Brought up in a family steeped in staunch scientific temper, it sounds odd when I say I believe in ghosts. As a kid my idea of a ghost was that of Casper the friendly ghost. Then I graduated to reading about vampires and the undead; movies like The Exorcist gave me the creeps but it was always a comfort to know that these were just a figment of man’s imagination.
Well, I encountered a ghost when looking for love. I dated him for a month. A very vigorous and robust one-month relationship, where we met almost every single evening after work and did all the fun things couples are supposed to do. Then he disappeared. Became a ghost. No trace left.
My friends had not met him yet. It was too early, or so I thought. He had seemed perfect boyfriend material. Good looking, gentle, intelligent, great compatibility and most importantly, he yearned to meet me regularly. Then one fine day he just stopped messaging, no reply to my queries about his whereabouts, no reply to my mails.
My friends asked me, “Was this perfect guy a figment of your imagination?” I wondered if I had dreamt the whole thing.
This ‘thing’ had been a living, breathing relationship and suddenly I was single again. I didn’t know the reasons for the alleged break-up. I didn’t even know it was over. I had to draw the inference myself, after wondering for the next agonizing two months if I was supposed to wait for him or move on. I needed closure. But I got none.
Related reading: 10 ways to deal with heartbreak
Welcome to the world of dating where you try to manoeuvre your way through this baffling maze, and you swim along with someone for a while who then just drifts away, without any warning, without any goodbye. These are real people of flesh and blood who part ways without having the courage to face you and tell you that they want to end it. You are left wondering why things ended. You spend sleepless nights tossing and turning, speculating on the possible reasons for the break-up. In fact, you are not sure if it is indeed a break-up or you are supposed to give the person the benefit of doubt and wait for him or her to show up.
Goodbyes are never fun but at least they mark the end. They give you a chance to try to make things work or walk away. When you don’t even know you are at the end of a journey, it can be an extremely disorienting experience.
After months of brainstorming with yourself and with your friends, you finally convince yourself to close the chapter and move on. But hold on, there is always that nasty twist to the spooky tale. The ghost shows up. Those terrifying pings pop up on your phone just when you’ve given him up for dead. The resurrection of the undead can only be harrowing. Just when you’ve made peace with the abrupt disappearance, the ghost partner comes back to haunt. For me, it was a chilling experience when the ghost pinged me on WhatsApp out of the blue after a silent three months and spoke as though nothing had been amiss. As if things could be picked up from where they had been left. As if the ghosting had never taken place. I was horrified at the bone chilling, clinical way in which the ghost partner messaged me and tried to make small talk. I get these haunting pings from the ghost every few months.
Having been abandoned had made me pause in life and reflect. I had a choice, either I could go the clichéd way and go on a rampage dating innumerable people mindlessly, in hopes of getting ‘over’ the previous partner or I could try searching for a silver lining in such a traumatic experience.
Ghosting helped draw my attention to my parents. I had always taken their unconditional love for granted. But when you get abandoned so ungraciously, you cherish the comfort of having people of your own, who never leave you – no matter what. The perils of the dating world are such that you need to get your feet wet to find love and some of us encounter unpleasant experiences like ghosting. Yes, like Cole in The Sixth Sense, I do see dead people. These are people who ghosted me and are dead in my eyes. They haunt me by sending random emails and messages and want to hang out with me but I’ve learnt to see right through them and not take notice. And that is how I’ve learnt to deal with ghosting.