She was thinking about him, like always, when suddenly, he texted her. It was nothing big, just a message asking her how she was and what she was doing. She contemplated for a while on what to write back. In a similar situation, a few months back, she would have been ecstatic on hearing from him. It would have been her source of reaffirmation that he loved her as much she did and that he was thinking about her. Now, however, she could not figure out how she felt.
She wrote and rewrote multiple messages for five minutes before settling down for a simple, “I am good. What’s happening with you”, response. Deep down she was a little elated but her gut told her that the message from him didn’t mean anything. Her heart wanted to believe that he was thinking about her but her instinct told her that their relation-friendship was just dragging itself through and their interactions were becoming obligatory.
Their first meeting was a very non-descript one. She only remembered saying hello to him in the orientation session in their engineering college. In the next 4 years, she could recollect probably a couple of instances when they spoke to each other about anything other than academics. They had worked on projects together but that’s about it. There were no instant sparks, but she remembered a growing sense of fondness for him every time she would spend time with him. She sensed an ease of interaction with him.
Once when they ran into each other on a flight back to their college, they ended up talking continuously for 4 hours from the time they boarded the flight till they reached the campus. She remembers that the ease was mutual. He opened up to her about everything related to his past, his parents, their conflict, the childhood memories of school and friends, his relationships, his liaisons and everything else. She too did not hold back and in the flow of conversation led her life bare in front of him. She remembers thinking that this was the start of a friendship that would be pure, free from biases, where both of them could be their true self without the fear of being constantly scrutinized and judged and where they would have each other always in good or bad times. In hindsight, their friendship vows now seemed more like the ones lovers exchange on the altar and she was surprised that both of them somehow believed that theirs was a relationship of friends and not lovers or soul mates.
After graduating, both got busy earning a living and a couple of years just went by without any contact up until recently, about a year ago, when they met again. This meeting she remembered clearly and was not like their first one. They hugged and met like long lost friends but this time there was a tension between them. Something had changed but she was not sure what. He looked handsome to her and for the first time she noticed his physical features. His face had a sense of maturity and a few lines spoke volumes about the experiences he would have had in the years gone by. His hair was greying at the temples and he looked a lot leaner than the college days. They spoke for a while and hung around with the friends who had organized the reunion.
At around midnight everyone decided to call it a night. Now in their early thirties, most of them were married with kids and had to be back with their families, except for the two of them. Both of them were married to working spouses with no kids. He offered to drop her home and she agreed since it was quite late in the night and the city was not really safe for a woman travelling alone at that hour. She asked him about his wife and he told her about how he had met her in his first job and fallen for her at the first sight. She told him about her husband and how they met. Both of them had love marriages. They kept reminiscing about the old days till they arrived at her place. He took her number promising to keep in touch and drove away.
As promised he kept in touch and now they started talking more frequently. They started calling each other, messaging at work and after, sharing their lives just like the old days. She was glad that they still shared the same ease of conversation and that even now she could tell him anything that was bothering her.
They met again a month later at a conference both were attending in Bombay. It was a two day conference and on the second evening, they decided to step out after the closing dinner. Both of them loved Bombay from their college days and decided to spend some time by the sea face in Worli. It was her favorite place in the whole of Bombay and she felt at peace just hearing the sound of waves crashing against the rocks and shore. She didn’t mind his company either and was actually glad for him to be around.
Sitting there, talking about the few times they had come to the same place with friends, he suddenly told her that he liked her a lot and had always had a thing for her. She was initially surprised because she never felt the vibe before from him in college but somewhere she had an instinct even back then that he liked her. She just wasn’t sure as what. She told him how she had a huge crush on him and how she always maintained her distance in college since she was scared that her confession would ruin their friendship. The night progressed and they kept sitting there, next to each other, confessing their true feelings. Soon it was dawn, and they left to pick up their bags and head to the airport. It was when they reached the hotel that he asked her if he could hug her and kiss her. She was not sure of how to respond. A part of her wanted to hug him close and kiss him with all her love but the other part kept telling her that both of them were happily married and this was just not fair on the spouses. She said no to him and went to her room to freshen up but the regret set in the moment she left him in the lobby.
Another month went by before they met again and this time it was at her place. It was a Saturday morning when he called and asked her if he could come to meet her for a few minutes. They had not spoken since that night in Bombay and he wanted to clear the air. Her husband was not at home and she was not sure if it was a good idea. She however agreed to meet him because in her heart she knew that there was nothing between them and that they were only best friends and what they thought was love was just infatuation. That’s where she went wrong.
She didn’t realize that they were friends who had immense amount of love and passion for each other. She didn’t realize that what she thought was simple pure friendship was actually the most complicated mix of love, passion and friendship. And when she realized that theirs’ was not a simple love or friends story, it was too late. They were madly and passionately in love with each other. They gave in to each other with complete submission and never looked back.
Their never ending cycle of love and friendship began that day when they first met in college and today as she typed the text to this lover-friend, she wondered where it would head next.