SWASAN OS – MOVING ON BY SITARA
I was standing on his porch, my index finger frozen in front of the doorbell. I needed to do this. I needed to tell him. I didn’t want to spend any more sleepless nights tossing and turning. I didn’t want to spend any more days hungry but never quite being able to bring myself to eat. I didn’t want to think about any more ‘What-if’s’, ‘maybes’ and ‘if-onlys’.
I needed to tell him I loved him.
And that I’ve been in love with him for years.
I knew he didnt feel the same way. He was head over heels with some brunette with watermelons for a chest. I knew he would never look at me like he looks at all those other girls.
I am his short, flat-chested, plain best friend, after all. I was there to help him get other girls. Then I was there to tell him how to break it off. I was there when he had problems. I was his shoulder to cry on. I was his best friend. We would never be anything more, would we?
I had to tell him now. Today. It was important. I was leaving the next day for college. This was something I had managed to keep a secret from him. It would be convenient if I told him today. Since the next day I was leaving the country, I wouldn’t have to accidentally run into him. I could spare myself the embarrassment.
Sure, I’d be banging my head on the wall later, wondering how stupid I was to actually tell him. But I had to do it, I just had to. Now, when I still had an ounce of courage left.
I pushed my finger and the sound of a doorbell rang through.
Then suddenly, he was there. The boy who had broken my heart so many times in the past. The boy who had taken my breath away. The boy who had stopped my heart from breathing more times than I could count.
I took a deep breath. “Hey, Sanskaar.”
I raised the corner of my lip tentatively. I couldn’t muster a real smile. Not now, not today.
He was wearing a white T-shirt, and some of his old jeans. I remembered those jeans. I had pushed him in the pool once while he was wearing them. He had pulled me in with him.
Sanskaar gave a yawn before nodding. The sunlight caught in his dark hair and took my attention away from his hazel eyes for a moment. But they were back there, with me managing to shake my head.
I had to do this. Strength, don’t fail me now.
“I’d prefer it if we talked out here. Please, Sanskaar?” I did my half smile again before striding towards the porch swing. I shifted towards the right and made space for him to sit in the left side. We just sat there for a few minutes before he turned towards me, raising one eyebrow. The sleep had not yet disappeared from his eyes.
“So…?” He questioned me. I stayed quiet for a little while longer, trying to remember everything I had planned to say. I had had a whole speech planned out, but now I was having a hard time grasping at the words.
“I’m leaving tomorrow for France. They have a course there that would do me well. Annapurna Maasi even offered to pay my transport and tuition fee.” Annapurna Maasi was the rich aunt everyone dreamed of having. The aunt that was rich, yet child-less, so she spent every cent of her money doting on her nieces and nephews.
What sleep had been in his eyes just moments before completely vanished. He blinked once. Then blinked again. His eyes widened and his lips parted. I could see he was having a hard time thinking on how to respond. I turned my gaze towards my hands in my lap and waited.
“Why did you only tell me this now? Today? How long have you known?” I could sense the hurt in his voice. The anger at me not having told him, and the sadness at the knowledge that his best friend was leaving him.
“I have to tell you something. It’s important.” I evaded his questions. I couldn’t bear to look him in the eyes so I kept my gaze on my hands.
“You didn’t answer my question, Swara.” His anger had grown. He was angry that I hadn’t told him and angry that I wouldn’t answer him. But I couldn’t answer him. If I did, I’d get my speech screwed up.
“I’m going to tell you what I came here to say, Sanskaar. You’re going to shut up and you’re going to listen. You’re not going to interrupt until I’m done.” He looked shocked. It was the first time I had ever told him to shut up. It was the first time I had ever told him to do anything. You could guess who was the shy one in the friendship.
He nodded and waved his hand, telling me to go on, to say what I had come to say.
I took a deep breath and began.
“Have you ever noticed how I still have the ring you gave me? The pink plastic one you got from that vending machine when I told you I had gotten my first A thanks to you? Back when we were, what, seven?” I stole a glance at him. He was looking at my hands where I was sporting said pink plastic ring on my middle finger.
“Have you ever noticed how, I always had vanilla ice cream in my freezer even though I hated the stuff? How I always had it ready for you when you came over because you were sad or down?” He was looking at me now, his eyes narrowed in confusion. Idiot, he couldn’t see where this was going.
“Have you ever noticed how I always came over, whenever you wanted me to, whenever you needed me, even if we had a blo*dy test the next day? How I was always there for you? Even if half of the time, you wouldn’t even notice if I was crying?” His eyes had widened, and his lips had parted again.
“God damn it, Sanskaar. I love you. You’re too daft to see it, even if half of the school has already noticed. I won’t say that I loved you ever since we were kids. I won’t say that because it isn’t true. You were an annoying little brat then, even if you were my best friend.”
I took another breath, watching as his face was frozen.
“But then middle school came. And people started asking us if we were more than just friends. You always used to laugh at them and ask them ‘How could that be possible?’ while all the time, deep inside, I was thinking how it couldn’t be possible.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“Why couldn’t we be more than just friends, Sanskaar? Was it because I wasn’t your type? Was it because I didn’t flirt shamelessly? Was it because I was too busy being your friend?”
I took deep breaths and closed my eyes.
I had let my anger take over me. I needed to calm down. I needed to tell him everything.
I opened my eyes and stared him down.
“But you see, Sanskaar. I had already accepted the fact that I had a crush on you. That maybe, little by little, it was slowly growing into something more. I knew you didn’t feel that way, that your feelings were purely platonic. But I still couldn’t help myself. I fell in love with you. Cliché, huh?”
I let out a little laugh.
“Even now, you don’t see how much I resent all your girlfriends. How jealous I get. But I deal with it. I dealt with it because I wanted you to be happy, Sanskaar. But then I realised something.”
I cocked my head to the side and gave him my half smile.
“While I was too busy making sure you were happy, I wasn’t. Happy, that is. And I guess I thought it over. I haven’t been happy in a while.”
I looked at him. It was done. My speech was over. It was roughly edited, though. I had said more to the mirror hanging on my bedroom wall. But my memory couldn’t remember everything.
“Why are you telling me this?” He asked in a hushed whisper. He hadn’t moved at all, except for his mouth. He was still looking at me with his frozen, wide-eyed look.
“Because I want to be happy. Because telling you will allow me to let go of the secret that I had been keeping inside of me for years. Because telling you would allow me to move on. I need to, Sanskaar. Don’t you see? I need to move on.”
I gave him another half smile.
“Don’t think I’m going to France because I’m avoiding you. I’m going for me. To get my happiness.”
I smiled for real this time before getting up and dusting imaginary lint off of my skirt. I had said what I needed to say. It was time to go.
He stood up too, his eyes still wide. I gave a small laugh and hugged him tight. He was still my best friend after all. I let go, waved my fingers in a goodbye wiggle, and started my way down the street.
“Wait! Swara, wait!” I turned around to see Sanskaar hurrying after me. He took hold of my hands and started stuttering.
“But… I don’t… You… Don’t…” He couldn’t seem to come up with what he needed to say, but me being the good friend that I was understood immediately.
“You don’t need me, Sanskaar. I can’t be your shoulder forever. You have to learn to stand on your own. But…” I took out a pen from my pocket and scribbled down my soon-to-be number in France.
“Call me, if ever you want to just… talk.” I smiled, and started walking again down the street.
I think, maybe, I might be able to move on.
Life may not always give you what you want! But it’s up to you to know when to let go of something!
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