“Hey,” Baani approached me, gasping for breath. “Where is Sid? I can’t find him anywhere in the campus.”
“No idea,” I replied, flatly.
“Don’t tell me,” She arched her eyebrows in astonishment as if she had picked up a ghost or heard of something that is paranormal, “YOUUU don’t know where Sid is??”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I had in mind when I said NO IDEA.” I responded , a bit amused by the way she reacted. “Why do I suppose to know where Sid is?”
“Who else would know his whereabouts but his GIRLFRIEND?” She retaliated, putting additional effort on the word ‘girlfriend’.
“GIRLFRIEND??” I retorted, “And since when and from where did you get this noble but ridiculous idea?”
“Why? Aren’t you guys’ inseparable and mostly caught with each other? Ask any second person in the college. They all know it.” She answered, making perfect gestures with her hands.
“Yeah, that’s because we are good allies, actually BEST friends,” I attempted to realize the facts. “And I actually don’t worry what others believe about us, but we are barely acquaintances. I hope you got it clearly.”
“Are you serious? Are you two not a couple?” Her facial expression clearly indicated that she was not ready to buy it.
“Hell, No!! And stop irritating me please. How could you even think about it? I mean just look at Sid and me. He is my best friend, no doubt, but he can’t be my prince charming. He is too FAT for that…” I bit my lower lip as my tongue slipped.
I simply named him ‘FAT’. The only word that had made him feel that he was the subject of mockery, naturally.The only word he hated most and the only word that reminded him that he was the “oh-not-so-perfect” guy among the girls. This was the word that had been haunting him since the very first day he got his senses as a human being, the only word that had the ability to crush his self-confidence mercilessly hundreds of times. Who else would know it better than me? We had been friends for ten years and I had been the only eyewitness of his mental trauma all these years. This was the word that had made him cry countless times because the feeling of rejection was unfathomable and in fact, I had managed to convince him finally that the girls who rejected him because of his physical appearances were shallow and superficial and they didn’t deserve to be in relation with anybody, let alone with him.
Suddenly, I felt so ashamed of myself. I had sunk so low. My face flushed with shame and guilt, for two reasons. First, I had insulted my best friend in front of a third person and Second, I had lied to Baani. The fact was that Sid was my BOYFRIEND.
I had denied our relationship in public again like I had done many times earlier. Though, I was quite of ashamed of myself for admitting this, but the truth was that I did not have the guts to introduce my overweight boyfriend to my friends or my family.
Things were different in the early years. I enjoyed my outings with him. God!! He was so funny.
Sid a.k.a. Sidhartha was the sweetest guy I had ever met and we were best friends for years. Eventually, we developed a feeling for each other. He was caring. He was sweet. He was intelligent and despite of being chubby, he was the cutest guy I had ever seen on earth. I didn’t know whether it was infatuation or anything else, but I felt connected to him in a great way. “Appearance does not matter” I had convinced him.
But the truth was, appearances did matter, especially when you were one of the most beautiful and gorgeous girls in the college and you were the type of girl who would rather go out with hot, masculine, really attractive and confident guy.
“Behave yourself,” I had rebuked him once, rudely, when he had tried to hold my hand in the market.
“What’s the big deal in it?” He was shocked and humiliated, both at the same time. “Aren’t we a couple?”
He said in a low painful voice. I quickly justified my action by saying that we could not afford to be seen, holding hands in hand, in public as mine was an orthodox family and it would end our relationship before it actually begins.
But deep in my heart, I knew that I was… I was… just……Embarrassed!!
“Okay, I understand” He had replied in a low tone. But the pain in his eyes was clearly visible.
I was ashamed to go to the restaurants with him. I was ashamed to go to the market with him. I was ashamed to go to the parties with him. Actually, I was ashamed to go anywhere with him… no matter how beautiful or lively the place was.
I was ashamed when people stared at us when we two were together with a ‘you could-do-much–better’ look. I was ashamed when my average looking friends would introduce me to their confident smart boyfriends. I was ashamed when people asked me, “Who was that big guy with you?”
