[Editor’s Note : Every week we will be publishing one chapter from Ansh Das’s book, The Memory Of A Face. Needless to say, we are super excited! Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18 & Chapter 19]
My boyfriend’s wedding
“The last time he was here, I was very happy to see him back. He bought me new clothes and shoes. We watched a movie together. We had dinner at a fancy restaurant. I was sure that he was planning to deliver some good news, like propose to me.”
“Oh.” Diano said.
“Yeah. I was just waiting for him to say it. It didn’t happen at the restaurant. Then I expected it to happen at home. I had mentally rehearsed how to look surprised and hide my happiness. I wanted to tease him before saying yes.”
“Quite a build up.”
“Yes. When we were finally in bed, I had my head on his chest and he was stroking my hair. That’s when he decided to say it. I looked up at his face… I can never forget that moment in my life.”
“What did he say?” Diano couldn’t handle the suspense any longer.
“He asked me if I remembered about his dad pushing him to get married to the daughter of another wealthy man in Guilin. I said that I did. Then he said that he was unable to handle the pressure and had agreed to the proposal.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
Andy broke down and cried. Diano got up and went over to him and gave him a hug.
“I know it wasn’t easy for him either but I wasn’t prepared for it. I’d never thought he’d abandon me like that. What hit me most was he chose to take me on an elaborate romantic trip instead of telling me earlier.” Andy shook his head. “He should’ve told me in the morning rather than build up my expectations.”
Andy hugged Diano and cried.
Diano felt bad. Andy had been living alone with such horrible pain.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when this happened, Andy.”
Andy looked up at his face, tears running down his cheeks. Diano dabbed a tissue on his face. He felt a strong attraction towards Andy at that very moment.
“Don’t cry, baby.”
“He told me nothing would change. I could continue being his boyfriend after the wedding. He’d come visit me and pay for my expenses. And that we should continue as if nothing had happened that night.” Andy took a breath. “Nothing had happened? My world was gone in a second, destroyed by the man who’d helped build it. All the clothes you helped me pack today are from him. I have a low-paying job and an evil boss in a strange city. I’m all alone. I’ve no face to show at home. I don’t want to tell mom that I’m struggling here. She has faced enough pain in this life. I don’t want to add to it.”
“I know it’s a terrible thing to suggest, but don’t you think you’d be happier with her? She doesn’t need to be alone either.”
“I wanna go back to her but I think if I do she may not have a second chance in life. If I’m with her, she may push away somebody who may be able to give her a better life, the one she deserves. I can’t be so selfish. I’ve already taken so much from her, I can’t give her any more trouble. And, moreover, she thinks I’m doing okay here.”
“You’re a strong guy.” Diano was amazed at what Andy had just said.
“Thanks. I’m sorry. I hadn’t planned to cry like this.”
“Most people don’t wanna cry, but I think it’s good to let your innermost feelings out sometimes.” Diano consoled Andy. “We can stop here.”
“No. I’m okay.” Andy took a few quick breaths. “I haven’t told my story to anybody else.”
“After that, I moved to the place you saw earlier today.” Andy carried on. “It’s small and so is the new one but that’s all I can afford right now. I wanna find a better job soon and start sending money to mom. I wanna fulfil my duties as her son.” Andy wiped his face and drank more water. “So what’s your story?”
“Yes. I wanna know more about you.” Andy wiped his face once more and sat cross-legged on the bed facing Diano.
Diano didn’t know where to start. He didn’t want to go into details. That would keep them up all night.
“I’ve had a quiet childhood. I wasn’t great at studies, just managed to scrape through,” Diano said. “I was inclined towards creativity and so I picked this job right after I graduated. My mom was okay with me being gay but my dad wasn’t. So I moved out to stay with a friend. I manage to earn enough to pull through without a scare.”
Diano stayed silent. It was tough bringing up painful memories.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it.”
“It’s okay lah. Just that I don’t know where to begin.” Diano thought for a moment. “I’d been to a fortune-teller once. She’d told me I’d never be with the person I love. She’d said the more I wanted someone the farther they’d go from me.”
“Did she mean they wouldn’t love you back?”
“No. I think she was trying to say no matter what I did, they’d just drift away. Fate would take them away.”
“Do you mean even when they love you back, it cannot last for a long time?”
“That’s a cruel thing to say.” Andy knitted his eyebrows. “Why did she say that?”
“She said that because I’d made her promise to speak the truth as she saw it, and not hide anything from me. I meet someone. I like them. They like me. There are a few sparks. And then it fizzles out.” Diano sighed.
“But every time you must go out and find that person. Every time you need to try harder to make it last longer. And all the time you know it may not last. That is so tough to do.” Andy shook his head.