Life Update.

I’ll be honest. I’m fucking terrified for the next 2 weeks. And then the consequences of it, for god knows how long. It’s a little creepy and definitely unsettling to carry on as if I’m not totally perturbed by what’s happening.

I’ve got a very good plan of action, accounting for worst case scenarios and all. I mean the worst that can happen is that I die. But I’ve got an email draft ready to send to my parents explaining everything, in case that scenario presents itself. I’ve already applied for a half day and figured out how to cash my stipend in earlier. Shit, I still need to sell my Weekender tickets. I’ve been putting this off since I first had an inkling, which was only a few days ago. But I was really looking forward to Weekender, damn it. Anyway. I personally do not want anyone accompanying me, but by the looks of it, I don’t think I’ll be able to win this. If anyone, I wish A was here. As freaked out as she is, there is still so much comfort and security with her.

Practicality of this aside, I don’t think I’ve actually processed it too well. I’d be doing completely random things like going on a beer crawl with my friends or working on a pitch presentation or even eating McDonald’s in my underwear binging New Girl and this realisation would just wash over me. And I’m paralysed. Partly freaking out, partly crying. Fully losing it. And there are vivid dreams which are so much worse than my nightmares because I’m just so disoriented even during the damn thing. Still, all things considered, I’m holding up pretty well. Mostly because I have to.

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Letting Go. 

                                           III

One thing I’ve come to realise in the past week is just how much I’ve underplayed my role in this entire mess. Yes, you screwed me over. But I let you. I should have been smarter than the version of myself that took you back after we broke up for the first time. Actually, no. I should have been smarter than the version of myself that indulged you way back in November. 

Your ex had always been an overarching theme in whatever it is we had. And there were times when I was bothered by how you held her in such high regard; nothing or no one could ever compare to her, there would be no deeper love than the one you shared. But I always dismissed it as an insecurity. She was the first person you ever loved, of course you’d be this affected. I should have known better (or maybe just listened to the people who told me); you just needed an emotional crutch. Someone to hold your hand and listen to you while you put yourself back together. You held me close, using me as some grotesque shield, suffocating. I leaned in, mistaking it for affection.  

So of course, whenever things got difficult for you, I was always the first one that had to go. You just “weren’t in the right frame of mind”. And you left the first time. But you came back telling me you missed me. And I believed you. When in reality, you were just lonely and sad because you felt like you had no one to support you. See, that’s a red flag I really shouldn’t have missed. But I did. And I paid the price for it. 

The next time things weren’t going in your favour, the pattern repeats. You attribute your state of unhappiness on us, on me specifically. And you leave. Because you feel more in control this time. You can see your support system, the people who care about you, more clearly. So you don’t need me anymore. The concept of working on something you’ve invested so much in, is alien to you. And it confused and hurt me so much. Until I realised, if it were something as meaningful as I believed it to be, you’d have made some effort. 

The funny thing is, I cared so much about you. Almost to a fault. I can see that you don’t care. Like you said, you’re happier without me. I’ll be honest, that hurt. But I’m just tired now. And what hurts more is that I’m starting to regret ever doing this. I regret wasting so much of my time and energy on someone so selfish, and on something like this. 

Hope you figure your shit out. Have a nice life. 

                                            –Fin

Letting Go. 

I’m not sure what the objective of this is. Chronicling the past seven months isn’t going to make it any easier. Nor is it going to change what happened. 

But it feels like purging. And purging feels good. 

_________________________________________________________

                                            II

Initially, all I remember is how excited I was by you. Texts, dinners, seeing you in college. We’d meet during the 15 minute breaks, we’d text throughout the day, so much so that I remember the time you texted me 3 seconds after you left my apartment saying that you missed me. Looking back, I don’t think we spent more than 3 nights apart the first month together.

We were happy. At least, I was. 

One of my most cherished memories of us is the time we went to Bombay together. Barely 3 weeks into the relationship and you asked me to come to Bombay and stay with you. I was a little hesitant. But P was going home as well, and I knew worst case,  I could always just crash with her. I’m still a little surprised that you asked me to go with you, especially because your friends were also in town- but you still spent your time with me. 

I think my favourite bit of the weekend was drinking at that (supposedly) shady bar. I think we polished off 2 bottles of cheap whiskey, listening to some really fuck all music. I don’t remember much of the conversation from that afternoon, but I do remember how buzzed and content I was. 

