Can love happen at first sight? And can a single person make all the difference in your life? Was togetherness necessary for a relation to work out?
I never believed in love at first sight and maybe I would never believe in it, but while I narrate my story, I myself get confused about that single theory. Was it love at first sight or was it those talks that followed the first meeting which made me fall in love.
I was 15 when I first met him and he was 17 and was doing his senior year in high school and I met him at an unusual place. Many people meet in a book store, but no one gets anything beyond an unnecessary friendly gesture and that was what exactly I received.
I was exploring the romantic fiction section, girls of 15 are fond of romantic fiction, that is a time when they start realising the real yet virtual world around them and the almost virtual thing called romance fiction get them head over heels. They start exploring their romance hero in everybody they come across and they get obsessed with the idea of love and romantic relations and at that age they would do the stupidest sacrifices.
When I glanced into my wallet, I realised that I couldn’t afford books in airport for double prices. I was about to reach for the magazine section when he appeared next to me. His arms came first and they were fair and strong, I doubted some muscles too and then came his face which was fair and handsome and from a simple and innocent view of an early teen he was way too sexy. He had small eyes, thick brows and hugely black lashes and he had this real boyish hair cut short in the back.
He smiled at me like any other stranger in a book store would do and he had dimples on his right cheek like me, I wanted to admire him for a long time, but I came up to my senses and gave him a smile back.
He was in a t-shirt and shorts, perfect outfit for a journey according to me and his t-shirt read ‘out of your league’ in bold black letters and his white t-shirt went well with his brown shorts. His ray ban sunglass hung out from his short’s pocket and he had a yellowish muffler around his neck, he was the perfect outcome of the modern generation. And I was nothing less. I myself was dressed in a casual jean and t-shirt and my handbag talked about the freak I was. My mom said I looked like a beggar with it, but honestly it makes me feel hotter. He was checking out my favourite book and was about to put it back, the conversation was unnecessary but I made it anyway,
‘You should go for it that is a nice one’ I assured him and gave another of my trademark smile.
‘Uhh, am not really into romance’ he winked at me.
‘Oh, so you were just looking at it absently, I guess’ I said
‘Yeah, something like that’ he chuckled slightly ‘I was goanna buy this anyway’ he showed me a crime thriller which he already chose.
‘Crime thriller, huh?’ I asked.
‘Boy stuff’ he smiled or should I say grinned?
‘Actually I have read it’ I teased him and went to the counter to pay for my Filmfare.
‘No books, huh?’ he asked me while he waited to pay behind me.
‘I have got not enough Indian money’ I said.
‘Oh, dollars then?’ maybe he was teasing me.
‘Dirham actually, I am headed for Dubai’
‘Oh, we are on the same flight’
‘Dubai, huh?’ I enquired.
‘London, Emirates connection flight through Dubai’
‘Ok, nice meeting you’ I said as I done paying and went for the waiting area to sit with the coffee I bought earlier and with the Filmfare. I felt no urge to look back, ask his name or anything, I just left him behind and went to my things nor did he follow me despite how much I wanted him to.
Do you believe in destiny? Maybe from that day on I started believing in destiny. I had my seat in the third row, left side and aisle seat. I was wondering about who would take the window seat and whether that person would mind switching seats. Because I really hated aisle seats for a reason that everybody pass would nudge you and that was real disturbing stuff and painful at times. And then he appeared again with his boarding pass, searching for his seat and he didn’t notice me until he stuffed his relatively huge backpack to the overboard deck.
‘Wow, you again’ he said and stared at me for a bare second, he had his novel in his hand, the only thing he chose to sit with while I had my diary, pen, laptop, cell phone, headset and my favourite novel. I stuffed them in the seat pocket and made myself comfortable. And he just settled in fast and buckled the seat belt and connected the stereo to the system on plane and started listening to god knows what. I didn’t know for what reason he preferred to talk less, but that was so unfair, fate wanted us to be friends, that was why we met again.
‘You goanna read?’ I asked and he suddenly got rid of his stereo and gave me his full attention, well that was gentlemanly.
‘I was just initiating a conversation’ I confessed and grinned.
‘Hello, I hope that was what you said’
‘Hey, leave that, I am Anna by the way’ I offered him my hand.
‘Aflaan’ he shook my hand.
‘Strange name’ I commented.
‘I get that a lot’ he chuckled again and his eyes narrowed in the process.
