- She understood me like no one else. She made me feel special. I was head over heels in love with my best friend
May 15, 2016-We were about to meet again, and she was late as usual. It had been eight years since we had last seen each other. And as I waited, I wondered why all of a sudden she had called me up this morning.
All those high school memories were still fresh in my head. I had been away from home for the first time and although I was amidst many people, I had still felt alone. But after I met Bhawana, I never felt lonely. She understood and cared for me. She made me feel special. In college I don’t remember talking with anyone besides her. It was obvious for me to fall in love with my best friend. I loved the way she bit her nails when she was upset, her messy evening hair, and her skin, her smile—I loved everything about her. At first, I was scared of my own feelings for her but I could not let go of them.
Our first few dates as a couple, our first kiss—everything was like a fairy tale come true. But life got in the way. I told Bhawana that our parents wouldn’t permit us to get married. She asked me to ask my parents about us. My parents said that if I was to marry her I would never enter my house again. Bhawana’s parents forced her to choose between me and them. She chose them. I told her that we could both go abroad. No one here has to know about us but life is not a bed of roses.
“I choose my family.” These words were stuck in my ears for many years. She told me to forget everything. She was getting married to someone else. I had begged her to come and meet me for the very last time. But she never came. I spent the entire day in Basantapur, waiting for her. All those promises we had made in the alleys of Kumaripati were etched in my heart, but they somehow now seemed hollow and fake.
I again got lost amidst the crowd. This time I had a scar in my heart. That night when I reached home I knew something inside me died. All I remember doing was crying and cursing Bhawana. I wished I had never met her. And today, after all these years, she called.
“Kabita,” says a voice. She was just standing right behind me.
“Hello, Kabita. How are you?”
“I am good,” I reply.
“I am sorry that I am late. I was stuck in a jam,” says Bhawana.
Kabita just nods her head. Bhawana continues, “I am hungry. Can we order something?” Kabita replies that she is not hungry, she would prefer just a cup of coffee.
After ordering a coffee and a plate of momos, there is a stillness in the air. Bhawana tries to make conversation: the weather, a new novel by BudhhiSagar, the latest songs—anything to keep the elephant in the room at bay.
After a few moments of silence, Bhawana says, “I am sorry, Kabita. For every pain I have given to you. Please don’t hate me.
“I miss you. Honestly, I miss you every single day. I still love you. I know it doesn’t sound right. I am a married woman. I thought that after getting married I would be able to move on. But I couldn’t. It took me this long to gather courage and come see you. I am sorry, Kabita. Can we be together?”
“Bhawana, all those times I spent with you will always be in my heart. You were family to me. I cannot hate you. I know everything you did was because you had no choice. I respect your decision but I am sorry we cannot be together now. Besides, by talking about these old matters we are not doing any good for us nor our families,” I say.
Bhawana says, “I have spent my entire life trying to make others happy. Now I want my share of happiness.”
“I understand that, Bhawana. But I cannot be the one to break your family. After you left I was shattered. I was depressed. Then I met him. My psychologist, who helped me in my worst times. He turned out to be the perfect partner. He knows everything about me, and us. He knows about my sexuality. He taught me to embrace my identity. He held my hands during the darkest moments of my life. And he showed me the way out. He whole heartedly loved and supported me. Now I am the mother of our three-year-old son, Arun. Viren knows that we are meeting here today. After I received your call, I was so confused; I couldn’t decide if I wanted to meet you or not. I would have hated you if it weren’t for him. He helped me see the brighter side. He convinced me that you were forced to choose between me and your parents. You cared about your family more than yourself. This shows that you have a great heart. If there is any other way I can help you, please do tell me. I would be more than happy.”
Bhawana says nothing but stares at the knots of grass on the floor.
“I am thankful to you, Bhawana for all those wonderful moments we had together.”
“I am happy that you are happy, Kabita. Stay happy,” says Bhawana.
“Thank you, Bhawana. Viren has even invited you home. You can come over any time you like. Arun would love you.”
Bhawana replies, “Sure. I would love to come and see your family someday.”
Fifteen years have since passed. I sit in my garden; going down the familiar memory lane.
Bhawana never called after that. That brief meeting at a small café is all I have now.
“Mother, Baba says the fire for the barbecue is ready,” shouts Arun from the balcony excitedly.
“Coming, son,” I say, as I dust myself up.
Published: 15-05-2016 09:22