Thursday, 30 May 2019

Part 3 : Dancing Days

The following day I was on a natural high, deciding to lunch with some other friends instead of the groups we had been stuck with for the past couple of months I started to enjoy myself like old times gossiping randomly and laughing at petty things with the girls.



That's when things got became a little different between Armaan and me. I was sitting there with the girls when Armaan appeared out of nowhere. "Hey Armaan" I greeted him as an old friend; I didn't have reason to believe otherwise.



"Hey Ridz, erm can I speak to you?"





"Sure Armaan, you can talk to me here… you guys haven't met have you? This is Zoe, Amy, Bea…." I was too busy enjoying myself with my friends to notice the look in Armaan's eyes and continued introducing him to my friends and letting them mingle.



"Yeh Armaan you wanted to say something… what's up?" turning to my attention to him while the girls continued their random chatter, it appeared they weren't paying attention



"I wanted to say that… erm since the dance… (Gulp, looking around nervously to make sure no-one was listening he fidgeted in his seat a little, trying to get comfortable apparently) I've been thinking about stuff… stuff mainly including me and you and erm… how I think I'm…" his eyes searched mine as I abruptly sat up in seat, no longer slouching which was very unlike me



Sensing where this conversation was heading I had to find a way out "Erm Armaan… fancy going for a walk?... we er… need to talk about returning our costumes"



I missed the looks on the faces of my friends, I wasn't ready to have this conversation here… if this was going to lead to what I was thinking then I'd much rather be a million miles away right now… who knew how I'd react. "Deep breaths Ridz deep breaths… in… and out….." reciting the mantra over and over again I managed to stop myself from hyperventilating while walking through a park we had somehow managed to get to…"Armaan still following me… how slow does he walk… uff… maybe I should slow down... but what are you going to say to him when he reaches you? Erm Hi Armaan, look I don't know what you want to talk about but if it's what I'm thinking then no… I mean sorry… grr that'll never work… first off we've already said hey back there and secondly what is wrong with me... Armaan is nice, every girl in school wants him and here he is… wait maybe he doesn't want to suddenly announce his undying love for me, of how he cant live without me and how the moon can never light up his night as much as my one smile does… what the heck am I thinking! Ridz snap out of it… listen to the guy, maybe he truly just needs to talk to a friend… aaah friend, the word is like music to my ears" smiling all of a sudden the weights that had magically appeared on my shoulders, magically disappeared again. I slowed down enough to allow Armaan to catch up with me; after all it was unfair to get hyper for no apparent reason.



"Erm Ridz are you mad at me?"



"No, of course not, why would you think that?" trying to smile reassuringly I noticed Armaan a relaxing a little, my little outburst had obviously tensed him up a bit



"Okay, erm do you think we could talk now?"



"Sure shoot… I'm all yours" smiling ear to ear more realistically this time I faced him quickly but then looked away, still feeling a little edgy about the whole conversation "Please please please don't let my gut feelings come true, I really like Armaan but only as a friend right now, please god don't ruin this" making my silent prayers I hoped for the best and listened intently as Armaan started



"Okay, there's no easy way of saying this but erm since starting here, since working with you, since I don't know when, but erm…"  the dramatic pause had my head screaming at my legs to run from there as fast as I could, I wasn't ready to ruin something so beautiful, but I owed my friend that much right. "Since the last performance, I've been erm, thinking about you… you know as more then just a frie…"



I had to stop him now before it was too late, "Armaan stop please… I don't know what to say?" taking a deep breath I kicked the gravel next to the toe of my sneakers, how was I going to get out of this one? "I'm sorry, I never meant to give you that impression that we could ever be more then…" seeing his fallen expression I stopped midway. Why did I think a simple sorry would make this any easier… hugging him all of a sudden I took him by surprise "I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt you. But I've never thought of you as more then a good friend, a very very good and sweet and adorable friend. I'm sorry this had to happen" feeling him sigh into my embrace I let the hug continue for a few moments, rubbing his back to reassure him. I knew I would kick myself later for letting him get so close to me, I could still feel the defined muscles under the thin garment moving with every breath he took, his cologne lingered around me for days after that, but at that moment all I knew was I only wanted to be friends… nothing more.