He preferred movies over talking. first I wanted to leave him alone, so I scribbled in my diary and then I couldn’t help talking and at last he gave up the movie and became a wonderful listener, nodding and laughing at right times. I talked mainly about my best friend and he said I was lucky to have such a sacred relation and then I talked about my parents, siblings and home. Then I ended up talking about my interests, crushes at school, my favourite subject, my career plans, my dreams and then we got stuck on Dubai.
I started to explain how and why I loved that place, how it became another home for me, how fun nights were, how boring days were and how wonderful boys were. In short words I opened my autobiography in front of him, at first I thought he would be a mere listener, but while I was finished with my thing, he opened his book of life for me. About his family, his younger and only sister whom he loved a lot and about his school, life in UK and how much he loved India and how desperately he wished to stay back instead of flying back to London.
His school life was nothing like mine and he loved the cold weather and snow like I did, he had a girl friend which he recently dumped and it was fun hearing how the urban life in London worked out for Indian teenagers. What I realised was, he was way too different from me and I simply loved his way of life. The way he lead his days like nothing else mattered, the way he made use of every single moment.
He was a city boy with almost western culture but still the Indian in him was alive. He respected traditions and wished to come back once and settle in India forever. He said he loved urban life, but also missed India, the way Indian relations worked out, the Indian weddings, Indian night outs, Indian street shopping, Indian music and dance and mostly he missed his grandmother which was the reason for his visit to India alone without his family at the first place.
I never missed India and despite that I always wanted to leave the country behind and live in Dubai, the city of my dreams forever. I had no priorities or sympathies like him; all I cared about was me, I suddenly felt that I was selfish all the time. The funny thing was, in that 3 and half hours, we almost watched a movie, had a perfect dinner and made a wonderful bond of friendship or whatever. He was not that hard a person like I thought he was. It was really easy talking to him and I got to know a simple and small part of the person he was.
I didn’t know that he was rich, but he explained what his dad was and how much he wanted to fly economy class. I thought of it as weird. It was his first economy class journey, I was dying to fly first class of a luxury plain. He told me that he got a first class ticket to London as the journey was tiring and long 16 hours and he said he was glad that he took economy for Dubai so that we met. I really wanted to be flying to London instead of Dubai and spend those 16 hours with him instead of those 3 hours.
He bought me a gold plated locket from the onboard duty free and I loved it. It was a simple and elegant knot and expensive of course. I was modest at first but I did accept his gift, considering the fact that we may never cross each other’s path again, it was kind of symbol that told me that, that 3 hours were real.
We shared a last cup of sweet tea and my favourite song which he liked, he smiled and stared at me all through the song and said I had a great taste for music. He desperately wanted to read my pocket diary and I let him. He told me that I should write more and that he loved my words and I promised him that once I would publish my stuff and then he would remember that 3 hours and that I would dedicate him one of my stories, so that he would know that I was real and the simple relation we had was real too.
There was an announcement that the plane was about to reach the grounds of Dubai in a few minutes. I felt sad for landing for the first time in my life, I didn’t want that to end, the spell to break, but there was nothing I could do. I kept my face pleasant though my inside was screaming out loud.
‘I need you to keep this’ I gave him my favourite book.
‘This is the same book, right?’ he asked while examining that.
‘My favourite of all times, I have read it like a thousand times’ I smiled a sad one.
‘Oh, then I shouldn’t take it from you’
‘It’s ok, I want you to have it and read it; that is a nice story’ I assured him again, for the second time in that same day and he smiled back.
‘Shouldn’t be bad and I will definitely read it’
‘This is my first copy, I had it when I was 13 and I have underlined all my favourite parts’ I gave him the unnecessary extra detail, after all nothing I said was specifically necessary.
‘Think I too will love your favourite parts’ he said as he went for it.
‘I will underline again while I get a new one, that one is special, take care’ I said, being dramatic.
‘Sorry, I couldn’t give you anything special’ he said and made a face.
‘Well, I will keep this special’ I pressed the locket to my chest and smiled.
‘I am glad you liked it’
‘I loved it and I am going to put some music on and close my eyes for a while, I really don’t like the sound of landing’
‘Ok’ he said and I put on the music and closed my eyes and relaxed back. I had an instinct that he was watching my face while I sat back, I had an urge to look, but I fought it back and tried my best to be lost into the music and as adding insult to injury, a super romantic song played through my ears and I went all mad inside. I fell in love with that guy, I didn’t know the exact moment, when I first saw him? When we listened to my favourite song? When he talked about himself? Or when we had a nice dinner?
We reached the gate where we should part, he kept his bag a side and dragged me into a corner.
‘It was nice meeting you and you are sweet’ he said.
‘Should I answer that?’ I teased him.
‘That was not a question’
‘Hmm..you are hot’ I said back.
