We were formally introduced by some friends just before the summer holidays started in class 12. Having been at the same school for years, we had known of each other, even perhaps had a vague conversation once or twice, but we had never really spoken!
It was a strange introduction, really. All our best friends happened to be dating each other. And naturally since we were the only two not dating each other, or anyone for that matter, they felt this introduction was crucial! I remember it being rather embarrassing. A lot of nervousness and blushing. A lot of giggles and teasing. Before I even knew what was happening, all our friends had vanished, leaving just the two of us by ourselves.
I had no idea what to say. As if all the nervousness and embarrassment wasn’t enough, I now also felt clueless! I couldn’t even get myself to look at him. I stared down at my shoes. My black shoes, which now had tinges of brown dirt. But even as I did that, I could feel him looking at me.
“Hi!” he said. I still didn’t look up, but I did manage a meek “hi” back. “I think I love you,” he said. THIS made me look up. I just looked at him for two whole minutes, giving no reaction whatsoever, and then I burst into laughter. Did he even know what love meant? Silly boy, I thought. He hadn’t even spoken to me ever, he didn’t even know me! “That’s very funny,” I said. “I mean it, why are you laughing?” he asked, giving me a rather quizzical look. “Okay, how about we start off as friends!” I said. “No, but I want to take you out on a date.” Wow, this boy was adamant. I laughed a little more and then I agreed. He smiled a smile I can never get out of my head! The most genuinely happy smile I have ever seen till today.
It was the last 3 days before school shut down for the summer, and then everyone was off for the holidays. We met every day. It had only been 4 days since I really knew him, yet it felt like a lifetime. We were so instantly comfortable with each other. No pretence, no complications. I could just be myself - and he could too. Why hadn’t I ever met him before?! It was the beginning of a friendship of the sort that you knew would last a lifetime.
School shut down and everyone was off for their holidays. We exchanged numbers before saying bye. I hadn’t even yet reached home when I got a call from him, just checking in to see if he had the right number. It was a busy summer for us both, but there was never a day we didn’t talk. There was just so much to talk about. Neither of us were very talkative people by nature, so it amazed even us that we could talk to each other for hours at a stretch. Never bored, and wanting to only talk more. We spoke about everything under the sun. Our dreams, our passions, our fears and insecurities, our lives.
It only seemed natural when school reopened that we were now also dating each other - just like the rest of our friends. Our relationship blossomed over time, carrying on even after school ended. Although we were in different cities for college, that didn’t stop us from carrying on. We still spoke every chance that we got and visited each other often. He was my guiding light. I went to him for everything. We were the same age, but he just seemed so wise! He encouraged me to do things I was afraid of, pushed me to achieve my dreams, had the kind of faith in my abilities that even I didn’t! There was just so much one could learn from him. He was kind, patient and tolerant like no one else I had ever known.
Although everything was good and he was great, there was just something I had always felt had lacked in this relationship. I loved him. I had from the very first time we actually spoke. But my love had failed to transform into the romantic kind - even after all this while. I had always felt this, but I thought it was only a matter of time before I would feel for him the way I knew he felt for me. It wasn’t that we didn’t have chemistry or didn't get along. We did - better than anyone I knew of, but I needed that extra spark to be with someone. Something - unfortunately - I didn’t feel with him. I tried hard, but I suppose such a thing can’t be acquired. It is just either there, or not.
I didn’t know how to tell him this. How do you tell someone you love so deeply that this might be the end? How would I explain to him why? Would he even understand? It was for no fault of his, or mine really - I just didn’t feel the way you should feel about someone you decide to be in a relationship with. My love for him was simply platonic.
He had always told me he could never be only friends with me, and I knew he had meant it. I didn’t know how to break his heart. Or mine. How I would live without my best friend - my soulmate perhaps - was something I was trying very hard not to think about. But I knew I had to. He deserved to be with someone who loved him the way he loved me. Selflessly and unconditionally. In the way only people in fairytales love each other!
It was a rather cold evening in January when I finally mustered up the courage to call him. I knew we wouldn’t be seeing each other for the next 3 months, and it didn’t feel right anymore to hold on that long. He picked up and greeted me in his usual happy voice. I tried hard not to break down. I got straight to the point. I didn’t want to beat around the bush. I told him we couldn’t be together anymore, that I loved him and wanted him to be in my life, but not as my boyfriend. Perhaps that was a bit selfish, but I couldn’t deal with the thought of him not being around anymore. There was silence at the other end. He said nothing. I asked a few times if he was still on the call, if he could hear me. I knew he could, I could hear him breathe, but he said nothing. After about 5 minutes of silence, he hung up. I didn't call back. I knew he would be hurting.
I hoped every day after that he would call. I still do. It’s been almost 2 years, and I miss my best friend, but I know this is for the best. It wouldn’t be fair to be in a relationship with someone that sincere when you don’t feel wholeheartedly for them. When you know that this is not your “forever”.
He may have not been the one for me, but he had a huge impact on my life. I remember a time when we were just 18 and heading for college. I had gotten into my dream college and I wanted to go, but that meant being far away from him. I knew he wouldn’t have wanted us to be apart, but he pushed me to go. I am largely what I am today because of all the small things he encouraged me to do in the years that I believe I came into my own. He wasn’t the one, but he was definitely someone.
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Published on Aug 28, 2015