IN LOVE WITH MY BEST FRIEND
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Punit Soni has been in love with his best friend Ankita Agarwal since their school days, but he has never had the courage to confess his feelings. Every time he tries to tell her, something seems to come up, or he's reminded of the fear that she may not feel the same way. But as they navigate through their lives, Punit starts to question whether there could be something more to their relationship. Could Ankita have feelings for him too, or is Punit destined to keep his love hidden forever? Follow Punit and Ankita's journey through life as they navigate the complexities of love, friendship, and everything in between in "In Love with My Best Friend".
Chapter 1: The First Meeting
Punit sat in his car; his tall frame stretched out in the driver's seat. He ran his fingers through his silky hair and adjusted his soft, kind eyes on the camera.
"I'm gay," he said, pausing for a moment. "Well, not really. That’s what the others think. If you ask me why, then, let me tell you, it took me a couple of years to figure that out."
Punit frowned and leaned back against his seat as the traffic around him ground to a halt. He decided to go live on his YouTube channel to speak his mind.
"Apparently, people have this notion that guys into fashion designing, or the nursing profession are by default gays," he continued, shaking his head in disbelief. "I know, right? Crazy! I don't even know where they got that idea from! And maybe I'll never find out. But hey, you don't see any of them hitting on other boys, at least most of them, and even if they do, so what? That's their choice. That doesn't make nursing or fashion designing the official course for gays."
Punit glanced at the camera and sighed. "Okay, I know you must be wondering why I brought this up. For one, I'm frustrated that people think I'm gay. I'm not. Now let's get that clear. I'm happily married to a woman for God's sake. And two, I'm a nurse... a male nurse."
He paused as he watched some drivers in nearby cars staring at him, their faces scrunched up in disapproval.
"There, I see some of you scrunching up your faces already," he said, his voice laced with annoyance. "Whatever! I'm a nurse, whether you like it or not. And to be honest, I hated my job too.”
He leaned back again, his voice becoming more animated. “Like, who wants to go around asking old timers, 'do you want to pee?' 'Do you want to take a dump?' 'Are you wet?' ‘Come; let me change your diapers.' 'Ooh! Now that's a big load!' It's... well, tiring and weird. I'm kind of used to it now."
He leaned forward again, his eyes shining. "I never wanted to be a nurse, to be honest. I've always wanted to be an actor. But then, my mom was like, 'acting? Is that even a subject of study? Go do something worthwhile in life; something that will help you stand on your feet instead of making faces a profession.'"
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "So, I took up nursing, because apparently, male nurses were in demand. And at that point in time, it was the standard protocol: wrap up your studies and get a fucking job in the US, or Australia or UK, blah-blah-blah!"
Punit's cheeks flushed as he realized he'd cussed on his YouTube channel. "Oops! I cussed. I don't usually cuss. But blame it on her. Now that I'm with her 24/7/365, I'm sort of soaking up a lot of her. Swearing comes to her so naturally. Irritate her and the first thing you'd hear is an F."
He chuckled and leaned forward, his eyes sparkling mischievously. "You must be wondering who I'm talking about. Who else? Anki."
"Ankita Agarwal. Anki. We’ve been, well, ‘best friends’, since the 5th grade. And then, one day, it happened, for her. For me, well... I guess I’ve always been in love with her." As Punit spoke about Ankita, his eyes lit up and a soft smile formed on his lips. He gazed into the distance, lost in thought, as he reminisced about their long-lasting friendship and the feelings he had for her.
"Okay, I got to make a move now. The jam is finally clearing up. Traffic here in the US sucks big time. Getting stuck up on the highway for hours is the last thing you’d need. Oh yeah, and I’m driving."
Punit looked ahead as the traffic started to move, his eyes scanning the road ahead of him. He gripped the steering wheel tightly as he manoeuvred through the traffic, frustration evident on his face as he thought about the tedious drive home.
"I know, you want to know more about her, right? About us?” Punit glanced at the camera with a mischievous grin, his eyes full of excitement as he teased his audience. “Then stick close, I’m taking you back to where it all started."
Punit was on his way home from work, driving and live on his YouTube channel. He had already shared the story of his lifelong love for Ankita, and now he was making a stop at the store to pick up some groceries for her.
"Hang on, I need to stop by this store," Punit said to his viewers. "Anki wanted me to get some stuff for home. But that doesn’t matter, we can keep talking. Ok, wait. Let me just find a parking space."
As he drove through the parking lot, he desperately scanned for a space in vain. "Talk about luck, all spaces has been taken up, as usual. Now finding one is going to be a pain in the ass. Oh damn, here we go again with the language. Oh, thank God! There’s one."
