Messed Up Love

August 18, 2012

“You have to be out of your mind if you think there’s something going on between Arjun and me!”, I said glaring back at Myra. Sure she’s my best friend and all but that isn’t going to save her skin this time. The very idea of Arjun and me, together, was crazy. I mean, it even sounds weird!

“Addy, you have to accept it someday. I’ve seen the way you two look at each other. That intensity is pretty evident. Plus, the sexual tension between the two of you can be cut with a knife so just own up, already!”, she said rather impatiently.

“Besides, the Nile is a river in Egypt and they want it back”, chirped Ally. Great. Just great. Two insane best friends? Check. One arch nemesis/ four a.m. Friend? Check. Tons of sexual tension? Check. Unrequited feelings? Check. Life as one big fat cliche? Check, check and check!

“Guys! Grow up! First, I do not like him like that. Second, I am not in denial, for further details, check the previous point and third, even if I did, the feelings would be unrequited.”, I said pretty much annoyed.

The two girls just looked at each other as they graciously ignored my protests.

“She’s in denial, right?”, asked Myra.

“Totally”, replied Ally.

“Thought as much. After all, the guy’s been there since forever now.”

“Yeah. Remember the time he was at her place at four in the morning when her dog passed away? What I wouldn’t give to get such a guy.”

Come on, people! It’s my cocker-spaniel we’re talking about. I was howling like a baby. He was the only one who could get me to shut up! See, totally justified.

“And that time when he beat up that jerk she was seeing when the two broke up? He gave him a good ol’ shiner. She just doesn’t even realize how much he protects her.”

Hey! I do too. Moreover, it’s not his business to ‘protect’ me. I can take care of myself well enough, thank you very much. I’d have personally bashed up my ex had he not intervened. The guy cheated on me for heaven’s sake. Who wouldn’t get pissed?

“What about that day when she stayed up all night completing his Economics assignment? She loves him and doesn’t even know it!”

Whoa! Whoa there! That can be explained. I had accidentally ruined his assignment when I spilt a giant slushee all over it. Not my fault that he thought tickling me would be a nice distraction from Economics. Definitely not my fault that it had to be submitted the next day. But being the Angel that I am, I was up all night completing that godforsaken Ricardien Equivalence essay which I had absolutely no clue about! I am a Psychology major for Christ’s sake!

“And that time he asked her out telling her how he felt? She’s the dumbest person on the planet to turn him down!”

Ahem. Yes. That...I can explain. I might’ve missed out the part where said guy is apparently in love with me while I refuse to believe it. No. I am not crazy. Neither am I arrogant. It’s just that I don’t believe him. Sure, he’s one of my best friends but him liking me is just one big ball of absurd.

Don’t get me wrong. In fact, he’s quite pleasant to look at. What with his shaggy brown hair falling into his eyes that I have an intense desire to push back each time I see him. His deep, dark eyes which can convey a thousand emotions without even saying a word. His lean, ripped 6’2” body that has girls drooling and pining for him. That easy half-smile which turns my knees to jelly and sets free a million butterflies in the pit of my stomach. His big dumb combat boots which make him look like an army recruit. The simply badass tattoo on the nape of his neck which I find so damn sexy. Fine. I admit it. I am in L-O-V-E with said best friend. Gosh...I just can’t get myself to say the word. How crappy am I?

Since you must be wondering what my problem is, let me explain. You see, I am hopelessly in love with Arjun. Always have been. But the reason I turned him down was because the intensity of my emotions scares the crap out of me and I’m pretty certain that it’d do the same to him too.

