The train was billowing past the barren land. He was on vacation. Far from the monotonous drag of life he had decided to speed his way through to the desert. He wasn’t alone. A compartment or two full of eager passengers accompanied him. He also had another companion, whose presence he hadn’t bargained for. It was her. She wasn’t there in the compartment but was invading his thoughts time and time again. He was totally unprepared.
It wasn’t the first time he had the hots for a girl, neither would it be the last time. But somehow this was different. School life ,which had entered its last lap somehow got him very nostalgic. And somehow amidst the strong heat wave blowing across his face he seemed to miss her voice. How funnily overwhelming was that feeling!
His mind went back to the times he spent with her. It was sheer fun! The long chats, the naughty looks, the walking back home episodes, the steal-a-minute phone calls, the fun of having fun! How weird…why was it that she struck him like this? They were after all just friends…best buddies…close-knit…but why was he feeling so very helpless? He had other friends too…it wasn’t that he didn’t have fun with the rest of them but somehow somewhere fleetingly he realized it probably wasn’t the same without her…
Reaching the hotel he called her up. They chatted, it was nothing different, was it? She ranted on about her life and how she was missing him, and how she hoped he would enjoy his trip, and come back and tell her the accounts. And then he hung up. That night he didn’t sleep. An unconscious voice told him,’ maybe the time had come to take their friendship to the next level.’ And a subconscious one told him, ’maybe this wasn’t the time for all that.’
A double couple of months later. School was to end soon. Everywhere around the mood was understandably a bit gloomy. Friends and friends of friends were busy with slam-books and diaries. No-one was really happy about this change of phase. Even he wasn’t. Yet again, somehow her to-be-absence bothered him much more. He couldn’t restrain himself further. He had to have a talk with her regarding their ‘friendship’.
It all happened in their common tuition class. He told her he felt specially for her, something different than anything before. She confessed it was the same for her, but she was confused. The word ,’love’ hadn’t been uttered yet. Neither could come along to say those three magical words. Maybe they had a loss of courage or maybe their feelings weren’t strong enough. He told her ,‘ Let’s take forward this friendship and give a name to it.’ She again steadfast refused, asking meekly, ‘What name would you give it?’
They never talked about this again…
Days passed by. College had started. Him & her were in different streams now. They hardly met, but did not let that become a deterrent in their fun-n-frolic filled friendship. Slowly time built its wall around them. Both got busy, gradually getting embellished in their own lives. Tragically yet tellingly they drifted apart.
Six years later. He received a letter. A marriage reception invitation. He was struck by the name. It was her. She had married and her marriage reception was overdue six months. It struck him odd. She had gotten married and didn’t even bother to tell him. He felt a surge of anger. And then he remembered with a chill how they hardly were in contact with each other. Strange are the ways of life. He recollected with a thud that fateful evening in that tuition class. He decided he would certainly go and wish the married couple a gay life ahead.
A glittery evening, adorned all around with startling chandeliers and statuettes and starlets. A grand party. And then he met her. Suppressing the underlying tension, he went ahead. He spoke and wished her, except that no words came out. He just kept staring. He was suddenly crushed, and from her expression it seemed so was she. Some anonymous feeling with a dash of long overdue screamed out , ‘Name me …’