‘I should have liked something like cute or adorable’
‘You are cute as a puppy’
‘Sounds better’ he exhaled ‘I better get going; my flight is in half hour’.
‘I should be going too, passport control will be so crowded’ I said.
And then he hugged me and dragged me close to him, our faces were inches apart that I thought I was going to have my first real kiss in front of a strange and busily moving crowd. He slightly brushed his lips on mine and went for my cheek and held me for a moment in a hug. I backed a little and kissed his cheeks and then before letting me go completely he kissed my forehead. I smiled the saddest smile ever and backed away.
‘Bye, love you’ he gritted through his teeth, more like he was holding back grief.
‘Love you too’ I whispered and then his figure slowly faded away into distance. I stood there for a long moment and started walking on autopilot.
I have lived 15 years by then and I have never felt that complete than in that 3 hours. And those 3 hours seemed the only time I lived and I lost it then and there. I had a lot of time before and after, buy why was that small time everything to me and why did I fell in love with a stranger? What magic was that? What happened? Was that attraction, lust or anything? Or was that love? And if it wasn’t love, how did those 3 hours felt like my whole life to me and why did he have to go away in such a short notice? Wasn’t togetherness a necessary thing?
I loved that it happened and hated the way it ended, we were not supposed to be just that. I once more stared at the locket and went right into the arms of my waiting brother. While his mind danced with joy that at last his sister came to him, my heart was burning with grief. I was not sure of what would happen to my life then, would I be able to find love again? Would I ever meet that special person again? Was Aflaan going to be just a chapter of my life? A beautiful, yet sad memory?
‘Anna, you need to get up from there’ came my cousin sister’s voice. I was on my best friend’s bed and I was curled in it by hugging his favourite pillow. The whole room smelled of him, I couldn’t believe what was going on. Life could be so cruel at times and that was such a time. My cheeks were pink and damp from the uncontrollable tears I shed and my own lips tasted salty from my tears.
Years went by after I met Aflaan, I was no more a teenager, I was way too grown up from being a fantasising teenager, I learned to live, learned to differentiate fantasies from reality. Learned how it felt like to lose people, how it felt to be loved and to love. I was 25. A lot happened in my life, important and non-important events. I graduated b-school and had a very convincing job and great reputation in my career. I almost got married to my family friend and that was a mess.
Indian parents have an urge to marry away their daughters when they go beyond 21 and that was what exactly happened with me. I had 3 boyfriends so far and had 3 break up’s as well. Relations simply didn’t work for me and then my parents came up with the marriage idea and there was no reason to say no, I had no one to wait for, I had nothing much to do in life, so a marriage was fine with me. I was not really fond of the groom, he was way too different from me, but I guessed that is how marriages always worked out.
It was when he dumped me that I found out that he was not too fond of the bride either. He went for his ex-girlfriend and got married to her without even breaking the engagement with me. First I felt like shit, being abandoned, then I realised I was happy that it went that way, I was forcing myself even to like him, so what was the big deal. And because of that horrible thing my parents decided not to push me further and stopped making matches for me and let me be. I was getting good on my own but that was when my best friend’s life went upside down.
He was about to get married to his long term girlfriend when he was diagnosed with blood cancer. He was about to call off the wedding himself after he knew that he wouldn’t make it up to the aisle and wait for her, he had no time, but before he could do anything she dumped him and said that she couldn’t be with him. I always thought he was weak, but he was so strong, he didn’t even shed a single tear, he let her go with a brief goodbye. I wanted to kill her at that moment itself, first of all, he was the sweetest person I have ever met in my life and second of all, he had committed his entire life for that single girl and had treated her well all the time and I hated to see him hurt.
The relation I had with him was way too special and immortal. We grew up together and went to school together. From kinder garden to our post graduate, we were practically on the same bench. He got job in another firm though the same city. I never had to miss him once in my life because we were never apart. He was there for me all the time I needed him and in my life, I never knew how it would feel to miss him.
We always had the same friend circle, same interest and same social life, so practically we did every damn thing in our life together; we even went on double dates. While he made music, I wrote the lines, while he danced, I sang for him, while he played a match, I cheered for him, when he dumped classes, I deliberately became his guardian, when he come home late, I became his protector. No one had to ask me, ‘who is your best friend?’ because the answer was too obvious all the time.
He was always too protective of me like a brother and loved me like his own soul and from him only I knew how it felt to be loved deeply. He always bought a smile on my face and always cheered me up after my break up’s. He never really talked about my boyfriends, he was too possessive and basically hated everybody and told me that they were not the right ones, but he never blamed me when my relations go worse but instead he crack pathetic jokes about my ex’s and make me laugh. He always put me first, even before his own things and needs and that made me feel special.