We’ve known each other since we were four. We’ve grown up together. We learnt to ride the bike, together. We got sloshed for the first time, together. We shared our first kiss so that we wouldn’t have to have it with some sloppy stranger. We even dealt with crazy exes, bitchy teachers, incomplete assignments and demanding examinations...all of those things, we did together. And then came puberty. The time when Arjun was no more my gangly guy friend. He had suddenly become something more. He had become the potential boyfriend. The guy who gave me butterflies in my stomach. The guy who made my knees go weak with every simple touch. The guy who was there for me whenever I needed a friend. The guy who patiently heard all of my insecurities. The guy who held my hair back while I puked my guts out in the toilet bowl after getting absolutely drunk. The guy who put up with my heavy duty PMS-ing and refused to leave just because I was “too precious to be annoyed with.” He became the guy who drove me into a fit of jealousy when other girls became important to him as well. He had somehow transformed into that one guy who meant the world to me and that was unacceptable.

Our friendship was far too important to sacrifice after a bad break-up. It was far too precious to be thrown into the unstable world of dating. It was far too meaningful to be associated with the term ‘like’ because we would settle for nothing less than love itself. Also, it was an irrefutable fact that I was irrevocably and unconditionally in love with Arjun but I was far too selfish to jeopardize our friendship.

So when Arjun confessed, the fact that I was shocked, would be the understatement of the century. I am convinced that I suffered from considerable verbal paralysis and emotional conflict. I was just not ready to take our friendship to the next level. Not in a million years! Arjun prodded on, begging me to give him a reason for turning him down. A proper one at that. The worst part about being in love with your best friend is the fact that you can’t even lie to somebody who knows you better than yourself. So I did what any girl (crazy or otherwise) would do. I began a hate-ship. Lame? Tell me about it.

I did everything I could to drive him away from me. From calling him names to not calling him at all. From kicking his ass in college to going out with other guys. I did everything that would make me forget about him. That’d allow me to move on. But Arjun was one tough guy. He didn’t buy any of my BS. He said, and I quote, “One way or the other, you’ll be mine.”

Oh crap! Usually, the guy meant what he said and something in his tone told me he just wasn’t kidding. From stealing my assignments to using cheesy lines, he did it all. The latest one he used on me was, “Let’s get together tonight and show these amateurs how it’s done. Your place or mine?”, pointing to a couple furiously engrossed in some serious tongue tonsil by the college quad. The guy had some nerve. Anyone else would have been ripped to pieces by me but he got away with a “Get your fat ass off my desk before I personally kick you off.”

“You just can’t seem to get enough of my ass, can you, babe?”, he had muttered just as the Professor entered the hall.

Back to the present day, I was still having a hard time convincing my GFFs that my hate-ship with Arjun was completely platonic. It was as though neither of them gave two hoots about the fact that we had to deal with a bitchy Psychology professor in just under five minutes. Hello! That is the effect Arjun had on people. He was driving my friends insane! Totally and utterly MENTAL!

“Guys, for the last time. I DO NOT LOVE ARJUN SINGH!”

This just earned me epic proportions of eye-rolling from both Myra and Ally.

“Why?”, asked Myra.

Sometimes, her stupidity astounds me.

“Because, ”, I started rather patiently, “Arjun Singh is an egoistical ass who only cares about himself more than anyone else. He is the most cocky, arrogant and promiscuous jerk I have ever had the displeasure of knowing and I hope he dies and rots in the dungeons of hell because I, most assuredly, hate his very existence. May the Lord relieve me of my misery and take him as far away from me as possible because I do not give a flying f*** about him and couldn’t care less if I were to never see him again. I HATE him! Amen.”, I finished poignantly.

Seeing Myra’s stunned expression, I turned to look at Ally who looked as though all the blood had been drained out of her. My pulse quickened and the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I felt someone staring holes into the back of my skull.

“He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?”, I whispered hoarsely as all coherent thoughts vanished from my messed up brain.

I turned around to see a visibly fuming Arjun looking at me with an unreadable expression. His face was expressionless but his eyes said it all. The pure, naked, seething rage made me shrink back a little. He menacingly closed the gap between us and said, “Is that what you think about me? Is that what you really think about me?”

