Aditya and I started hanging out regularly. Of course, in college, we still pretended like we didn’t know each other. But when that clock struck eight, he was there, outside my door, with a great smile and flowers at times.
We were dating, weren’t we? I opened up my heart and my mind to him. He possessed me. I couldn’t think of anything other than him. Everything revolved around me. I could feel myself alienating my friends, but its was like something drew me towards him. Some unseen force used to drag me towards him. I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
On his part, I think he was downplaying his feelings. Trying to be cool by not showing it. By not showing how much I meant to him. I knew the feelings were there, could feel them brimming under the surface.
But something bothered me. It bothered me that he didn’t acknowledge me in college. It bothered me that I was not supposed to talk to him in college. I mean, he never told me directly but I could tell by the way he behaved that he didn’t want anyone to know that we were seeing each other.
Was he embarrassed to be seen with me? The thought plagued me. I was too ashamed to tell my girlfriends about it. I had them thinking Aditya and I were in an ideal relationship whereas in reality, he hadn’t even asked me out. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t even admitted to me that he liked me. Was it all in my head?
It was during our everyday bus ride back home when I decide to break the news to them that Aditya and I were not “officially” dating each other. The others were gossiping about some girl who dressed terribly everyday.
“Did you see her today? Wait I have a picture!!” Meghan pulled out her phone and showed the picture to all of us. Suchitra and Ann were in splits.
“What’s with you! Didn’t you find it funny?” Suchitra nudged me.
I took a deep breath, it was now or never. “Aditya and I are not really dating. He never asked me out. I just assume that we are.”
There was a stunned silence.
“Why would you make us believe that you are?” A visibly confused Ann asked.
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to accept that my romance was less than perfect.” I sighed. “I know, pathetic isn’t it?” I looked up at Suchitra.
“Come one Anagha, what’s the big deal? If he’s not asked you out, you ask him out!” She smiled at me. “Not like you guys are not already dating. I mean, all you want more is an official tag really.”
Yeah. Yeah. All I wanted was him to acknowledge the fact that we were together. Through out it all, Meghna had stayed silent.
“What do you think Meghna?” I asked her.
“Anagha, I don’t want to be the one telling you this.. But.. ” She paused, “Some one has to tell you. Aditya is not the kind of guy who you should be dating. I mean, no offense, I think he’s a great guy. Its just his reputation in college sucks.. And I would hate to see you hurt.” She clutched my hand.
I smiled. She didn’t know anything about Aditya. His so-called reputation didn’t bother me. I knew he felt something with me. How many times had he whispered in my ears that I was different.
“I think he really likes me.” I said.. I don’t know if I was reassuring Meghna or myself.
That evening, when Aditya and I went on our walk, I pondered over how I could bring the topic up without being too obvious.
“You’re awfully quiet today. Everything okay?” He tugged at my hand.
This was my chance. I shook my head slowly.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. His voice full of concern.
“Aditya.. Where are we?” I asked.
“What do you mean, we’re in your neighbourhood.” He smiled.
“I mean, where are we? What are we?” I pointed at him and then at me.
He stopped abruptly.
“What? You want us to start dating?” the way he said it, that tone of voice. It was something like, “really? You think it will ever work out?”
I looked down to hide the hurt, which I am sure was apparent on my face.
“Don’t you want to?” I asked softly.
“You know Anagha, we hang out in different groups, will you ever be able to adjust with my friends? My kind of crowd? I go clubbing every weekend, I’m sure folks won’t be okay with that. I need a girlfriend who has that kind of freedom. I really like you, but all this is important to me too.”
I didn’t react to what he was saying. All I could understand from all that BS that he was feeding me was that he didn’t want me.
“You understand right Anagha? I mean, its too early to get into all this anyway. Let’s just keep things as it is and see where it goes.”
Slowly, I stepped away from Aditya.
“Where are you going?” he stepped closer. “Anagha don’t be a child. Come here.”
I put my hand up to stop him.
“I got my answer.” I looked him straight in the eye.
“All I’m saying is that I don’t think you can adjust with my lifestyle.” He justified.
I allowed myself a smile. “Anything other than a yes is a no Aditya. Goodnight.”
I turned around, with my head held high, glad that the darkness covered the tears that flowed down my cheeks and made my way back home.
Not once, did Aditya try to stop me.