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Poornima Jadhav

9:43 PM, 10th January 2016

I walked back home from the school's farewell party, wearing a black dress, smudged eyeliner and a half-fainted lipstick. I trembled walking with those 3-inch tall heels, and with every car passing by, I prayed and hoped for something to hit me and end this pain forever. I didn’t leave the party by myself. If I’d stayed for another moment, I knew I would go back home with more bruises on my face. The headlights on the streets got blurry, and at this point, I knew my life was f*cked!

But how did I get here? How did all this happen? Well, it all started with a password.

In 2012, my family decided to move to Chennai, a culturally rich, beautiful and simple place. A crowd with generous clothing style and extraordinary interests. The Sun would hit my skin until it felt like I was being barbecued, quite literally! I could do with the constant throwing up and falling sick due to different climate all together, until I had to attend school. Anxious me had lost her way in this massive school thrice in one day. Soon days became weeks, and weeks turned into months. It was then I started dating a couple of guys since I didn’t know how to politely reject them. I’d date for a week or so and throw in a silly reason and break up. I started getting called out for this behaviour. How could I have thought, in a place filled with angry and horny teenagers, I wouldn’t be bullied?

It all didn’t bother me till the time I met him. He.. he was tall, dark and handsome. This sweet guy entered my not-so romantic world and made me realise I was worth so much more. He would spam endless hearts, treat me like a princess and make me smile in seconds. I was finally in love! I mean… that’s what I thought.

A teenage girl is just a sucker of high school romance; walking back from school together, secretly noticing each other across the hallways, escaping from lectures and meeting near the cafeteria. Bollywood had corrupted our minds so much so that just hanging out didn’t feel okay. There should be drama, jealousy, fights for it to be a blockbuster movie.

My life was all rainbows and sparkles until one day he decided to ask me for my passwords. I chuckled wondering how jealous he was becoming of the other guys. In no time, one by one our sweet moments started turning into heated up arguments as to who I can and can’t talk to. The arrogance in me arose and demanded him for his passwords too. It took him about 10 minutes to share it and I, then knew something wasn’t making sense.

I scanned his entire account in and out, and little did I know how for him every other girl was the cutest, prettiest or hottest amongst the others. We fought, cried, broke up and in a few hours, got back together. This went on loop and eventually became a routine. Honestly, after a point, even the fights stopped making any sense.

We were only in the 10th standard when he first laid his hands on me. A slap on my face should have been big of a reason to walk out of the relationship. My eyes screamed for erasing the last one minute, mind hoping for an answer, body unable to move and sealed lips crying for help. Even after that moment, I stayed. I thought I deserved it for talking to a guy he’d specifically asked me not to. Soon, the verbal abuse turned into physical and mental. I wasn’t allowed to upload any pictures, talk to anybody, change my passwords and even smile. That is it. By this time, half my friends had cut contacts with me because I wasn’t able to see what they could notice.

All this went so wrong one day when I figured he was cheating on me. I tried confronting, but he being himself, always denied those accusations. I begged him to free me from this relationship but he wouldn’t let that happen either. I, then decided to confront the female he was hitting on. One thing led to another and I was found at the principal’s office with a bluish black bruise on my face, scars on my hands, multiple kicks on both my legs and absolutely no hope to live another minute. He got thrown out of the school while I received a week’s suspension for perhaps provoking him to beat me up, I suppose. The reason of suspension is still unclear in my mind.

I somehow figured something was terribly wrong with me. I wasn’t like other kids in the school. It was a struggle to smile or even function as full human being. I would spend hours, days and nights fantasising death and suicide. How in seconds my entire pain could be taken away, this thought, it gave me hope. He’d call me, asking me to hurt myself for him to feel better. Hurting included continuous banging on the wall, slapping really hard and cutting my hands. I would spend most of my hours in the bathroom, crying and holding my chest since it felt like my heart would explode. In a matter of time, the tears also gave up. Sometimes when I was able to gather some courage and fight back, he would ring my telephone or call my mom up or last resort would be to show up near my house. He threatened to come up and beat me and my family. I knew I had caused my family enough pain and didn’t want any more of it for them. So I’d do as he ordered.

My mind had somehow believed I was beyond repair, until the farewell party took place. I had had enough of him and it was time. I came back home, broke my telephone’s cord, kept my mom’s phone with me and threw my SIM card away. I knew nobody was coming to save me. I was probably knocking the wrong doors for help. I had totally forgotten I had myself to lift those shattered pieces up and build them back together. It took a while, but not once did I ever look back.

I would get nightmares and was paranoid with the thought of letting someone else in my life ever again. After a couple of months, to have a closure, I confronted him and apologized for my naïve behaviour all these years. I knew I had to forgive him as well in order to move on with my life.

It has been so many years since the incident and I still need to let myself know that I am safe and happy. The world is still a big, scary place to live in. Sometimes, we believe we deserve to be treated like sh*t, but that’s not true. Now, I wish I had asked for help from the right people, noticed those red flags of a toxic relationship, gotten myself out of it before it was too late. Nothing good has ever come out of bad, nothing. While you fix someone else, make sure you are not losing a chunk of yourself in the process. After all, the only person who is never going to leave your side is you!

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