His girlfriends were all too jealous of me and never really liked our relation, they didn’t like him putting me first and giving me all the care in the world. But they were all happy when we showed them our rakhi. We exchanged them on a rakhi bandhan, it was not one of our religious rituals, but we found it interesting and always did it, we expressed our love in whatever way possible. I and he always had two bands on our hands, one rakhi and one friendship band; we never really take it off. My mom always complained that those bands didn’t go well with my party gowns, but I didn’t care, I told her that, I am never going to take it off, not even on my wedding no matter whether it go with my white gown or not. I loved it when he called me sis sweetly, even my own brother doesn’t call me that sweetly, but I love my brother too, but that was another story.
He was hospitalized immediately and I always cried near his bed and he was the one who consoled me, he stayed strong all the time. He told me that everything was going to be alright but never told me how it was going to be ok. I barely went home and always stayed with him. We both knew well that no miracle could save him; he knew he had less time and he being the best used that time to make me feel better. He was always worried about me, how the hell I would feel, I was guilty that he always thought about me but not about himself.
He was a good actor, but not in front of me, one day he broke down in front of me and told me how much it hurt, feeling being abandoned, he told me that he had gone for the wrong girl his all life and that he was glad that he had me. He expected her to be the one by his side, when he closed his eyes forever, but he told me that he was glad that it ended up that way and that I became the last one left for him.
‘Will it make you feel better if I married you?’ I asked him that day and he was too weak by then, he was sleeping a lot and was taking in a huge dose of morphine.
‘Yew, I am not marrying my sister’ he said all childishly despite of his condition. He proved to me that, that kind of relations were also possible in the world. I always doubted he had something romantic for me and I ended up a complete idiot, he meant every word and loved me unconditionally and love not necessarily is romantic all the time.
I leaned in and kissed his forehead, though I knew my tears made him weaker, I poured my tears on him, he kissed me back on the cheek weakly and gave me the sweetest smile ever, he was too fragile and pale but yet he was so beautiful, I had no idea why his girlfriend left him. Yeah, I knew, because she didn’t want to be married to a dying man. He insisted on keeping our bands while doctors forced them out and after the battle, he did keep those and showed me them proudly. We got a pair every year and he told me to keep them safe and I always did, he never had to ask.
‘You should get to Aflaan’ he said out of nowhere.
‘What?’ I asked, stunned as a rock.
‘I was just saying, you know, no one really suited you, I never met that guy, but from what you blabber about him, I like him the most in your boyfriends’ I barely bought Aflaan to our conversation, I was sure not for a couple of years anyway, he always teased me and enjoyed them.
People say that time heals every people, but time didn’t make me forget him, I always kept that locket safe and always remembered those 3 hours when I saw that and when I read my favourite book and pocket diary. During my high school I completely forgot him but then my crush came along and he resembled Aflaan and bought the memories back, I even doubted that it was him, but there was no slightest possibility by which Aflaan could end up in our school.
‘I was 15 for god’s sake’ I told him as I absently wiped my tears away.
‘Appropriate age to fall in love’
‘I didn’t’ I told him again, more strongly though his voice stood in the same frequency.
‘Then why were you searching for him in every other face?’ I had no answer for that and we both were not in the condition to fight.
‘It is not even possible, think practically, it was just 3 hours’
‘I am not thinking practically anymore, it is too late to think that way, girl’ he unwillingly made me into tears and we stopped talking then and I faced against him and fought my tears.
Maybe he was true about me searching Aflaan on every face I came across, it made no sense anyway, I moved on, but that memory stayed fresh. When I thought about it I felt stupid, but it was true, what I wanted was Aflaan, a complete stranger I met on plane and I have only spend 3 hours with him, it was weird, after all the whole world was weird.
I tried once to find him and failed to find him, and I felt strange, so I gave up. What if it was only for me, what if the feeling was not mutual? Maybe he got a girlfriend and all and would be living a very convincing life and I clearly didn’t want friendship from him, so there was no real point in doing so. So instead I started searching for someone else. I strongly believe that I would find love in someone else, but that was a mess, I even reached marriage and I failed, there was something missing all the time and I never knew what. And there was this weirdest thing, after every break up, I would go and stare at my locket and then he would come to my mind and then suddenly I would be happy that my relation with the other guy didn’t work out well. And the only person who knew about Aflaan was dying in front of my eyes, others may think I was mad, only my best friend understood my feelings and weird points. He too believe that I was mad, but we both love that madness for no certain reason. I thought losing him somehow would make Aflaan seem less real to me.
