Best friends they called us. Some even called us inseparable, just like the Jai and Aditi type. I remember how hard Monty and I had laughed when we saw that movie. Friends falling in love, the jealousy, the possessiveness and other blah. We were sure we would never get there. We did not. Still, we had laughed. Together.
"Tell me seriously Rags, do you love me? Lets make it clear right now." Monty had teased me and I had punched him.
His name was Manav but Monty to me. I was Ragini, Rags to him. And to all the others. We were not that kind of friends who used dialogues like "Only I can call him/her that." A group of eight we were, but the others always saw a group of six. And us. I don't know what they saw about us that we both did not. They were sure that we would end up together, get married and have babies. Almost everyone we met thought that we were an item and the giggles of our friends did not help. Our friends had named our babies and decided on the color of our bedroom curtains. While we were content talking about Rafael Nadal and discussing Formula One.
No, I'm not the tom boy cliched type of a girl. I'm a very feminine girl with a zest for life and everything in it. I loved music and played the guitar. He did too. We joined classes together. I love baking. He did too. We baked together. I loved sports of all kind. He did too. We watched them and played together. Two people can have similar tastes. Why not? We did not find anything unique in that. We were more than happy to be together and that was it. Our relationship had all the fizz of a love story, but we could not see it. He had his girlfriends but they never took priority over me. I had my share of relationships but whenever he wanted me, I was there for him. We met everyday, at least for an hour. The relationship was platonic in every way, but apparently our friends could sense the sexual tension between us. We had laughed over it too.
We were friends for six years, worked in different places but always came together for a quick chat. We spoke about everything under the sun, our work life, our love life, our sex life, our fears, our achievements and everything else in between. No one judged the other. He always asked me one thing and I replied with the usual.
"You are happy na Rags?"
"Yes, Monty. I'm very happy."
"Then, that's all we need."
I did not understand why others tried to call our relationship with more than one term. Nor did he. Both of us did not think much about it, until the day I decided to get married. Mayank and me were in a relationship for two years now and he had popped the question. I obviously was head over heels in love with him and had said a yes. Our parents were more than happy too. Typical family friends and all that jazz. I met Monty that night to tell him this.
"Hmm.. Am I supposed to feel something? Now that you are getting married to someone else?" He had asked.
"I don't know. Are you?" I had questioned back.
We both laughed till our stomach hurt. He helped me with all the wedding arrangements and chauffeured me around the city from the parlor, to the dress fitters, to the florist to the bakers. He was a part of every activity that revolved around my wedding. Mayank understood our friendship, which surprised me at first. May be I was too dedicated to him or may be he was too much in love with me, I do not know. But the fact that he understood it, was amazing and easy for Monty and me. They both got along very well and that made me happy. It all felt beautiful and pleasant. I knew I was a lucky girl to have such a great friend and an amazing husband. Two different people of course.
Today is my wedding. Mayank would be arriving in about an hour to make me his bride. I am all dressed in bright pink and gold. I look into the mirror and feel satisfied. I am a vain person and I looked beautiful today. I had chosen this particular beautician after three trial rounds. My straight hair was curled into a bun and hidden behind the veil that covered my head. Fresh jasmine strings surrounded the bun and were left loose to caress my shoulders. My mehendi stood out bright and smelt fresh. I was in ninth heaven. I could not believe my luck for having such a perfect life. I hear the door open and Monty enters looking all dapper.
"Woohoo. Look at you." I smile.
The off-white and silver sherwani shone on him just like his smile.
"I know, I look awesome!" He raised his collar.
I mockingly punch him and look behind him waiting for his girlfriend to appear.
"Where is Megha? Don't tell me she is not coming." I jump into a conclusion. As usual.
"Nope. She is not." He says casually.
"What happened?" I'm concerned now, especially after Monty and I had spent an entire day with her, finding her the right dress.
"Leave it Rags. I'm here na. Woooo, you look super duper!" He gestures with his hand.
I laugh and feel something poking my back. I grimace.