We walked to Marine Drive after, giggling the entire way. I remember sitting side by side, staring at the sea; the dramatic declarations of affection, the sneaky cheek kisses, and some rambling conversations. If I scroll far enough in A’s WhatsApp chat, I’d probably find the drunk voice note we sent her, telling her how much I loved her and how you promise that you won’t hurt me because you loved me. We sent a lot of friends similar appreciative voice notes, even called a few.  We watched the sunset and walked hand in hand to meet our friend and his father. We sobered up pretty quickly after that, much to my own amusement. 

This was probably the one memory I wanted to recreate with you during our internship. But we couldn’t and it was okay because hey, it’s Bombay. We’ll keep coming back, won’t we? I guess not. 

_________________________________________________________

In the beginning, we probably turned more than a few heads. We were the last two people anybody expected to get together. Understandably so, I had maintained for the better part of the first 2 years that I didn’t really like you. But a lot had changed in those 2 ish months. Of course, the people closest to me would need some time to adjust to my new stance; Guys, I’m romantically attracted to him. 

So when they didn’t approve or have anything positive to say about us, I wasn’t too bothered. They’ll come around, they’re just a little taken aback. 

I remember the most vicious fight I had ever had with my best friend was over you. She didn’t approve, she thought it was a bad idea. The argument escalated and I left the apartment and came to yours. It’s still a sore point between A and me. But she wasn’t the last person to disapprove. I got a lot more of that over the next 7 months. And I always dismissed it. They didn’t know you like I did. It didn’t matter. 

But in retrospect, maybe I should have heard them out. Not the random people from college. But my closest friends. I stood up for us to all of my friends, to the point where I was extremely defensive and unrelenting. I thought that’s how it was done; if it comes to it, you fight for what you believe in. 
I guess it didn’t really matter. 

Letting Go.

I

-Rewind about 8 and a half months-

It’s November. Semester III has just ended, the 3rd internship is underway. I spend more time at hospitals than I do at work and home. I meet my friends from home on the weekends, read more books than I have in the past year, and try my best to get better. Things were not good, but things were definitely getting better.

It seemed almost accidental that I should receive a text from you. I hadn’t saved your number. You sent me a picture of two of my friends, drunkenly posing. I decided to indulge you, just about. I had never liked you. You were loud, crass, and offensive just to seek some attention. But I decided to do just enough to keep the conversation flowing.

I’m not sure how we went from my once in 12 hours replies to under a few seconds replies late into the night. That entire month was a blur to me. I grew fond of you. I enjoyed our conversations, as random as they were. Everything happened so quickly. I didn’t even realise how attached I was getting to you, until I was. Looking back, I remember how eager I was to get back to Pune. Just for you. And I felt uneasy then; by how much you’d come to mean to me. But I thought I had some semblance of control over the situation. Maybe if I did, we wouldn’t be here today.

In retrospect (especially the way things played out), I should have realised that maybe things were not okay. Your effusive declarations, the intensity of our affection, my 180′ flip on how I perceived you. Maybe I should have paid more heed to your best friend. ‘He’s not okay, the last semester was terrible for him. He’s not in a good place, he’s not ready for a relationship. He just maybe needs someone to listen to him. Be careful.”

But I didn’t.

I remember crying the night before your surgery. You were so scared for so long. All our conversations came back to it. So of course, I was terrified. The prospect of losing you at that point, seemed very real.

I remember praying for you. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve prayed in my life. When my baby brother was in the ICU, when my dad got into a train accident, when my best friend’s family was stranded on their rooftop during the Kashmir floods. When you told me that you might possibly die.

You wrote me something I thought at that time, was heartfelt. I don’t anymore.

 

-First Day back in Pune-

I got back the night before, you would be here in time for lunch. I remember how much you apologised because your bus got delayed. I remember my roommates trying to give you a hard time. I remember the sheepish smile on your face when you handed over the scarf you got me from Kasol.

Lunch was in a cosy restaurant tucked away from Viman. You ate really fast. And apologised for it. I remember you telling me how it annoys your mother because you’re always the first to finish at the table. We came back to my room and talked for a bit, tried playing uno, and listened to music. We spent the next 7 hours together. You went for dinner with your roommates and came back to crash with me (I remember one of them bringing you your pyjamas).

That was the first night (of the innumerable ones to follow) we slept together. I remember us adjusting on my single (but arguably very comfortable) bed. I had my doubts about whether we’d fit. I had back up mattresses for us to sleep on the floor.

But we adjusted; my head on your arm, tucked into your chest, and you held me close. We’d waited for over a month for this moment. And I remember your exact words in that moment right before we fell asleep,

“Nivi, we’re going to have our ups and downs in this relationship. But this feeling- the comfort of falling asleep in each others arms- we’ve got to hold on to this. Remember this if you ever doubt this. And we’ll be fine.”


 

Maybe it’s my fault. I attached too much value to your words that you used so freely.

