I was back from my early morning jog. The thing about running is that is always clears my head and makes me feel lighter. I remember the mess I was in a fortnight ago after my sudden break up with John. I just ran like crazy, till my my body could take it no longer. Tears streaming down my eyes, gasping for breath, as sweat trickling from my forehead and the tears and sweet intertwined giving me a strange comfort.
I was at my worst. In a foreign land where I had no family, a few friends but none whom I could confide in. My great Indian dream of making it big in the US seemed futile now. Big and rich but alone I thought as I ate my Chinese takeaway in silence. And thats when my computer screen gleamed with a new friend request on Orkut.
The year is 2004 and this amazing thing called Orkut is a great saviour to someone like me who is miles away from her home. I chat for hours and swoon at the pics posted by my dear one back home. And I love posting pics and give everyone back home a glimpse of life in the US.
The best part was meeting so many old school friends who had completely disappeared after we parted ways post 10th.
I went closer and blinked my eyes twice. It was Suraj an old friend from school who had been out of touch since 10 years. Well what made me blink and made my heart skip a beat was we were more than friends.
When we were in the 8th grade, cupid struck. We would often pass love notes to each other, look into each other’s eyes and we had even been on a secret date to an ice cream parlour with some friends. Back in the 90’s it wasn’t so easy to go out on dates and proclaim your love. We moved out of school and wrote letters to each other for a year but slowly drifted apart as we got busy with our lives.
And here we are again, thanks to Orkut.
“Hey! Cant believe its you. Its been like 10 years.”
“Yes! My eyes popped out for a second. Couldn’t believe its you. So how have you been and whats been happening with life in these 10 years?”
“Quite a lot to be honest. I completed by Engineering from IIT and then started working in Bombay. I went onsite to Germany for 3 years.Thats when I discovered my love for photography. Since then I have been pursuing this hobby which slowly and steadily became my passion. Life has mostly been good with a few bumps here and there. Now your turn.”
“Wow I am still searching for answers and figuring out what I am passionate about. You always knew I was a nerdy. I studied hard in college to get top grades and took the competitive exams and here I am in the US of A doing my Masters. A high paying job in one of the tech companies, lots of dollars, a big car, travelling the world – does that make me sound materialistic? Probably yes. But I would love to live this life for real.”
“Well nothing wrong in being materialistic. I like the fact that you are ambitious and know exactly what you want from life. You have not changed one bit.”
“Haha- so someone special in your life?”
“Nah no time for women for a geeky guy like me.. A few flings here and there but nothing serious. I have been focussed on photography. How about you?”
“There was something serious till last fortnight. But we broke off. It was quite ugly. I am still battling the after effects. ”
“Ouch that hurts I know. Do you remember that fatso Gopal in school? Every time he tried to impress girls by his funny antics, something totally embarrassing happened. That day he had made you his target and you were squirming with discomfort as he bent down on his knees front of everyone singing a Bollywood song and his pant tore. We were in splits. I ran towards you “Give me a five” and you laughed till your cheeks hurt.”
“Those were crazy days. When I think of them, it still makes me laugh. Wish life was simple like the old days.”
I looked at the clock. It way past midnight. I realise time just flew. Its a Monday tomorrow and I have a busy week.
“Hey gotta go.. catch you tomorrow. Got to hit the bed”
The next few weeks I am on a roll. We chat everyday for a few hours. Reminiscing the good old days, talking about how life has been over the years, sharing our dreams, failures, heartbreaks, highs and everything. I am amazed at how this gap of 10 years has just disappeared. In him, I find a friend with whom I can share anything without any inhibitions.
As I hear his stories, I am in awe of this young man. His maturity, compassion, intelligence, humour bowls me over. Is he the same boy with twinkling eyes who winked at me? I wonder as I catch myself blushing.
I go through his snaps on Orkut and find myself getting jealous when I see him with a girl , his hands on her waist. Its a pic taken one year ago and he told me that Shweta and he had called it quits but I experience some kind of negative feelings when I see them together. We haven’t been able to chat today as he is out for a friend’s wedding.
My day feels empty. I go for a run as thats the best antidote that works wonders for me.
My thoughts are focussed on Suraj and the past few weeks. Am I falling for him I wonder. Or is this purely platonic? Cant a girl and guy just be friends? In fact isn’t that the best thing? No love, no expectations, no fights and no tears. I would rather have a friend for life. What we had in school was just puppy love. But now that we we are grown up and have actually rediscovered each other, was that love meant to stay and metamorph into something more meaningful?
Suraj is well qualified, smart, a nice guy and whats wrong in taking the relationship further? I know he is single so why not me and he? We do have our challenges with long distance and my plans of staying back here for a few years but we can figure that out. Should I talk to him? Ask him what he feels?
But what if he doesnt feel the same and I am just a friend? Would that then create an awkward situation and create a rift in our friendship?
Too many thoughts swarming in my head, I reach home dripping in sweat and see an email pop up.
Suraj is coming to NY for a week on an official trip and we will be meeting. I just can’t believe it. Ny heart does a happy dance and I squeal in joy.
The next week is eventful as I spend my time browsing through the stores for new clothes, shoes, accessories and even get a chic haircut done.
I decide to bring up the topic when we meet in person.
D Day finally arrives. We decide to meet in Starbucks which is near to my place.
I look in the mirror before I leave checking myself out for the 99th time. I look pretty and the radiant smile on my face is what stands out.
I walk into the cafe, my heart thumping loudly. He is already seated there. He stands up and smiles… Something doesn’t feel right.
He is the same guy but he looks different in person. I feel like I am meeting someone else, like those arranged marriages where you walk in and meet your future husband. I look at him and force myself to smile. In my mind I somewhere carried the picture of the 15 year old boy whom I had last seen 10 years ago. With Orkut we chatted a lot but we never had video calls. They were not free and we couldn’t blow up a lot of money.
We spoke on the phone a few times but the calls had to be quick before the meter went up. We were most comfortable chatting, we both knew.
But now that we had met, this felt really odd.
He extended his hand and I shook it. I did not feel any electric current run through me. In fact I had this feeling of taking off from here.
There was some commotion and we both looked. A fat guy had gone on his knees to propose his girlfriend and he had just fallen down. People were rushing to help him.
We looked at each other and Suraj raised his hand “Give me five” and my hand raised to meet his. Suddenly things dint feel odd. The spell was broken.
He cleared his throat “I have something to say and promise you wont be mad”. I looked at him blushing, my heart knew what was coming.
I am participating in the Bar-a-thon Edition 3 and the prompt for today is “Give me five”
Image courtesy https://relationship.com/find_love_online/