by Shuvangi Khadka
I am writing to you again.
Isn’t this the only way I can say everything to you, without any filter, without any Freudian slip because everything is intentional here? To say exactly what I mean. Unlike that one time, I brought up a sore past memory and said “You really hurt me.” But you insisted, “I didn’t mean it” and questioned what I felt. By the end of our discussion, I just wanted to jerk your shoulders and tell you it didn’t matter whether you meant it or not; show you everything I was learning on getting closure, and understanding the difference between intention and action. But I remained quiet.
Afterwards, we had to spend three days together on a vacation we had planned and then regretted. We both walked around each other cautiously like in a trap. Both were careful not to set it off at least until we returned back to our respective homes. At least I know I did. But that is how I’ve always been around you. Walking on eggshells but never looked down at my sticky feet because I didn’t want you to notice.
Do you remember the long bike ride we went on to reach a hilltop? As soon as we reached there, we were two different people. You spent most of the time in front of my camera and me behind it. In every picture I captured, you posed as my muse but the moment the picture was taken and you hovered around me, I saw you as someone else. How did we never see the differences before? And if we did, why did we ignore it?
I look back at those pictures now. I see beauty but no joy. I think about those moments but they are not memories. That’s what I mean when I say you never have the intention but I always end up getting hurt.
We stuck to each other since our first day in school. I grew so dependent that I felt miserable the days you were absent or didn’t speak to me because of a silly fight. We fought, ignored each other for hours and then eventually returned back to each other. We were the most faithful and loyal friends. But I guess we never distinguished loyalty from compulsion.
When we were younger, we were joined by the hips. People passed us off as lovers. We talked for hours on the phone so much so that my parents eventually removed our telephone line. And then, we started writing to each other; slipped little letters in between each other’s textbooks in the middle of a class. Wasn’t that the first time I discovered that I not only could write what I felt but I could also write to please you?
“I don’t think our parents would be shocked if we told them we were lesbians.” You joked about it often. On the inside, I was always sure this was not the marriage I wanted. I know it’s great to marry your best friend. But what if I’m not sure you are my best friend?
The first time I made sense of this hatred was the same day we got high for the first time in a room full of strangers in our empty stomachs. Afterwards I couldn’t even eat a spoonful of rice. So, a few strangers started rhythmically parting my lips, forcing me to eat. When I looked up, I saw you standing there. Looking at me as strangers fed me carelessly. In front of my best friend.
After that day, I have always feared seeing the same indifference resurface. I may not have liked you but I loved you. At some point. Even then, maybe even now.
I thought I would always need you. The way I needed a pen and a paper. I thought even when there was animosity, I could never be apart from you. How do you break up a friendship? Why would you break up a friendship? Just because you grew apart and different? Just because both of you stopped understanding each other? Just because the “romance” burnt out?
But I guess I didn’t want romance. I wanted friendship. I wanted you to understand when I said you hurt me. And I didn’t want to live being hurt forever.