMOTIONAL TURMOIL, MY BRAIN STOOD STEADFAST ON ITS IDEALS. THE MERE THOUGHT OF BEING BRANDED A “GIRL FRIEND STEALER” PULLED ME BACK TO THE GROUND. PRETTY SOON MY BRAIN AND MY HEART WERE AT LOGGERHEADS AND I STARTED LIVING A LIFE OF DUAL PERSONALITIES. SECRETLY I STARTED PINING FOR HER AND THE WORSE PART OF IT ALL WAS THAT I COULDN’T SHARE MY FEELNGS WITH EVEN A SINGLE PERSON CLOSE TO ME. EVEN TODAY I CURSE MYSELF FOR THAT MOMENT OF FOOLISHNESS: ONE FINE MORNING I WOKE UP AND DECIDED THAT THE TIME HAD COME TO TAKE A DECISIVE ACTION. AND GUESS WHAT? MY BRAIN WON THE BATTLE. PERHAPS THE PARANOIA OF BEING RELEGATED AS AN OUTCAST WAS TOO FORBIDDING FOR ME TO LISTEN TO THE SINCERE VOICES OF MY HEART.

 

YEARS ROLLED BY, BUT EVERYTHING REMAINED THE SAME. OR SO IT SEEMED TO ME. HIGH SCHOOL ENDED AND IT WAS TIME FOR US TO PART WAYS IN SEARCH OF OUR GOALS. I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO BURY THE PAST AND MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE. SENSING THIS, MY BRAIN PROMPTLY TOOK CONTROL. BEING THE IDEALIST, IT FORCED ME TO CONCENTRATE ON SUPPOSEDLY MORE CONCRETE OBJECTIVES IN LIFE. MY FEELINGS FOR LOYA TOOK A BACK SEAT. THE DAILY CALLS SLOWLY BECAME MONTHLY “HI, HOW ARE YOU?”S TILL A TIME CAME WHEN WE KNEW ABOUT EACH OTHER ONLY THROUGH OUR MUTUAL FRIENDS. BESIDES, HE AND LOYA WERE STILL TOGETHER AND I DIDN’T SEE ANY LOGIC IN GIVING VENT TO MY SECRET EMOTIONS.

 

I STILL REMEMBER THE CLEAR, STARRY NIGHT OF MAY. IT WAS 2:35 AM AND I LAY TOSSING ABOUT IN MY BED, UNABLE TO FALL ASLEEP. AS IF TO ADD FUEL TO MY STATE OF WAKEFULNESS, MY CELL PHONE STARTED BUZZING. IN THE BLUE MOONLIGHT LOYA’S FACE IN THE CALL WINDOW SEEMED LIKE AN ANGEL FROM THE HEAVENS. I HASTILY PICKED IT UP, EXPECTING NOTHING OUT OF THE BLUE. “HI MANISH, I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING. I BROKE UP WITH HIM TODAY”. SHE PUT IT SO PLAINLY THAT AT FIRST I THOUGHT I MUST BE HALLUCINATING. BUT THEN CAME THE TEMPEST. LIKE WATER GUSHING OUT OF A BREACHED DYKE, HER TEARS SWELLED AND SHE STARTED CRYING HER HEART OUT OVER THE LINE. IT WASHED AWAY MY BRAIN’S IMPENETRABLE WALLS OF HOLLOW IDEALISM AND MADE ALL MY YEARS OF PAINSTAKING CARE NOT TO HURT HER NULL & VOID. I WAS JUST ABLE TO UTTER A “WHY?”AT THE SAME TIME KNOWING FULL WELL WHAT MIGHT BE THE REASON. LOYA WAS AN ANGEL WHO LIVED IN HER OWN WONDERLAND WHERE EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND ROSY. HER WORLD HAD NO PLACE FOR A CASANOVA LIKE HIM. BUT FATE PLAYED AN EVIL TRICK ON HER AND SENT HIM AS HER PRINCE CHARMING. AND IN THE PAST 5 YEARS, SHE HAD WOVEN HER FAIRY TALE AROUND HIM. MY BRAIN WAS AN IDEALIST NO DOUBT, BUT LOYA LIVED ENTIRELY IN AN IDEALIST WORLD. IN HER WORLD, THE PRINCE CHARMING CAN NEVER DECEIVE HER. SO, WHEN REAL-WORLD PEOPLE STARTED TELLING HER STORIES OF HIS MISADVENTURES, SHE REFUSED TO BELIEVE THEM. CASTLES MADE ON SAND ARE BOUND TO BE WASHED AWAY AND LOYA’S WONDERLAND SLOWLY STARTED FALLING APART. BREAK-UPS ARE HARD TIMES FOR EVERYBODY BUT FOR AN ANGEL IT MEANT THE SHATTERING OF HER DREAMS AND EVERYTHING ELSE SHE HAD HELD SO CLOSE TO HER HEART.

