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Amor y Amigo
Friend and Lover
2010: The Honour
** ** ** **
It was indeed a proud moment for me as I sat in front of the television set, watching the live proceedings from the Presidential Palace in New Delhi...
And as his name was called out, and the camera panned, zooming in on him, I saw him rise - tall and handsome - looking so very youthful, yet elegant; so stunningly gorgeous... just like that first day, the day I had first seen him, fifteen years ago.
Smartly walking up to the centre of the grand hall, he bowed and took the President's proffered hand, both smiling as they exchanged a few words before the venerable old man placed a fatherly hand on his shoulder, turning him around, towards the cameras, both smiling into it.
The Presidential attendant came forward holding the salver with the citation plaque and the bronze statuette and the Hall fell silent as every man and woman rose, holding their collective breath for that final moment, the final moment of glory when the whole nation would acknowledge his achievements... bestow upon him the greatest honour that they had. Crown him as the youngest ever recipient of such high honour...
The President picked up the citation and smiling broadly handed it over to the young man, holding the pose as a flurry of flashbulbs from the press enclosure blazed, before lifting the statuette and presenting it...
The Durbar Hall exploded with the thunderous applause of the august gathering... the large, high-domed chamber reverberating with the sound of the unrestrained clapping; various cameras - press and personal - illuminating the two central figures in a burst of flashing lights.
With a few more words, and another firm handshake, he stepped back and turned around, facing the guests and the cameras, grinning broadly as he held up the statuette... the cameras once more flashing in joyous frenzy as a few of the honoured guests, unmindful of Presidential protocol, surged forward - greeting him, congratulating him, shaking his hands...
The tv camera panned once more, picking out his parents amongst the guests to one side, and I smiled as I saw them applauding too - happy faces, eyes moist with joyful tears, beaming with pride for their son.
Seeing his glowing face, and the joy and pride on his parents' face... well, that was my greatest reward!
I too applauded, in silence...
Ankur was getting the highest literary honour of the land for his contribution to literature.
He was a writer, a very famous author - sensitive, incisive... simply profound; and yet, with an uncanny humorous streak, that lifted his work way beyond the ordinary. In the past ten years he had already published eight major works that had gone on to break every single sales record, winning three major international literary awards!
** ** ** **
He had insisted that I go with him, said he wanted me by his side in his hour of glory, wanting to share the moment with me.
But I declined.
"Why?" he demanded.
"This is for you," I began, "they want to honour you, and I..."
"And 'I' ?" he flared, cutting me mid-sentence, "They can't have me without you. Besides, I want you with me!"
"Don't be childish," I smiled, taking his hand.
He snatched it away, "Tell me then, what's different this time?"
"It's not that..." I began, but he cut in once more.
"What is it then?" he demanded, "are you trying to 'protect' me, huh?!"
I shook my head - his sexuality was never a 'secret', nor was the identity of his partner, so that wasn't an issue. Yet I refused. I had my reasons, but I couldn't tell him...
"You made me, made me what I am today..." he implored, the eyes pleading.
I shook my head, taking his hand and kissing him gently, "We'll talk later..." I said, embracing him.
I finally prevailed... I always did; and so, he left without me.
He called as soon as he could respectfully get away from the banquet hall, "I miss you, Darsh," he said, the voice choked.
"I miss you too, terribly," I answered, "and I'm so very proud of you!"
"Why didn't you come?" his voice suddenly accusatory. "Why did you lie?"
"Don't be such a baby," I replied, conciliatory. "Try to understand, this means so much to your parents, they had a greater right to be there!"
"I'm coming home tomorrow," he announced abruptly, startling me.
"Bu... but, what about all those social engagements, and the various interviews?" I asked, alarmed.
"I've already had them rescheduled, and some cancelled," he replied, suddenly cheerful again, "I want to be with you!"
I shook my head, "I'll wait for you," I whispered softly. "I love you, Ankur."
"And so do I, Darsh" he whispered back, "I too love you!"
** ** ** **
1995: The Meeting
I entered the store and almost immediately spotted him... and God, it was hard to tear my eyes away. He was simply gorgeous!
Around 6' tall, the youth was the very embodiment of male perfection - a subtly toned, lithe body (obvious even under the clothes), and a waist that was practically nonexistent... and oh, a butt that was full and firm, almost surreal - a living sin!
He looked up as I entered and at that instant I noted those large, dark-lashed eyes... and that full, bee-stung lips, as if on a permanent pout... and then he turned away, back to the clothes he was checking.
The jeans that I had planned to pick up was suddenly forgotten as I aimlessly stumbled around, unconsciously and randomly fumbling through the stacked garments... stealing sly glances hidden discreetly behind clothes' rack. My eyes following him around the store, watching him pick up khakis and shirts, deep in conversation with the attentive sales clerk hovering around him... devouring him whole... Suddenly becoming aware of a presence by my side, someone talking to me - a pretty young sales girl, smiling graciously, offering help - quickly realising, with dismay, that I was in the women's section, ruffling through skimpy little colourful tops...
With a sheepish grin I quickly excused myself and hurried away, looking around desperately for the elusive men's jeans section... before finally spotting it!
And as I approached, I saw him walk over to the payment counter, my heart suddenly sinking... He handed over the items and stood as the checkout clerk prepared the bill; then making his payment, he collected the shopping bags and walked out, without even a backward glance.
I let out a sigh and finally turned to the jeans, picking up what I wanted before heading for the same checkout desk, depositing the three pairs atop the counter and craning my neck in a desperate bid as I tried to peer out of the glass front, see if I could spot him, just one more time...
"Cash or card?" the clerk asked.
"Cash," I answered, fishing out my wallet as he tapped away at the keypad.
Paying the amount I collected my package and walked out into the brilliant, sweltering summer heat, the intense sunlight stinging my eyes fiercely after the cool, dark interiors.
Going towards the parking lot I got my keys out, and as I neared the car - a relatively new, but much battered Landrover - I saw him...
to be continued...
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