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Amor y Amigo
Friend and Lover
1995: The Meeting - 2
He stood under a tree in the parking lot... a shimmering mirage, breathtakingly beautiful!
Suddenly self-conscious for no apparent reason, I stumbled forward, fumbling with the car door, desperate to get it open when I heard a cheerful "Hi," close behind.
Spinning around, I stared up at him... suddenly uneasy, dropping the keys to the ground as they slipped out of my benumbed fingers.
"Hi..." he repeated, dazzling me with a smile.
"Uh, hi..." I croaked, not sure where to look, yet unable to tear my eyes away.
Outside, under the blazing sun, he looked even more stunning... lithesome and virile. The eyes now hidden behind dark shades against the glaring light... those hemorrhagic, bee-stung lips, as if ready to burst. The chin cleft, deep and sensuous. Amazingly cute... and intolerably sultry.
"Care to join me for a coffee..." he asked, the smile broader.
'God, don't do this to me,' I prayed silently, 'not now...'
His eyebrows rose quizzically at my silence, the head slightly tilting to one side.
'Why now,' I asked in silent appeal, 'after all these years...' going on staring back at him, totally blank.
I saw those full lips curl mischievously as he repeated, "Coffee?"
"Um, okay..." I nodded, suddenly waking up.
He bent down and retrieved the keys, before straightening up and handing them back to me, grinning widely, "Well, let's go then!"
"Uh, thanks," I mumbled, accepting the keys, making sure that our fingers didn't touch. "Where would you like to go?" I asked, as I finally got the car door open.
"Well, I'm new here, just moved in," he replied, standing real close now, his body heat radiating, warming my soul, "maybe you could suggest a nice place, huh?"
"OK," I nodded, now a bit more in control of myself, the jitters much subdued, "we could go to Barista, it's real close."
"Sure, whatever you say," he grinned, the puffed, reddened lips parting wide.
"You have a car, or bike?" I enquired.
"Nopes," he shook his head before adding, "told you, I just moved in. You’ll have to give me a lift to the coffee shop!"
I nodded. "Get in then," I said as I slid behind the wheels.
He bounded around and opened the passenger door, getting in, depositing his shopping bags on the back seat before fastening the seat belt and sitting back. I started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.
We had gone about a block in silence when he turned, facing me and asked, "Why were you staring at me?"
"Huh?" I uttered, uncomprehending, and then immediately groaned as it sank in.
"I asked, why were you staring at me," he repeated.
"Um... er, I..." I stammered, totally taken aback, unsure what to say, how to react. God, he had noticed me gawking at him... What a shame!
"Tell me, I want to know,” he demanded in a low voice, looking at me.
My eyes fixed on the road I drove on, totally unnerved.
"I... I didn't... " I started to deny, and then after a slight pause added, "I'm sorry.... I didn't mean to... um... " I didn't know what to say and fell silent.
"I didn't ask you to apologise, I simply asked why you were staring. I saw you, your eyes following me all around the store."
I felt my hands shake, unsteady and quickly slowed down... There was a lot of traffic and I didn't want an unfortunate incident happening.
"I... I'm really sorry... I didn't mean to stare..." I trailed off, silent once more.
"You found me attractive?"
"Yes." God, I had said that!
He grinned and settled back in his seat, eye in front.
We had reached the coffee shop, and slowly I manoeuvred the car into an empty slot and cut the engine. Unsure if he was still interested in that coffee.... or if we should really be going in.... if it was, after all, such a good idea any longer. I sat quiet.
"The cafe?" he asked, undoing the seat belt.
"Then why are you sitting, let's go," he said, smiling again as I looked at him.
He got out and I followed, walking in together.
The place was totally empty and we took a corner table near the far end after ordering our coffee - black for me and a mocha frappe for him.
"So, what were you thinking as you watched me?" he asked.
God, did he really expect an answer to that! I just sat, twiddling my thumbs and feeling the flush rise, totally shamed.
"Hey, you’re not a teen, dude, why act like one?"
I looked up into his eyes, seeing the long, dark lashes shimmer as it caught the subdued rays of the sun filtering in through the large bay windows, "Listen, I'm really sorry if I've upset or offended you with my behaviour. I didn't mean it that way. You're an extremely handsome young man and I just couldn't help it. I didn't mean to..."