‘You know, you are always weird and maybe you were supposed to fall in love in that weird way, so don’t feel bad, you are best as this weird’ he told me again which told me he was not goanna give up.
‘Stop it, ok?’
‘Hey listen to me, I know that you would feel lonely once I am gone and I don’t want you to forget him just because you don’t have me to talk about him’ he was making me burn.
‘Stop this stuff, it’s bothering me, don’t you see?’
‘Maybe you should be more practical’ he said ‘Come here’ and I went to him and sat next to him, he was in almost a sitting position by adjusting his bed and he put his arms around my waist and slowly and weekly held me close.
‘Don’t be afraid, ok?’ he breathed ‘we both know what is happening here, I wanted to tell this to you always and I feel like I have no more time’
‘Don’t’ I tried to stop him.
‘Don’t live alone, if I was wrong about Aflaan, though there is no chance from how well I know you, find someone who can love you and you can love, ok?’ he said.
‘You sound like Jack in Titanic, make grandchildren’ I chuckled.
‘Rose was his best friend, huh?’ he teased me back.
‘I hate you’ I said.
‘But I love you, can’t help it, girl, you are so sweet like someone had said’ he said mentioning again to Aflaan.
‘Please don’t act too strong with me, ok?’ I told him sadly.
‘Yea’ and then he hugged me close and I felt his tears on my back as he wept, I knew he was too afraid to go, he never showed it, and I was scared too, I didn’t want to think about a world without him. He was too special to let go and when he started crying I thought it was better for him to act strong, at least it would make me feel that he was not scared to go after all, but I knew my best friend well.
‘When I go unconscious again and when they attach me to those machines again, don’t stay, ok?’ he rose from me and his cheeks were all damp ‘I don’t want you to see me that way, just go back to our place and stay there and don’t ask my updates, I want you to hold on to our memories and don’t come see me until you can hold some Aflaan’s hand and smile that sweet smile, that is how I want to see you’
‘I love you’ I whispered and suddenly those words had all the power and meaning in the world. I thought he was strong, but he was too fragile, mentally and physically and he knew he had to go soon. Those were the last words I told him.
When I came back after getting him and me our favourite coffee, he was shifted from his room, a nurse told me that he went unconscious and that he was taken away. I dropped the coffee, though I had a urge to walk toward the ICU, I took his bands which lied on the side table and walked slowly to my car, I stepped on to my car and went home and took just my handbag with credit cards and passport and went straight to airport and caught the next available flight to Dubai, I went to our place.
And I ended up in his room hugging his pillow and crying into it and I didn’t bother to ask about him, I knew he was gone, I didn’t ask, when or where was he buried, nothing, I just spend my day in his room, in his clothes and tried my best not to let go of him. It was our place, where we loved spending time, that apartment, that was our families’ old apartment and later we took and remodelled it and it became a place of our own, he lived around there and I felt his presence there. We sang all those songs there; we had most of our beautiful memories in that city, especially around that apartment. We never allowed our other friends or our partners in there, they have seen the place, but never had fun there and they didn’t know how to have fun there, it was our own place and I only had his smiling memories there. He was not dizzied off from morphine nor was he burning in agony. He was smiling, laughing and we were singing together.
Life is so strange at times; it gets so strange that we ourselves can’t figure what is going on with our own life. I was living more like a dead person, partly dead anyway. Everything in my life went upside down in a very short time, it was too much for me to take in, I left my real life and started living a virtual one and that was a living hell.
People say that time heals every pain and it did, but like I said, I didn’t become oblivious about what happened in my life. My best friend was still alive for me, like I always used to tell him, he would always be alive for me. Time made me forget his painful face and bought those smiling face instead. I learned to hold on to happy memories, I tried my best to forget those last days and I almost did and I started to smile again, but there was still no Aflaan to hold my hand.
Almost a year went by after he was gone and I never keep account of dates, so I don’t exactly know which day it was, someone long gone appeared again in my life. It sounds crazy but I met Aflaan again, not some Aflaan, but mine, the one I met on plane and he was standing in front of me all alive, it was so much real, not some crazy fantasy which I used to have after my best friend left me.
I never left Dubai, I was waiting to go back after I fulfilled my best friend’s last wish which was of course getting myself a life, when he said get some Aflaan, not in my wildest dreams I thought I would find the real one, suddenly I wished for my best friend to be there, so that I could talk with him about all that later. I was sitting on a park bench after my evening walk, I was in my track suit and t-shirt and I was all sweating and was listening to music by watching the busy cars passing in front of the park. And that is when he appeared. He came and sat near me, like he have known me for a life time, there was no excitement of meeting someone after a long time, it was like he have known that I would be there at the park and like he was coming only to meet me.
