Star-Crossed2 mins 203 2 mins 203
They had been friends for as long as they could remember.
The judicial complex in the small town was a self-contained enclosure where everyone knew each other. It was here that Shalini and Namrata’s parents were next-door neighbours before they both were born, a month apart from each other.
The two nuclear households lived like one big joint family. Their fathers spent most of their time together at work and their mothers at home. Weekend dinner was a neighbourly affair. The children took the cue from their parents and grew up together.
The girls went to the same school. As they met new people and their universe expanded, the bond between them strengthened further.
Being birds of a feather who flocked together, both opted for the same law college after completing their school education. No one was surprised. “Inseparable,” as their parents and friends said.
During the second year of college, Shalini confessed something to her childhood buddy. The differences started to appear soon after.
“I am going to a movie. You carry on,” Namrata told Shalini one day.
“You went somewhere yesterday also without me,” Shalini cried out. “Last week, you found some excuse to not come to the college with me. What is the matter?” she demanded.
“Nothing. We don’t have to do everything together.”
Shalini shed silent tears all through the way back home that day.
As time passed, they started to meet each other in the company of their parents at the weekend dinner ritual. Their worlds were getting disparate.
One day, Shalini saw her friend with a guy in the college canteen. She could not hold herself back. She accosted Namrata as soon as the latter came out of her class in the evening.
“Why were you holding hands with the guy at the canteen?”
Namrata stared hard and for long at her childhood buddy before replying, “I love him, that’s why.”
“What do you mean? How can you? After what I told you the other day.”
“I like you very much, Shalini. You are my best friend.”
“But I don’t love you. I can’t; I am not like you. I like boys, like any other normal girl.”
Shalini stood dumbstruck.
Namrata wanted to come close and hug her friend but didn’t. Shalini wanted to wail in the bosom of her friend but couldn’t.
They turned and went their separate ways.
The two are not on talking terms for as long as their children can remember.