We decided to go out again. This time to a dark, dingy pub in Juhu. Very unlike him to choose a place like this. I couldn't say I knew him at all.
Why did he agree to spend so much time with me if it would never amount to anything?
"I'll have a whisky with ice," he told the waiter with a smile.
The waiter smiled too and kept coming back again to chat with him. It was very unnerving.
He kept staring at the painting on the wall. It was a rather dull pastel shaded oil painting of a ship sailing in the sea. I couldn't understand how anyone could paint the sea in such a staid manner. If anything, the sea inspired people to be passionate, free and reckless.
I asked him why he was staring at the painting.
"Something that it's trying to convey in a very subtle manner. See, there isn't a dark cloud in sight, and the sea is calm, but the sails are fluttering and the rudder is damaged".
I turned back again to analyse it. See, it was these exact things about him that made me fall for him. He was cold and sensitive, logical and intuitive, forthcoming and withholding. If he was a woman instead of a man, he would have broken many hearts.
I moved forward to hold his hands. He didn't flinch. He didn't look up, he was there and he wasn't. I took off my shoes and touched his brogues with my feet. This time he shuddered.
"Why? " I asked.
"Because I can't"
"Are you not attracted to me? "
"I am very attracted to you"
"Do you have a girlfriend? "
"Are you gay? "
"No, I'm very much a heterosexual"
"Then why? "
"My hands are tied"
"What does that mean? "
"It means things are not always as simple as they seem"
I was three drinks down by then. The music changed and old retro numbers started playing. The place was getting crowded. An ex colleague landed up and I started chatting with him. I was angry and hurt, yet not willing to create a scene.
He sat alone, drinking, occasionally looking at me to see who I was chatting with.
After a while he decided to drop me home in his cream Ford. He felt relieved I hadn't lost my temper, which I always did.
Before we left, I turned back to look at the painting. He was right. Things are not always what they seem. I wished time and kindness would heal him.
Then I noticed something he hadn't. The reflection of land in the water, far far away.
He was closer to it more than he knew.