For the first time in eighteen years, I was speechless. I had said all that horrible stuff to just get my friends to shut up about him and now he was standing in front of me, looking at me like he could strangle me with his bare hands while my heart was shattering into a million tiny pieces, the shards hurting like hell. Oh dear God! What had I done!

“Arjun...I c-can...I...”, I fumbled around for words which easily eluded me. How hard was it to say I can explain? How hard could three simple words be?

Damn you, verbal paralysis!

“So what you said was true? You do hate me? For real, Aditi?”, he said. Oh no! He said my name. He only used my full name when he was absolutely serious. I was so not liking this. Suddenly, the raw rage in his eyes was replaced by a rather complex emotion. What was it? Was it hatred? Was it hurt? Was it disappointment?

“In that case, I’ll leave you alone.”

With that he turned on his heel and stormed off in the opposite direction without sparing me as much as another glance. A single tear managed to escape from the corner of my eye as all my thoughts came rushing back to me, hitting me with a force that made me feel like my head would explode. The impact of what I had just done smashed into me so hard that I was reduced to a frozen, stammering pile of nothing. I felt so lost. So alone. I had driven away the one guy who truly cared about me. S***. This epiphany hurt like hell. My heart felt as though it was being twisted into new shapes with each passing second. Surely someone, somewhere must have died from heartbreak.

Myra and Ally tried to comfort me to the best of their capacity but neither could do it as effectively as Arjun. That night I was surrounded by a tub of blackcurrant ice cream, a giant box of tissues and my favorite memories with Arjun. I went through all our old photographs.

First was the day we had gone to the beach with our families. How we had spent the entire day in the water, trying to surf on a piece of driftwood. How we had agreed to being the coolest ten year olds in the world. Next, there was one that we had taken on my thirteenth birthday. I was in my blue chiffon dress paired with black sneakers (which I thought to be a fashion statement, by the way). Arjun was holding me in a bear hug with pink chocolate cake smeared on both our faces as we made funny faces at the camera. That was also the day I fell in love with my best friend. The next one was taken on some random day by me. It had Arjun with a proud shiner and a bruised lip with his patent half smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. I smiled as I looked at it. It was a well kept secret that that was my favorite photograph of him. It was taken right after he had gotten back from bashing up my ex boyfriend after he found out that we had broken up. His goofy smile always livened me up, no matter what the situation but today, the tears softly fell.

I had lost Arjun. The one thing that mattered to me the most was no longer mine. It was the most disappointing feeling ever. I felt as though I had failed him. Like I had let him down...let us down.

I didn’t see Arjun for a good week or so. Serves me right for being a b****, I thought. This had gone on far too long now. If he wouldn’t talk to me, I would. I went over to his apartment that evening.

After patiently knocking and consequently pounding on the door for five minutes, the door finally opened. Some girl only wearing one of Arjun’s oversized shirts had opened it. I felt my jaw drop to the floor as she looked at me squarely.

“What do you want?”, she said haughtily. Tempted to knock some of her flawless white teeth out, I calmly replied, “Um, is Arjun there?”

“Maybe. But as you can see, he’s a little busy at the moment.”

Okay. This was it. I had had enough from this...this...this booty call!

“Who’s it, Aanya?”, I heard Arjun’s voice coming from somewhere inside the apartment.

“Nobody important, baby.”, she grinned as she challenged me to enter. Oh boy. She had no idea who she messing with.

“Oh, so you’re his distress call for the night? I wouldn’t get too attached if I were you.”, I said viciously.

“Like he’d choose you over me? Please. Don’t even think about it. You’re so beneath him.”, she said, examining her pretty manicured nails that I made a mental note to break off one by one.

“Get the f*** out of my face!”, I said. “Oh and honey, I think you’re popping a zit. You must’ve gotten too much face on your makeup”, I added as I batted my eyelids while I made my way inside.

Arjun was in his boxers, lying on the lounger with his arm covering his eyes. My gaze rested on his chiseled torso as his slut for the day sauntered back in.


