We stayed up till wee hours of the morning, just kidding around. As dawn started creeping in, I could tell she was tired. She would yawn a little and then immediately look mortified. I think somewhere deep down she harboured some kind of formality towards me. Now that I think about it, she always asked me if I wanted something to drink or eat when I came over. It’s a different story that if I said yes, she would direct me to the kitchen and ask me to help myself.
But that didn’t stop her from asking every time.
She stretched out luxuriously, lay her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes. Within minutes, she would drift into dreamland. I got off the bed, turned off the lights and went into her living room. All I saw as I walked around were traces of Maya's personality. Books, music, handwritten notes. It was this odd little habit she had. She used to write little notes to remind herself of the things she wanted to do and keep it in places where she could see often. Some were silly, some poetic, some just crazy! I smiled as I picked up a note which read travel around the world!!!
There were times like these when I couldn’t understand why Maya wasn’t with somebody. I could see nothing wrong with her. She was great! I had introduced her to a whole bunch of my friends and she had hit it off with all of them. But they never saw her as more than a friend. Neither did she, for that matter.
I just didn’t get it. She would find these random people in random places. I should know, I was one of them. I mean one of those random people in a random place.
Her friendships were far too many and far too scattered. She shared a different kind of bond with all of us, I guess I should say us. I had tried asking her about it, but she had nonchalantly commented, I don’t know what to make of it either. Maybe she noticed something in us that we didn't know existed.
Her radiant, happy face was what made everybody gravitate towards her. Most of the times, she had this bright dazzling smile on. Most people saw the superficial smile and assumed things were always great in her life. I was like that too. Never realized that she too could have some problems, some heartbreaks.
Like the other day, I knew something had happened when she had asked me to come pick her up. But like I said, she never told me what it was. And I never asked. I figured she just needed some time to get over it, whatever it was. Besides, after that one isolated episode, she’d brushed aside the incident as though it didn’t matter at all.
I noticed it, one fine day, that flitter of sadness over her face. I had looked around, wondering if anyone else had seen it too. Others had been blissfully unaware, they were still joking around. She was laughing too, only now I could see, that the laughter wasn’t reaching her eyes like it did normally. I remember wondering if I was imagining things.
I ignored it then, ignored it the next day and the day after. After a while, I couldn’t understand why it was obvious only to me that Maya was terribly sad. She never uttered a word. Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered asking her. My logic was, when she wanted to, she would talk about it. But I knew Maya had a strange way of dealing with things. I asked her about it directly one day. I could tell that she was horrified that I had noticed, but she’d pooh-paahed my observations.
Your imagination is working overtime, she’d accused me. But I had known I was right. It wasn’t as though I wanted to talk about things she didn’t want to talk about, God forbid! Nothing like that. I just wanted her to feel better. Genuinely better. I wanted that carefree, happy and straightforward Maya back. Not this one, who thought she had to pretend to be happy around friends.I had tried to make her laugh, it wasn’t too hard. Laughter was something which came naturally to her. But it never lasted. I could see glimmers of that smile that had me hooked, but somehow it never came to the forefront. Then one day, I found myself alone with her. Everyone had just left and we were saying our goodbyes. As I hugged her goodbye, I held on to her for a moment longer, long enough for her to understand that even though I didn’t get what was wrong with her, I was there for her. Long enough for her to know that I would never let her be alone. Long enough for her to know that she had a friend who saw right through her.
Photograph via sxc.hu