I slowly got rid of my hear phone, not believing what I was seeing. He had no changes on his face, he just stared at me absently without even greeting me. He changed a lot, instead of that irresponsible teenager, he was a man then. He wore a casual jean and formal shirt with no tie, he appeared way too mature and his face changed a lot, but appeared the same to me. He still had that glossy cheeks and adorable dimple. I recognised him very swiftly, maybe because he was this another face which kept on running in my mind and thoughts.
He reached my hand which was gripping on the bench and it made him seem more real to me, he kept on staring me and I stared back without even uttering a single word, I didn’t know what changed in his life, I have never known him, then why was I worried about what changed? I was no teenager though, my life changed a great deal and like I said, I could no more deal with fantasies while I was struggling to deal with the realities, I simply had no time or strength to fantasise.
‘Hi’ he greeted me after all that awkward silence.
‘Aflaan?’ I choked out. And as an answer to that he simply smiled, I wanted to smile back, but my life didn’t let me do that, things kept on screaming in my head. He was a stranger, he is a stranger, what was I thinking, he probably came when he saw me from a distance and maybe he want to know how I was, maybe the thing was that simple and then why on earth was I making many assumptions in my mind? He was nothing but an illusion, a real and living illusion, which I can touch but the one I can’t have, the one I shouldn’t think of having.
‘How are you?’ he asked, still like he have known me for a long time, he was not even making sure who I was, maybe like me he didn’t need to do that.
‘I don’t know’ I said and I didn’t know from where that came. He laughed hard at my awkwardness and I just kept on staring, I couldn’t figure out what was going on.
‘Are you done here?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, I guess so’
‘Where are you headed to?’ he asked ‘can I drop you?’
‘No’ I said as a reflex action ‘I have a car’
‘Then can I follow you?’ he chuckled, maybe he was teasing me, but it was hard for me to take it all in. All the more he stared at me I realised that he was a complete stranger, not the one I was dreaming about, not the one I secretly fantasised about.
I didn’t know why on earth I let him follow me to my apartment. I had a quick shower and made coffee for him, I was too bad at that, my best friend used to make coffee all the time, as I was bad at it. When I came with the coffee he was nowhere in the living room and then suddenly I noticed him staring at my best friend’s door.
‘What is this?’ he asked me pointing to the glittering letters on the door and it read ‘Psycho’ in blue bold letters. I pointed at my door which was opposite that and it red ‘Maddie’ in hot pink letters.
‘Psycho?’ he asked.
‘I called my best friend Psycho and as a revenge to that he started calling me maddie, but beyond his expectation of it bothering me, I found that name cute and sweet and then we got used to that and got that written on our doors, he was real mad’ I smiled for the first time that day, maybe because my psycho came back laughing at me.
‘I am sorry for your loss’ he said and I didn’t know how he knew about it as I didn’t mention anything about it.
‘You said I called him, so I figured he.....’ he didn’t say the rest, but still the answer was not fair, just because I used past tense it didn’t mean he was dead.
‘It’s ok’ I said and gave him the coffee, he walked down to the couch as he sipped on the coffee. We sat across from each other and then there was again this awkwardness created by silence, so I started another conversation.
‘How come you are in Dubai?’ I asked.
‘Not another connection flight’ he said and smiled which bought back the only memories I had about him ‘I have been working here for the past 6 months’
‘Oh and what do you do now?’
‘Architect’ he said.
‘Oh that is great, so you chose your father’s path’ I commented, that was all I knew about his dad.
‘Hey why don’t we have a real dinner tonight?’ he asked out of nowhere. I couldn’t remember the last time I had dinner out with someone other than my family and friends. And anyway I had nothing on my schedule, I never have anything on my schedule after his death.
‘I don’t know’ I said that again.
‘You say that a lot now?’ he asked me and it followed a slightest laugh.
‘I don’t know’ this time I said knowingly and I did chuckle, that was surprising to me.
‘Ok, I think I will go’ I said and then we had a long conversation and I became all normal again, I talked with him like I have known him all the time, there was no more awkwardness. I told him about everything that ever happened to me, and like earlier he was a great listener, I broke at some parts and he consoled me in a very convincing and natural way, everything went too easy with him, I didn’t had to pretend or hide anything, it was like once more I was talking to my best friend.
