Somehow memory attaches certain things to some people in such a way that you can't help remembering the person whenever you encounter that thing. Just the other day, as I saw 'Requiem for a dream' in Vikram's laptop, I got it transferred to my system immediately. A wonderful film it is.
Naturally, thoughts turned to the person who highly recommended this movie even mentioning its finer points and describing some of its scenes. I wish I could thank him for his recommendation, but we have lost contact. In fact, the contact was never really established. I met him only once. He was Sushmita's boyfriend, and she had insisted on my meeting him.
".....Pranav, that girl has suicidal tendencies. Moreover, he's not taking good care of himself. He has got his eye pierced. I don't know what's got into his head. He needs to talk to a sensible person like you."
It was his life. Who was I to advise him on anything? I could hardly see any point in this. Neither could he, when I had called him up to fix the meeting. Nevertheless, I, as her close friend, and he, as her 'almost former' boyfriend, were obliged to act upon her persistent request.
We met in Central Park in Connaught Place. Meeting the boyfriend of my friend - I didn't know what was it supposed to be like? We shook hands exchanging smiles. Nothing seemed to be appropriate enough to say.
"Sushmita is an adorable girl," I casually remarked.
He interpreted my statement as a question and replied, "Oh yeah, she is. It's just that I am not good enough for her."
"Oh come on, why do you say that? You are an equally wonderful guy. She praises you so much." I countered, though I couldn't actually remember any such instance.
"She harbours much admiration for you as well."
"Oh really?" I tried to sound ignorant in an act of humility.
"Yes, she used to mention you sometimes."
He had changed the course of conversation. I took this chance to revert and thought better to put it straight to him. "Why are you breaking up with her?"
"No. There was nothing left between us to get broken. We both had our share of mistakes, which had finally taken a toll on us. We were too tired of each other. Much irritated. We could see it coming. It's just that I put it into words."
I was not prepared for this. "But I guess that she wants to be with you. She cares so much about you."
"Pranav, it's not about caring. I know she cares. Even I do. But we had stopped being good company to each other. There were constant quarrels. There was no point in being together any more."
I didn't feel convinced. I wondered if I should go ahead in being a bit more intrusive.
"I hope you don't mind, but..." I stopped short in a double bind. "Well, leave it."
No, please go ahead. We are here to talk, aren't we?" He said most courteously.
"Well...is it not about that girl you have fallen in love with?"
"Oh shit!" Disappointment showed on his face. It was getting awkward for him. Yet, after a brief pause, he continued, "Are you telling me that I ditched Sushmita for Ankita? Oh, actually I don't mean you. After all, it's her who has given you this version. I broke up with her around 2 months ago. My friendship with Ankita is a fortnight old, and anyways, still we are just friends, although I want us to be together."
"But frankly speaking, she really wants to be with you now. Don't you think it's worth trying to give it a chance?"
As it went on further and got to him, the poor guy had to indulge in the blame-game which he had avoided until now.
".....Everytime she would complain about this or that.........I got selected for IIT, but she wanted me to continue in that stupid college in Jaipur so as to be near her. Although she is herself so ambitious, yet she expected me not to join IIT, which was like a dream come true for me. The fight that ensued over it lasted for more than a month.........She was so insecure, always suspecting me. She would find a problem in my talking to any girl, whoever it might be...........At times, she would have these mood swings. I would not even have a clue about what was wrong....The way she would want us to split time and again, or actually just threatening me..."
Sushmita lived in Jaipur. We had met on the internet, and had no common friends. My view of her was composed entirely of what she had projected to me, and that was far different from this. I had always felt that she was so different from any other girl, and that her boyfriend would be so lucky to have someone so understanding, creative and sensible like her as his lover. Once or twice, in the periods following my frequent fights with my girlfriend, I had wished somewhere in a deep corner of my heart that she and I were together. Both of us admired each other and neither of us was happy with our partners. But I did not know how to leave. So, although it's normal for boys to speak of their girlfriends being complaining, nagging, insecure and fussy yet hearing the same about Sushmita was a big shocker for me.
About his bad health, he said that he had suffered from fever a couple of days ago and had totally recovered by now. I asked him about the mystery link between poor health, weight loss, eye-piercing and a girl with suicidal tendencies, which had sounded to me as a guy gone haywire getting jinxed. There was actually no link, he told me.
The piercing of the eye was a fanciful promise that he had made unto himself an year ago, the condition being his getting admission into IIT. And now that he had fulfilled this promise, he actually felt quite good about it. Why should his little harmless fancy bother anyone else? I could not help agreeing with him since I myself harbour some foolish fancies of my own. The weight loss was on account of the fever and a dislike for the hostel food, but he said that he was trying his best to take good care of his health.
The girl he had come quite close to was his classmate Ankita. Her boyfriend was a goon of huge repute in South Delhi. He didn't love her, and used her merely as a sexual object, meeting her occasionally for this sole purpose. She was suffering from heavy depression and had tried to commit suicide twice. Yet, she could not break away from him on account of being madly in love with him. She had confided this in her new friend, who would advise her to retreat from that hell and be with him. At this point, I wondered if sympathy could ever take the form of love.
"Yes, I love her. I don't know....I can't say what is so special in her. But I just love her so much. Love doesn't have to have a reason."
With all that said, self-reproach suddenly took hold of him. It was difficult to decide whether he actually felt reproachful or he felt that some self-reproach needed to show itself before his statement could be summed up.