 

I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO KNEW EVERY BIT OF THEIR ‘LOVE’ STORY AS WELL AS BOTH OF THEM SO CLOSELY. I SPECTATED AS SHE WOVE HER FAIRY TALE ONLY TO TEAR IT ALL APART. I HATED SEEING HER SAD, AND YET HELPED HIM IN CAUSING MISERY TO HER. EARLIER I USED TO DISAPPROVE OF HIS ACTIONS, THAT DAY I STARTED DESPISING HIM THE MOST. SHE EXPECTED NOTHING FROM HIM BUT LOVE WHICH HE BLATANTLY FAILED TO UNDERSTAND. IF ONLY HE WOULD HAVE LOVED HER TRULY AND WAS THERE FOR HER WHEN SHE NEEDED HIM, SHE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN HEART BROKEN AND I WOULD HAVE REMAINED JUST A FRIEND AND NOTHING ELSE.BY BREAKING HER HEART HE NOT ONLY SHATTERED HER WONDERLAND BUT ALSO IN THE PROCESS FILLED MY HEART WITH A STINGING PAIN AND DEEP ANGUISH.  I ACTED LIKE A COWARD WHO COULDN’T MUSTER THE STRENGTH TO TELL HER THE TRUTH. AND YET AS I PONDER OVER THE DECISION, I TRY TO FORSEE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY ACTION. WHAT IF SHE HAD REFUSED TO BELIEVE ME AND DISTANCED HERSELF AWAY FROM ME? I WOULD HAVE BEEN CRESTFALLEN FOR I NEVER WANTED OUR FRIENDSHIP TO BREAK. THERE WAS ALSO THE POSSIBILITY OF PEOPLE POINTING FINGERS AT ME ACCUSING ME OF TRYING TO BREAK A RELATIONSHIP. ALL THESE FEARS KEPT ME FROM SHOWING HER THE REAL PICTURE AND IN ORDER TO BE CLOSER TO HER, I WENT ON BEING AN ACCOMPLICE IN THE GAME OF DECEPTION. I HOPED SOMEDAY SHE WOULD SEE THE REALITY BUT I GUESS EVEN I WASN’T READY FOR THE FALLOUT. BRUISED AND BROKEN, THE TRANSITION FROM A FAIRYTALE TO THE STARK REALITY DEEPLY AFFECTED HER. LOYA WAS NO LONGER THE ANGEL THAT I KNEW. ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY, HER BELIEF IN LOVE WITHERED AWAY AFTER THE BREAK-UP. SHE OFTEN USED TO WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WITH TEARS IN HER EYES. I WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR HER, COMFORTING HER AND WIPING AWAY HER TEARS. I WANTED TO BE MUCH MORE THAN A FRIEND FOR HER, YET I HESITATED IN TAKING THE FINAL STEP. THE COWARD IN ME HIGHLIGHTED THE CONS MUCH MORE THAN THE PROS. I FOUND MYSELF ENTRAPPED IN THE LOVE-FRIENDSHIP DILLEMMA.

 

SOON, THE FINAL CURTAINS WERE DRAWN. LOYA OBTAINED A SCHOLARSHIP AND WAS TO IMMIGRATE TO THE STATES IN A WEEK’S TIME. THE REVELATION OF NOT SEEING HER STRUCK ME AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR. I HAD TO TELL HER. BUT WHAT? I COULD HAVE TOLD HER THAT I CARED FOR HER MORE THAN A FRIEND. BUT WHAT EXACT RELATION DID THAT MEANT I KNEW NOT. I COULD HAVE TOLD HER THAT I LOVED HER. BUT WHY AT THIS MOMENT? WHY DID I WAIT FOR 8 YEARS TO TELL HER? AGAIN, I WAS FOUND SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS. THE WEEK ENDED IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE AND STILL THE FLUCTUATIONS WERE GOING ON THROUGH MY MIND. ON THE DAY OF HER DEPARTURE, I CAME TO SEE HER OFF AT THE AIRPORT. I HAD PLAYED THE ROLE OF A FRIEND FOR SO LONG A TIME THAT EVEN I STOPPED SEEING MYSELF IN ANOTHER ROLE FOR HER.

 

“I’M GOING TO MISS YOU”, I HUGGED HER AND SAID.

 

“I WISH YOU WOULD HAVE DONE MORE THAN THAT…BYE MANISH”, SHE STARED AT ME FOR SOME TIME, PERHAPS SEARCHING FOR AN ANSWER WHICH I MYSELF DIDN’T HAVE.

 

AFTER ABOUT A QUARTER OF AN HOUR; HER FLIGHT TOOK OFF FOR THE STATES.

 

LOYA HAS BEEN GONE FOR 2 YEARS NOW, NEVER TO RETURN. SHE HASN’T CONTACTED ME SINCE THEN, AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE THE ZIP CODE OF THE PLACE SHE LIVES. TO THIS DAY I HAVE NEVER KNOWN WHETHER I REALLY LOVED HER OR SHE WAS JUST A FRIEND. BUT I SURE WOULD LOVE TO MEET HER AGAIN… AS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN PUTS IT,”ON A SUNNY MORNING…MEET YOU FURTHER ON UP THE ROAD”.