For M, With Love. 

My earliest memory of you/with you is bunking IIT Coaching to go to Downtown Pub halfway across the city. We spent the afternoon happy hours downing more vodka shots and nursing pegs of whiskey, than I can remember. Semi drunk, we stumbled across the road to that expensive patisserie that served cheesecake we thought tasted absolutely “divine”. We spent the rest of the evening walking around Brigade Road in the rain. I remember laughing so hard I hiccuped through the metro ride home. 

At a point in my life where I was questioning a lot of my choices, you were a surprising source of inspiration and strength. I don’t think I’ve ever given you credit for all the times you were there. Just there. Because you aren’t very articulate or sympathetic. You’re the kind of friend who’d tell me to suck it up and deal with it or do something about it. “Quit whining, you’re unbearable when you do. It’s not an endearing quality.”

Given our stupidity, I’m not surprised our friendship took a turn for the worse; with all our (arguably unnecessary) drama. We grew apart. But we remained in the peripheries of each other’s lives. Something I find remarkable, because we really didn’t have to. I could have easily cut you off. But I didn’t. 

And here we are. 5 years hence, 5 years more mature, I’d like to think. No more bar fights, pseudo brawls, and heated discussions about treating girls you like akin to property. No more sneaking out of responsibilities and into underage driving (still haven’t gotten my license, lol). Mostly, no more avoiding reality; hidden away in second hand bookstores, expensive patisseries, shady bars, and all of Brigade Road, Commercial Street, and Church Street.   

You’re all right, M. Work on your math, biceps, and cooking skills. 

Loads of love, always. 

Of Friendship and Love.

It’s one of my closest friends birthdays today. It’s the first and last birthday she’ll be able to celebrate in college.

I really love birthdays. Not my own, I’ve had a history of shitty birthdays. But I love how happy birthdays make the people closest to me. And N was particularly looking forward to celebrating it with her college friends. Now, due to some (debatably) unavoidable circumstances, most of her closest friends bailed on her this weekend. She knew this. But that didn’t make it any easier.

We had a pretty great evening, managed to throw her a surprise party; complete with jumping and dancing around to your typical desi playlist, embarrassing pictures and boomerangs, and a beer run for the newly initiated. Seeing N nearly in tears was particularly heartening; despite the tension fraught relations between some of us, everyone coming together for her birthday was gratifying.

But the best part was when everyone left, except for the 5 of us. Even though we hung out earlier this week, an assignment submission (and my low mood) dampened the spirits. It was already pretty late and we were all incredibly tired. Sprawled across each other, H’s playlist on the speaker, and easy conversation flowing amongst us, we passed out. There was a moment of perfect silence, Bastille crooning in the background, when it hit me- a rush of affection and an inexplicable fear of the future; 10 months from this day, we’d all be scattered across the country, if not the globe.

I don’t remember how I got so close to them. We barely have anything in common. As different as we’re similar, we have our own independent dynamic with each other. What puzzles and amazes me is how easy it is. Coming back to a conversation with them feels a little like homecoming; unwinding, comfortable, and so familiar.  So much has changed over the past 2 years, it’s a little ridiculous how understated this friendship has been. Maybe it’s just me. I’m overreacting to something that was blatantly obvious to everyone else.

One thing I’ve realised over the past week of introspection is that I’m a person who takes an inordinate amount of decisions based on comfort. Many times this hasn’t worked in my favour, especially with human relationships. But lying down at 3 in the morning, talking about everything in our lives, I felt at ease, I felt grounded. And given how adrift I’ve felt for the past 7 months, I can’t express how much this comfort meant to me.

So of course, while it’s gratifying to know that we’re all making conscious choices to spend more time with each other together, I’m not worried. We’ll eventually end up sprawled together, arguing about what kind of music to listen to, making inappropriate jokes about everything going on in our lives; a little like homecoming.

 

Drinking is a Personal Choice; Just Like Not Drinking Should Be.

Dislike for glitter is a great conversation starter.

A Cosmic Trap

Before I left for college, a friend had said, “I’d like to see how long you’ll last before you start drinking too.”

I have never considered having alcohol but rumour has it that you don’t fit in at college if you don’t drink. Admittedly, I do feel curious once in a while (what is all the fuss about?!), but I never really got around to trying it. My friend had said it playfully of course, but that statement scared me all the same because she, herself indignant about not drinking initially, explained that I wouldn’t understand what it was like till I was in college myself. And so I started to mentally prepare myself for the legendary phenomenon of peer pressure.

I would soon discover that peer pressure was like Trigonometry; the beginning – learning the concepts and the formulas – is a tricky business, but once you do, you…

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