(This was written for a short story competition.The theme for the competition was ‘strange love’. )
THE OTHER SIDE
It was unusually cold for a June night. But it was nothing compared to the chill he felt inside. As he shuffled with his messed up hair that fell lightly on his forehead, and the even messier thoughts inside his head, he looked up in the sky. They used to talk about the moonlight. But the crescent moon did not manage to light up his heart today. Everything in front of him was pitching black. His insides were even darker. He tried finding constellations in the million little stars above to block the image that flashed in front of him every time he blinked. He put his i-pod on full blast playing the happiest songs on his list. He tried concentrating on the blinking street lamp at the end of the boulevard that led to his house. He tried everything possible to block his mind. But standing six floors above ground, in the balcony of his old house, there was nothing he could do to stop the image from haunting him. Thinking about it, he sensed his eyes were glistening, again. Was it because of the sorrow that he had lost a beautiful, poised ,witty girl forever, or was it only from the effort of trying not to blink, he could not decide. But least, the tears confirmed he wasn’t dreaming. He wasn’t dreaming earlier in the night too, when he had entered his favorite club, and glancing on the dance floor on his right, had seen Meera with her beautiful long wavy brown hair swaying sensuously on the dance floor with Trisha. He was surprised to see her there, and in that moment, he had felt an insane amount of attraction towards Meera. Why had he pushed her out of his life…he suddenly appeared unreasonable to himself. He tried making sense to himself of this never felt before emotion that he seemed to be full of right now. Was it remorse, resent, longing to be loved or loneliness? He shook his head, smirked at himself in his trademark righteous attitude and went straight ahead to the bar counter, ordered drinks for his guys and settled in the nearest table on left, from where the dance floor was still visible. Since a few days, he had noticed, Meera had found a savior in Trisha. He felt no doubt that it must have been Trisha’s idea to drink up the sorrow, in quite a literal manner. He gulped his beer and continued watching Meera. But as soon as the DJ shifted gears from the pounding racy music to a more melodic tune, and the flashy swaying multicolored lights settled in a steady blue ambient light, Meera signaled Trisha to the bar counter, and she went back to their table, while Trisha ordered a fresh round of drinks. As Meera sat at the table, she caught Arjun’s gaze. He remembered being surprised that his presence in the same room had not affected her even a bit. She had just blinked and looked away. He tried reminding himself that he did not care for her anymore. He had declared that she was just a mediocre girl who no longer deserved that special place in his life. Thinking this to himself in the club, his heart sank. He only realized now what he had done a few weeks ago. Trying to concentrate on his froth-less beer, he confessed to himself that he would never find a girl like her. Could he do anything to fix this? His train of thoughts was interrupted by a sudden cheer from the guys on the next table. As he followed their gaze, and saw what they saw, his heart twisted violently inside his chest. His knees were suddenly weak and contrary to the smoldering image he had created around himself, a teardrop had rolled down his fluttering eyes. His forehead shone with a film of perspiration. He reached involuntarily between his unkempt hair to wipe it clear. Out of the corner of his watery eyes, he looked at his friends. They were frozen jaw dropped in a stunned expression. It had been three hours since then, but his legs still felt weak, and the image that shocked him kept projecting in front of his eyes constantly. Peeling the rust flakes off his balcony railing, at 2.47 am, he finally caved in and broke in to steady whimpering cry.
Around same time, a few miles away, Meera stirred to her senses with an uneasy feeling. She blinked her deep brown eyes a couple of times and opened them with a little buzz in her head. She realised she wasn’t in her room, but it wasn’t an unknown territory. Trisha’s studio apartment had been an abode for her lately. She had almost camped here for a week now. She tied her hair up in a tight bun and got out of bed for making some coffee. She almost stumbled over while stepping down to the living room. Glancing at the innumerable movie DVDs lying on the parquet flooring in front of the TV that occupied most of the living room, she went to the kitchenette on her right and put the pot on the coffee maker. She went back to the living area and cleared the floor wondering how many movies had Trisha watched in her entire life. Just in her knowing of a few days, she had dragged Meera to the cinema five times, and to numerous places she had never been before. As she went back to the pot, and watched the dark brown liquid turn into boiling black, her thoughts invariably flew to Arjun. It had been 23 days now, but it still felt like yesterday. He had bluntly cut her out of his life. You are a drama queen Meera, I can’t deal with you. And I had never really wanted to take a step forward with you. It never meant anything to me. It was all just in your imagination. Leave me alone now. And you better come out of your imagination bubble. Not that it matters to me, as long as you stay away. Just in a moment, he had declared her a freak, a fool. Even the memory of it felt like a hundred ice-cold daggers jabbing mercilessly at her heart. She had told him that she loved him more than anyone and begged him to reconsider, but he had just smirked, and left. She remembered suddenly seeing him in the club yesterday. She felt proud of herself for being strong in front of him. She poured the black coffee in her adopted mug and went back to bed. This time she remembered to step up. As she pulled the rug over her legs, she saw the reason why she had been so strong earlier in the night. Trisha’s ivory skin was shining translucent even in the meager moonlight that filtered in the room through the French window in front of their bed. The last eighteen days of her life were filled with the charming effervescence that Trisha was. She had not only managed to keep Meera’s thoughts away from Arjun, but had also put her in a perpetually happy state of mind. Meera was strongly against the cliché that two girls cannot be best of friends. She had had many close girl friends throughout her life, but none like Trisha. Trisha was new to the college and within the first couple of day had earned a reputation for herself. But Trisha cared a damn about what was happening around her. It was all about living the moment, she said to Meera, when she had noticed how the guy who used to always be by her side had disappeared. Trisha had silently taken the responsibility of making Meera happy that day and had welcomed her with open arms into her friendship. To Meera, she seemed like a river in full swing, full of vigor and passion for life. Enchanted, Meera had just let herself in her flow. She was deeply shocked when Trisha had revealed after a week that she was gay. Meera had not let it affect their friendship and was in fact touched by the confidence in Trisha’s revelation. She was charmed by her chilled out attitude and independence. Now as she remembered last night’s revelry, she felt herself smile after almost a month, in a sober condition. She remembered the euphoria of liberating happiness it was to be with Trisha. She remembered feeling tremendously attracted to her as they had danced carelessly in the club. She loved Trisha’s silky auburn hair. She remembered thinking of that moment to be the happiest one in her life. As she had nodded her to bring more drinks, she realized Trisha meant the world to her. She was a savior, a true friend, the most ideal companion. Reaching out to Trisha had seemed like the thing to do then. Without thinking twice, as Trisha kept their glasses on the table, Meera had grabbed her and kissed her passionately. She remembered a mild uproar but only in the background. What she experienced inside was multitudes greater. Her eyes were filled with the image of a beaming girl who had leaned back to give her a warm hug. Trisha’s happiness had reflected in her eyes and for once, made her speechless. Meera did not remember making anyone so happy. It felt perfect. Sitting in her bed, back to her senses, she did not feel even a bit of regret. She did not remember seeing Arjun again. Probably, he has driven me to this. But I’ll only be thankful for it. She knew nothing mattered anymore. She had made her choice, it was only for her to decide after all. And she had made her decision…to stay away from all the hurt, to be truly and unconditionally happy. To be with someone who made her happy. No more games, no more complications. She put down the half drunk coffee on the side table, rolled over to the other side, put her arm across Trisha and fell back to sleep.