Amor y Amigo  
Friend and Lover     

1995: Being Friends

"I want to meet you, please..." he pleaded over the phone as I got out of the shower one evening, just over a week later.

He was standing on the steps of the Central Library - long closed for the day, silent and empty - a solitary shadow in the growing dusk.

He ran down as soon as he spotted my car, coming over as I parked and got out. "Hey," he greeted, smiling, but the eyes uncertain.

"Hi," I responded, curt.

"Missed you tons, Darsh," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Don't know," he shrugged, the face earnest, "but I like being with you, talking to you..."

I relented, smiling at him.

"Why are you avoiding me?" he asked, the eyes searching my face in the fast darkening sky.

I didn't reply, looking around instead, spotting the kiosk nearby, "Let's get a coffee."

"You keep refusing to meet me," he said as we walked over to the kiosk, "and you never even call..."

"Ankur, it's nothing like that," I said, "I have work to do, and deadlines to keep, so..." and left it off with a shrug; asking the man at the kiosk for two coffee and paying him.

Collecting the cups, we returned to the steps of the large building, sitting down.

"Darsh, it's been a week..." he stated, sombre, "and you are never available. You never call, and each time I call you, morning or evening, you say you're busy, can't talk now..."

I remained quiet, looking into the distance.

"What is it, Darsh," he asked, "why do you keep refusing to talk to me, meet me, huh?"

"Told you, I was just a bit busy," I answered, turning to look at him, catching my breath, "an important, and urgent, campaign to wrap up..."

"Okay," he accepted, taking a sip of his coffee. "But, it's always me who's doing the talking, who's always telling... and what about you? I don't know anything, absolutely anything. What campaign, what work do you do?!"

I sat silent for a moment... Well, I was indeed busy, very busy, but not exactly that occupied, that I couldn't really meet him, spent some time with him. And yes, I too had missed him; terribly tempted to be with him, again... yet holding back, avoiding meeting him; being civil, but not overtly friendly whenever he called... Afraid. But now, seeing him, sitting by his side, my hungry gaze roved all over his handsome face, drinking in his amazing beauty, his breathtakingly boyish charm. Sorely tempted to reach out and touch him... feel his warmth against me...

"I'm a freelance photographer," I finally said, "mostly nature and wildlife, but also some architecture, and whatever else catches my fancy..."

"WOW!" he exhaled, his eyes wide with fascination, and then instantly those lips curled, "I did catch your fancy, huh, so, want to take my nudes?" giggling outrageously. Suddenly alive again, all complains forgotten, all past transgressions forgiven!

I let out a sigh, shaking my head, "I'm neither into portraits, nor nudes."

"Well, yay, and what was this so-called 'campaign' that kept you so busy, huh?"

"I also moonlight as a copywriter, for friends in the advertising world," I replied. "There is this new company, who have come up with a new, innovative concept, and they want to sell their idea, their product..."

"And, you did their campaign?!"

"Well, I was part of the team..."

"You know, I don't think I'm really interested in all this management and business administration stuff..." he suddenly declared, and then shrugged, "But dad is insistent, and he put me in this. He wants me to take over from him - the marketing and exports division; while Adit takes charge of the plantation and production. But honest, I'm not even remotely interested in all this boring corporate stuff... Guess I'll have to tell him someday, I just can't do it."

"And you know something else," he confided, "my heart is actually in writing... and I've already written a few things, even got two story published in an anthology! But they, my folks, don't know..." he finished with a conspiratorial smile.

"Ankur, if you don't tell them, don't talk to them, how will they ever know what's on your mind, what you really want, what you like? And if you don't confide, they will feel that you're undecided... and so, they will make those decisions for you."

"I guess your right..." he nodded, reflecting.

"Yes, you ought to. Only once you tell them, they will know, and trust me, I'm sure they will respect your wishes and your desires in life."

"So, do I drop out?" he asked, looking earnestly at me.

"I never said that. You have got yourself admitted to one of the most prestigious institutes in the country, guys would do anything to get in there and you want to throw it away. No, study and do well, and believe me, even this will help you in later life, even if you don't pursue it as a career. The knowledge, the experience you gain today will help you... yes, to write better, and to plan your writing career better."

He just nodded. "Thanks Darsh, you're great!" and he hugged me, taking me totally by surprise!

He was so spontaneous, yes, outrageous at times... impulsive... but also sincere and honest.

"And now, we shall celebrate your successful completion of the campaign with a lavish dinner..." he announced with a grand gesture, standing up, "My treat!"

** ** ** **

"Stay that way, always... happy and smiling," I said with a smile, patting his hand, as he was about to get out of the car.

"Yeah, I'm always happy... and being with you makes me even happier."

"The rarity of happiness is to a large measure a reflection of the brevity of its manifestation..." I said, "Its transitory nature mainly due to our dependence on an external source for it, when in actuality it's within and we just often ignore it."

"Gosh... you should have been a writer!" he exclaimed, eyes wide with awe, sincere.

I shook my head, smiling... slightly embarrassed.

"You're way cool, Darsh," he said, his face glowing with admiration, "simply amazing! Even I don't get words that way..."

I sat, watching him go... and then reversing, drove back to town, back to my lonely pad.


He called again, early next morning and since I was busy that day we met the following day...