"Are you gay?" he questioned in a hushed tone even before I had finished.
Still looking into his eyes I nodded, "Yes," and almost gasped out loud... I had said the word, said it out once more, after so many years... It nearly hurt.
"I too am," he grinned and then getting very serious, "I too noticed you, and I like you."
For a weird odd moment it thrilled me... flattered me, "Thank you," I said, while sending another silent appeal, 'God, please don't...'
"So, do you have a lot of, you know, gay friends?" he asked.
I shook my head, "I don't meet-up people."
"Why, wife at home?" he asked again, his lips curling in a sly smile.
"I'm not married..." I replied, not even sure why I was bothering to answer his questions. Guess, I too am human and have needs, I too need to talk… how much longer could I keep it all inside, bottled-up?
"Now, if you look... nah, ogle, at people the way you were doing back at the store, then, how come you don't meet guys, huh? You don't have a wife to fear..."
"I neither pick up guys..." I said, suddenly feeling very tired.
He had this incredulous look on his face, making him look even more cute. "Then, is it, you just like to stare, but chicken out of the actual act, preferring to go home and flogging the family jewels, huh?" he asked again, quickly adding, "Now, don't say 'I don't masturbate either!'," grinning widely.
I didn't bother to reply, no point, and who would really understand. Anyway, I was never into anonymous sex... well, any sex for that matter. So, I kept sipping my coffee.
"What do you do with all those thoughts?" he questioned, giving a real impish smile, his eyes twinkling, "Want to take me home?"
"You're way too young..." I began, but immediately stopped, why bother.
"Hey, I don't know your age, and anyways, you can't be much older; but whatever, I like you and your age isn't a factor, so that’s cool..." He suddenly reached out and placed his large hand over mine, sending a shiver up my spine... a tingle coursing through my entire body. "I really like you. Actually we just don’t know each other, don’t know anything about each other..." he paused for a brief moment, before adding, "Want to be friends?"
I smiled, looking back at him, "Sure..."
He smiled too, that same dazzling smile, an awesome smile - healthy and radiant, "Hey, that’s cool... I'm Ankur."
"Great... now, I don't know about you, but I must rush... special afternoon classes," he exclaimed, suddenly breathless, "but take my number and I want yours, I'll call in the evening."
As I gave him my card, he scribbled his number on a paper napkin from the dispenser on the table, and handed it to me.
"Catch you later, bye..." he said and rushed out of the cafe.
I sat alone, my mind reeling, my heart slamming... sending another fervent appeal to the Almighty, 'PLEASE DON'T…'
He called that evening, and though not really occupied, I refused his invitation for dinner…
“Hey, but my clothes are with you,” he whined, "I left them in your car…" And so we decided to meet the next day, Sunday, for lunch, at the food-court of a popular shopping mall.
He was waiting when I got there, standing on the steps - beige, calf length cargoes and a short-sleeved, orange tee, the colour complimenting his unblemished complexion, the raven curls even more pronounced - looking spectacularly gorgeous!
With a silent groan I walked towards him, the nervous tremor already shaking my hands, as my heart shifted gear.
He smiled as he spotted me, running down to greet me with a huge smile, “Hi, Darsh.”
“Hello, Ankur,” I returned the greeting, my voice squeaky, the hands clammy.
“You know, I really wanted to meet you…” he said as we walked in.
"Your new clothes..." I suggested with a smile. "They're in the car, collect them after lunch."
"Huh," he grinned with a wave of his hand, the eyes twinkling, "that was just to 'convince' you to meet me, since you sounded reluctant!"
I lifted my eyebrows.
“No, not the clothes," he continued, as we entered the food-court, "I don’t know exactly why, but I had to see you again, talk to you.”
With the selection and ordering done, he talked - an incessant chatter - voluble and effervescent... Breathless! While I listened in silence, watching him - his animated face... those reddened, bursting lips… the dark, long lashes... the sparkling eyes... Gesticulating as he spoke - his hands moving all over the place in wide arcs. And he touched too, his hands constantly taking my hand, gripping them, or just covering them… the slender, long fingers drawing doodles across the back of my palm. Fascinating and mesmerising...
