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Shades of Gray

Well, it was probably winter - no, it was definitely winter. And, it was really freezing. I certainly remember the day especially because it was raining a lot. Did you ever see rain in winter? It's spectacular. The breeze that was passing by definitely added a feeling of extra chill.

As usual, I was hanging out with friends after a basketball game. It was afternoon around 4p.m. We had a match, but actually, none of us felt like playing. There weren't a few people surprisingly many people came to watch the game. Probably because Sameer was playing at least that's why all the girls came all the way to watch an ordinary basketball game. Oh okay, I didn't introduce you to Sameer? Sameer is one of those good looking guys that you simply must have a second look at. A very fair complexion, and long straight, highlighted hair which come down over his eyes, and an overall sharp outlook makes this macho guy a Greek God to every girl in town. Sameer had everything that a girl wants. A fancy convertible, lot of money to spend however he wanted, a cell-phone of the latest model, and of course, popularity. Well, that day he was actually paying attention to us; usually he's always busy with girls after the game. That's when Sara saw him.

Sara an old friend. Back in school, we used to share our lunch. Our friendship was truly unique. She came to see me playing, but she never regretted that day, because she got to meet the love of her life or at least that's how it was to her. Sara is one of those practical, fashionable modern teenagers of the twenty-first century. She is prettier than you can imagine. When she walks down the lane, every guy stares at her for as long as possible. When she used to enter the class, the class would go silent just to look at her. You rarely see a girl naturally so pretty around you. That was not the best part about her, though. Her beauty was nothing comparing to her heart. In fact, I think Sara had the biggest heart in the world. She was never hesitant about helping someone, be s/he a complete stranger. I recall once Sara punched this guy in 6th grade guy just because he was teasing me.

Oh, I'm so stupid. I forgot to tell you people about me. Well, this will be boring. I'm one of those guys who are as common as possible. In fact, there's really nothing special about me. I was serious about studies, but never did really well. I used to help Sara a lot, and she never stopped thanking me for all that. I loved playing basketball. That's how I made a lot of friends. Life never had a direction for me, though and that's why Sara would always tell me to get serious. I wish I really had listened to her. I saw a lot of cool people around, but it seemed so pointless to me Maybe that's why I never go to be 'elegant' enough.

Sara pointed at Sameer, and asked me who he was.
"Who? The tall guy? That's Sameer!"
"Sameer? Okay… cute guy…"
"Yeah, I know! Wanna meet him?" "Hey Sameer! Dude can you give me a minute?"
"Sameer, this is my very old pal, Sara" "Sara, this is Sameer…"

Sara was my friend since before my sister was born. Well, that's back in 2nd grade actually. She used to come to study at my place. My mom taught both of us from childhood. So, it was almost like family. The day after my sister was born; she and her mom came to the hospital and brought all these gifts for the baby. I was happy for my sister, but I was really pissed at Sara. I got so pissed, that I didn't even talk to her. Sara got to know I was mad at her, because she didn't bring anything for me. She came and said sorry, I told her I wouldn't ever talk to her. She almost began to cry. So I couldn't help admitting that I was bluffing. We were kids back then, but we promised each other to be best friends forever.

"How come you didn't tell me you know such a hot looking guy?"
"Yeah, all the girls are crazy for him…"
"No wonder…."

Sara got to know Sameer. Their friendship started from that very day. After almost two or three weeks, they started going out. Sameer asked Sara out, and the news spread like wildfire. Truly they looked like they were made for each other.

During my childhood, the best thing about my birthday was getting to decorate a room with balloons and other stuff. I would start planning for this way ahead of the actual day. On the day of decoration, I would never be alone. Sara had to be there. She would come early in morning, and the two of us would start blowing balloons and putting up the decorations. I would never start without her. It was the same for cutting the cake. Neither of us would cut the cake unless we both were present.

Sara's mom doesn't really let her out with too many friends. I was the one guy she would trust, and that's why I was the only one who could help her. Sameer wanted Sara to always meet up for long stretches of time, and she had trouble doing so. So, most of the times I had to take her with me, and make her meet Sameer. Only thing that I was scared about was that her mom would suspect she was going out with me. When I used to take her to Sameer, she would be very worried about her appearance. I used to find that so weird, because I never recalled a day when she was not looking okay. Sara never wanted to be late because Sameer hated to wait. Once she was really tardy. It was actually because of me. I didn't have a car, and that day I couldn't find a means of transport on time. So I was almost half an hour late, moreover, the traffic made it worse. Sameer left, and later they had a huge fight. I felt so guilty because I was responsible. Sara called me that night, and told me how irresponsible I was. Sameer stopped talking to her for a few days; so I decided to talk to Sameer and clarify everything myself.

On 7th grade, Sara and I got separated because we both went to different sections. So I didn't have anyone to share my lunch with. Sara always figures something out. So we decided that we'd always meet in one specific place during recess. I couldn't believe classes could get so boring without a good friend. So I couldn't wait to hear the bell for the break time every single day in my class. We would meet precisely at 11-05am. Both of us always used to rush as soon as the bell rang. Sara once got a detention for being talkative in class and she had to stay inside the class at the break time for one entire week. That was one of the times, I felt really sad. I never felt so alone before, and I understood how much her closeness meant to me.