"Meet me at the club, at six in the evening," he commanded, quickly informing me that he went swimming every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons... at the FMC (an exclusive club in town, for the very rich and famous).

I was done for the day by five, and with nothing else to do, decided on going to the club, instead of driving all the way home and then to the club... And if Ankur wasn't done, I could always wait.

I spotted him frolicking in the cool water as I walked in. He too saw me the same instant and waved, a big smile on his face, and then hauling himself up, walked over...

I groaned, suddenly feeling giddy... my heart pounding away... quickly sitting down on a nearby deck-chair.

I was seeing him ' bare ' for the first time, and as I watched him walk over - a gorgeous apparition - lithe and subtly toned, the youthful muscles rippling under that absolutely smooth, unblemished skin... chatoyant, as the individual beads of water caught the subdued evening rays and sparkled like a million tiny diamond... once more realising how very perfect he was, how amazingly beautiful!

And that tiny Speedo... my breath caught... wrapped around that slim waist, embracing his middle... concealing, and yet, so suggestively revealing... Torturously enticing... Ravishingly alluring!

"Hey," he greeted me, and I dumbly nodded in reply.

"Thanks for coming," he said and then asked, "You too swim?"

I nodded once more, not trusting my voice; assiduously avoiding looking at him... at that tempting lump encased in the straining pouch of the wet fabric...

"Cool, wanna join me?" he asked, excited, quickly explaining, "Members are allowed to invite their guests, and you can always loan a trunk, if you're not carrying one!"

I shook my head, forcing my eyes away... looking across the sprawling lawns. He seemed so unaware of the effect he was having on me...

"Oh, okay then, you sit here and watch, I have a few more laps to complete and then we can go. I need to talk to you," he grinned and turning away, dived back into the pool, going under before resurfacing at the far end, and then looking at me began to swim across, like an excited child showing off some newly learnt skill!

And I sat and watched... in a daze... bewitched... Saw him swim across the whole length about a dozen times and then getting out, head for the shower room.

"Feel like a tall glass of yummy chilled Chocolate Avalanche," he said walking out of the changing room, dressed... still sexy, "nah, make that two, so, let's go to the Chocolate Room!"

I nodded... both walking to the parking lot.

** ** ** **

And then, we were meeting up almost every other evening... and within a month it was practically every evening (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays picking him up at the pool), spending time together - long drives and dinner, an occasional movie - Ankur sharing his ideas and thoughts with me... showing me his work, asking for my comments, my views...

And I just sat by his side, watching him... listening... nodding and 'Hmm'ing away, totally captivated.

The slender, long-limbed form, casually clad in his usual minimal clothing... The twitching and flexing of his youthful muscles, lean and firm, yet not overtly pronounced. Admiring those long, dark lashes... those obscenely full lips, maddeningly sensuous the way they curled when he spoke or smiled. That cute, cleft chin... the dark silky strands peeking out from under his arms. All so captivating... so alluring. So damned sexy, and irresistible!

At times wondering if he was trying to 'seduce' me... a bored, rich kid playing some arrogant game of power and manipulation... And then silently sniggering in self-derision at my own conceited vanity.

It was summer, and he was young, what was so wrong with the clothes he wore... and honestly, he never really needed to make an effort - he was naturally gorgeous, and would look stunning no matter what he wore, or how he was! And with his kind of youth and looks, he could easily slide the pants off any person... pick and choose the very best! So, why would he need to 'pursue' me; or engage in silly games?! Besides, he was such a lovely person, warm and simple, utterly incapable of such low-down, devious schemes.

Also, over the months I had noticed the obvious, and absolute, unconcern with his good looks... maybe, not even aware, or conscious, of his own amazing beauty, and the effect it had on others. Never once seeming to even notice the heads he turned, or the double-takes he got... And that made him even more attractive!

Desperately awaiting his calls... impatient for those moments when we'd be together again... and yet, dreading each encounter, constantly in the grip of some inexplicable terror that refused to go away! Powerless, as I got inexorably sucked into the mindless vortex - impervious to plea, persuasion or reason... hurtling headlong. Thrilling one moment, and weighed down with an unspeakable burden the next... resisting, and succumbing... waging a relentless battle, and losing it fast. It was hurting, and yet I lived for those few fleeting moments...

Or, was I, 'powerless'? Really resisting?

He was exactly what I had missed out on being - my youth so rudely snatched away. And now, I was suddenly living vicariously through his youth, through his enthusiasm for life... that wide-eyed wonder for the world around, and loving every single moment of it, feeling alive once more.

But why now... why after all these years... especially after I thought I had gained control, had conquered it. After I was sure that I could survive... Then why did I need him?

Could it be all those years... all those terrifying memories, and those unresolved emotions that I had junked way down in the cellar of my consciousness... now desperately struggling to resurface and confront me? But I didn't want them, I didn't need them... Knew I was incompetent to handle them! Besides, he was a very young person, with so much going for him... why drag him into it... why make myself go through it again when I was just about getting over the past?

But why this desperation... why the doubts? How was this different? How was he different?

He was different, very different! No one had ever snaffled my imagination as he had; no one had even remotely come close to what he had done to me... He wasn't just anybody... No, he wasn't comparable to any other person... None were like him... He was different, he was Ankur!

And I wanted him, desperately wanted him - the intensity un-guessed and unfathomable... Suddenly too weak, and too tired to resist any longer!

to be continued...      

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