I cleared my throat as he jumped out of his skin on having his chain of thought broken.

“Who is she?”

“What are you doing here?”

We both asked simultaneously.

“I asked first.”, I replied, glaring at him.

He swiftly stood up as Ms. Pearly White looked on with much interest.

Nervously rubbing the back of his neck, he turned and said, “She’s...uh...she’s...”

“Leaving?”, I supplied.

“Yes. That is exactly what she’s doing. Anaya, you’re leaving. Now. Keep the shirt. Don’t call me back. Bye.”, he said in a single breath as he gathered her clothes and simultaneously pushed her out of the door.

Once that was done, he came back, his arms crossed over his chest, obviously tensed.

I couldn’t help but crack a smile. “Isn’t that something that girls are supposed to do?”, I asked mischievously. Arjun, however, was in no mood to listen to me. “You can leave as well. Go on. Get out.”

“Hey!”, I responded as he narrowed his eyes.

“Fine. You have five minutes. After that, I’m kicking you out.”, he said. “Cool.”, I meekly replied.

He sat down on the lounger looking at me intently. “Can I sit?”, I asked, hopelessly beating around the bush.

“Suit yourself.”, he said tersely as he flipped the plasma screen on the wall to one of the sports channels.

“I haven’t seen you around for a week now”, I enquired.

“I didn’t know I had an appointment with you.”, he answered, eyes fixed at the television.

“I just wanted to see if you were okay...”

“I’m fine. Now you can leave.”

“Wait.”, I said helplessly. “I...I...just...”, I continued incoherently. Words, dammit! Words! Form words!

“Would you at least look at me when I’m talking to you?”, I snapped, having lost every iota of patience. I snatched the remote from him and turned the television off.

“I want that remote back.”, he said menacingly.

“Too bad. You’ll just have to listen to me first.”, I replied, equally pissed.

“Speak. You have just two minutes left.”, he replied pointing to his watch.

“Chuck it, Arjun! Enough with the drama already. I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean it. Come on...quit being a baby about it.”, I prodded.

“Chuck it? You want me to just forget about whatever you said? You said you ‘hate’ me! Do you even know how it feels when the person you truly love says they hate you? Do have any idea how much it hurts? I’ve known you for fourteen years...I’ve been with you through everything and after fourteen years all you have to say about me is that you hate me?”, he shouted, raw anger coursing through his veins. If there was one thing I had learnt in eighteen years, it was to never, ever upset Arjun. And boy, had I pissed him off!

“I said I didn’t mean it. have to believe me.”, I said, squeezing my eyes tightly to stop the tears from falling freely. Had it been any other day, Arjun would have me in his arms by now, softly stroking my hair, promising to beat up the bastard who made me cry but today was different. He was standing there by the coffee table with no intentions of hugging me any time soon.

“Your time’s up.”, he said emotionlessly as he pointed towards the door.

“W-what?”, I said, bewildered.

“Your. Time’s. Up.”, he repeated with ferocity this time.

“Arjun, please!”, I begged, willing for him to listen to me.

“Leave!”, he bellowed. This time I shrank back in shock at the sudden increase in crescendo as I felt a pair of calloused hands brusquely dragging me towards the door.

“Arjun, please! Just listen to me!”, I wailed as he refused to listen to anything I had to say.

“Arjun! I’m sorry! I’m SORRY!”, I shouted as he opened the door to get rid of my annoying presence.

Suddenly I felt the rough arms leave my frame as the door slammed shut. A cold gust of wind slapped my face. I winced and opened my eyes as I found Arjun’s face just inches from mine, his warm breath fanning my face as I stood against the wall. He put his arms on either side of it while I could see the rage in his eyes all too clearly.

He looked at me with an intensity that I had never seen before as he hoarsely spoke, “Sometimes ‘sorry’ just doesn’t cut it, Addy.”