We had another perfect dinner and he told me about him, he said everything about his life, his relations, his career, family and everything and he had less tragedy than me, he had nothing really, his life was normal and like he said, one thing was abnormal, me, meeting me was his strange problem, I couldn’t believe that he thought about me all the time and remembered me and maybe like it was for me, I stopped him from getting a serious relation in his life. After all I knew what we had was mutual, it was just distance which was wrong and time proved our relation true.
I didn’t know when or what was the instinct or who initiated it, but he was kissing me and I suddenly felt like 15 again, like I had no care in the whole world, like nothing mattered but that single moment, it was like we were continuing an incomplete chapter, I suddenly forgot what I was, I was a teenager again with nothing to care about but her fantasies.
We gave our relation time and dealt it like adults instead of being dizzied with the idea of romance. We did fight a lot and unlike in my other relations, I felt no urge to give up, we solved our problems too and there was no single moment when I thought of a break up. Every fights ended in a hope that we would be ok after a while, every days ended with a long await for tomorrow and everyday started with love, hope and joy, my life was getting on tracks again, but still I thought it was not yet the time for me to go back to India, so we stayed in my favourite city of all time and enjoyed each moments of our life together.
One night when we were watching stars from the terrace, he proposed me, there was nothing dramatic, it was not like how I thought it would be, but I loved the way it sounded, it was all real, it felt more real than anything and then I didn’t think, I said yes because, I fell in love with the first time with the same guy and despite how much different we were and how much we fought, I felt real, natural and myself with him and I never felt the need to stay away from him, I never had to think again about that, I was so sure. For the first time in my life, I was sure about a thing without even talking to my psycho.
‘Am I ever goanna get a band like this?’ he asked me once when I was cleaning up my best friend’s room.
‘You can get a wedding band, not this, no offense’
‘I sometimes wish I was him’ he said and I didn’t know what to say, what he was saying was an impossible thing, my best friend was something entirely different, I could never find someone like him again and I don’t know whether anyone could become ‘the best’ again.
‘I am sorry’ I murmured.
‘I know you can’t replace him and it is ok’ he said and kissed my forehead, I was glad that he was not jealous or maybe there was no need to be jealous about a dead man. And I was glad that he understood me better than anybody alive, he was ready to compromise and once again I was proud that I had all the sacred and special relations in this known universe.
‘You never asked me how I found you again’ he whispered against my breath.
Coming back after 2 years felt good, I was back in India after 2 long years and my family was dying to see me and their future son-in-law. Our wedding was supposed to take place in a church in India, very simple and elegant maybe, with only immediate family and close friends. Instead of going straight home we went to see my best friend the first thing.
I was in a graveyard for the first time in my life and I was not scared because I was there to see my best friend and I knew he was smiling then. He rested under a huge tree and he was in a way alone, a little away from others, and I felt him near me, holding my hands and laughing and teasing me about Aflaan and at last telling me how happy he is that I found Aflaan and that he really like Aflaan and telling me that Aflaan was always been the right guy for me.
I closed my eyes and I left Aflaan’s hand, this sounds a bit crazy, but he was there running in my mind, breathlessly laughing instead of giving me his cute smile, he was such a bully at times, I laughed out loud and Aflaan must have wondered what was going on, he must have felt that I was really maddie.
‘Here I am, smiling and holding hand of not some Aflaan but the real one’ I said out loud happily, if anyone were there, they must have wondered why I was this happy in a graveyard. I was happy because he was happy for me and that is how friendship worked out, we are happy when our best friend is happy and sad when he is sad and mad when he is mad.
‘I love you, psycho’ I said smiling.
‘And I love you’ Aflaan said and hugged me from behind without any notice and kissed my cheeks.
‘Hey what is that written on his grave?’ I asked suddenly noticing something .
‘What exactly is written on his door’ Aflaan answered ‘he asked to do that before he died, he wanted you to know that he loved that after all’
‘He is crazy’ I commented.
‘And you are mad’ Aflaan was rhyming whatever I said.
I stared at my bands and smiled to myself and gave a sweet smile just for my best friend, I hope he loved that too. I kept his favourite flowers on him and stood there for a long time, I didn’t cry, I didn’t know why I didn’t feel that he was gone, I felt like he was hiding somewhere and watching all the fun and that he would come out soon, maybe this was the reason why he didn’t want me to stay, he wanted me to hope that he would come back once and as mad as I was, he did the right thing, because I believed what he wanted me to believe.
‘You know when I found you...’ Aflaan started,
‘How exactly you found me?’ I asked him, demanding an answer this time.
‘You liked and put a command on every damn post on that page’ he said.
