(Names changed to protect identities)
I have always been a no-nonsense person. Talking is not my strong point, and I prefer to live in my own little world of thoughts and emotions. Coming from a small town in Bihar, it had been difficult for me to adjust to my new life in Delhi. The city took me by my collar and pushed me into an abyss of new friends, new colleagues and new acquaintances. I could hardly breathe and find my own space in the big, dark city. But I had promised myself that I would survive.
Arpita was everything that I was not. She was open, friendly and outgoing.
These personality traits came to her as easily as nursery rhymes come to us even when we are 30. She had everything that I had always wanted in a woman. I remember how excited I was when she asked me out for the first time. After 6 months of dating, she decided that it was time for her to move in with me. I knew I would never have had the guts to do the things that came to her so easily. I simply agreed with everything she wanted, only because I loved to make her happy.
We shared a beautiful relationship. She learned to like the books I loved. I learned to like her passion for Cosplay and visited Comic Cons with her. We would spend hours discussing books, and many more hours discussing costumes and the comic characters she loved.
We lived together, we worked for the same company and we had common friends.
Looking back now, I wonder what went wrong between us. Was it because we were so different from each other? Or was it because we were not ready to take the next big step? But perhaps it was because what each of us construed as ‘the next big step’, was not the same.
For me, it had been marriage. I wished to marry her. But then, she was not ready.
For her, it had been telling my mother about our live-in relationship. But then, I was not ready.
Related reading: Love, live-in and lying to parents
I knew my mother would never accept her if she found out that we had been living together. For a woman who lived in a small town in Bihar, such a thing was blasphemy. Arpita wanted me to be honest with my family. She wanted to know my family better before deciding on anything else. She wished to visit my home and understand how life would be if she ever married me. She herself had no such issues. Her parents knew about us living together and they never had a problem with it. Her mother used to come stay with us whenever she visited Delhi.
Arpita hated the fact that she had to move to some friend’s house when people from home visited me. She felt she had to erase herself from my life each time my family visited. As if even a trace of her would be a cause for my family’s unhappiness. We had huge rows because of this. It felt like we had forgotten how much we understood each other. There were days when we wouldn’t talk to each other. And when we did talk, we ended up arguing and fighting with each other. Life had felt abnormal then. That was when we decided that we couldn’t live together. Our family backgrounds were poles apart and bringing them together would only be catastrophic.
She had once told me that marriage was not just about us, but about our families too. I did not understand her point then, but now I do. I now realise that our marriage would have been difficult, if not an impossible ride towards happiness. We therefore had to give up on ‘us’ to save ourselves from unhappiness.
(As told to Neha D.)