Sumit could hardly finish his bath and came out of bathroom quickly to see his mobile buzzing again. It was Shashwat calling. He had arrived at pick up point discussed earlier and was calling Sumit to confirm his arrival when he did not see Sumit there.
Sumit answered the call without even wiping off his wet body and told him that he would be there in next 5 minutes or so. After disconnecting the call, he dried his body with a towel and quickly dressed himself in casual attire, combed his wet hair, sprayed a lot of fragrance on his body and clothes, picked up his mobile and started moving fast to the decided location.
When Sumit reached at the spot, he found Shashwat waiting in the car parked on the road side where they had decided to meet. Shashwat welcomed Sumit with a smile and unlocked the front seat door for Sumit. Sumit smiled back but quickly looked away. He was avoiding the direct look on Shashwat’s face. It was unusual and awkward. After Sumit locked his door, Shashwat drove off the car.
Sumit was unusually silent. He was speaking very less. It was only Shashwat who was initiating the talks on random topics to break the ice. Sumit’s replies very mostly in “yes” or “no”, or in just a very few words when necessary. While replying, Sumit was mostly looking on the road avoiding directly look at Shashwat. It was clear to Shashwat within few minutes, something was not right. This was not the Sumit he knew so far.
“Are you alright?”, asked Shashwat trying to understand why Sumit was behaving so differently.
“Yeah.. ! I’m fine.”, replied Sumit.
There was a few more moments of silence between them, and then Shashwat asked again, “Is something troubling you?”
“No… Nothing! I’m perfectly fine.”, replied Sumit with a clear fake smile but this time he looked into Shashwat’s eyes momentarily. Sumit quickly moved his eyes away when he felt Shashwat’s eyes were able to penetrate deeper and read his thoughts probably.
Shashwat was clearly concerned for Sumit but assumed that probably Sumit did not want to discuss his matters with him. Little did Shashwat know that Sumit was fighting internally against his own feelings and was struggling to hold his sexual identity as per the social norms and the love he felt. Shashwat decided to give Sumit some time and space to let him cool down and relax, which might help him open up later. Seeing no interest in conversations from Sumit, Shashwat turned on the FM Radio.
There was awkward silence between the two and the car was running as if they were traveling alone in that car. Sumit closed his eyes and rested his head on the head-rest attached to the seat. The car was heading south, with Sumit and Shashwat both present in it bonded with a silent connection.