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Unreal Over Real

by Luicy Bora
(Guwahati, India)

The clouds seemed really dense and soon it was about to leave its droplets. The couple sitting next to me were extremely thrilled, well of course it was about to be the earliest downpour of that monsoon. I witnessed a naughty smile on the girl's face which would definitely lead to some romantic act. On the other hand the unique aroma of my coffee was hitting all the attractive scents including sweet, bitter, floral and smoky. I was sitting in a cafe looking at the couple's acts and intention to get wet in the rain which was distracting me. I didn't mind though,in fact I thought of discerning them as I was highly strung, shifting my weight from one foot to another, fidgeting with my hair. I had to confess something to someone who hasn't reached the cafe yet. And I highly doubt he will reach the cafe once it starts to rain because apart from species like me and that couple next to me, who are very keen on rain, there is also a species who doesn't really get exhilarated by rain.

He was Prabjot Garg, a twenty six years old Banker and my father's best friend's son. My father and his father have been best friends since college, which automatically befriends our mothers and us as well. When he was eleven years old he got withdrawn from his family to a boarding school. Ever since then he has been living away from his family. But opportunely he joined us back six months ago and probably was planning not to stay away from family anymore.

Prabhjot now had a manly peppered stubble. His only imperfection was that he was beetle-browed. His nose was curved like an eagle's beak which complemented his noticeable cheekbones. People said calling him handsome is understated. People had always remarked that his best feature was his friendliness and flamboyant character that he sported. A room can always be filled with his deep, sonorous voice. He was never too late to crack a joke or to blow with a humorous response.

With these attributes when he asked me for marriage at my parent's anniversary party two months back, our parents went out of their minds. It felt like this is what both of our parents have been biding their time for. I still remember how our mothers were pouring tears of happiness and embracing each other and how our fathers were passing comments like "Friendship is going to turn into relations" proudly. Deeming at our parents' gratifications and Prabjot's likeness towards me I said yes to him by being of the opinion that this set of circumstances was perfect.

But since last month things have started to take a new turn. I got introduced to a man who was probably twenty seven years old and was into business. An absolute vulnerable and unforeseeable person. Nobody used to know when he'll make someone witness his shades like love, fear, flaws, anger and insecurities. He was vulnerable enough to have courage to get rejected or to get laughed at. Humble enough to declare two days leave to his employees for receiving favours from them. Who could utter words like a king and an innocent child too. Who has nothing left to know about shares and trade yet discovering little things for endearment. Who allowed his expensive suits to get wet in the rain yet never wore an unironed shirt. Whose voice can echo at the cabins, but can be soft and pulpy in the personal space. Every time I watched him I became enamoured as he was sleeved by creamy skin with no perfect face cutting. It was not easy to describe his eyes. His eyes were brownish and blackish both. A little yellowness was creeping in near the edges as if they're going to take over. Everytime he blinked it felt like some beauty had been covered by the shield of his eyelashes - naturally thick and long which was enough to make a girl jealous. And by the time he opened his eyes I still couldn't move my eyes away. My each eye contact with him communicated to
me that he was into someone else and there is no point. But I couldn't move on just as I couldn't remove those eyes from my mind.

"Ah I hate rain. Makes everything dirty" Prabhjot arrived. Now I took my eyes away from the couple. "I thought the rain was refreshing," I said. "Look at my shoes. Just look. This is what happens in rain" he said, forwarding one of his feet to show me his shoe. I saw mud lurking on them. Yet I wasn't one of them who would blemish the rain for dirty shoes. Actually it was the improper streets of India, I supposed who should be blamed. "Not just the dirt, rain is also responsible for all these flood issues in the country you know," he said, trying hard to make his point. "Never mind" I said, as he would never understand on what note I was so keen for rain. "I'll ask for a coffee for you" I said and signaled the waiter. "Yeah, so tell me? What you wanted to talk about?" He asked. I started to bite my upper lip as my nervousness hit again. But today I had to tell him what has been happening since last month. I was consoling myself with the thought that he was always a good friend and he'll surely understand, even though he never understood my love for rain. "I am in love with someone else" the moment I said it, the waiter put the coffee on our table. I looked at the waiter, the waiter was looking at Prabhjot and Prabhjot was looking at me. It went awkward in between three of us, but sooner the waiter left. "Wait. What??" Prabhjot said in disbelief. "And you're not the one I should marry," I said. It took a few seconds for Prabhjot to sink it all but he wanted to know everything clearly. "Since you have been my friend all these time,I don't want to hide a single fact from you." I said and took a deep breath. "It's a fictional character," I confessed.

Fictional characters are imbued with qualities that are closer to somebody's definition of perfection. Due to which one finds it more preferable than any real one who becomes absolutely less perfect. Hence accepting the truth of fictional characters being unreal, one falls for it. A philosopher called Tamar Gendler has coined a term that may explain why this happens: ‘alief’. A belief is a conscious response to how one thinks things really are. An alief is a response to how things seem. One can believe one thing, while alieving another. I was sure about one thing that it’s not a fetish, disorder, or solely a type of attraction, but an orientation one is born with, just as valid as any others. It has nothing to do with lusting after those characters sexually as a fan.

"What?" Prabhjot said bursting out with laughter. . "By the way, which actor? Is he from a movie or a web series? Oh wait a book maybe?" He said, continuing the laughter. I got it right at that moment that perceptions on things are very differ from people to people. "Prabh my friend, all I know is that the fictional character has ceased me to connect with real people around me, like you. And hence I am no more in state to marry you. I don't love you, never did and will never do" I tried to make him get it as much as I could. Now I saw his laughter getting erased. "Seriously? For a FICTIONAL CHARACTER?" he asked on a serious note this time. I nodded as badly as I meant it. "I get it," he said. "Do you?" I asked. "If you are really serious about this then trust me you're having some sort of disorder. You'll need a social psychologist, wait I know who we should talk to" he said, taking out his cell phone and looking for someone to contact. I smiled at him which he didn't notice and left the cafe. At least the best part was that it was still raining outside.

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