Ankur came the next day... tired and dishevelled... very angry, and very silent... but eyes blazing with resolve.
"I have chosen, Darsh,” he said as soon as I opened the door, hugging me tight, “I've chosen you, and I want to be with you, forever,” his arms a vice around me as we stood in the hall, his single valise thrown at our feet, kissing me all over my face like a crazed maniac, sobbing shamelessly, and without restraint. “Please don’t send me away...”
"I won't, Ankur," I whispered, holding him, hugging back, "I'll never send you away, I love you..." suddenly feeling terribly guilty, totally miserable that it had to be this way.
Taking my hand he led me to the bedroom, sitting me down... and throwing away his clothes he got in, slowly undressing me...
He was silent now... and I was silent too...
He lavished me with his love, his hands and his mouth frenzied as he explored every tiny inch of my body... kissing and caressing... kneading and fondling... stopping me whenever I attempted to reciprocate...
I understood - he wanted to give, just give, and I was supposed to just receive... So, I lay under him, shuddering as he took me deep... frantic and furious... sobbing aloud as he asked me to hold him tight... ruthless, as he carried me beyond the brink... leaving me utterly drained.
And then he was covering me... entering me... And I wrapped my arms around him, taking him within me... clutching tight as he made love with a ferocity that was scary, but also exhilarating... Unmercifully determined as he filled me with his love. Sealing our solemn promise, our inviolable vow of eternal partnership with the indelible ink of our combined passion...
The next day he collected all his remaining belongings from the apartment at the college (now closed for the summer) and moved in with me.
He wanted to quit, but I was adamant... "You can't drop out," I insisted, brushing away all his protests and reasoning. "And if what you say does happen, if they really cut you off, then I'll pay for your college!"
He accepted, and we've been together ever since - through joy and through sorrow, through uncertainty and through bounty, through health and through sickness... Travelling together, working together and living together - Disagreeing, quibbling, arguing… Accepting, conceding, resolving... Inspiring, encouraging, supporting... Sharing, caring and loving... Laughing, happy and content.
He never again spoke of his family... and I never, ever asked.
2010: Back to the Present
Adit, his brother, first contacted me in mid 2009... Thirteen years after that terrible night.
"Can we talk..." he asked, the voice unsure.
"Sure..." I answered.
"Ankur refuses to answer my calls, and has refused to meet me," he informed, "I'll be in town later next week, can we meet..." he asked, "Um, I'd prefer not to discuss this over the phone..."
"Please, Darsh, don't tell Ankur..."
"I won't," I promised.
He came and we met as planned...
Six weeks after that fateful night, Adit had tried to contact him, but Ankur refused to speak. Adit kept trying, but Ankur remained silent, consistently refusing to take his, and their cousins' calls; or even meet, when they tried to visit him at the college. Snubbing the entire family's effort in 1998, at the time of Adit's wedding; cruelly rejecting their desperate entreaties with his impassive silence. They were willing to overlook his youthful folly, forget the past... they just wanted him back. But Ankur remained impervious to all their pleas, requests and reasoning; scorning their overture with aphonic contempt - implacable, and unforgiving.
Adit and their cousins kept trying, but Ankur remained unrelenting...
And then, Ankur just 'vanished' - his phone no longer accessible; and his address - unknown!
I sat, silent... listening, amazed by Adit's narrative. Stunned by the fact that Ankur, in all these years, had never mentioned any of it to me. Suddenly realising Ankur's purpose in discarding his old phone immediately after college; and his insistence that we move out of our home - 'We need a bigger place now' he reasoned - doggedly persistent till I had agreed.
Astonished by his stubborn refusal to forget and forgive that single night's rejection...
Adit finally managed to trace him out once again after his first book got published, getting his new contact number from the publisher. But Ankur still refused to talk... "He just won't talk!" Adit exclaimed, anguished. "He hasn't spoken a single word in the past thirteen years, to any of us!"
Finally, out of desperation, Adit searched, calling up various publications that carried my photographs, locating my agent through them and getting my contact number. He had tried to call me earlier, but was hesitant... unsure of my reaction... eventually mustering enough courage and making the call.
The family had accepted Ankur... for what he was. They wanted him back... no, he quickly clarified, not away from me, but back as family, he paused, looking away briefly before turning back, along with me...
His mother was still devastated by all the revelations of that night... totally shattered by the thought that she had failed to protect her young son. Hadn't recognised his desperate pleas... Both parents much mellowed, more willing... and it wouldn't be too difficult to persuade them... to finally accept me.
Could I... Would I help?
I smiled at him, nodding, and together we made plans for the reunion - of Ankur and his parents. Adit would work on their parents, while I’d try to slowly soften Ankur towards them...
Over the months Adit kept calling, jubilant as he informed me of his success with their parents. But Ankur was nearly impossible - simply refusing to enter any conversation involving his parents, or his family. "You are the only family I have," he stated in unequivocal term, each time, getting up and walking away.
Then, Ankur's getting the award suddenly seemed the most appropriate occasion for the rapprochement... and suddenly I had an idea!
So, when he came to me, saying, "Keep yourself free - no meetings and no assignments - we'll go to Delhi, together. I want you with me, by my side, and I'm giving them your name as my companion and sole guest for the ceremony and banquet."
I declined, "Ankur, I can't come..."
"Why?" he demanded.
"This is for you," I said, "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.
“You made me, Darsh, made me what I am today...” he implored, the eyes pleading.
I shook my head, "I didn't 'make' you, Ankur, nobody 'made' you. You are famous because you are the best!" taking his hand and kissing him gently.
"Then you're coming..."
"We'll talk later..." I said, embracing him, asking him to leave the paperwork to me. "I'll fill in the name and mail it to them..." I told him.
And unknown to him, I forwarded his parents' names instead.
I informed Adit... told him to take their parents to the capital on the scheduled day; while I'd stay back... away from them. Avoid causing any further inconvenience to them; not wanting to take away anything from their joy with my presence...
On the scheduled day of departure, I prevailed... I always did, and Ankur left for the capital, alone.
Only Adit knew of the secret plan, knew why I didn't go... and he called that evening after dropping his parents at the Presidential Palace - thanking me, and congratulating me - the same man who had once run out of the room and gotten sick on knowing that his younger brother was sleeping with me!