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Amor y Amigo
Friend and Lover
1995: Return Home
Ankur was constantly on the phone, demanding to know where I was and how much longer I'd take...
"Aren't you attending your class?" I finally asked.
"I am," he stated.
"Then how come you keep calling, huh?"
"Between classes," he replied.
"You'll meet me," he enquired, "once you're back in town, huh?"
"Ankur, I'll probably get back around 9:30 - 10:00," I told him, "that's no time to meet, beside, how will you get into town?"
"That's no problem," he laughed, "I'll get there after class, and wait for you!"
"Don't be silly," I answered, wanting to laugh, but also feeling terribly nice to be missed again by someone, to be wanted that way... "and how will you get back?"
"I don't need to..." he announced, "I'll stay with you for the night!"
"Ankur..." I began... once more swamped by the old fears... wanting, yet resisting... unsure how to tell him it wasn't possible, his coming over to my place...
"Okay, okay..." he said, "fine, I promised I won't ask, and so I won't insist either. How about tomorrow? You can have your night's rest and we can meet up for breakfast, huh?"
"Your class?" I asked, relieved that we didn't persist with his idea of coming over and spending the night with me.
"I'll skip class tomorrow..."
"Darsh, you were gone for six days," he stated, "and now I just want one day, can't you give me that?"
"Yes, I can, but cutting class..."
"I'll make up for it," he interjected. "I'll be there around eight in the morning, we'll have breakfast together and I want to hear everything, every single detail. And when can I get to see the pictures?"
I laughed... no one could win over him!
He was sitting on the steps of the Central Library... a lone figure in the deserted compound... running down as soon as he saw me pull in, face beaming, eyes sparkling with happiness.
"Ankur," I smiled as he wrapped his arms around me, squeezing the breath out of me... taking me by total surprise.
"Oh, Darsh," he exclaimed, "you can't imagine how much I missed you these past few days!"
I too wanted to say the same thing, declare my love for him... tell him I wanted him, needed him... and yet, the word didn't come out as I slowly disengaged myself and took his hand, shaking it instead, just smiling.
"Won't you ever take me home?” he asked, looking at me, into my eyes, “If I knew your place I would have waited for you there. You can't imagine how miserable it was without you.”
"I too missed you, Ankur," I finally confessed, nodding.
He instantly broke out in a smile, those puffed lips parting wide, "And I hate to wait like this," he announced, "having to call you constantly to even know if your back in town or not. If it was a train or a plane, I'd know the timings and could wait for you at the station or airport!"
I nodded, asking "Where to, for breakfast? I'm starved!"
He grinned, "Anywhere you want to take me!"
And so we went, Ankur chattering away. He had questions, tons of them... seeking every little detail... Excited as I patiently narrated my trip, telling him all about the forest and the animals... thrilled to hear about the encounter with the tiger in the fort courtyard.
"And when do I get to see the pictures, huh?"
I laughed, "Well, I had plans of working with them today, but since this impossible young man I know refuses to let me alone, I can only work on them later tonight, or tomorrow!"
He pouted, and then grinned, "Fine, I can wait... and so can your darkroom!"
** ** ** **
“Can we talk about sex?” he suddenly asked, munching on his Choc-o-block pancake.
It was late evening and we were at his favourite joint - the 'Chocolate Room' - sitting at a corner table away from the entrance and the service bar; cool and dark, virtually empty with just a couple of tables taken.
“Huh?” I looked up at him, startled.
“No, not dirty talk," he quickly added with a grin seeing the look on my face, "I mean, you know…”
“Well…” I started but never got to add another word.
"I've never really done much, you know," he confided, "just a bit of messing around with some friends... um, like, you know, making out... um, mutual jerk-off,” he paused for a moment, "and had a guy suck me off a few times..."
“There’s so much I want to try, I want to do…” he confessed, looking at me, and then after another pause, added, "And there was someone else before that..." his eyes suddenly taking on a faraway look, the lips pursed, the expression pained, "long back..."
I reached out, patting his hand, not exactly aware of the depth of his pain, but sensing the hurt.
Turning back to me he gave a wan smile, "I'll tell you someday, I will,” he promised.
I nodded, wondering... for a brief moment catching a fleeting glimpse of a new Ankur... becoming acutely aware of a young man beyond that happy, frivolous child...
"And, what about you?" he finally asked, blinking those long lashes, grinning wickedly.
