I reached the home carrying the basket of Red Roses in my hand and laptop bag on the back. I have to walk a long distance from nearest bus stand to my apartment. I got mixed response and reactions from people on the way. No one said even a single word to me, but their curiosity level and the facial expressions were loud enough to tell me various things, mostly positive.
When I entered my building, the land-lady, who lives on ground floor of same building, happened to be enjoying evening walk with her kids in the society’s park in front of the building, welcomed me with a smile. She is a young beautiful and charming personality, somewhat in her late twenties or early thirties at the most.
“So beautiful Roses! wow !! For your girl friend?“, she asked. Yes, guys cannot be gifted roses. It has a monopoly, meant for girls only (at least she thinks so!).
In India it is one of the most important conditions by landlords to lend their properties to bachelors that they won’t bring their girl-friend to their room. It is not considered good thing and puts a question mark on your character and reliability. So, this question could be a double-edged sword.
I replied, “Nah ! It is a birthday gift for me from colleagues. It’s my birthday today.“
“Oh ! Happy Birthday. That’s why you are looking so handsome today. So, where is the party?“, She bombarded with a mixture of comment, compliment and question, all in one statement.
“I’ve not planned it yet“, I told her while moving towards stairs (my room is on the top floor). It was the only excuse (and a bit real too) to save money.
As soon as I unlocked the door and entered the room. I heard the noise of running water in the bathroom. My God ! Did I forget to properly close the knob of shower today in a hurry to reach the office in time? (Remember, I was late by an hour today, slept extra time) My roommate usually leaves for his office before me, his office is situated relatively farther. Obviously, I was the last person to leave the house. And now, all the water in the storage tank would have been depleted by now. This was enough in itself to create a panic situation for both of us because having no water for 12+ hours and that’s too in this terrifying humid climate, it would become hard to survive without a bath. It was not easy to arrange water on top floor either. I quickly unloaded my laptop back to my bed, and placed the bouquet of roses on the shelf and then rushed to the bathroom to close the tap in order to save the remaining water.
But when I tried to open the bathroom door, it was locked from inside. “Who is in there?“, I asked. Stupid question. With a lock on the door, and two keys available with both of us, who else could in be there, if it was not me.
“It’s me“, came the response which sounded like my roommate.
I was surprised. He mostly (except only once in my presence earlier) comes 45 minutes after I reach home. Today, he is well ahead of me.
“Hey ! is everything alright? I mean … aren’t you too early from your usual time?“, I asked him again. It was a relief to me that he was in there. That means no water was wasted and we still have enough water. We were saved.
“Yeah, I am alright. Just took 2 hours off today for an important personal work.”, he replied from inside. “Just hold on ! I am coming quickly.“, he added. Our bathroom and toilets are combined. He might have thought that I need to use the loo.
“No, No. It’s okay, you take your time. I am not in hurry.“, I clarified. “I was concerned about running water thinking that I might have forgotten to close it tightly after taking shower in morning.”
“Never mind, I am done.“, he opened the door and stepped out while tugging in his towel on his waist.
Here was a smooth, shiny, fair male, wet in droplets of shower which were enjoying a free ride on his smooth chest, running downwards. For the first time, I admired what I saw. This glimpse of his smooth body, with black shiny hair, slightly red-pinkish and juicy lips covering white teeth which add magic to his charming smile, pinkish nipples and deep navel offering a complete package. Although he takes bath daily, and is mostly half naked or prefers to stay just in undies or in shorts within the room in my presence, I did not notice it earlier that a male body can have such attractive features. I did not notice that there was such a marvelous beauty next to me.
I was literally lost in examining his beauty-pack and forgot for a moment that I am staring at his body (How Gross ! and how rude !!!). He probably noticed it, and smiled without looking at me and then turned away to get his clothes while massaging his hair with both the hands. That made me alert of what (mistake) I was doing. Even though I was not feeling satisfied with what I saw in a glimpse of his body and wanted to see more of it but then my embarrassment did not allow me to dig it any deeper.
After wearing his undies, he stood against the wall mounted mirror to comb his hair. While combing, he was looking at me through the mirror and noticing my movements. We had already made an eye contact through mirror, and now I was alert on not to let it happen again. He stood there for 2-3 minutes more, adjusting his hair style again and again, but I did not look back to him again. He finally came back to his bed (adjacent to my bed), grabbed his shorts, wore them and sat down.
“Would you mind giving me a glass of water please?“, he requested me. The refrigerator was placed on my side of bed. I got up and filled in a glass with the cold water from the refrigerator and came back to him, and I saw him carrying a small cake on a plate, with “Happy Birthday Dear (my name)” marked on top of it artistically with good calligraphy, with one candle on the center of the cake. He quickly lit the candle with a lighter in his second hand and moved the cake towards me expecting me to blow out the candle. He started singing the “Happy Birthday to you…”. I could not believe what was going on. It was really a pleasant surprise for me. I looked in his eyes for a moment, which were shining with love and affection, and then I blew the candle off.
Now he put the Cake down on the bed, and handed me a knife to proceed with cake. I did two small pieces of cake. I was expecting it that just like my friends used to rub all the cake on my face, he will be doing it in a short while (as a tradition) so I closed my eyes and moved my face a bit forward, towards the cake. But I was shocked when he gently kissed me on my cheek and said “Happy Birthday Dear, wish you many happy returns of the day”.
I opened my eyes and saw him waiting with a piece of cake to take me a bite. I was not able to understand what is going on, and how to react to the situation but I was not even willing to resist it. I kind of liked the warm and personal touch he gave to my birthday and the way he celebrated it, specially when I was feeling home-sick on my first birthday away from my loving Parents and friends.