He was in town, he informed me, for his graduate course in management. Classes had just commenced. It was great, and he was having a ‘roaring’ time. Yup, missing home a wee bit, but also making new friends... but still… and suddenly he got a distant look in his eyes… before, almost instantly, grinning, the eyes sparkling as he told me about his home and family - his dad... and his mom… what amazing people they were, and how much he loved them…
They owned a couple of tea plantations down south... the produce mostly exported. His dad also had some other business interests… and had recently acquired a coffee plantation too. Very busy with it currently…
And then on to his mother…
"Oh, she's always complaining about everything," he exclaimed with dramatic emphasis, "anything I say or do; and especially resisting anything I want that she doesn't approve of. But then, going and letting me have it anyways!"
"And I also have a brother," he said, as if suddenly remembering. "He's four years older, but nothing 'big-brotherly' about him! In fact..." he paused, letting out a giggle and then dropping his voice, "I do all the bossing over!"
I nodded, smiling.
"His name is Adit."
"Aditya?" I asked, not catching the name clearly over the loud chatter of the Sunday crowd.
"NO! Adit, just Adit, it means 'first born'," he explained. “He’s real cool...”
"And Ankur means 'bud' - that emerging shoot, a sapling," he added, explaining.
"Yeah, that I know," I responded.
"What does 'Darsh' mean?" he asked.
I smiled, "Um, it's supposed to mean someone 'worth looking upon', worth looking at."
"Wow, how true..." he grinned, his fingers wrapping around my palm, squeezing.
I shook my head, smiling, "It also means the day of the new moon, personified."
"Cool. But I still prefer the first meaning, it's so true."
He had such an honest look on his face, the smile so genuine, that I nearly blushed with embarrassment.
And then he launched into their numerous childhood anecdotes... how he always had his way with Adit, cajoling and threatening till he got what he wanted. Adit always relenting, indulgent and protective.
A precious child - well-bred, and gracious... carefree and excited. Amazingly charming, with a wide-eyed innocence, yet mischievously impish; intelligent and witty. Childishly impulsive one moment, and surprisingly mature the next. A child, and a man!
"Let's go for a movie!" he exclaimed as we walked out of the food-court.
"Movie?!" I laughed, "Now?"
"Yup," he nodded, all charged up.
"And how will we manage to get in without a booking, that too on a Sunday afternoon, huh?"
"Oh, leave that to me..." he smiled, mysterious.
"Okay..." I said, patronising.
"Well, then excuse me for a moment..." he grinned, getting his cell phone out and walking away.
I stood and watched silently as he walked to the atrium and made a call, nodding and gesticulating, before turning around and giving me a thumbs-up.
"So, pulled a few strings, eh?" I asked as he walked back.
"Ah," he shrugged, "let's go..."
"Where?" I asked.
"Up to the fifth floor," he announced, tugging at me, "the movie, you forgot!"
** ** ** **
"Come, I'll drop you." I suggested as I looked at the watch and noticed the late hour.
After the movie, Ankur insisted that we have dinner - his treat this time! "You possibly can't have any work," he stated, "besides, I hate to be alone on a Sunday evening!"
So, we drove around town, before he finally selected a restaurant of his choice... and then later, we sat at the lakeside promenade - Ankur weirdly silent for the first time!
"Well, thanks a ton!" he said, getting up.
Driving out of the parking lot I slowly guided the car into the light, late evening traffic and as he gave directions we drove away towards his campus. Ankur once more chattering... about friends back home, and how he was already missing them...
“That’s my campus,” he pointed out as we neared the college complex, “drop me near the gate, they won’t allow you to enter this late in the night.”
I stopped in front of the gated entrance and he got out, shouting a 'Thank you very much, and good night.'
“Ankur, take your clothes,” I reminded, reaching for the shopping bags in the back seat.
“Oh, thanks, I nearly forgot again,” he smiled, taking them, before turning and walking in.
I sat for a while, watching him go, wondering... We didn't even know about each other's existence till yesterday, and today we had spent practically the whole day together... me already privy to his whole life story...
Reversing the car I headed home... suddenly, acutely aware how lonely I was.
to be continued...
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