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We were in love
We met and became a memory that can’t be erased
It was a commendable melodrama
A pretty good ending
That’s all I need
I loved you
A seven year old Manik was sitting on one of the benches in the playground of the school kicking the small stones near his smaller feet. Other kids were playing different games in groups no one interested enough to talk to the boy. He liked being lonely because being lonely was better than getting beaten up by a drunk father, being left by his own mother at the doorstep of an orphanage, being thrown into school- a place he despised more than anything- as a work of charity by some high class people who thought that doing charity would improve their social status after getting exposed by media in a corruption scandal. He always felt that people around him treated him as an inanimate object like stone rather than an individual.
The kids in the school would never glance at him as instructed by their parents who thought that he would be a bad influence on them. Not that he was capable of doing anything bad but his personal history was already a breaking news on TV after those rich people took the responsibility of his studies on their filthy shoulders. Manik never cared what others thought of him. He never tried befriending anyone. He was an introvert so even the thought of talking to someone scared him and made him uneasy. He found Nature and non-living things more interesting than the humans roaming around him. His teachers always tried to make him comfortable but he never allowed anyone to break the walls he built around him.
It was his second year in the school and his feelings for the institution had not changed. The bitterness was still there. He was looking for another stone to kick when he saw two tiny legs on the ground few centimeters away from his next target. He looked up to find a girl tinier than him looking back at him with her round and big brown eyes. In a flash, he found himself looking at the ground again.
She was the new girl- Nandini- who would pass a big-missing-one-front-teeth-smile to anyone who passed by her. It was only her second day in the school yet he found every student in the class wanting to befriend her except him. He was jealous yet amazed at how could someone talk so easily with people around them. She offered him a badminton racket and requested,”Will you play with me, please?” He shifted in his pace uncomfortably musing for a minute before nodding slowly. She quickly took his hand and ran to the playground.
He never knew that one simple action could change his lonely life. She became his first friend, years later his best friend. He was now thirteen still living a hard but better life. He was thinking of ways to fix his bicycle chain when a chubby little girl approached him. She held up his arm examining his elbow and hissed after seeing a big red scratch and a big bruise which was earlier covered by his handkerchief. She spoke angrily,”Why don’t you leave some of your part time jobs? Isn’t it child labour?!”
He chuckled and said,”Technically yes but no. I lend them a helping hand and they give me reward in the form of money in exchange. Also, this is not because of the garage work. It was me who was inattentive while distributing newspapers.”
She was still not satiated and stood there with arms crossed. She raised an eyebrow indicating him to elaborate the situation. He sighed and scratched the back of his jaw. He was nervous and Nandini knew him too well to know that he was. He was like an open book to her and only to her. Who would think that Manik, the ice prince of the school, could speak more than two words and could show palette of emotions and that too to someone of the opposite gender?
“I saw her begging on the street and I-“
“And you lost your balance which resulted in this?”
He nodded with his head facing the ground. Tears threatening to fall any second. She held his wrist and took him near her bicycle. She softly whispered,”Hop on Mannu.”
He obliged and sat behind. He held her school bag and dug his head in it still crying. Tear drops falling on his lap. Although Manik was heavier than Nandini yet she cycled at a speed faster than she normally would. She did this to prevent others from seeing a crying Manik. They were like this only to each other. They would pass sarcastic remarks, throw punches and curses when hurt, build a protective wall when the other is on the verge of breaking and care for each other. They arrived in a garden which was visited by only few people and sat under the big oak tree. It was their escape whenever life was unbearable to them.
She put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. In a swift motion he hugged her and started wailing. His body was trembling. She just kept patting his back. When his body stopped shaking she broke the hug and asked,”How are you so sure that she was your mother?”
His eyes were red and his lips were shaky from the outpouring. He replied,”Sh-She was holding my chi-childhood pho-photo and te-telling people that I-I was suffering from-from cancer and sh-she didn’t have money for my op-operation. They used m-me again. Am I so worthless that nobody can genuinely love me? Am I so low Nandu?”
She slapped his shoulder.
“Dare you say that nobody loves you! I love my best friend even though he acts like a shit sometimes and does stupid acts to make me happy whenever I am angry with him. He is anything but worthless. You better remember that Mister! Now get up cry baby. We are here for hours. My mom would shoot question missiles at me once I reach home.”
She got up and offered her hand which he happily accepted. He knew that her mother did not like him a bit and scolded her whenever she (her mother) got to know that Nandini was out with him but Nandini always chose him. She never rebelled for anything but this. He was the first person she rebelled for and she was proud of her decision. She could never talk this freely to her parents. Limitations were always there. With Manik, she was Nandini not the Nandini Murthy who belonged to high society and was bound by its gives.
She was always his first- from first friend to first s*x-till now. They were anything but lovers. They were in the same college. Puberty hit Manik so hard that now every girl in the college fell for his looks except Nandini.
U saw ur result?
Passed in 2 subs
U failed in 2 subjects Manik!!!
Last time it was 3
Do u really think Mannu that those State level sports certificates will take u anywhere??
I know u want to do anything but studying
U should at least try
It will manage till college
N I just wanna stop studying
Changing the topic
What’s d matter wid Alia??
How the f**king hell can u be so dense!!???!!!
She was clearly hitting on u
U wont try?
Why why why
Why why why why
SToP iT MaNiK
I like someone else
So u like someone other than d college beauty
InTeReStInG ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
I wont tell u
U will tell me anyways
I dont know
I’m telling u
No u r typing
So today Aliya came to me
She told me
that she likes u n she wont come in our way
I was like “what way?”
