(As told to Balaka Basu)
I was 22 years old when I fell madly in love with him. We started going out on dates. He was very courteous during those dates, but always maintained that I shouldn’t expect him to fall in love with me, because he was heartbroken after his first girlfriend dumped him. He’d vowed to never fall in love with another girl. He was the perfect Devdas and I became his Chandramukhi.
I was so naive and blind that I never saw the evident red flags. I was kind of fine with this non-committal relationship. Loving him so much, I never expected anything back in return. For me, just spending time with him was enough. I was foolishly thinking that my ‘true love’ for him would melt his heart and one day he would realise that no other woman on this planet loved him the way I do.
Even though he was not ready for commitment, he never shied away from intimacy. However, I shouldn’t blame him, because I was a grownup and I should have been aware of the consequences. For him, our relationship was nothing more than a ‘one-night stand’ that lasted for about six months.
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He went away without a word
Then one day he just left for the USA without informing me. I got hold of his US number and called up. He was furious. He said extremely rudely that I should never call him and should stop chasing him. After he hung up I sat there holding the phone like an idiot with tears rolling down my cheeks.
My cousin became my shoulder to cry on after this messy breakup. She and I grew up together and she was my best friend also. I used to share everything with her. She was extremely supportive and consoled me as much as she could.
A few days later, I saw his comment on my cousin’s Orkut (those were the pre-Facebook days) profile. I immediately went to her friend’s list and saw that he was there. I called her up and she said nonchalantly that after hearing about him she was intrigued to know who this guy was for whom I was so head over heels. Therefore she had sent him a friend request that he accepted. She said there was nothing serious and he was just in her friend list and she never interacted with him. I believed her.
I began a new life
In the meantime, my parents arranged my marriage. I forgot about my past and started a new life afresh. A couple of months after my marriage my cousin called me and said excitedly that she was getting married. She was so happy that her happiness was palpable even through the phone. She said that her boyfriend proposed to her on his knees with a diamond ring in his hand. I was extremely happy for her and asked her the name and details of the guy. Suddenly her excitement dampened and she started hesitating. I nudged her again and then she said “Our intention was not to hurt you, but it just happened between us. We are made for each other, Di.” I did not utter a single word and for a moment felt that there was no ground beneath me.
My husband found it odd that I was not attending my best cousin’s wedding but my pregnancy gave me a good enough reason to skip the wedding. My cousin sent me their wedding photos. I saw him posing happily beside her. He looked every bit of a happy and committed groom. Suddenly his words that he didn’t believe in love, commitment and marriage fogged my memory. For the first time in my life, I felt used, humiliated and manipulated.
Soon after their marriage, they left for the US and I sighed in relief. That saved me the ordeal of bumping into them every now and then. My cousin kept in touch with me. She used to regularly call me and ask me about my life. However, she avoided mentioning him.
What does she have that I don’t?
I was apparently happy in my marriage. I had a wonderful husband and child; however, I never stopped thinking about him. I was almost obsessed with his thoughts and every single day I used to think about him. A part of me was angry with him; however, the other part was still desperately and helplessly in love with him. I used to miss him, crave him and cry for him.
His happy photos with my cousin bothered me. I used to feel jealous and angry. What did he find so special in my cousin that he didn’t find in me? I felt inadequate and incomplete. I constantly wondered, “Is she more beautiful?” “Is she smarter?” “Does she love him more than me?” “Why could he never love me the way he loved her?”
I avoided meeting them whenever they came to India. My cousin understood this and she always came to visit me alone. They now had a daughter. He was a doting dad and my cousin had no reason to be unhappy in any way.
For 10 years I avoided all family functions whenever they attended. However, one day I accidentally bumped into him. He had come to India alone without my cousin, as his mother was in the last stage of cancer. He was waiting in front of the hospital when I was passing by. Initially, I hesitated whether to call him or not but then I couldn’t control myself and just called him. He looked fatter and older. He came and sat in my car. I don’t know how he was feeling, but I was feeling giddy. Being with him inside a car after ages made me happy and hesitant at the same time.
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When we finally met, he still wouldn’t answer me
We started talking. Initially, I asked about his mom and he asked about my husband and son. I was about to drop him home, but he insisted we go and sit somewhere. The practical side of my brain said that I should drop him and go home, but the emotional side was craving to steal some time with him.
He took me to the same coffee shop that we used to frequent. He asked me if I remembered the place. I nodded. He softly held my hands and then suddenly I asked “Why did you marry my cousin and not me? Was I anyway inferior to her?” He was slightly embarrassed at the question and said “Why are you asking me this after 10 years? Why did you not ask your cousin?”
I looked into his eyes. He stayed quiet for a while and then said “No point talking about this after 10 years.” I still shamelessly asked him “What was our relationship? Did it mean nothing to you? Did you never think about me even once?” He looked at me and replied coldly, “I do not want to discuss all this after 10 years. Just be happy with your life and let me live my life.”
Once again I felt a sharp pain. I guess I should learn to forget him and move ahead in life. Some people are just not meant for each other. The sooner you accept that, the better it is.