Games we play

“Let's do something together,” you say.
“Like what?” I ask.
“Let’s play a game.” You say.
“I don’t play with girls. I hate Barbie dolls anyways. You know that. I hate everything girls like. In a way, I hate girls. Because they are phony.” I reply, though I know that you’re an exception. You’re different.

“Why are you being weird, James? It’s just a game I want to play. And it’s not about Barbie dolls!” You say. “You might like it.”
“What sort of game is it?” I ask.
“Never mind. Let’s just do something funny and unusual.” You say. “Like let's sit and talk on the brick steps in the Silver Jubilee Park and laugh about everything and nothing at all. Let's have it be a pure accident. Opportune circumstance, as they say. And let's have it be beautiful.”

I don’t know how you invent topics like these. Your conversations, like that of a playful kid, always make me wonder. I know they don’t lead anywhere. I know it’s stupid to chat like we are carefree. As if we don’t have normal lives to deal with. More than that, for me, it’s stupid even to chat with girls in the first place. But I roll along with you anyway. Because you’re different.

“It’s your turn now. You have to say something.” You stroke on my head with a pencil, prompting me to speak, to add sentences to our ‘game’.
“Umm” I say. “Let’s get up regretfully and bid each other good-bye, with promises to talk again next week. Let's gaze wistfully after each other as we depart.”
To which, you add, “Let's make it a habit throughout the summer to talk and laugh on the brick steps in the Silver Jubilee Park. Let's look forward to our weekly chitchat, and let's wonder what the other is thinking as we anticipate seeing each other again.”

Our little conversation grows big in no time. I feel like this isn’t a game at all. This momentum we are gaining, this unusual, I don’t know, little talks with lots of meaning, more expressions compressed in few words, quick furtive glances, eye-contact, and commotion. This is different. 

I think for a while, not knowing what will be appropriate to add. Maybe I can try some fiction. Maybe you’ll like it. After all, there are no rules. “Let's be sitting and talking together one Saturday, and let’s both be slightly disappointed when I mention that I'm going to participate in a hunting competition in Australia, and after that I'm spending two weeks in South Africa in a ranger scouts camp. Let's say we'll miss each other.”

You seem to like it. I can read it from your face. You like fiction. “Let's have a joyful reunion when you return and a long, heartfelt discussion on the brick steps.” You say. “Let's honestly say that we missed each other.

When time gets interesting, it gets fast. Ask anyone. This conversation of ours goes on. There is no stop sign, no U-turn. We speak. We pause. We read each other’s mind. We play your silly ‘game’ which I realize isn’t silly at all. It’s beautiful, with no half-time, no time limits, and no need for skills. Yet it’s fast and interesting.

“Let's proceed slowly into the new academic year, always remembering to have our quick hour on the brick steps together. Let's sit out there even on rainy days.”

“Let's let time go by, a year or two, and in all that time let's not let our friendship fade. Even as we go our own ways after school, let's remain friends.”

“Yes, let's keep in touch. Let's one day – though we have jobs by then – get together and hang out, maybe sit on the brick steps of a park somewhere else. And let's talk for a while. But after a moment, let's realize that neither of us feels like talking. But both of us want to stay. So let's just sit there in silence.”

“Then let's propose. Let's make it beautiful and heartfelt and true. And let's know that we're in love.”

“Let's be happy, sheltered in the knowledge that we were made for one another. Let's let time and life bring everything they've got while we ride out the storm together.”

“Let's dance. Let’s grow wings and fly. Let's be happy and funny and enjoy each other’s company. Let's walk along rivers and city sidewalks holding hands. Let's laugh and tease and steal kisses and smile wide when we see each other. Let's just be adorable.”

“Let's be together, some summer night, sitting perhaps on some brick steps, though maybe not of a park. Let's be sitting there, silent like we sometimes are, and then let's both know something special is about to happen.

“And then let’s get married.”
“Yes, let's get married in the same Silver Jubilee Park where we met, surrounded by everyone we know. Let's forget about everyone else while we promise our lives to each other.” 

“Let's live in a tiny cottage on the top of a hill. Let's be young and happy and carefree. Let's just live, working a little and paying a lot, like young people almost always tend to do.”
“Let's have beautiful children. Let's read to them and sing to them and teach them to be good people. Let's sneak into their tiny rooms when they're asleep and marvel at how miraculous they are.”

“Let's watch them grow up, survive their adolescence and midlife crises, and come out on the other side wishing they hadn't grown up so fast - like us. Let's quietly live alone again in our cottage when they are gone, just the two of us, like before.” 

“Now,” I say, though unwillingly, “let's come back to now.”
“What?” You ask with confusion vivid on your face.
“Let’s get to the bottom of the assignment we are going to be graded upon. Shall we? Let’s not get carried into your funny game.”
“Oh, I thought...aah okay, alright. Sorry.” You look embarrassed because I just ended the fun abruptly. I shouldn’t have done that. Now I feel regret. I really shouldn’t have done that. I am stupid.

We are inside chemistry lab, surrounded by bunch of inanimate objects like conical flask, tip pipette and burette. Objects that don’t have feelings. Objects that cannot understand what it is. There’s a deep silence as we work on the problem. Even as we frequently hand each other our notepads, conduct the experiment, observe results and work together, we aren’t ‘together’. We’re close and we’re far. All because of me. My stupidity. I shouldn’t have been rude. I should have thought.

After an eternity of awkward silence, we arrange the apparatus back on their shelves and get ready to depart.
“Can we play it again, sometime?” I ask.
“Play what? My ‘silly’, ‘stupid’ game? Oh, I forgot. You don’t play with girls, do you? That’ll be too stupid for you.”
“Wait, Emma, I can’t tell you how much I liked it, really. I still hate Barbie and Teddy though. But you’re different. You’re interesting. I like you... Uh I mean the game, I liked the game. You were right. It was unusual. It was funny. So I am wondering. Can we play it again?”

You finally look at me with gradually widening lips. “Yes, let’s do that.”

Anik Yadav