Harsh, an average teenager, decided to do engineering, got fed up in life and landed up in a b-school. Every time he would talk to you, he wouldn’t stare directly into your eyes. He was a guy who had broken and put himself back again. He had just landed back in town after his internship, preparing himself to go through the ordeal of being surrounded by people. Thankfully he had his own set of people he could carefully hide behind, but there would be moments when he was caught off-guard and had to make conversations with some idiot in the hallway. He was scared of having to do just that as he was making his way to class alone when in between this train of thought, he looked up and saw someone smile at him.
Antara had been studying for as long as she could remember. To the world she had always been a mystery, to herself, she was a concoction of substances and a downward spiral of emotions. Yet, she knew how to hide every emotion behind a confident smile. She had often heard that her smile was to die for. Today as she was walking out of the lift, mentally preparing herself to put on that plastic smile, she found herself smiling at Harsh. They had been classmates for a year but had never really had a conversation as far as she could recall. She waved to him, it took him a second to realise it was directed at him and he fumbled out a “hi”. She knew they were headed to the same classroom, so she decided to walk in and sit with him. She was never too comfortable starting things out with someone totally new.
Antara had always had a very dark outlook on life. There were things that haunted her from her past. She would see the world in all its shades of grey. Growing up hadn’t been easy for her but she had found solace in the arms of Rahil, her college boyfriend who had then proceeded to torment her for being who she is until he finally left her. Although there were days she cried herself to sleep, she was sure it had happened for the better. She was going out for some beer tonight with Harsh. Over the past few months their friendship had developed. He was a man of few words but didn't mind her chirpiness and his capacity to drink was next level. So she didn't mind any chance to hang out with him. Besides no one else had agreed to go out tonight, so they decided to save money and hang out at his house. With Harsh, conversation always flowed easy, albeit one sided. There was something in his eyes that was comforting. She could not quite pin it.
They had fallen into a routine, every time they hung out, she would pester him to get a more interesting life and he would eventually get tired and threaten to take away her drink. Which would discourage her for about ten minutes before she would start again. She was well aware of the fact that he was handsome. The softness in his demeanour complimented her roughness well. Yet, she never found herself flirting himself as was usually the case when she was around handsome men. It wasn't that she didn't want to, but it felt like doing so would scare him to death. There was a certain fragility about him that she herself had experienced in the past, for the fraction of a second when she had let her guard slip. Even thinking of it sent shudders down her spine. She was snapped out of her thoughts by a voice.
"Why are you not talking today?" Talking was her end of the job as refilling drinks was his.
"I think I am officially out of things to say to you" She smiled as she said this.
He looked up with a smirk and let out a puff of smoke, "Oh please, Ms. Antara running out of things to say, that would be the day!" She accepted defeat and went back to talking about the new movie they should totally watch.
Harsh liked observing her like this. Once he got her talking, he could do so easily. She always used a lot of hand gestures while talking and could get so lost that she will become oblivious to your existence. She was equal parts cute and crazy. Yet he could see, she had seen just as much pain and misery as he had.
The girl he had been in love with was different, she was quieter, more controlled (and controlling as he later learned). She had made sure he walked by her rules, did what she asked and in the end had left him for someone more "interesting". That had been quite the blow, she had left him in the dark to navigate for himself and in learning to come out of it he had lost some part of himself. It was surprising that he could sometimes feel like he found that part of himself when he was with Antara. So much so that he had not yet admitted it to himself. He liked her, he was sure of that, he could spend hours looking at the way she would push her hair behind her ear as punishment for interrupting her conversation or the way her eyes changed colour in the sun. He had never really paid attention to a girl in the way he paid attention to her. But losers like him weren't supposed to get pretty ones like her. So he would keep his distance and be happy getting a chance to observe. Caution wasn’t new to him, but this feeling he seems to have for her was. He had had crushes in the past, but this didn’t feel like one. It didn’t feel like an average infatuation.
Antara had recently come out of a messy relationship and he was well aware of her constant fight with her own dark outlook, despite her efforts of hiding them well. There were days where he felt compelled to put his arms around her and hold her tight enough to make the pain go away. But she wasn’t that type of a girl, she wanted you to respect her while she went about healing herself, not take her pain upon yourself. So he kept her distance and brushed her thoughts out of his mind unsuccessfully.
Antara seemed to be increasingly fighting a losing battle. She couldn’t find herself drowning in Harsh’s dreamy eyes. Antara found herself spilling out everything to him, her past, the reasons of her pain. Her memories of Rahil and of the distance she felt from her parents, everything buried deep inside that tormented her. He would listen and he would comfort her. She didn’t feel a deep rooted connection but he knew how to comfort her. She wasn’t drawn to him in a mysterious manner. She walked to him herself.
One day, she went drinking with Harsh, she felt like she needed a sign. A sign that he too felt the spark she did every time she was with him. It was a night full of the most fun she had ever had. They danced till their feet hurt and walked barefoot on the beach till they could no more. They found a quiet corner and sat down on the sand.
Antara found herself in turmoil as opposed to the calm sea in front of her. She wanted to turn around and shout. She wanted to tell him that this wasn’t how love was supposed to be, but she didn’t have a word to give the depth of emotions she felt for him. That night, she found herself walking into the arms of Harsh. She knew what he felt about her. She knew he had been waiting for her in an open embrace. That night she chose to end the wait and the torment. She decided to let go of what she felt could never be. She did not want to lose Harsh. So she chose the love he offered her.
“Last night was fun. I really enjoyed it and want to repeat it every night. But I want to make one thing clear. We will not put any labels on our relationship, okay? I don’t mind getting physical, going out and having a fun time. But we’re not lovers or committed. No labels. Understand?” She told him. Harsh felt his world crash around him as he tried pretending to be happy but he couldn’t. They started spending time with each other, sitting together, eating together, going out and getting intimate; everything but not being officially in a relationship.
4 months later
“Hey, why do you look so lost?” Antara’s voice was chirpy as ever.
“Just thinking of the college coming to an end. Who knows, in which godforsaken city I will be forced to work.” She had thought of such things herself, but she wanted to let him go.
“Well, at least you’ll always have me pestering you?” He didn’t know why it hurt when she said this.
They smiled at each other.
Harsh thinking of the longing he still felt for her but accepting things as fate. He loved her. Alas, it was too late.
Antara accepted that she had to give up on a love she thought never existed and will have to lookout for another person with whom she can be intimate and vulnerable, just without the ‘boyfriend/ girlfriend’ label. Breakups are painful and she never would breakup with a boyfriend again because she doesn’t intend to have one; just guys like Harsh who will come along, do their bit and leave. Detachment couldn’t have been easier for her.
“I am sharing a Half relationship story at BlogAdda in association with #HalfGirlfriend”
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