“I get what you are saying yaar, I do. There is this pressure around us, you know. Like, we have to constantly decide if we want to do things or not – should we go out, should we not, do we wear a dress or pants, will we need a ride home or do we just drive by myself. Half of the time I have no idea what I want. How do I take such decisions, haan?”
The couch was getting too soft. I giggled. Sigh, it was late but this was clearly the best conversation of my life and I was not yet ready to drop it and go to sleep.
After a pause, I started again.
“You know, sometimes I feel like I am not designed to be held on to.”
I waited for a reaction and it took a long time for me to get it. I am still trying to make sense of those words.
“You don’t always need to be held on to, or even hold on to other things. Sometimes, you just have to let go.”
I was in the club, dancing my heart out. It was the end of year party. All exams done, all tension gone. Every single person in this club was glad that the MBA burden they had carried around for some time now was finally off their shoulders. Personally, I wanted the music to be so loud that I could not hear my own thoughts.
“Hey Rita, pump it up a bit. Tonight is the night, yeah?”
I do not know how much time passed because I tend to lose myself in music but when I turned around to find my friends, no one was to be seen. I started to run around, flustered a little now, and I could not see anyone at all. I panicked and checked my phone. No texts. I really wondered what happened to make them go away from me like that. I called Krisha three times but she did not answer.
I was about to call Satya when I saw a familiar face in the crowd. No one had told me Rajnish was in town.
It was exactly like it was 5 years ago. Everyone was behaving in the same manner. No one told me he was in town and since I was less important to them, they decided to abandon me and spend time with him. Perfect. I would not lie and say that I had not predicted it because I had.
Rajnish was taking away all my friends.
“I am telling you Maa, I am fine. Just leave me alone na.”
“How can I? You refused to have coffee. You’ve never done that before.”
“Not a big deal yaar.”
I was trying to pretend to text. It wasn’t like I did not have texts to answer or people who wanted to talk to me. Rajnish and Priya and Anmol had already called me three times each. I just did not want to talk to anyone.
“Maa, you think I am boring?”
She was walking back to her computer. She was on her final chapter and was under a lot of pressure, this book was much more difficult to write than the last one, as she kept telling me. She walked back and sat next to me.
“Why would you say that?”
“Umm..aam…eh… no reason, just think that maybe most probably, matlab, maybe people don’t like spending time with me, you know? Maybe I repel good company?”
She gave me the look she used to give me every time I’d steal a chocolate, the look that told me I was stupid if I believed that I could get away with it. I sighed and gave in.
“Rajnish is in town again.”
Before she had the time to look shocked, the doorbell rang. Mom went to open it. Both of us knew who it would be.
“Hi aunty, is Piya home?”
It was Rajnish.
“So what is your deal with this Rajnish guy?”
I was back on the couch, the night was getting colder and the conversations deeper.
“Rajnish and I used to be school sweethearts. We fell in love when he was 16 and I was 15. You know how it goes, seniors appear all cool and everything. One day, when he was about to finish school, he hooked up with my best friend. All my friends supported him, saying it was love and people should be free. That’s about it.”
The gaze I received in return was similar to my mom’s gaze. It made me laugh.
“Okay fine, I went through a lot after that. I broke up with him and all of my friends, including my best friend, took his side. No one was there for me so I kind of withdrew into a shell and never talked to anyone. Everyone tried, it wasn’t like they didn’t but I felt really alone. My therapist says I have abandonment issues because of that incident.”
I continued after a pause.
“You know, I keep wondering if I had still been with him, how would it be? I know people say all sorts of things about partners who cheat but believe me, I still think about us and smile. He was my first love. Maybe my reaction was a strong one but I can’t ever get away from the idea that it was my meant-to-be relationship. I feel so frustrated and keep asking myself what I did wrong and at some point I do get that it was never about who was at fault. I don’t know… I just can’t let go of the whole thing.”
I had started crying at this point. I needed to let all these feelings out because the betrayal was still fresh in my mind.
“You know what they say, you are never completely okay till you tell your story and you don’t cry. I want to know why you have been choosing to live in the past constantly, Piya. You are smart, you are extremely talented. You have a scholarship waiting for you, you are going to be in London in about 3 months. Rajnish happened, what, 5 years ago?”
“6 years.” I said.
“Man, are you not listening to yourself? 6 years you’ve held on to this anger and hurt, this betrayal and you’ve stopped yourself from experiencing things that make you happy, things that are as simple as kissing the guy who loves you. Come on yaar Piya, I know everyone takes their own time in dealing with grief and such set backs but please don’t live in the past. You have so many good things coming up for you, so many events you let go because of Rajnish and you’d still choose to do that?”
I had to give away the last piece of the story, for the final time since I was going to let it go. I wanted to start letting it go anyway.
“That night, he came to my place and asked my mom if he could talk to me. I wanted closure so I did. He apologized and said if it was okay, he wanted us to get back together and that he had never stopped loving me. He said he made a mistake and that I had gotten hotter since school and everything. I kissed him then. He started laughing soon after. I asked him why that was and he said I was foolish, that I was crazy to believe that someone like him would be interested in someone like me. He said he had some bet with his girlfriend about proving how he was a heart breaker and he knew I’d fall for it, for him, all over again. I slapped him, he called me names and left.”
I stared outside the window into the darkness and sighed after a while.
“Never ever, Piya, punish yourself for loving too much. Loving someone is a good thing but what you did wrong is that you gave him the power, you still give him the power to rule over you, over your life and hurt you. He is not even thinking about you yaar, and all you are doing is holding on to the memory of a faded love that has ended a long time back. You know what I admire about you? You can love so much without expecting in return but don’t hold on to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Love someone who will hold on to you as tightly as you hold on to them.”
I took a deep breath and told myself that I was ready to let him go now and take a fresh start. Everything felt much lighter once I decided to let him go. No matter how difficult it was to let him go, it was totally worth it.