‘Your favourite book’ he smiled at me embarrassingly. ‘I was going through that page hoping to find you and I did and I mailed you and your cousin got that because you were with him because he was sick and she was maintaining your mails’
‘I remember that, I have not opened my mailbox for 2 years now’
‘And then your cousin asked about me to your best friend and then he contacted me and told me that it was a bad time and that you were not yourself then and that you would turn me down despite how much you want me’ he said and that brought tears to my eyes, he was such a what, I don’t know, he did every damn thing for me and all I ever did was nothing.
‘He told me about your things and told me that it was strange, but you loved me and that you were weird and asked me to come to you once the time seems right and take care of you and I was here for his funeral because he was sure that you wouldn’t be there’ he finished.
‘He did that?’ I asked again.
‘He even threatened me that if I ever hurt you his ghost would kill me’ he laughed, but I was not in the mood, I stared at his grave and stood there absently.
‘I did nothing for him’ I said to myself, a little louder maybe.
‘You did everything for him by just being yourself’ Aflaan consoled ‘I love you’ he kissed me and a tear slowly rolled down my cheeks and touched my lips and he wiped them and kissed me again, I was happy a moment there and then it made me cry, the happiness and his love made me cry, I was sure he was hiding, he would come back in no time, I hoped.
‘Ready for the wedding, miss?’ Asked Aflaan sarcastically.
‘I will miss my best man’ I sighed ‘he promised me that he would walk me down the aisle’
‘He is not in the mood to walk you down, so he will just watch’ Aflaan hugged me and we together watched my best friend smiling.
My dad walked me down the aisle toward Aflaan and he was waiting for me at the end and I was not scared or nervous to walk it down because I wanted to get to him as fast as possible, I belonged there, right next to him, in his different yet beautiful world, all I wanted was to hide myself in his chest and be there forever. And then my dad put my hand in his hand and I saw my best friend, psycho, smiling at me from the abandoned and far corner of the church were we used to sit on Sundays. I took the vows and became Aflaan’s forever.
I just narrated two different and special chapters of my life. One about a person I knew from three hours and the other one I have known for a life time with whom I spend almost every moments of my life. It was strange that I had something romantic for the person I knew less, but at times it doesn’t appear strange when we think that friendship and brotherhood is something beyond romance and maybe that was right.
Maybe the reason my relations didn’t work out was not Aflaan but my best friend, maybe I was too scared that I would have to compromise my friendship for a romantic relation, sometimes I think that it was the exact reason, because earlier I had someone to go to when I was worried or broke and I loved that person unconditionally and love may not be romantic all the times.
It was like I had to lose my best friend to have Aflaan by my side and it was all about time, when I met Aflaan earlier, I knew we had to be together, but nothing went our way and then after years when I needed somebody to love me, he came back and he was exactly what I needed. Maybe relations have something to do with time also.
We realise a lot in our life and we regret and I didn’t regret any decisions or any moments of my life, it was all in the plan, not mine, but the universe’s and for some reason it was better than my own plans. Maybe after all it is true that everything happens for good, even though everything won’t sound good to us, it is good in a strange way.
Everybody’s life is strange and no matter how difficult it is to figure it out, everything makes sense at the end, we suddenly understand what we were and what our life meant, our life’s mission was not what we thought, it was something better, our life didn’t end up like we thought, but we realise at some point that some dreams and fantasies are at their best when they stay so, they really suck in reality. And it is strange that every chapter in our life are connected in one or the other way, like my best friend and Aflaan were connected. For me my best friend was my past and Aflaan was my future, I cherished my memories and lived a life.
Now when I sit here in a beach in Dubai and watch Aflaan playing with our daughter in the sea I realise that this world happened to be strange and maybe I am the strangest alive on that because I fell for a stranger and waited a fortune unknowingly for him to come back. And when I stare to a distance, to the never ending ocean and when I myself get lost in it, I realise that even nature is lying to us, we lost people somewhere deep in there and nothing seems never ending but the ocean and maybe life can be compared to that sea, but nobody make it to the other end, people sink before they are lifted by a loving hand. And those people who smile when they sink not because they are too fond of the afterlife, but just because that they are sure that their loved ones are still safe and happy out there, they are those persons we compare to angels, those persons who deserve endless and immortal love and my best friend was one of them. He lived his life for others, especially for me. I was the luckiest for I had the best persons and relations in my life, though I didn’t deserve every bit of it.
‘I love you, psycho, I love you bro’ I whispered against the wind and a wind blew up my hair and I would know that everything was real until this wind stop touching my face. Suddenly I felt an arm slipping around my waist and dragging me close and then he kissed me into this strange life.