"What happened?" He rushes towards me.
"I think some pin is poking my back. Damn, its hurting." I cringe in pain.
"Wait wait, let me check." He says and before I could say anything, he had pushed my veil to the front and was checking all the safety pins.
As his fingers trail my back, I feel a chill down my spine. Monty had touched me before of course, but this time it was something else. We had hugged a zillion times and he had massaged my feet every time I had an injury while playing tennis. I had not felt anything back then. His fingers slowly cupped my waist and I did not feel the pain anymore. I was transported to a different world. I felt a strong sting and Monty pulled out the culprit.
"Here he is." He said proudly holding the safety pin in his hand like an achievement.
"Hmmm.." I manage to say.
"I shall pin it back carefully, wait, we do not want a strip tease on the mantap." He teases.
I cannot hear him anymore as I feel his sensitive touch on my back. Something is happening within me and I do not understand it. I feel like I'm swimming in a pool of ecstasy. I'm going crazy by the second and the shock of this happening is only adding to my frenzy. I feel the safety pin secured back in it place and I expect Monty to say something but he does not. My back is facing him and I do not know what he is doing. I stand in shock without reacting. Soon, I feel his fingers trailing down my nape and driving my crazy. I feel goosebumps all over me as I clench my fist tight. Just when I want to turn back, I feel his lips on my neck, delicately kissing them. Oh God, I was drowning in the madness. The feeling was awakening my very core as I wanted to surrender to him. In every way. He holds my arms and turns me around. I'm too afraid to look and I close my eye. He kisses me on my forehead as I open my eyes.
The look in his eyes was something that I had never seen before. There was some kind of passion in it that burnt my eye. He trails his fingers down the curve of my cheek and I lean forward. His lips soon find mine and he kisses me with a passion that I have never known until today. He embraces me and has his hands all over me as I try to pull him towards me. I do not want this feeling to end, I do not want this madness to end. It was intoxicating. I wanted more. I wanted more of this. He kisses me constantly as if quenching his life long thirst. His hands are going down my bare waist and I shudder to his burning touch. I wanted him to possess me. Every part of me was yearning for his touch and I remembered nothing else after that.
The loud noise of the band, jolted us from our sojourn. He let go of me as we stood facing each other in shock among other feelings. My lipstick was all over his face and my makeup had stained his kurta. His hair was disheveled and my veil was fallen on the ground. We stood in silence as the over powering music crowded our thoughts. I did not know what to say, but there were tears in his eyes. I feel a tear drop down my cheek too. We remained motionless as if soaking in this moment for ever and drinking in the frame of each other. I broke the silence.
"Monty, I ....." I whispered, but he interrupted.
"So this is what all the others were saying?" He looks away.
"Maybe." I say slowly.
He shook his head as the music grew louder and the fear on his face grew deeper.
"I broke up with Megha. I did not want any other woman to replace you in my life after your wedding." He says, pausing every word.
"Oh.." I manage to say.
"I don't know why I felt that way. I don't know." Tears trailed down his cheek.
"What is this Monty? Why is this happening?" I shiver as I say this.
The music outside grows louder and we are barely able to hear each other. He looks around the room at all the arrangements. He looks at the bridal set and the tastefully decorated gifts on the bed. He looks at my packed luggage on the floor and tears flow down his cheek. He wipes it with the sleeves of his kurta and looks at me with red eyes.
"Nothing Rags, its nothing. Please dress up, Mayank is here." He holds my face between his palms and stares at it for a while. Then he plants another kiss on my lip and walks away, closing the door behind him.
I slowly pick up the veil and stand in front of the mirror to adjust it. I pin it up carefully with a blank look on my face and redo my make up. I smelt of Monty and it was troubling me. I pull out the body spray from my drawer and spray its entire contents on me. I throw away the bottle in frustration as the music finally stops. The groom was here. Mayank was here to take me away. Before I walked away from my room, to be his bride, I had all the answers in front of me.
It was love. It always was love. It shall remain love.