Just Friends

      “Har kisi kooooo, nahi miltaaaaa, yahaaaa pyaaaaaaaaar ,zindagiii meiiiiin
Khushnaseeeeb hai hummm, jinkoo hai miliiiii ,yeh bahaaaaaaar, zindagiii meiiiiin…” wailed the two, rocking back and forth, flapping their hands like retarded seals, and laughing like a bunch of hyenas on steroids. Their eyes meet for a couple of seconds, in a moment of queer, awkward silence, absorbing the reality around them as passersby peeped worryingly at the much intoxicated, or probably downright insane ‘couple’. Clearly proud of all the attention they had managed to garner, the amused ‘couple’ splits into fits of laughter again, even as the world gave up on them as a lost, hopeless cause…
         Yes, har kisi ko nahi milta yaha pyaar… definitely not of this kind! Welcome to a world, where love-se-zyaada-waala love doesn’t always mean ishq-waala  love. A world sadhu-babas, bollywood scriptwalas, and all the mummy-papas say does not exist. A world, where a boy and a girl, CAN be JUST FRIENDS!
     “How’s it possible?” people ask. Ask the ‘couple’ who struggles to control their stomach-crunching laughter reading scientific and philosophical ‘studies’ suggesting that “a boy and a girl can never remain just friends”… “one falls for the other eventually”. Ask the ‘couple’ acting wingman/wingwoman respectively, aiming to destroy a stranger’s life by hooking them up with their hopelessly unromantic bestie. Or better, maybe, find one for yourself! Because this is love, that has to be felt, experienced and shared, to be real. You can watch Bollywood movies all day, listen to Hindi melodies by the dozen, dream about all the Megan Foxes and Anjelina Jolies (or Johny Depp, perhaps, for the ladies), and you still won’t understand what it means to have a soulmate by your side whose primary aim in life, is to harass you to the point you want to murder them, but you simply can’t! Not because it’s illegal, but because you need their shoulder and their saintly words of advice every time you break up with your boy/girlfriend, to make you understand that the world hasn’t ended! And for the fact, that you,d get all lonely and wouldn’t understand who to pakao-fy with stupid selfies and chain forwards all day!
      What makes this bond even more delectable is – how many times can you talk sports, gadgets and women with your bunch of boys before it gets too monotonous? Or gossip about the girl-next-door’s tacky nail art, gaudy shoes and her awww-cho-cute boyfriend with your mahila-mandal before it gets too bitchy. Now spin your world around, get it all shaken and stirred, and imagine talking all this bak-bak drama with your insane half! Talking about pretty girls, with another girl and cute boys with another boy! On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the least insane, and 10 the most, an average conversation with a bestie, would be OVER 9000! Any such ‘normal’ conversation, as facts suggest, covers anywhere around 25419 different topics, ranging from fashion, designer wear, teddies and politics, corruption, desh-ka-kuch-nahi-ho-sakta, to the critical analysis, the who-what-when-why of being forever alone and the fear of dying a default brahmachari. The most amazing part, however, is the fact that the first list of topics mentioned here, are actually more brought up by the guys than the girls, and vice-versa for the second list, while the last remains a hot favourite every time you run out of topics but don’t want the conversation to end!
      The most annoyingly hilarious part indeed, is when the general public, some ‘lesser-mortals’ try their clumsy best to read between the lines and bring out their china-ka-maal noses to smell something fishy. That’s right! There’s no escaping that dreaded inverted-comma gesture every time you try to convince people that you both are just good friends! That, and  mummy’s flared-up nostrils ready to singe like a dragon every time she sees you smiling away at the phone chatting with him/her, which is effectively 24*7! Because, as the folklore goes, hasee, toh phasee. The only possible reason you could be talking to a person of another gender all day long, is that kuch-toh-gadbad-hai! And even as you keep on re-iterating “ kuch hota toh sabse pehle aapko bolta na!” to all the mausijis and chachajis, you’re forced to hide that wry smile curling away as you reminisce all those times you sneaked out to catch up with your bestie saying “library me padhne jaa raha hu late ho jayega” or bunked college the whole day to watch that latest Bollywood rom-com. Damn, you even once went for a ‘group outing’ (as per parental records) and later hung out at Marine Drive all day! Not to forget those “Good Night baby, love ya” texts followed by winking, blushing and flying-kiss emojis every night… and then coming back again for ‘just one last thing’ that continued another half an hour! Indeed, the biggest fear of your life remains, getting caught in these acts, and then having to face a Mission Impossible of denying speculations and accusations that “pakka inka chakkar chal raha hai”.
       So far, so good. Awesome, in fact. But, pretty much like a typical Ekta Kapoor daily soap, there’s bound to be drama! Only, 10x worse. And immature! Ignore a text, and let the blue tick-last seen combo break hell and let loose anarchy in life! “How dare you ignore MY text!!!”… “koi aur mil gaya hai kya???”… “Don’t talk to me now!”. Make fun of her favourite boy-band, and watch her sulk away as she swears the juiciest of Hindi, Marathi and Punjabi cuss lingo and refuses to talk unless you apologize. There are genuinely rough periods as well, as you trudge along with the relationship trying to hold onto it, because well, the thing that’s making you sad currently, is also the thing that makes you the happiest otherwise. Yes, there are fights, bitter ones too, and even times when you refuse to talk to the other one for days! But you know it deep down in you heart, that the care hasn’t gone out yet. If you had to take a bullet for ‘em, you wouldn’t think twice before jumping in. That, and the fact, that you can’t resist the urge of gossiping and making the other jealous with photos of the ice-cream you ‘enjoyed’ alone while your friendship had taken a sabbatical! There are even times as extreme when you feel the friendship is dead, only to realize that like a typical Ekta Kapoor hero, it comes back from the dead! Which is when you cherish the good times, learn from the bad, and look forward to the new lease of life your friendship just got. And fall in love with it all over again, only, a version 100x stronger…
       Indeed, everyone needs, and deserves such kind of a soulmate, to realize, that love isn’t always all about physical attraction or some mushy-gooey romance. That love doesn’t always manifest itself in holding hands, it can be found in grabbing the hair or pulling the ears as well. That you don’t always need to gift her a million-dollar solitaire. Sometimes, all it takes is a random text in the afternoon to feel loved. That love isn’t always about having romantic candle-light dinners, it’s love even when you fight it out for that last slice of pizza you shared. That love isn’t always about getting a license to the bed. It’s equally fun disturbing that last-row corner-seat couple who ‘mistook’ the cinema hall for their bedroom. That love doesn’t always mean ‘love’. Because as the King of Romance himself quotes so eloquently, “pyaar dosti hai”.  Yes, love, is friendship… and a ‘couple’, JUST FRIENDS!

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