He strolled into class, saying his 'hellos' to people on the side, walking towards me. I was expecting the casual, "Hey, what's up?" but instead, he looked at me and said, "You look beautiful today!"
We've been the closest of friends since 8th standard.
It all started with him sitting next to me during the final exams. Though we knew each other as classmates, we really hit it off after we helped each other pass those exams. And fortunately or unfortunately, we ended up joining the same college too.
While his company made college life fun, it also strengthened the 'unspoken attraction' that had been brewing between us for years.
Cut to the day when he gave me the compliment.
That wasn't the first time a friend had complimented me. But when he did, something felt different. The hug that followed that compliment felt different too. Somewhere deep down, I was hoping for it to turn into a kiss.
We've been best friends for so long. Is it even right to think about a romance blooming between us?
That hug lasted longer than usual. Slowly, those long hugs became a regular thing and we did nothing to cut them short. The conversations that consumed us every day would magically make the world around us disappear.
But hey, we were just friends and all this didn't mean anything!
Earlier, out conversations happened over landline phones and now, they were stretching into the night over WhatsApp.
We would talk about everything random and anything important. But the one thing we never spoke about was the satisfaction it gave us to talk each to other every night.
Then came a point when both of us were in separate relationships. Yet, the long hugs still existed. The compliments were still floating and his smile would still get butterflies to flutter in my stomach.
Sometimes, all this made me feel like I was cheating on my then-boyfriend. But, then again, we were just friends and nothing more!
Our relationships never lasted long, for reasons that weren't clear to us. My boyfriend once told me that he was jealous of him. That I seemed happier when he were around.
"You just can't digest the fact that I have a guy best friend" is what I would say to him.
It's not that I loved him any less but I think somewhere, I was more of a 'friend' to him than I 'girlfriend' to my boyfriend.
College ended. Our ways parted. He left town and I got busy with chasing my dreams.
Our every night WhatsApp tradition was still going strong until one day, he told me that he missed me more than anybody else.
But even then, we were just friends and nothing else. Even if we confessed our feelings to each other, there was nothing that we could do about it. Our denial had now transformed into helplessness.
We had suppressed our feelings for so long, it seemed normal now. Taking that next step had taken us forever and now, that forever seemed anything but happy.
Slowly, his texts became less frequent. Not that I put in some extra effort to make conversation either.
We would still share recent highlights of our lives with each other but it seemed like the attraction that once let our friendship bloom, was now slowly poisoning it.
We could never be because we never gave us a chance. Could we have ever been? I still don't know. But then again, we were just friends and nothing else, right?