"I know...I have hurt Sushmita. May be you would say that I should have waited for a few more months for things to normalise between us. May be I would have.....but it was not showing any improvement for the past some time. She was always sulking with me...didn't want to talk to me, saying that she wanted me to go away. Not that I started searching for someone else, but Ankita came in my life, and I don't know when I started loving her. Hence, I let things officially end between Sushmita and me. But still, I know that I must have hurt her....May be she didn't want me to be with her as of now, but I guess that probably she didn't want me to go away forever....But I wonder if we could ever have been happy together. Just take care of her if you can."
"You don't have to tell me that. She is my friend."
"Yeah, of course. I know that you care about her as much as I do," he said, and then, after a pause, added in an undertone, "...or probably more."
Well, when we had had enough of it, we thought better to talk about ourselves. It was like an acknowledgement of the universal concern which one could feel for the boyfriend of his (girl) friend. He spoke to me about his fascination with Keanu Reeves and The Matrix. He told me that on watching the movie, he had felt that they must have taken the concept from BhagvadGita, and later on, the film-maker himself accepted this in an interview. He told me about Aronofsky's 'Requiem for a dream'. I told him about my favourites. I discovered that he shared the love which I felt for Cobain. Cobain's fans, I feel, come in two categories - the ones who love his rebellious style and idealize him due to the sensation they feel in being junkies and the ones who love him for the beauty, angst and pathos in his music and lyrics. Although Cobain had fans all across the world, yet it was a rare chance to meet someone from the latter category. He was the kind of person who I had always wished to be friends with.
On my way home, thoughts swarmed into my head in the form of various questions. On one side were Sushmita and he, and on the other were Ankita and her boyfriend. Sushmita was already unhappy and if Ankita gets along with him, the big-time goon might be stimulated to take averse action against them. Why was this guy complicating things? However, in the current state, fights between Sushmita and him had persisted for more than an year and Ankita was heavily depressed. So, was it not setting complicated affairs straight? What was more important - love or commitment? It was confusing but thankfully, there was no need to reach to any conclusion.
Sushmita called up to enquire about the meeting. I sadly avowed to her that he was much in love with the other girl and showed no chance of a patch-up with her. I tried to make her understand that since he had no love for her, why cry for him. I called her up the next afternoon to ask if the sorrow had receded by any degree. She acted ignorant enough to surprise me.
"Which boyriend, Pranav? Who are you talking about?" She spoke plainly without any trace of satire or anger.
"Why,...you told me to go and meet him....whom I met yesterday...you know..." For some reason, I felt kind of foolish and hence, wanted to add - "The guy for whom you were crying and dying until yesterday." But I realised that this sordidness of hers was not directed against me.
"No...I am sorry, but I don't know any such guy."
Oh God! Was the grievous sentiment of rejection making her delirious? I sighed with relief, when she started talking normally after some time. But still, what did she say!
"I am happy that he left. Anyways, he was gay."
Now, what sort of balderdash was that?
"If that is so, why did you want to be with him then?" And why was he with a girl for the past two years and now seeking yet another girl?
"I am not sure, but once I tried to kiss him and he shied away."
Just because he was not with her anymore, she was making slanderous remarks about his sexuality, only after a day of losing all hope to be with him. I felt totally sick. Yet probably, everyone has his or her own way to deal with grief. Pain might bring out a different reaction from different people. May be this was her way to deal with it. To prove him to be unworthy of her so as to fight with her own feelings of rejection.
The next day she proposed me. She knew about my girlfriend. Did she hope that I would ditch her? I had to shatter her hopes, because I couldn't leave my girlfriend just like that. I told her so, remarking courteously that I understood her emotion and respected it. In fact, there was nothing much to respect. Not that I despised it though. This is naturally the best way for anyone to emerge out of the break-up blues, and considering that we were anyways quite close to each other, this was only natural of her.
On the following day, he called me up to ask how Sushmita was faring. He had previously held some self-reproach in the core of his heart, and after our meeting, that had magnified to quite an extent. It showed in every word he said. I told him that he did not need to worry about her and that she was fine. But he persisted.
".....she is mad...doesn't eat anything when she is angry.....refuses to talk to anyone...keeps on crying by herself....is she talking to you..."
I had mixed feelings erupting inside of me. I wanted to shout it out to him, "Damn you! If you are really so concerned, then why are you leaving her? Call her up yourself, talk to her, get along with her again."
On the other side, I could kind of understand his state of mind and felt a bit sympathetic for him. He really sounded to be pretty distraught. I thought of relieving him of his burden, although I knew that it might make him dislike me.
"Don't worry so much. Don't consider yourself so important that she should keep crying for you for her whole life. She has already gotton over it....Proposed me yesterday....."
That was the last time I talked to him. Of course, who would want to be friends with a guy on whom his girlfriend, even if former, had a crush. Not so strangely, Sushmita and I also never talked after that. Few girls have the guts to keep on talking to a guy who rejected their proposal. What about our friendship though? I couldn't ever ask her. I buzzed her on chat once or twice. She exchanged the normal pleasantries - hullo! how are you and stuff, but nothing worth mentioning. I don't know how life treated her later on. May be my online friend would talk to me some day just like the good old days.
I also wonder if Ankita and he ever got together. If they did, how did her goon boyfriend react? I have his e-mail id with me, but it's kind of awkward to e-mail him to ask about it. May be someday I would be roaming in Connaught place, and life would again throw us a similar chance of an unexpected meeting as if we were strangers once again. Then I would thank for his movie recommendation and ask him all about it.