Entering the store, Punit felt the cool blast of air conditioning hit his face. "Man, I love the blast of cold air from the air conditioner on my face each time I walk through this door. Is there anyone else like this or is it just me?"
The store manager greeted him, "Good evening, how are you today?"
"Awesome like always, you?" replied Punit.
The store manager responded cheerfully, "Wonderful day here!"
"Perfect!" exclaimed Punit, ready to get his shopping done.
"Enjoy your shopping," said the store manager.
"Thanks, I’ll see you around!" Punit replied as he headed towards the pulses and legumes section. He didn't need a list; he knew exactly what Ankita needed.
As he shopped, Punit continued his story, "Okay, where was I? Yes, Anki... where it all began. Our first meeting wasn’t so... well... pleasant. I was in the 5th grade, and she was too.”
Punit was a tall, lanky boy in the fifth grade. His knobby knees stuck out from a pair of shorts that looked a size too small for him. He stood in the school grounds under a big tree, his body wracked with sobs as if he was a little girl. Two of his classmates, Rachel and Vaidehi, stood beside him trying to console him, but to no avail.
As they stood there, a little girl with hair in pigtails, Ankita, approached them with curiosity. She had never seen a boy cry like this before and was intrigued.
Note – Narrations in bold italics
When she walked in on me, I was standing on the grounds somewhere under a big tree and sobbing like a girl. Two of her classmates were already around and trying to console me, but it wasn’t working, I just wanted to go home.
“What happened? Why’s he crying?” she asked curiously.
“That bully Sibal beat him up,” said one of the girls named Rachel.
“What? For what?” it irked her.
“Does he even need a reason? He’s the son of the chairman, isn’t that enough? Who’s going to question him?”
“The other day he and his cronies beat up that boy Ankur,” spat Vaidehi, the other girl, “and now he’s at home. Apparently, he suffered some ligament or muscle tear!”
“Why do they even allow it!? It’s bullshit!”
And that’s the first time I set eyes on her. Thanks to all the tears in my eyes, my vision was blurry. She was a little chubby, kind of cute, had pigtails and a guitar strapped over her back. She was a little tall for a girl. In fact, she was way taller than the other girls. Oh, did I tell you I was a newcomer there? I’d just joined that school a week or two ago, whereas she was there for years. And I already hated it. I don’t even know how she was getting along! But maybe she wasn’t being picked on much. Good for her!
I missed my old friends, all the fun and the jokes. Whereas over here, all I could expect was teachers who wouldn’t even care sixpence about you, snooty classmates, and bullies like Sibal Mukherjee! God, I hated him like anything!
In just a week, I had become his favorite target. His justifications for picking on me were silly, like he found me funny? Too lanky? Or because I had pimples on my face? Or he thought my shorts were too short? That’s ridiculous!
Anyway, I was crying. Like really hard. And I wonder if I’d looked funny to her because I was in a pair of shorts and had knobby knees.
The girls just stared at him helplessly, not knowing what to do.
“Don’t cry, yaar,” said Rachel pitifully.
“Yeah, you’re a tough guy; you don’t have to cry over his silly jokes.” That was Vaidehi’s share.
I wasn’t sure why exactly I was crying. Was it because it hurt where he hit me? Or because I felt humiliated? Perhaps I was anxious. Or maybe I wanted to run away from there. All that I knew was that I didn’t like it there. Not at all.
As for Anki, she just kept staring at me. Even through my tears, I could see the inferno in her eyes. She wanted to kill. Like a terrorist.
Suddenly, she whipped around and marched away with a sense of purpose.
“Where are you going?” Vaidehi called after her.
“Principal!” she responded. “Enough is enough!”
Chapter 2: Drawn To Her
Punit stepped out of the store, holding a small bag of his purchase. His face was animated as he addressed his viewers on YouTube.
In the background, people bustled about, going on with their daily lives. Cars zoomed past, their tires screeching against the concrete. The sky was a brilliant blue, dotted with fluffy clouds.
"We’re planning to cook some khichdi tonight," Punit said, his voice full of excitement. "And she’s a splendid cook, have I told you? Give her any ingredient. She’ll make something great out of it, and one look is all that she takes to get ideas."
As Punit spoke, he walked down the busy street, weaving his way around pedestrians and dodging cars. He checked his phone briefly before continuing.
"So, where were we?" he said, looking up again. "Ah, yes! That day, she headed to the principal’s office to complain. Well, it didn’t work. Ask me why I’m not surprised."
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