“We have been the best of friends for more than ten years now and have seen each other through a lot of **** that life has chosen to throw at us. Yet here we are, our friendship is stronger than ever. But, for quite some time now, for months actually… I have had much stronger feelings for you. Its much more than just friendship. I… I think I am in love with you.” It was exactly what I had wanted to hear from him for over two years now. To actually hear him say it was so different from the thousands of ways that I had imagined of over the years. For starters, instead of feeling excited or ecstatic, I felt like somebody had just doused me with a bucketful of ice cold water. Secondly, I was sure that I had prepared different replies for him depending upon how he chose to propose me – some funny, some serious, some romantic and some downright mushy lines ready in my mind for when the time came. But at that moment I could not think of a single thing to say to him. Instead my full attention was on him. I could almost see the hundred different thoughts racing through his mind with each second that he waited for me to say something. He was definitely faking the cool and calm composure he had put up in front of me. “Look, I know that this might seem very sudden to you. Take time to think it over. After all, I had months to process my real feelings for you, to consider the pros & cons f getting in a relationship with you. I just wanted you to know that I am totally sure about us…” He had drifted off, fixing his gaze on something mundane outside the window. He looked so adorable when he was nervous. He was not the most patient person around and I was sure that he was just trying to be fair to me when he said that I could take some time to think over. But really, he must have been wishing that he could just ‘shake’ the answer out of me immediately. He looked back at me and a slight pucker appeared between his brows. “You are angry! I have upset you… I am so sorry. I swear I did not mean to hurt you. Here, go ahead and slap me or hit me – whatever you feel like. I just couldn’t keep it from you any longer. You know how bad I am at not telling you stuff. Please don’t be angry.” Strange! He was usually a hundred percent accurate at reading my moods and expressions. He had eleven years, three months and seventeen days of practice at it. But for the first time, I doubted him for a second. Why would I be angry at him for finally telling me what I had been longing to hear for a long time? Why would I be upset to hear that the person I was in love with, returned my feelings for him? “Oh God! Brishti, just say something, will you? Don’t just sit there, looking at me like that when I have proposed you. Or do something… Wanna kill me for doing this to you? Go ahead and take a shot. If you feel like breaking something, there’s a lot of china pieces lying around. Just stop looking at me like that.” That’s when realization hit me – he was right. I was angry. I was upset. He could read my expressions but he could not read the turmoil behind it. I finally got myself to speak, “I don’t know what to say. I wish I could say that I feel the same way about you, but I can only be your friend.” No matter how we truly felt about each other, I could only be his friend. I was upset because, I wished I could tell him how much I truly loved him. I was upset because I wanted to be the one to take care of him for the rest of his life. I wanted to be the one he would always turn to, the one he came home to and the one he would always hold in his arms. But what I wanted to be and what I could be were such extremes. I was angry at myself, at life and at God for everything that stopped me from being who I wanted to be. If only I hadn’t had so much baggage. If only, I still had my family. If only, I hadn’t spent a good part of my life at a counselor’s office. I thought about the hysterics inside that office. I thought about the cold and empty flat I called home. But mostly I thought about the bottle of small white pills that sat on my bedside table and lent to the illusion of me that sat in front of him today. Did I really want him to suffer with me? No, I was doing the right thing by not telling him – I told myself. He did not deserve me. He was meant for much better and greater things in life. He deserved someone just like him --- carefree, loving, caring and most importantly, someone baggage-free, who wouldn’t clip his wings and let him fly high like he was meant to. “I guess I sort of knew it in my subconscious that you did not feel the same way. Maybe that’s why I kept stalling. But in the end, I just had to let you know, you know? I do not want to spend the rest of my life wondering. I had to take a chance and be sure. Do you think you can forgive me for overstepping my boundaries? Please? I don’t want to loose my buddy.” When He looked at me with those big warm brown eyes, how could I say no to him? I heard myself say in a very lighthearted tone, “Of course you fool! Didn’t I just say that I will always be your friend. I will be there till the day you need me.” “Well then I will go with forever ‘coz I don’t think I will never not need you!” He then gave me a heart melting smile and proceeded to return to his old comforting ways. As if this conversation had never happened. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the only one who was putting up an act. But I promised myself that I would be there for him till he had someone else to turn to. That was then and this was now. Three years have passed since then. Things between us were like what it was before that day at the restaurant. In the meantime, I was still stuck at the same flat, at the same job, at the same counselor’s office and with the same bottle of white pills on my bedside. He on the other hand, had climbed the corporate ladder quite fast. He had been sent abroad for a year to work on some project. That's where he had met her. After a whirlwind affair, here we were gathered today, at a church for the wedding of Akash & Sarah. Sarah was just another kindred spirit, who was just a shade bit more responsible than him. It was clear to me and to everyone else gathered there, that they were meant to be. As they stood at the altar, ready to exchange their wows, they looked radiant. I remembered my promise to myself and realized that Sarah would truly be his better half. It was time for me to fade away in the shadows of his past and so I did right at the moment he said, “I Do”.