"I, um... I've never done... er, anything..." I shook my head, feeling an awkward discomfort. "Never been with anyone."
He went on staring, the eyebrows high in question... waiting.
"Ankur, ah... I've never done anything," I repeated, suddenly very uncomfortable with the line of our discussion.
He kept looking, and I could see the various emotions cross his face in quick succession - incomprehension, utter disbelief, and then, wonder…
"WHAT?!" he finally hissed, the eyes wide with curiosity.
I nodded, looking up at him, into his eyes.
"You're old enough to have tried a lot of stuff by now... I mean..." he trailed off, still struggling to make sense of it all, adding "and, you're not even married..."
"Yes, I'm not married, never was... and neither have I been or done anything with guys..." I trailed off, sitting back, relieved to have gotten it out.
"You're... you're a virgin..." he said in a hushed tone and then suddenly exclaimed, "OH, MY GOD... A Freakin' Virgin! Woooooooah!" and almost immediately froze, quickly lowering his voice as he remembered where we were, giving me an apologetic look, "Sorry... I'm terribly sorry!"
“It's okay,” I shrugged, “fact is fact, so let the world know.”
He just kept on staring, suddenly dumbstruck… No wonder trying to fathom me... reason things out, account for my living the life I did... understand my denials... My virginity!
And it didn’t make things any easier for me either. I was already feeling totally weird, and his going hyper at my still being a 'virgin' only made it seem even queerer, like I was some freak from another planet...
** ** ** **
"Darsh, can I ask something?" he asked as we walked out of the Chocolate Room, quickly adding, "No, you won't get all uptight and cranky, huh?"
I nodded, getting into the car.
"Okay," he said, pausing for a moment before continuing, "we've been together the whole day today... and yet..." he paused once more, looking at me, his eyes searching, "Darsh, I'm really keen on seeing your place," he finally said, "no, not that way, you know, like getting you alone, in private. I'm genuinely interested in visiting your place, in seeing your home..."
"I'll take you someday..." I said softly, my heart sinking.
"When?" he asked, adding, "We've been driving around all over town, hanging out at malls and stores. Why can't we visit your place, sit, talk and relax?"
I didn't have an answer.
"What are you trying to hold back?”
"Um, hold back? No, Ankur, nothing..."
"There's so much that I..." he broke off, remaining silent for a brief moment. "There's something that I can't exactly put my fingers on, but you, at times, you seem so different... so distant, like I don't even exist, though I'm right next to you. One moment it seems you love being with me, and the next instant you just go off into another world... withdrawn, refusing to even respond. Is it something I say, or do?
Then shaking his head, added, "There's obviously something very hurtful... some terrible pain that you're trying to overcome, but not ready to talk about it. Fine, I can wait till you are ready to share it with me, but what about your home, what secret does it hold that I may never get to see it? Or, is it that I don’t deserve to enter the haloed portal of your private world?"
"I’m so confused, Darsh, at times I don’t even know where I stand..."
"Trust me, Ankur, it's nothing like that," I tried to reassure him, sounding totally lame.
"No, Darsh..." he was serious now, "I love you Darsh, and I'm neither afraid nor ashamed of saying it. I care for you and please, I want to know you… if…" he broke off, "OK, I'm sorry, I won't push, and if you too feel the same way about me, you'll tell me, I know."
God, what was it... what was it! I had missed him like crazy while away in that jungle, desperate to get back to him... determined to finally overcome my fears and confide... confess... and yet, now back in town, back with him, I was once more dithering...
I too wanted to finally break free... repeat what he had just said; voice my own intense feelings for him… Tell him that I too loved him, loved him like I had never loved anyone in my whole damned life… Wanted him, wanted him to be mine for ever... But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t!
God, would I ever come out of it, ever be normal again?!
"Darsh," he said as I started the car, "drop me off at the library..."
"Huh," I gaped, guilty, "drop you off, don't want dinner?"
He smiled, shaking his head, "I'm stuffed, besides, you must be real tired after your trip, and I kept you the whole day."
"That's okay, I'm not all that tired," I replied, "and why at the library, how will you go back?"
"I'll take a cab from there..." he said, "You need to get some rest."
"Don't be silly now," I smiled, reaching out and patting his hand, "fine, I'll drop you off at your campus and then go home and get my rest..."
He nodded, looking at me...
to be continued...
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