I stared into his emotion ridden eyes as I suddenly became aware of his proximity. He could possibly sense my fear as his eyes softened slightly and his scowl disappeared. He still did not move his arms. I put my cold hands on his bare chest to push him away and he shivered under the alien touch, closing his eyes, a pained look crossing his features. Suddenly, the butterflies were back. So was the painful twisting of my heart. I couldn't do this any more. I couldn’t pretend any longer. The truth was I needed him. I wanted him. I loved him just as much as he loved me. I could no longer hide this fact and hope to forget about it like a bad dream. The truth was that I loved Arjun and there was nothing I could do about it.

I moved my hand from his chest to his cheek as he took in a shaky breath. “Arjun...I”,

Yes! I was finally going to tell him how I felt. After all these years of stolen glances and cherished touches, I was finally going to break the walls.

“Don’t”, he said opening his eyes as I looked at him in disbelief.

“But...”, I tried to complete my sentence but Arjun didn’t allow me. He simply retracted his arms from where they were as he moved away from me. “I can’t do this any more, Aditi.”, he continued as I stared at him, agape.

“I know you don’t feel the same way but the truth is I love you. I know it’s stupid since you’ve made it clear that you’re not interested but I can’t help it. I can’t do this. I can’t be by your side everyday with you repeatedly breaking my heart. It’s better to just end this.”, he said, the agony visible in his deep, dark eyes.

“End WHAT?”, I said incredulously.

“Whatever this is.”, he replied, running a hand through his messy hair.

“I said I’m sorry...just listen to me! Let me finish...”, I started when he cut me off.

“No! I’ve heard enough. I know you’re sorry but that just doesn’t cut it. The bottom line is, either I’m the boyfriend or I’m gone. Since you’ve made it abundantly clear that the first isn’t an option, I’d say we should just stop messing up each other’s life. So just do me a favor and leave.”, he said softly, a single tear tracing it’s way down his cheek.

In reflex, my hand shot out to wipe the wretched tear from his perfect face. It just didn’t belong there. He looked at me through wide eyes as I realized what I had just done. We had both felt it. The spark. The electricity coursing through our veins in that briefest touch. It could start a chain of events that he didn’t want me to regret. He turned around and began to make his way to the bed room leaving me alone in the cold hallway.

No. This could not be happening to me. Not when everything was so close to perfect. Especially not now!

I almost sprinted to the bed room before he could slam the door in my face. I made my way to where he was and blocked his way. He looked stunned for a moment but then regained his composure. “I think I told you to leave.”, he asked, not meeting my eyes.

“I’m not deaf.”, I replied.

“What? Do you want to say something?”, he said.

No. I’m just standing here because looking at you all flustered makes my day. Dumb-ass!

“Yes.”, I replied.

He raised a brow, questioningly.

“Look,”, I began after taking a deep breath and uttering a silent prayer. “Firstly, I’m really sorry I said those awful things about you. I didn’t mean it. Any of it. It wasn’t meant for you to hear.” He simply snorted at this.

“I’m being serious here. Myra and Ally were asking me about why I turned you down and I just needed to get them off my back.”, I said truthfully.

“I always wondered why you turned me down. The reasons you gave me were lame. Why did you really turn me down, Addy”, he said gazing into my eyes.

“I can’t tell you.”, I replied.

“Then I can’t listen to you any longer. Shut the door on your way out.”, he said as he began pushing me out of the bed room. I stubbornly leaned against the door.

“What the hell, Addy? Will you please get the f*** out of my room?”, he said, visibly annoyed now.

“I won’t go before I complete what I was saying earlier!”, I said equally pissed.

He slammed a fist into the door, right next to my face as I winced at the sudden violence. He was trying to scare me away and boy, was it working! Once more, his face was inches away from mine, his warm breath fanning my face.

“Yeah, so”, I began as his glared at me.

