My head is heavy, nose blocked. Abusing alcohol on Friday nights has become a new normal. When you’re a corporate slave, with no time to even look at yourself, it’s quite unsurprising you end up this way.
It’s been eight days since she texted. I’ve not responded yet. I did have the time last Friday, I chose not to. She’s a bit too clingy for my liking. I’ve known her for nine months now but we have gone out only thrice. I prefer talking to her virtually. We follow each other on every social media platform possible, even LinkedIn, for heaven’s sake.
After seeing this photo now, her latest Instagram post, I cannot help but ping her. It’s 3 AM, but any time is good time to flirt, right? She was last seen 18 minutes ago.
“Too hot, you. How have you been?” I text on Facebook messenger with the Instagram link.
She replied within a minute, “Thanks. Been okay. You?” Coldest response I’ve ever gotten.
“You seem tailor-made for sarees. You still workout?” I ask.
“Yes, in the morning. Where have you been? I waited,” she says.
“You’d look so hot when you workout. I can imagine.”
“I’m asking you something, Vivek. Try flirting some other time.”
“Got a bad headache. Hangover. Should sleep. Will text later.”
“Wow. You just wanted to sext. Great, go ahead.”
“Umm…go ahead with sexting or sleeping?”
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“Have a meeting in your building today. Free by 6. Would you like to grab a bite, if you’re free?”
When you get such a text a couple of days after you miserably failed flirting with the sender, you are bound to be excited and embarrassed simultaneously.
“I’d love to. Will try and get done by 6 30. See you at the Barista on the first floor.”
Do I want to meet her? Not really. Do I want to have sex with her? Not really. Was her Instagram post too hot? Yes. Would I try and flirt again? Oh God yes! Do I love her? No.
Are we dating? She thinks so. Am I dating her? Of course not.
Such rapid-fire sessions with yourself, especially about women, help gain clarity.
“You are one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen,” I wrote on the bouquet I left at the Barista. I left the building an hour earlier, without telling her. I knew she’d call.
“Urgent meeting came up. Had to leave. Will meet very soon,” I text her after declining her call.
“Why do I feel it’s just me who’s into this relationship?”
When that’s the first question fired as you settle at a romantic corner of an expensive Delhi deli, with a lit candle and red wine on the table, you know it’s going to be an uncomfortable night.
“We are not in a relationship,” might not be the most suitable answer.
“Please do not assume. Can we please enjoy the moment and have this conversation later?” I say.
“‘Later’ never comes. You’ll vanish tonight and reappear months later. I need to know, Vivek.”
“I won’t. You know work hasn’t been easy. I’m doing my best to maintain a healthy work-life balance.”
“When was the last time you missed me?”
“I miss you all the time, Varsha. Trust me.”
“When you see an Instagram post that makes you feel horny? Is that when? When you’re bored and want to sext? That’s when, right?”
“Oh come on! You know that is not true.”
“What is the truth, then?”
“The truth is that…”
“Yes? Go on.”
“The truth is that I am famished. Shall we order?”
I’d never forget that night. I ordered food; she said she is not hungry. As I dug into the lamb steak, she sat in silence, occasionally sipping the wine. I thought she was looking at me but her gaze pierced through me. It was as if there was an ocean in front of her and she was staring at the horizon. I wasn’t wrong. There sure was an ocean, inside her. Waves of thoughts pulled her deeper and she let it. She was drowning, but getting closure.
I was wrong
I knew what I was doing all these nine months. I had come out of a beautiful relationship with an ugly end, vulnerable, lonely and selfish.
Varsha was kind, straight-forward but as vulnerable. I realised that the first time we had a chat on Facebook. All I was looking for was a distraction, a rebound. She was perfect for it, yearning for love.
I wasn’t ready for another relationship. I don’t think I ever will be. Like Imtiaz Ali characters say, maybe it really exists – true love – that happens just once.
These can’t be justifications for bread-crumbing, though. That’s what I did. I was there, but not there. I made her believe I want to be with her, but never was. I used her, her time, affection, concern, all to satisfy my ego.
I wanted to know there is a backup. I knew how to keep her hanging, eager and interested.
I steered the non-existent relationship any way I felt like, entirely disregarding her feelings as a human being.
Not anymore. I cannot do this any longer. She couldn’t have, either.
That dinner date changed it all. It changed her. It changed me. And that relationship.