She asked if we were dating
I told her
I was so loud that professor heard me
That’s why u were standing outside?
*Nandini blocked Manik*
I didnt tell u about the one I like
Why r u not answering
Keeping his phone down, Manik went to Nandini’s dorm. It was pretty late and there was no way the watchman way was going to allow him enter. The only was climbing the wall which he did. He was still hanging on the railing of Nandini’s balcony when the door opened. Nandini did not notice Manik since she was busy texting him only and continued walking towards the railing. The notification ringtone of Manik’s phone brought her out of her trance. She shifted her gaze from her phone to Manik who stood holding the railing with an idiotic smile. She ran to him horrified that he may fall off any other second. He jumped inside the balcony and waved at her. She held him by his arm and took him inside. Closing the door behind her, she started throwing fits at him.
He cried,”Ouch! Ouw! I promise I won’t pull that stunt again! Stop Nanno! Please! Aah!”
“Isn’t it already your 49th promise Manik? Why are you here? Don’t give me that ‘Because I wanted to’ reason.”
Rubbing his arm which was now red, he replied sheepishly,”I was worried about you. You were not replying to my messages. I got worried that you might have gotten into trouble.”
She shook her head and gave him an ‘you are impossible’ look. Pointing her index finger up and down at herself she said suppressing her giggles,”You see I am perfectly fine from top to bottom. If even my defecation worries you then…”
He looked up at her wide eyed. She looked back at him and in a matter of seconds both of them broke into fits of laughter. He laid down on Nandini’s bed facing the ceiling still laughing hard. She laid beside him holding her stomach. After hours, the laughter died down leaving a comfortable silence. She propped up on one elbow on his side and asked,”So, who is that special person?”
He looked at her musing whether he should confess to her or not. He had to do it someday. There were many thoughts which were keeping him from doing this. Thoughts of what ifs.
What if she did not feel the same?
What if she left him?
What if their friendship got awkward after this?
What if he was alone all again?
There was another part of his mind which was sure that she would not leave him at any cost and they had done many things which were anything but platonic. Mustering up some courage, he whispered,”Nandini”
“Yes?” She looked at him expectantly. Shaking his head vigorously he said with impatience lacing his voice,”I was answering your question. It is you. Nandini. It is not only liking. I love you Nanno.”
She was taken aback by his confession. Sure she knew that the boy had feelings for her but never in her wildest dreams had she thought that it was something this deep. His confession left her in a dilemma. She feared that she would lose him and she never wanted that to happen. It was easy for Manik to read her expressions. He did not want to burden her with his feelings so he said looking at anywhere except her,”Uhm…it is okay if you do not feel the same. I just wanted you to know. Nothing will change between us I promise. I will still be your silly best friend.”
She mouthed a thanks and held his hand. He got up and motioned to open the door to the balcony. Her hold on his hand stopped him from moving further. She asked worriedly,”Where are you going?”
He replied facing his back to her,”I-I just need some time. You know taking a hold on my feelings otherwise I may do something stupid like kissing you. I will meet you tomorrow. I promise.”
She pulled his hand bringing him closer to her. She held his chin making him look into her eyes only to see him vulnerable. She knew what she was going to do was wrong but all that was in her mind was that it would make him feel better. She kissed him. He kissed back overpowered by his emotions.
IT’S WRONG– his brain warned making him face the reality. If he moved further it would mess up his heart more. He pushed her little breaking the contact of his rough lips with her softer ones and left in a hurry.
He ran out away from her dormitory. He ran and ran till his legs gave way. He closed the door of his room and slid down with the door supporting his back. He buried his head in his hands. His heart pained to such an extent that as soon as he closed his eyes hot tears started to stream down. The rejection did not hurt him that bad. He was prepared for every kind of response. The kiss hurt him. It gave him hopes but her blank face when she kissed him crushed them. He cried all night. The next day he went to college. His eyes were still swollen and red, his face pale and his lips dry but he managed to crack a weak smile when Nandini came to him with her state mirroring his.
She was always his first. His first heartbreak too…
Few Years Later
Manik was now a successful model and Nandini was the head of a multinational company. She had left her father’s company quoting she wanted to become something on her own and not because her surname was Murthy. They were in a reunion party. After college, both of them became so busy that it was difficult to contact one another. Though they talked on phone everyday, their friendship had weakened. They never met in all those years. Manik did not try because whenever he saw her his feelings for her would spike his heart. He wanted to move on and Nandini knew that it would be difficult if he continued meeting her frequently so she did not try either.
The party was pretty boring. Manik was busy talking to Y/N (Your Name), his girlfriend, when Nandini approached him. They exchanged smiles and pleasantries. Manik told you that she was Nandini, his best friend. Y/N spoke,” Finally I got the chance to meet you.” You engaged yourself in a conversation with Nandini. After talking for minutes you said out of a blue,” No wonder Manik fell for you.” There was no jealousy, no insecurity. There was only sincerety for you were sure that Manik had overcome his feelings for her. You trusted him enough not to let jealousy overpower your thoughts.
It surprised Nandini. You left them alone to have a closure. They talked for long about childhood memories and their 20 years long friendship. At the end Nandini told him-
“I loved you but it was that kind of love where you were not my lover. You were more than a best friend. What was that ‘more’ I still don’t know. “
Suddenly a husky voice spoke from behind Nandini,” Nandini we should go.”
Nandini turned behind and held the shoulders of the man whose voice it was. He noticed Manik and held out his hand saying,” Hi! I am Dhruv, Nandini’s boyfriend.”
“Manik, Nandini’s first…friend”