“I don’t get it.”, he said. “I follow you around for a two years and when I give up, it seems like you don’t want me to. What is your problem? Are you bipolar? What do you want from me? I can’t deal with your attitude any more, Addy. You need to understand that I have feelings too. You can’t just string me along and wish for me to be there whenever you’re in a situation. Sure, I’m your friend but I want more. I can’t just be your shoulder to cry on. I’ve decided to move away from all of this. I was planning on telling you earlier but I never got a chance. I got accepted at Yale for their student exchange program. It’s a year long thing but I don’t really plan on coming back. I’ll get enough credits to graduate early. So, yeah...”

“WHAT?!”, I shouted. “ can’t just leave everything and go! I mean you can’t do that! What about your parents? What about your plans of writing a book? W-what about me? What am I supposed to do here, all alone? ”, I said, my lower lip quivering as the tears one fell freely.

“What about you?”, he said casually.

I looked at him, bewildered.

“You can’t just decide to pack your bags and leave when the going gets tough. You can’t just dump everything and go! can you even say that? Did you even bother to think about me? About how I would feel? What am I supposed to do here? Huh? I can’t live without you! What were you even thinking?”

“Wait, what? You’re telling me you actually care? Last time I checked, you hated my guts!”, he shouted.

“Yes, you ass! I care alright. You wanted a reason for me rejecting you? How about this. I turned you down because I loved you too much! I was sixteen, for heaven’s sake! I wasn’t ready to be serious with anyone, let alone love! But when it came to you, there was no doubt that I was irrevocably in love with you. So much that it scared the crap out of me! I was afraid it might drive you away. I didn’t want to ruin our mattered too much! You were just too f*ing important! I couldn’t control my emotions when I was with you. I was way too dependent on you… I needed you for everything. There was not a moment when I wouldn’t think about you and that drove me nuts. I tried to get you out of my head...believe me, I did. But you were just there. Every time I turned around you were there. Everywhere I looked, you were there! I couldn’t even imagine not having you around and I was afraid that might drive you away! That reason enough for you?”, I sobbed miserably as I slumped against the door.

Next thing I know, he had wrapped his arms around me tightly. We just stood there for a while in absolute silence except for my occasional sniffling. His fingers traced patterns in my back as I relished how perfectly we fit into each other’s arms. It was as though we were cut out for the other. After what seemed like ages, he spoke softly into my ear, “Wow. This would take a while to sink in.” I blinked away the tears as I said, “Does it matter? You’re going to Yale, aren’t you?”

He detached himself from our vice like embrace as he looked into my eyes with an emotion that I couldn’t identify. What was it? Was it joy? Was it kindness? Was

“What makes you think I can stay away from the girl I love?”, he said as he smiled wiping away my tears.

“But I can’t let you do that. You can’t just reject Yale for me. I’ll hate myself for doing that to you!”, I said in amazement.

“It’s all about priorities.”, he replied, softly caressing my face “And as of now, you are the top most one. Always have been, always will be.”

I just couldn’t take it anymore. A million thoughts were running through my mind but I put them all at bay as my lips fused with his in perfect harmony. The kiss was all I had thought it would be. It was the alignment of the planets. It was fireworks. Magic. Citrus. Explosions. Love. His hands wrapped around my waist as one of my hands entangled itself in his messy hair while the other was draped around his neck. He placed little butterfly kisses along my jaw line as I lost myself in his embrace.

That night as we lay comfortably on his bed, fitting perfectly in each other’s arms, I smiled at him in between kisses.

“Did I tell you I like you?”, I asked as he kissed my cheek.

“Mhmm.”, he answered, too busy to be bothered.

“And...that you’re now my boyfriend?”

“Mhmm.”, he replied as he traced his way down to my neck.

“And...that I love you?”

“I guess you just showed me that.”, he replied, propping up on his elbow, grinning madly with his trademark goofy smile.

“In that case,”, I replied turning to face him, “let me show you the ways!” as we continued to express our love for the rest of the night.

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