“Raj… let’s just end this.”
Raj sighed. Chandra finally said it, the one thing that neither of them wanted to admit since they first decided to give this… thing, a shot. They both knew it was doomed to failure. They both promised to each other (but most of all to themselves) that it would be light and fun. No commitments, no provisos. It would be a fling, nothing more and nothing less.
And yet here they were, 40 months later. Saying the inevitable.
“Hmm…” Raj used the pink-and-white straw to lazily stir the glass of iced Milo. He stared intently at the floating ice cubes, willing himself not to look up into the eyes of the meticulously-dressed man sitting in front of him.
“Did you hear me? Raj?” The silence was so heavy. “Did you–”
“Yes! Yes.” Raj again let out a sigh, still stirring his drink. It was a heavy sigh full of burden. It spoke of three years of secrets, late-night rendezvous, stolen glances and secret holidays coming to an end. “Yes. I heard you.”
“You and I, we both knew this was coming. Somehow la, somehow we managed to keep this going for so long. That in itself is an achievement, but where is this going? Nowhere right?”
Raj didn’t want to say that he’d been thinking the same thing. It would mean that all this was for nothing. “So…what? We just end it like this?”
“Do you really think it’s that easy?”
“No la you idiot, who said this was going to be easy?!”
Raj nodded slowly. Chandra was annoyed, he could tell. It was that quiver at end of the sentence, the momentary raising of the voice that meant he was trying to keep his anger in.
“No la, I didn’t mean…” Then what did he mean exactly? They both knew that this was the real deal. This was serious. This was the I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of- my-life-with-you part of the relationship.
Raj stopped stirring his drink. He reached out his hands. To a random observer, it would look like he was just stretching his arms, but look closer and one will see his finger ever-so-slightly brushing Chandra’s own. It was one of the many ways they thought up, one of the numerous ways they could show affection without raising eyebrows and getting disapproving glances.
Chandra withdrew his hand. He needed to say what the both of them had been trying to avoid. They had put it off long enough. Better he be the evil one and take off the rose-tinted glasses. He knew he was the stronger one of them both.
“No, Raj. Not this time. It’s time we both faced the facts.”
No no no. “Fuck… okay, fine. What do you expect me to say?”
“I don’t know! I can’t think for you. Maybe some acknowledgement that you realize how bloody serious this is?”
“You think I don’t know? Sleepless nights! I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about this.” Raj slammed his fist on the table.
Chandra wasn’t falling for it, not this time. “Then say something!”
“What do you want me to say? That I’d rather die than end this with you? That I cannot see myself with anyone else but you?! That all I want to do right now is pull you close to me and whisper into your ears that we can get through this and we will get through this?! Is that it?!”
Raj realized it too late. He let his emotions take over, and it had betrayed him. The entire restaurant heard his outburst, saw him move towards Chandra. They saw the kiss he planted. The scandalised faces saw everything. The iced Milo was now spilling from the table onto the floor.
Chandra stared back at him with a look of betrayal. He should have known better, goddammit! At that precise moment, Raj knew. He knew that this was it, this was the end.
Chandra knew it, too. It was the absolute perfect moment to leave. He felt no guilt, no despair. Just a determination to leave. He stood up, gathered his wallet, phone, keys. Confidently, he walked away from the table, from the disapproving glances, from the waiter coming to clean up the spilt drink. From Raj.
Raj stood there, looking at Chandra’s well-formed ass until it disappeared from view. Ah well, it was good while it lasted. He turned to the waiter who was busy wiping the spilt drink. “Bang, Milo ais lagi satu.”