Sameer accepted my confession. That wasn't all, though. Sameer didn't like Sara mixing with me so much. He had a feeling I knew her more than anyone, and he couldn't stand it. I didn't know all that; in fact I didn't even know what Sameer told Sara that night; but I could guess, when I had her phone call. It was around 3a.m. and I really don't expect calls that late at night; so I was surprised to see Sara calling me.

"You awake?"
"Well, I am now! So since when did you start missing me at 3 o'clock in the morning?"
"Funny! Listen, get serious, I need to talk about some stuff with you"
"Okay, and I have this feeling it's not good…"
"Umm… well, I don't know how to put this, but well Sameer doesn't want me to talk to you anymore…"

I really can't recall what she said after that. She decided that if Sameer was determined, she could do that much for him. What could I say? I thanked her for being frank with me. So I decided to keep my distance, not thinking at that moment about the enormity of this decision.

Sara's dad bought her a car when she was in 10th grade, and she learned to drive. It's kind of funny, but I learnt to drive from her. Every evening she would take me with her, and showed me how to drive. I loved it. My dad can't afford to get me a car, but Sara knew how crazy I was about cars since childhood. When I was a kid, she'd give me tiny toy cars on my birthdays. Nothing was more exciting to me, than to drive, and this dream could never have come true without her.

I called to wish Sara on her birthday, and she invited me to come to her place. She even added that she had asked Sameer, and he was okay with it; so I didn't have to worry. Sara's favorite gift was chocolates. As always, I took some for her. This was the first time I was going to meet her in a long time, and I felt really self-conscious. Sara now had a lot of friends I didn't know. I figured they were Sameer's friends. Sara came to me as she saw me. It had been months since I saw her last, and couldn't take my eyes off her. She showed me her new cell phone that Sameer gave her as a birthday gift, it's made of Titanium. She was really excited, and storing all the numbers. Everyone was telling each other how sweet Sameer was, and Sara must be really proud to have him. I kind of felt reluctant about showing her I got only chocolates for her, so I left it with the other gifts on table. Although she seemed really busy, I finally had a chance to talk to her. So I asked why she forgot to wish me on my last birthday.

"Oh c'mon… we're not kids anymore! You know I've been a bit busy. And it's not like I forgot. I was out with Sameer till very late at night, so couldn't manage to call! Later, I thought you'd figure, so didn't bother. I'm sorry though…"

Well, I could understand. So I smiled back at her saying, "That's okay…"

Oh, I almost forgot my story. So where was I? Oh yeah, a really freezing winter morning. I was walking back home, and I just noticed this red sports car in front of my house. I'm always crazy about cars, so I ran to it. It's the hottest BMW Z-4. I didn't expect to see one on Dhaka; but what concerned me more was what it was doing in front of my house. So I rushed inside, and my mom told me that Sara and Sameer were here. I ran to the living room. Sara turned around hearing my footsteps,

"Hey! Where have you been busy man?"
"Oh c'mon, I went to the university what you forgot that?"
"Hmm… big boy!"

She kept smiling and came close to me.
I have not seen her so much glad for a very long time, so I was thinking what could be the reason.

"So here it is… finally!"
She handed me a very trendy invitation card.
"What is it? Some big news?"
"Bigger than you can think! - Sameer and I are getting married!"
"Oh my god - really? That is so awesome!"

They stayed for a few more minutes; she said she will be getting married to Sameer in a month. And also decided to move to Sheffield, a city in Northern England; Sameer's dad has some business there which Sameer will now take care of. Sara was sad when she was leaving, she said she would come to talk tome the next evening, as we have become so far apart.

Did I tell you about our favorite place? It was our rooftop, from where we could see the entire sky. And that's where I was with her, that night. Well, that night was my big chance and all I did was just sit there with her watching the stars and talking about what I was going to do and what she was going to do. I looked into her eyes and listened to her talking about what her dream was. How she wanted to get married and settle down. She said how she wanted to be complete and successful. All I could do was to tell her my dream and cuddle next to her. She went home and I didn't tell her how I was feeling. I thought of it that night and figured I was just a friend. All through school life and even through all these days we're always together and of course, I thought of it as being friends. But I knew that I didn't even want to confess myself that deep inside that I really felt differently.

I wanted to tell her so badly that I loved her but I was too scared and frightened. I let my feelings go; I didn't know if I should be happy that I got her as a friend in my life, or should I be sad if that's all I had. I know that I could never be with her and that we could only be friends. I remembered the good times that we had together. Today, I can only use these words to express what was really in my heart, things that I could never tell her. Maybe real love is only felt when you lose that someone that you love more than yourself. It's a long road in front of me, and I have to face it alone, the hand that I used to hold, won't be there anymore. I always realized she is there, standing right behind, only knowing, she is not so far behind. I wish tonight, that I was in her arms, and she was telling me we'd always be alright.

The boundaries between friendship and love is defined by such credibility that I did not have; but then again was it really my fault that I fell in love?

I never realized how to live on myself, until that night. I loved her like no other person; may be I didn't want much of anything; but, the one thing I needed from her was for her to always be there. The hardest thing to do for me was to be beside her all the time, looking at her knowing that she won't be there anymore.

Remember me when you are gone, far to the beyond, away from me. A journey I cannot go with you on, even though you are going for good. I wish I could be at Sameer's place that day, I wish I never had to let you go. I have tried for tears not to fall from my eyes, at least not in front of you. Keep alive the beautiful times we share, and take it to heart that my love for you is ever sure.

By Md. Saquib Hussain







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