Sunday, 20 October 2013

Love Happens

There's always a drama unfolding around us without us having any knowledge of it. I was sitting around wondering after a week of backbreaking hard work, 'Can a man and a woman stay best friends forever without breaking the barrier at some point? And what happens at point break?' The answer is perhaps never going to be clear. Because it can never be. Love is after all a two-way street. Hence, the story of one such 'couple' who are also best of friends.
~ Shoma

"Love does not come in knocking doors, it happens."
"It does not happen, it creeps up and catches you by the throat at your most vulnerable."
She looked up from her book at this rejoinder to cast a baleful eye at her friend whose attention was glued to a game console.
"One day your fingers will become stiff and fall off."
Their conversations hardly lasted more than four sentences at a time but, they were best friends for more than two decades now. So, there was this deep understanding between them that allowed them to understand without speaking.
Most often than not, they are found in each other's company mostly in companionable silence doing different things. She'd mostly be reading while he could be found doing anything between playing a cricket match with his friends to playing video game on the huge flat screen TV in his bedroom like today.
They had been inseparable since birth and now, at 27, they were best friends, frenemies, partners in crime, and thick as thieves.
Everyone from their friends to family were waiting for the announcement - for the world at large - they were an item. They knew what everyone thought but, did precious little to change the perception because it saved them a lot of trouble.
They had a tacit agreement which they had entered into at age 15 when the local Romeos had started stalking her all the way from the school bus stop to her door step in the afternoons.
"Let us pretend to be going around. This will ensure those guys backing off and I am left alone by your precious friends. Why those women are like snakes, creeping up and trying to coil around me!"
"You are mad! Why would I pretend to be going around with you? Everyone will laugh because no one will believe such a cock and bull story. The parents will blow their gaskets. Also, my friends are not creepy!"
Never-the-less, she had fallen-in with the plan and the parents had never said a word. Little did they know that everyone expected it to happen so, their 'relationship' was accepted without a bat of a single eyelid.
Years - more than 10 - had passed and they were still the same. Still bickering and still pretending to be a couple.
For the last few weeks, she had started thinking about it all over again since out of nowhere her mother made her expectations known.
"It's high time the two of you tied the knot. We want to have grandchildren while we are still young and able to enjoy watching them grow."
It was like a slap on her face. Marry? Him? He was just a friend.
So, she had pretended to be in a hurry and rushed off to work.
Today was Sunday. They were as usual together at his home. He playing video games on mute on a gigantic flat screen TV and she reading something light and frothy. She thought it was the best time to bring up the topic of her mom's conversation from the other day.
She had thought deep and pondered over it and knew it was high time they 'broke off' their pretend arrangement or die a spinster. Hence the topic of love.
"Listen, will you shut that thing off."
"Why are you nagging like a girl? I put it on mute."
"We need to talk."
"Talk? Hey! You do sound like a girlfriend!"
"Stop laughing. It's serious."
"OK. Serious eh?"
"Yes serious."
"Fine. Tell me ma'am. I'm all ears and the TV is off."
"You see. Erm... It's like this..."
"Stop beating around the bush please. What's it? You look worried. Is someone bothering you? Do you want me to break his nose? Hey! I'm your boyfriend..."
"Stop kidding will you."
"What's it?"
"OK. I want us to stop this pretend game."
"I see..."
"Do you?"
"Is there someone else?"
"Else? We were NEVER us."
"I know. But, old habit and all..."
She sighed deeply.
"Wow! That must have sunk a ship somewhere..."
"Shut up and listen."
"I am. What's up with you? PMS?"
"Oh. My. God. It's no use trying to talk to you. I'm going home. Officially this is over."
As she stood up from the couch, he got up from his slumped position on the mat and grabbed her wrist.
"Stop. Tell me what's wrong."
"We are wrong. We should not have pretended. Now everyone's emotions are attached with this."
"You are right we should not have. But, how can we break off something that never was?"
"Is that a joke?"
"No. It is the truth."
"Yes. You are right. The truth. How did we manage to spread such a huge lie and run with it for a decade?"
"Perhaps because..."
"I know..."
"Now will you tell me why you want us to break-off our 'pretend' status?"
"Ma wants us to get married..."
"That came fast."
They both laugh an awkward sound echoing brittle to their own ears. Her face ached from the effort and his heart just felt squeezed of all oxygen.
"Yes. I ran fast too - from her."
"You know when I think of it it's not such a bad idea."
"You are... mad! We cannot also have a pretend marriage now."
"No, not pretend. Real."
The silence in the room felt stretched to eternity.
"I think you have finally lost it. I need to go."
She tugged at the hand he was still holding.
"Let me go. We need to break this off."
He looked at her deeply. She looked away from his eyes. They were burning holes into her face. It was like he could penetrate into her mind and see what was inside her head.
"Let's talk."
"Let me go."
"What if I don't?"
"Why would you not? You've never ever before wanted to talk about anything."
"What if I want to now?"
"Stop answering in questions."
"OK. Here goes. I do not want to break off our pretend relationship. There I said it."
"Why? Because it is convenient for you to ogle at other women when we go out on pretend dates?"
"I ogle other women? When?"
"Last week. Always..."
"Last week? Be specific woman."
"OK. You kept on staring at that flashy woman who was sitting across from our table when we went out for dinner after work on Friday."
"I did? Wait. You mean that couple who could not stop holding hands?"
"Yes. That was even more embarrassing because she was with another guy."
"Listen. I was not looking at her. I was looking at them..."
"Is it so difficult for you to get?"
"I think you should let go off my hand."
"What if I don't?"
"What's wrong with you?"
"You. You are wrong. We should not break it off."
"You don't get it do you?"
"I got it a long time back. I have been waiting for you to get it for all these years."
"You are insane."
"Stop looking at me like you mean all this and let me go."
He releases her hand and turns around. She almost stumbles out of the room, running without looking back. He spins around only to catch a glimpse of her pink chiffon 'dupatta' flashing and waving for one last time before disappearing down the hallway. Defeated he slumps and sits down on the couch and inhales deeply her lingering perfume. Thinking, 'When did love happen?'

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