I was about to take whole piece of cake in my mouth (it was not a big piece anyways) but he pulled it away so that I could hardly grab a small portion of it, and then he swallowed the rest of the piece. “Wow !!! It’s yummy.“, he added and winked at me.
“Didn’t you like it?“, he asked while moving the plate towards me.
The cake was really delicious, soft and full of love. I took one more piece from the plate and moved it towards his mouth. “It’s really very tasty, I liked it a lot. Thank you for making my birthday so special.“, I replied.
He took a bite gently, leaving half in my hand. He was looking at me, probably expecting me to finish the left-over piece. I HATE to share someone’s bite or leftover. I really do. But looking at his innocent face, I sacrificed my principles and sensitivity, and gulped the rest of the piece. He looked satisfied. It did not feel so bad to me either after seeing his expressions.
Till couple of days back, we hardly talked to each other, and were totally stranger to each other besides sharing the same small room for almost two weeks now. We barely knew each others’ names, and kind of profession and company we work for. I did not pay much attention to his job profile and company because I thought it was irrelevant to me at that point in time, so I hardly knew anything about him except his name. But today, he does not seem to be stranger to me. He is appearing more like one of my close friends back home, or someone from my family.
He looked back at me, and asked “Did you like the flowers?“.
Bang ! I could not believe what I heard. Did he send me those Red Roses?
“What?“, I asked in an inquiring tone. “Did you…“, he did not let me finish the sentence, and said, “I thought you would like those beautiful roses and it will make you happy. Besides, I wanted to convey my message to you through Red Roses.”
“And that card…“, I pointed to the card still shining in the bouquet, I had kept in shelf before rushing to close the running water in bathroom, when I entered the room.
“That is my true feeling for you. I don’t know why but since the day I saw you for the first time, when you entered the room the very first day, I am feeling strongly attracted to you. I struggled hard in diverting my attention away from you many times, but harder I tried to keep myself away from you, more I lost control over myself“. He paused momentarily, and then continued, “It is not just a physical attraction. I have never felt like this for anyone in my life, not even with my girl-friend. It is a strange compelling feeling. I feel happy when you are around me. I feel happy and en-lighted, when you smile. I feel depressed when you are feeling down. All the time, whether I am in office or while I am riding my bike, or busy in a meeting with some client, I see glimpses of your beautiful face, smiling and calling me. Mere thought of losing you out of my life, makes me go panic.“
His confession put me in speechless state of mind. It went absolutely blank for a couple of moments. There were no thoughts. The room also became silent just like my mind, except for the noise of ceiling fan.
He bowed his head down, and said in a soft and trembling tone, “I know, you might be concerned with this feeling of mine, and even may be thinking that it is not a normal thing, but I am helpless in this. Love is Love, and it is pure love. I have never felt any attraction for guys earlier, but I don’t have any guilty feeling or regrets that I am feeling it for you. I do not expect you to love me back or like me the way I like you. I just want you to be around me all the time and I want to see you happy all the time. I am happy in seeing you happy. You might be thinking why I told you all this? Because I am no longer able to hold any secrets from you. My conscience forced me to confide everything in you.“
After a few moments, when I gained my senses back, I looked at his face. There were tears coming out of his eyes and rolling through his cheeks. He was looking very relaxed, calm and innocent. Looking at his face, all that came to my mind at that moment, was, “Why should I make someone cry? What is the harm if he feels it for me? He is not demanding anything from me. He is not expecting anything in return either. Anyways, I cannot control his thoughts and mind. What if he would have kept it a secret and had opted not to disclose it to me. At least, I must respect and value his honesty. An honest person is safer always. And … what is the harm in being a good friend with someone who likes you and values your company more than anything?”
I held his hand to draw his attention, and said, “Alright! Now cheer up. Do you always celebrate birthdays this way in such a mood?” To add little pinch of fun and to feel more comfortable and to come out of this heavily emotional atmosphere, I asked “BTW ! how did you get my office address? and.. frankly speaking… you should not have sent me that bouquet… specifically the card with such explicit notion of Love. You know everyone in office was demanding me to tell them the name of my Girl Friend. You have already turned my reputation from a sober guy in to a lover-boy among my colleagues.” He raised his head now with a faint smile. I paused, and then said, “Your greeting card closed all possibilities of my getting closer with female colleagues.”
He burst in to laughter initially, but when I finished my last sentence it wiped out smile from his face. Controlling his emotions, he diverted the attention and said, “Do you remember, when you had came here and we had mutual introduction, you told me that you are joining XXXXX (Company name) in XXXXXX (location). I am unable to forget anything related to you.“
“And how did you come to know that it’s my birthday today?“, I asked.
“When you were talking to your parents in morning. I was half asleep. Although you were speaking very low, but your phone was loud enough for me to hear some parts of your conversations. I apologize for that. I did not intend to hear your personal talks but it happened automatically. I just did not move from my place.“, he winked at me with a smile.
“BTW, I must admit, you are blessed with very loving and caring Parents.“, he added. I nodded in agreement.
Then he said, “Wait ! there is little more.“, and turned back to pick up something from under his bed. It was a gift pack. I opened it. It was a perfect fit round neck T-shirt, with “Friends” printed on front. I was hesitant in changing it in front of him after hearing his secret love for me, but then, I decided to go ahead and started UN-buttoning my Shirt because in any case, I had to lay it off before sleeping. I’ve got habitual to a more comfortable sleep without any thing on top. It feels much better in this humid and hot summer of Delhi NCR.
He initially kept looking at me unbuttoning my shirt, but soon he moved his head away. He probably did not want to make a more negative impression on me, I guess. I wore the T-shirt and asked him..”Wow ! it’s cool. It’s a perfect size. Was it just a guess-work?” He turned to me and just smiled back at my question. He kept looking at me for some time and said, “You are looking great in this T-shirt, my friend.” (Contd…)