The Biyebaari — Part Two: Empathy

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Eldritch isn’t it? Getting to know someone all over again, but in a different way? Acting like you two never had a not-so-cool history to be aware of? Being a virtuous man who never did anything he is maybe embarrassed of? Yeah that’s what I was going through.

“What are you so edgy about? Why are you so nervous to lift me up?” she asked.

“I’ve never done this that’s why” I said to her.

“That’s because your beauty makes me not wanting to confide in myself” I said to myself.

Naila touched my hands, got closer to me than I’ve ever been with a friend, and put my hands on her waist.

“I’m not Mark Henry. Just lift me up” she said.

Get closer than you are ever supposed to. Give me hints like we were meant to be. Exchange smiles to make me even more nervous. Touch my hands to skip a heartbeat. Act like some chemistry is developing. And yet, put an end to my day like I’m just a friend. Funny.

The first day at Tahsin’s place was most difficult for me. Not because of their hospitality; their family treated me like a very important guest. Not because I was missing my family in Australia. Not because it was tough to adjust with the temperature here. But because I wasn’t at ease to live in the same house with the person I couldn’t even properly study in the same class with. I tried avoiding her. But that genius class topper kept on trying to socialize with me.

“Hey Apurbo what work do you do? Hey Apurbo what’s your favorite ice-cream flavor? Hey Apurbo tell me how is life abroad.”

I was tired of all these conversations.

“Fine I’ll lift you up” I said with confidence as I picked her up, with my hands on her waist, with my eyes fixed on hers, with my lips putting on an amicable grin which made her smile back at me. Her hair spread around my head until she removed them and brought towards back of her head so I could see her face more clearly.

“See? It’s easy!” she said, giggling, as I put her down.

That’s it. The main step of our dance was done. And I was cool with the basic steps since they weren’t difficult to follow. Two more rounds of dance rehearsal, and we will pull off a great piece of work.

After Naila left the gym room, being happy at me, I realized a lot of stuffs. She played her role well on offering a friendship hand. Just because we didn’t get along at school doesn’t mean that we never would. I never had such a female friend, to be honest. At least not the friendly-annoying-interesting type of one. Maybe I should try and accede to her friendship hand.

“Let the night end. Tomorrow, be different. Be Naila’s friend Apurbo. Not the agitated stern Apurbo who’s mood stays off all day.” Tahsin told me.

Before going to sleep that night, I said to myself a million times until I was sleepy, “She’s just a friend.” And bam! Tomorrow indeed was a different day.

“Do you wanna grab a cup of coffee after this?” I asked Naila at the breakfast table.

Now, that was one of the weirdest situations I ever came across. The whole squad stopped eating, or drinking, and stared at me with their most confusing face. Those two seconds went like a whole minute for me, like you watch in movies. My friends, including Tahsin looked at me like I cursed out loud.

“Sure why not?” she said.

I wanted to take whipped cream and rub it all over Shoikot and Rafsan’s face. They gave me a chafing look which they both knew would make me uncomfortable.

“Atleast you guys didn’t ask for joining us too.” I whispered to Rafsan.

After breakfast, I went to the girl’s room to check whether she got ready for going outside.

“Hey bride, the groom came for you. Are you ready yet?” Shahnaz teased her.

“Shut up.” Said Naila, as she came out of the restroom, laughing.

We went downstairs, and started walking to the place which was like 10 minutes away. It wasn’t before the first few minutes before we started speaking.

“You look great,” I said.

“You too! And thanks!” she said, with a smile.

I was thinking of what to say next. Should I ask her about her relationship status? Should I ask her about family? Should I ask her about what she thinks of me now? All these troubling thoughts constructed a cloud full of confusion in my head. Before I could think of a proper conversation topic to talk about, we were already at that place.

The next hour at the coffee place passed like a dream. Not only I enjoyed the coffee, but I got to know her so much better. It was like my childhood personality shifted to hers, and her childhood personality shifted to mine.

Naila, the class topper secured the best results in our school during her High School Final Exams. She got scholarships from recognized colleges abroad, but yet decided to study here, since her parents didn’t let her study anything other than Chemistry abroad. Naila didn’t like Chemistry. She got good grades because she had to get good grades, not because she wanted to. Naila studied Literature here in Bangladesh, and got an undergraduate degree.

Despite being a good student in Literature also, she couldn’t find good jobs since that field of work isn’t so developed here. She is unemployed. That serious, stiff Naila had changed. She hung out more often with her friends, dreamed unreality, and smiled more than ever. On the other hand, I turned more introvert, stuff like Naila used to be. My work was a prestigious one, and a one that many dream of.

“Remember that poem you sent me before asking me out?” my friend Naila asked.  

“I do.” I said with a bit of giggle.

“You still write poems?”

“I don’t get time. But if you insist, I’ll try writing one for you.”

“Before our dance performance, you have to recite a short poem to make our dance more exciting. Okay?”

“I’ll try but no promises.”

And that’s how we began our new friendship. Every day we would spend hours together, watching movies, dancing, decorating the house, chatting, and most importantly, getting to know each other as much as possible within a short amount of time. Two weeks passed, and finally came the day when we would perform together.

Shahnaz and Rafsan’s performance and Shoikot and Fariha’s performance made us nervous. We were going to dance along a trendy bangla song. That day Naila looked stunning. The payal in her ankles, and her hands full of bangles made her appear alluring. All of us boys from the groom’s side wore a Yellow coloured panjaabi, while all the girls wore Orange coloured saree.

I had to do something to make our performance more appealing, and so I took the microphone, and recited a short poem to the audience. Now, this was a horrible short poem, since I had to make the lines on spot.

The yellow panjaabis and orange sarees
Welcome to this Biyebaari
Let us dance along the song of this night
Get ready for our performance, so sit tight!

“Eww.” Said I to myself.

Believe it or not, our performance was wonderful. The crowd got amazed by the step where I lift Naila. Her cultural steps and my robotic moves made an amazing combination. I don’t know whether I would ever want to dance with someone else after this. But I surely knew that if I had to dance along the same song over and over again with Naila, I would do it.

After the program was over, all my friends including Tahsin praised our performance. While Shahnaz and the others were busy with removing the decorations, I followed Naila to her room.

“Nice dance partner.” I said to her.

“I know right?” she said as she hugged me.

Now that wasn’t just a normal hug. It surely meant something more. And that was when she got to know I was faking our friendship this whole time. Because I was in love with her, still. As we kept our heads on each other’s shoulders while hugging, I removed the locks of hair off her face and looked at her. The look she gave me was a one nobody ever gave me, but also the one I never dreamt of. It just happened. You know what happened. After one or two intimate minutes, she started speaking to me.

“Apurbo. There’s something I need to tell you.”

“There’s nothing you need to tell me. What you need to do now is just to shut up and cherish these moments.”

As I tried shutting her up again, I held her hands and kissed them. But something was different. That wasn’t the left hand I held when we danced. She had definitely put something on. It was a ring. Before I could ask her why she hadn’t put this beautiful diamond ring all this time, she said, “I’m engaged, Apurbo.”
To be continued…

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Rafeed Elahi is a football lover, a movie adherent, and a writer by passion.

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