I was a bit too conscious while Sid was a careless soul. He had never really taken care of himself and it showed in his personality. I tried to pursue him to join the weight loss program, but the last thing he would do was to starve and to workout.
“Don’t you have anything nice to wear? You seem like my fat grandfather,” I snarled at him once, when he appeared in one of our dates wearing a loose white T-shirt. It was too late before I realized my mistake, but he was too nice to make me feel guilty.
I loathed admitting it, but to be alongside him in any social situation was fraught with shame for me. It hurt him when I avoid going out with him or give silly reasons for not doing so, but it could not change the Goddamn things. Neither my earlier behavior could change anything. Though I cared for him, but his big belly and even bigger six feet two inches tall frame mortified me to hell.
I hated it when he wanted to put his arms around me and all I wanted to do was to run away while he tried his best to keep me happy all the time. I felt sick when he tried to kiss me or just give me a romantic hug.
“Look Sid,” I finally confessed, “Life is all about choices you make. I hate to tell you this, but let’s accept this. It had been a complete disaster. We aren’t the right choices for each other. You are a great guy and you deserve much better.”
I knew he would have to chew the words, but I could not fake it anymore. I wanted to declare on the top of my voice that I had the perfect boyfriend, which he was not.
An uneasy silence followed aftermath.
Come on! Say something!! Anything…Shout at me…For God sake… Say something. The silence was killing me.
“See we can still be best friends….” I had tried to pacify him, but before I could complete my sentence, he was gone. Gone for forever.
I didn’t hear from him for months. He didn’t attend the college and I dare not give way to his home. I tried calling him, but he never picked it up. He never responded to my messages either. I was really concerned for him. He was still my best friend though I didn’t know if he considered me one too or not after all those bitter moments.
Nine months later.
At college annual function.
I had already moved on. It was easier for me as I was the one who had called off the relationship and I, somehow, managed to convince myself that it was good for him also. I was performing in the fashion show as a model to be held at the function. It was divided into two groups. One had to display the ethnic wears (my group) and the other had to perform for the western wear. As a perfect model, with a perfect catwalk, I walked the ramp with my co-models and as expected, we received huge applaud from the crowd, gracefully we exit from the stage as the second group marched onto it. And just then, an image flashed before me. It was him. Definitely him. But before I could have a better look they were already on the stage while we were in the backstage.
“Come on! Come on!!.. Quick, everybody, get ready for the next round.” The voice of the organizer was echoing all over the dressing room.
“Hey..You..gurl..Hurry up!! You have only three minutes to change,” I recovered from the sudden shock. I might have been daydreaming. The tall, smart and athletic built guy could not be him. “Nahh..” I shook the idea away from my mind.
I bumped into him once again. And this time there was no room for uncertainty. It was HIM. Suddenly I lost my confidence and my balance on the stage too. I did not know what happened next, but when I regained my senses I was in the dressing room while Baani had the worried expression on her face.
“You okay?” She asked, worried.
“What happened?” I asked timidly, I knew that I had screwed up the big event.
“You fell down on the stage, unconscious.” Came the prompt reply “Thank God you are fine now.”
“Hi,” the male voice made the two of us in the direction of sound.
“Sid.” My heartbeat became so loud that it took me great strength to hear my own voice.
“Meet Sid,” this was Baani’s voice “ My hot boyfriend!!” She winked at me with an ear-to-ear grin.
And I lost the ground beneath me.
“Hey excuse me for a second. Gotta call my parents.” Baani left the room as she took out her cell phone to call her parents.
“You were right. Life is all about choices you make. Your choice depends what type of life you would lead. I chose Baani because she loved me despite of my physical appearances and my clumsy looks. I chose to live a better and healthy life for her and I chose not be rejected by anyone, ever. I chose to change my lifestyle for the girl who made me a better person and who ACTUALLY loved my inner person. I chose to be the person you see today because of her confidence and pride in me and because she accepted me when everybody rejected me including you.” That was a slap in the loser’s face. My face.
“Thank you,” He whispered, “For everything.”
And I realized his “Everything” included the breakup too.