Blurred vision, short breaths, cold sweats engulfed her body as she stood with her against the door. “Madam, open the door! are you fine?” an undying chorus being repeated by the guard. How could she face her team? She had made an excuse for stomach ache. But deep inside she knew that wasn’t the reason that was holding her back. How could she go up to them and tell them with a straight face that the real reason she couldn’t play was because she had blacked out in the middle of the game. One moment she was holding the ball but the next moment it was like a dense fog had settled down on her. A national level basketball player couldn’t play anymore. Ha! The humiliation she would have to suffer. She quit the team, went back to her hostel, closed the washroom door and looked into the mirror, with only one sentence going through her mind “Love will help you grow. It is the most heavenly feeling in the world”. But nobody told her what happens when it doesn’t help you grow.
Nine months before, she was standing in the enrollment office when she saw him. White shirt, black jeans, his hands concealing his face. He looked as if he had been hit with the most tragic news on this planet. She mostly stared but her eyes were more of a curiosity look. Nineteen days went by, she was him in the college near the academic block, the mess in the hostel, at the canteen in the college, when he used to gather in the inner circle of her college’s academic block. Surrounded by only 2 friends, he seemed like an introvert and a shy guy. After stalking like a predator for 1 month, the curiosity turned more into fascination and finally she decided to make the first move. After 4 months of talking she knew she was in love and had fallen for this guy hard. She thought she had the power in her hands, whenever she called, he would always pick up the phone and meet him whenever and wherever she wanted him to meet. He used to be nervous and cute around her enough to make her fall for him more profoundly. Then came the first fight. It was her birthday. While 20 people in her tiny hostel room cheered and sang happy birthday for her, she looked at the phone in her time, 12:45, why hasn’t he called. In amidst of the chaos she clutched her phone even more tightly, waiting for it to ring any second. She was hurt. She called him. He gave the reason that he thought that her other friends and families would be wishing her at that moment and he didn’t want to ruin it. He knew how she felt about him, what made him think that if he had called, she wouldn’t pick up her phone.
This birthday was somewhat going to turn into an unpleasant memory. Next day she went to confront him. It didn’t cover the fact that he had just dropped just a tiny, casual text wishing her yesterday. She tried to make him understand how much this bothered her, only to see the understanding turn into something more vicious. They got into a fight, she begged to him to stay. She had never begged anybody maybe that is what love is all about. Becoming aware of new aspects of your personality. She was happy she got him back even if it meant losing her self-respect a little bit. The next fight was much more brutal. He started hiding things from her. His toxic addictions, his past, his emotions available to everybody else, except her. She kept running faster behind him. She changed herself completely. This transformation was like poison ivy. It was growing rotten roots inside of her. But it was all masked by the fact that she was doing all of this out of love.
Another fight. This time it was done. She left him. He realized his mistake and begged for forgiveness. After all she loved him, it couldn’t hurt to give him a second chance? His studies went downhill. She was a UPSC aspirant who changed her weekend classes to Distance Learning Program so she could give time to him. He couldn’t care less. He showed it bothered him but somewhere he was satisfied with what was happening. “she is finally giving into me”, he thought. Things went downhill after she gave him a second chance. His personality portrayed characteristics she couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams. Everything in his life had become a priority except her. She could see that but her heart couldn’t accept that. She had angered issues and he showed his dismay by saying the line” the day you meet someone like you, you will realize who you are”. This one line hit a different note compared to all of the spiteful things he had told before. She knew this line was etched into every vein in her body. It was going to be in her memory till the end of time.
They had their midterms, he scored less than what he had expected. A day before the results he was promising her the world but now, he threw her out his world. He shut out everybody. She cried because she couldn’t bear to see him go through this hard time. Miles apart he lived in Bangalore and she in Mumbai. The only thing she could do was pray for his sanity. And she prayed. She prayed every single day for him by lighting one incense stick for him. They hadn’t talked in a month, every single day she sent him messages as if she was having a one-sided conversation with his imaginary self. This made her believe that so what if he is not talking, at least he will know I am there for him irrespective of what anybody thinks of him. And she knew too, even though how tough he looked, he had melancholic days too.
College re-opened she waited to see him anywhere, anytime in the campus. She texted him. He read it. Finally! But this text left her flabbergasted,” I don’t care right now about this relationship, all I care about is me”. She thought maybe he was taking time off from everything, so she gave him space only to see him hanging out with his friends in the stalls situated outside the campus. She begged again for forgiveness not knowing what she was asking forgiveness for, but all she could see was that he was slipping away from his hands. She couldn’t lose him. She had planned out everything they were going to do together. Eight months into the relationship, fights became incessant, she always ended up crying and he walking away in frustration. She only had passion for one hobby, basketball. She asked him to understand this. After she started spending more time in basketball, he seemed more out of reach. The blame game begun. With him blaming him for not trying to spend time with her. Having practices in the morning and in the evening, she still chose to spend time in the late evening after strenuous hours of practice where each of her teammate would go off to sleep in their hostels. But this incident changed her life forever. They were supposed to meet but one of her friends decided to throw her a little party, after all she was the only 1st year in the playing 5. His boyfriend blamed her for prioritizing everybody else except him and then he hit her with the ground-breaking truth.” you want to know why I didn’t talk with you for a month, well the real reason I couldn’t score was because of you. You scored well leaving me behind.” This girl had left her UPSC coaching, lied to her parents so they wouldn’t force her to take PG in the coming year, was always there for him no matter how he treated her, she changed herself physically and emotionally to satisfy his needs and he took a step behind when times used get tough. Her entire belief system came crashing down. She ran. She ran away from him, his memories, this world. She just wanted to keep running until all of this faded away. She hated herself. if she could have one wish she would ask to shed off this skin.
Staring into the mirror, bloodshot eyes, legs paining from the running, these lines going on a loop in her ears,” love helps you grow.” where?!this love had destroyed her. Nine months into the relationship her self confidence was gone, scars had grown deeper roots, insecurities always seemed on the edge. Nobody warned her about this side of love. She bent far enough that she was close to breaking. She destroyed herself in his love. She didn’t know who she was anymore nor had she any idea how to reverse this situation. Right now, she just wanted one thing back. HERSELF. She saw the signs but she chose to risk it every single time hoping for a different outcome. She could never say those things to him solely because he didn’t have that kind of understanding. Every time she tried to make him understand it ended with those three agonising words, “don’t think much”. If only she had been strong enough to speak out of the things that bothered her. The things he did which used to hit deeper than he expected. She hid all of these because she was scared to lose him. But she lost her identity trying to build his broken identity. She was the one to blame. Not him. Because she allowed this and hence it happened. Everybody knows what’s right and what’s wrong for them. But still we take chances. It is the urge to feel loved to feel appreciated because quoting perks of being a wallflower, “we accept the love we think we deserve”. it is our insecurities screaming that we are undeserving of anybody time or emotions that makes us act out. If only one realized their worth, had a better hold on their inner demons these self-depreciating situations wouldn’t arise.
All that mattered now was that she wanted to feel things, to be able to proudly wear the title she received back in high school of “MS. BOLD” because that’s who she was.