Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 22, October 2009

Where Does Friendship End and Where Does Love Begin?
A Personal Narrative

Monishka Sen
(name changed)

Interlocutor: Akhil Katyal

Coming to college in the first year of graduation in Delhi University, it was difficult to grapple with the home-sickness that made me want to run home every other day to Patna. At the same time I was trying to come to terms with the rejection that I'd faced from my first love who was a boy back home. I was trying to build a wall around me, trying to hide my self from the new faces I met in this jungle. It was an all-girls college. Making new friends was difficult. I was a shy introvert person. Gradually I started hanging around with a set of people. I had never thought anyone of them would mean to me what she means to me now. She was always there when I needed her. Priya [name changed] then, was also in the process of detaching herself from her ex-boyfriend.

At the end of third year I gave her my 'opinion-diary' in which she wrote that we broke all 'conventions of friendship', sending each other late-night messages more than talking to each other face-to-face. That was the way we had lived out many of our connections. If I look back on those three years of graduation now (I'm doing my post-graduation presently and she's with me in my M.A. class) it is full of our little aborted plans. Like when we had to present a joint paper in the second year, we could not decide till the very end, whether to go ahead with it, what to do and how. Or when we decided to bunk our class for a movie and it turned out that all the movie-halls were houseful. I think our friendship was more about jinxed plans. But it was friendship. Till now, I had never thought of it as anything else. And the notion that I could be anything other than heterosexual was far from my mind. Not even a distant possibility I would have said.

In my M.A. first year I had to stay in a paying guest accommodation because I could not get a university girls' hostel. In a single room here, away from the college friends I had made, I felt myself going back to the depression I had felt in my first year of B.A. At that time, Priya was looking for a paying guest accommodation for herself. I had been quite a regular student. Had never bunked classes except that one peculiar movie-trip with her. However now, I bunked another day of classes, only to go house-hunting for her near the campus. We found a house to her taste the very same day. Her face lit up when she entered that room and with it my heart skipped a beat. But there was no other name for this but friendship. There was nothing else, I'd thought. Then why did I save the thank you message she sent me after settling down?

Ever since I had come to Delhi I had stuck to some definite rules. Particular study hours or necessary things to do in a day. Even fixing hours for entertaining myself. But I think it was with her that those rules cracked a little. I found myself being more flexible with my days and myself. Carried away by our conversations, I hardly found myself with books now. I was telling her everything; things I would not have told anybody. Things I had experienced with my previous two boyfriends and troubles with my family. These were not easy things for me. To share them with her was overwhelming. I was often besieged with a sense of guilt in recollecting them. This narrative is not the place to recount those experiences, but it is, I think, an ideal place to register that Priya washed away my sense of guilt by lending an ear and by nonchalantly dismissing the possibility that I could ever have been wrong. I loved the way she said 'Big Deal!'.

My nightmares began to disappear. But then came that dream which was totally inexplicable but very beautiful. The dream went something like this. I could not find my house and was roaming everywhere, lost and lonely. Then I went and knocked at her door. She opened it and said that I'm welcome to stay. The next thing I remember of that dream was that I was making out with her. This was the first year of my M.A. What was I supposed to make of this dream? It bewildered me for many days. After this dream, my attitude towards her started changing. I waited to hear her voice daily. I went to and whenever she used to scrap any of her friends I used to feel jealous. I was enamoured by her sense of humour and wit. But the most taking desire was to touch her, hold her, kiss her and make love to her. And unknowingly I started comparing the intensity which I felt for her to the one that I had felt for my first boyfriend.

I think I was full of unspoken desires. I always used to (and still do) consider her my angel, even if she is the self-proclaimed devil. It would have been very difficult for me to tell her. But it happened one day. I told her that she was my latest crush. She told me that I would get over it like the many crushes I keep on having over guys. Which I've always had. Only she was the first girl I had had a crush on. After telling her I returned to my room but the insecurity set in that she would stop talking with me or look down at me. Those were very painful moments. When I could not stop myself from sending very mushy, romantic SMSes to her and yet feared some kind of backlash. But I think I am lucky it was her. She did not change at all. In fact she was the one who allayed all my fears and insecurities regarding our friendship.

The crush had begun in January. It is September now and the crush continues. I have troubles calling it my bisexual moment and yet I think perhaps that's the word. The crush is not over. It's been a few months. Yet it's nothing else. But had she reciprocated perhaps it would have been a relationship. Which in some ways, it still is. Where does friendship end and where does love begin, or are they arranged this way? I do not know the answer.


Intersections acknowledges the assistance of the Gender Relations Centre, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University in the hosting of this site.
© Copyright
Page constructed by Carolyn Brewer.
Last modified: 2 November 2009 1014

This page has been optimised for 1024x768
and is best viewed in either Netscape 2 or above, or Explorer 2 or above.