Life was perfect. I was 18, I was the star player of my basketball team and my childhood buddy Rahul, my best friend, was in the same class with me. I just celebrated my 18th birthday in Amsterdam with my family where we were vacationing in the summer break. After coming back from Europe, the next day I was waiting for Rahul to pick me up for Math tuition. I quickly got into the car, ready to abuse him for making me wait but that all too familiar grin on Rahul’s face melted all my anger.
“What’s up Yash ma bro? How was Europe and how were the European chicks?
“Didn’t notice man, I was busy seeing the scenic beauty.”
“Aren’t the girls a part of that scenic beauty?” Rahul chuckled.
Recently girls were all that filled Rahul’s mind. It annoyed the hell out of me but barring this he was pretty cool. He was cool, before puberty hit him and twisted his brains. I couldn’t understand what it was about girls that got him in a tizzy, acting like a dog drooling over a bowl of treats.
“How was your vacation?”
I knew it would have been boring for Rahul, but I asked anyways. I knew he was spending it in Mumbai at his Nani’s place in Bandra.
“It was awesome man!”
“Really? Did your Nani buy you an X box? “
“No man, I found something even better, a hot and gorgeous neighbour. Her name is Tanya. She just shifted into the neighbourhood. She’s my girlfriend now. We became official last week.”
Was he seriously dating? I felt irritated and something close to rage boiling in me. I couldn’t understand why I was so annoyed and angry at him. I could solve every damn derivative and integration problem in class but I just couldn’t find the solution to my black mood.
The next week, Rahul introduced me to Tanya. She was annoying. They both were annoying. Always catching hands, always eyeing each other and calling each other by the silliest of nicknames, all this was puke inducing.
Rahul missed basketball practice, he rarely came for boys’ night out and every time I called him to chill at my place, he was out with Tanya. On the rare occasion when I was out with Rahul, Tanya always joined us. I picked silly fights with him and whenever I managed to snag Rahul from Tanya’s perfectly manicured hands I felt like I had scaled Mount Everest.
Rahul too noticed that I was in a black mood most of the time and so he suggested that I should get a girl for myself and that’s why he dragged me to Rikin’s house party. I was third wheeling as usual.
“Lots of hot chicks here Yash, you gotta make a move man. If I wasn’t dating already, I would definitely go for that chick in red, she’s got great legs.”
Just then Tanya introduced us to her school friend Natasha aka great legs. After exchanging pleasantries Rahul wiggled his eyebrows and winked at me. He put an arm around Tanya and scooted in a not so subtle manner so as to leave me and Natasha alone. Thankfully Rikin gathered everyone around to play Truth and Dare. It soon turned into a nightmare when Natasha was dared to do seven minutes in heaven.
She could pick any guy but she just had to choose me. We both were shoved into a bedroom and the door was locked from the outside. I could hear hoots and raucous laughter from the outside. I felt too hot and uncomfortable.
I shrugged out of my jacket and said, “We don’t have to do this you know. I mean, I can just tell them that we kissed.”
Natasha just stood there staring at me. She was a bit tipsy from all the drinking and she looked me over with glazed eyes. She walked towards me. I could smell the alcohol on her breath. She smiled, flashing a deep dimple on her right cheek and said in a husky voice, “But what if I really want to kiss you Yash?”
Before I could move away she grabbed my face between her hands and kissed me. It was disgusting because I could taste the pungent alcohol. I felt nauseous and as an immediate reflex, I shoved her away and couldn’t stop myself from wiping my mouth. I saw her red lipstick smudge on the back of my hand and I couldn’t tolerate this anymore so I pounded furiously at the door. When no one opened it, I kicked it open. Everyone looked at me and cheered, but I simply walked out in a stupor. I went to the pool to clear my head and came to a grinding halt.
I saw Rahul and Tanya kissing each other passionately. I felt a pain so deep, like someone had stabbed me. Tears stung my eyes and my heart shattered. Now I knew why I was so angry, hurt and upset. It was because I was in love with Rahul. I never realised when I fell in love with him. I finally understood why I was never attracted to girls. I had never felt the urge to stash up posters of skimpily clad girls like how Rahul had when he was sixteen. I never dreamt of holding any girl’s hand and I was the happiest when I spent time with Rahul.
I felt oddly exhilarated when I was with the boys in the basketball team and always admired a well -toned man’s body over a Victoria’s secret model, but I never explored my sexuality or feelings. When Rahul hugged me or held me in a headlock, my heart fluttered but I always shoved that feeling aside, assuming it was brotherly affection.
I realised that Rahul could never love me the way I loved him. That day onwards, I doubted and questioned my sexuality a thousand times. I felt conflicted and confused. At first, I was ashamed to admit that I was gay. I knew how society reacted to gay men. I wondered how my parents and sister would take the news. I often reimagined the kiss between me and Natasha to analyse whether I was revolted or simply too shocked to appreciate it. In all my fantasies Natasha’s face always metamorphosed into Rahul’s face and I would feel heat rushing up my body, my heart sped faster and I felt happy at the thought of kissing him.
The next three years of college were pure agony. I saw Rahul everyday but I could never find the courage to tell him how I felt. I could never share the burden of my secret and most importantly, I didn’t think I would ever be able to love anybody else but Rahul. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 18 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time. I’m 25 now and I think I’m in love…again.
To be continued…