Things remained slightly awkward between us, mainly from my side, it wasn't intentional but it seemed the more I thought about it the more I began to... regret my haste in the way I made my decision, Armaan always tried to maintain his friendly approach, it was almost back to how it was before during dance practices, when Armaan would be around me constantly joking and enjoying my company. I was told by many that Armaan had seemed different since the show ended, only I knew what it really was but what could I do, every time I tried to approach him on the matter, either I would shy away from the topic or he would just shrug it off and try to enjoy his moments with me?



Many evenings later there was a group of us out together, apart from certain individuals everyone else seemed to be a blur. We were seated outside a pub with our drinks just enjoying each other's companies when Armaan got his drink and came sat next to me.



Emily: "Guys you know who would make the perfect couple... Mrs D'Sousa and Mr Harlow!" the other girls shrieked with laughter as the guys laughter's boomed through the warm evening air. Fireflies danced in the air creating a magical ambience to the otherwise tranquil night.



Armaan and I exchanged glances at the rather sour topic of match making but tried to cover over it with small strained smiles.



Mark: "Girls girls girls don't you know we have a more suitable couple here with us tonight, why waste your time on hooking up teachers when we can hook up our fellow students" winking at Jimbo Mark continued, obviously oblivious to the fact that nothing like that would ever happen between Armaan and I, but at that point I thought he was talking about someone else.



It was only when I saw Armaan make gestures with his eyes to shut Mark up that it hit me... Mark was obviously a far closer friend to Armaan then I had ever known and Mark knew about us. I was shocked, uncomfortable, outraged and confused all at once... how could Armaan do this? What else did he tell Mark about me? How much did Mark actually know?



Looking over at Jimbo I caught his eyes and he was silently me asking something... I didn't know where to hide myself. I hadn't told Jimbo a thing and here was Mark who seemed to know everything. I couldn't look away as Jimbo mouthed to me "what's going on? What's he on about?"



Mark: "Someone's been dreaming about a certain someone here and I think finally that dream came true... right guys?" Mark winked at both Armaan and me. I panicked... this couldn't be happening to me. I couldn't believe Armaan would stoop so low... my direct no wasn't enough that now he wanted to get humiliated in public? Or was his plan to humiliate me in front of my friends... in front of Jimbo. How low could someone get? Armaan knew how close Jimbo was to me, he was like the little brother and best friend all rolled into one and Armaan wanted to ruin... well not on my watch he didn't.



"Oh Mark, who are you talking about? Please do tell us... can't you see how eager we are to know your input on this little gossip session" my indifference to his earlier statements obviously took him by surprise; he looked at Armaan with a frown



"Haven't you asked her?" Mark mouthed to Armaan... if I wasn't such a good lip reader then I too would have missed what Mark was trying to ask... out of the corner of my eyes I saw Armaan reply a "drop it please" back. But Mark was adamant he wanted to continue his game and embarrass me.



"Oh come on man, get closer to her... I can see she wants you just as much as you want her", this little comment passed by Mark was a little louder, but luckily thanks to the noise in the bar no-one else apart from myself heard it... sitting in between Mark and Armaan apparently had some benefits after all.



Armaan tried to ride the fun out, he leaned closer to me to whisper something... probably some perverse line taught by Mark... well I wasn't having any of it. Abruptly standing up from seat I managed to push Armaan out of the way. Mumbling a "I need to go" I left immediately.



From that day on Armaan became a brick wall for me... he wouldn't get any response from me, nor any acknowledgement of his existence. If he came in my way I'd go around him, if we were teamed together for anything I'd take a fail but not work with him. My cold attitude towards him affected me more than him... he seemed to get along with everyone else but when it came to me, he too got this distance look and it made me cry everytime I saw it. Rumours of all sorts spread like wild fire about me, none too dangerous to wreck my reputation, but still unwelcome stares, unwelcome snickers behind my back always made me feel uneasy. For the first time I felt like an outsider... and it wasn't nice. Jimbo had gone off to the states due to some family issues and I was left to fend for myself in the big bad world.



And then the day came when I contacted Jimbo and just left... wanting never to return.


Lubna

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