It was the summer after college. I had just returned to India after four years of studying abroad. It felt different. Strange. Although I had done my schooling in India, by virtue of having studied in a boarding school, my friends were all over the place. I decided to come back and live in Delhi. After all, I had spent years away from my family. I figured living closer to them would help me settle in better.
I was always ambitious. Not overly ambitious I’d say, but I wanted to achieve something. Be someone. Do great, big things. Perhaps I was even a bit idealistic. So I decided to start working immediately. I joined an NGO, working anywhere from between 9 to 12 hours a day. It left me little room to meet new people, make new friends. The only people I really had a chance of meeting were the people I was now working with. And one could say, I guess, that I got lucky.
His name was Rohan. I met him a few weeks into the job. He was travelling when I joined, and so I hadn’t met him this far. He was a charmer. As smooth as smooth can be. He knew exactly what to say and when to say it. I could tell he was rather popular with the ladies too. He was passionate about what he did, putting in more hours than anyone else. But he knew how to enjoy himself and make sure that everyone else was having the best time too!
It was only a matter of weeks before we grew close as friends. We got along like a house on fire. We would hang out after work, and soon enough his friends and I became friendly too.
I felt like he was the nicest guy I had ever met. Sweet and kind - and none of it put on! But I wasn’t sure at the time if I wanted anything more than friendship. So, although he asked me out, I told him the truth:I just wasn’t sure, I wanted to be friends. He accepted that, and we went on being friends, the relationship unchanged by what he felt. Who would’ve known that I would change my mind only days after this little “talk” that we had!
It was an evening like any other. He asked me if I wanted to grab a drink after work. I agreed. It was just the two of us that evening, like many other evenings before. We were chatting, talking about random things, when he leaned in and kissed me, taking me by surprise. He pulled back and just looked at me. I leaned in and kissed him back. It just felt...right. It felt like it should have happened ages back. Although, I loved him as a friend, I had truly never thought I would actually care about him in a romantic way! I guess I was wrong. All it took was a tiny kiss to make me feel what I had perhaps been feeling all along and just didn’t know it.
We only grew closer with the passing days. I was falling in love with him, and by his own admission he already was with me. Things were good and we were happy together. But I suppose some things just aren't meant to be.
It was sometime in December that I first realized how stressed and tensed he always seemed. He didn’t seem like his usual self. I asked him what was wrong, but he refused to tell me. His behaviour kept changing, though. He was becoming short-tempered, snapping easily and had no patience left whatsoever. A remark as trivial as “Where have you been all day?” was all that was needed to trigger off a side of him I really hadn’t seen before. I didn’t even know it existed. We began to fight. All the time. It took a huge toll on me too. I just couldn’t understand what was going wrong.
A few days later, he broke down. He told me that his parents had been going through a rough time for a while now and had finally decided to get a divorce. I understood where he was coming from and wanted more than anything else to be there for him. Living through something like this isn't easy, no matter how old you maybe. I understood that and wanted to be there for him in whatever way he wanted.
But things only began to get worse. He was more moody than ever. He would be fine with his friends - his normal self - and then turn to me and be upset again. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Maybe he didn’t want to show his feelings to anyone else. Maybe he only trusted me with his emotions. I told myself that from time to time. But it continued for months. His impatience, his changing attitude was directed only at me. No one else saw it because he continued to be his fun-loving, happy self with everyone else.
Our fights only got worse. He told me I was unsympathetic and selfish all the time. I felt taken for granted. I was being the self I had been for months. He was the one who was changing. But then again, so were his circumstances.
I didn’t blame him for what was happening. How could I? He was dealing with something that was breaking him from the inside. Although I had not met them, I could tell from the way he always spoke of them that he loved his family and was always so proud of the love his parents had. He had no room to deal with anyone else’s emotions but his own. Not even mine.
The timing was all bad. Only three months into a relationship I had thought would last forever, things began to fall apart. I tried to be there for him and I saw him struggle to keep this relationship going, but neither of us could help the situation. I stopped saying anything for a while. Began to suppress my feelings. But I knew it was only a matter of time before I burst. Another three months down, when he still remained the same, when I was still the only one who was at the receiving end of impatience and harsh words, I complained about how he was a changed person. He snapped. This became an everyday thing. And neither of us were being able to help ourselves. Keep our cool.
We knew this had to end. We loved each other, very much. In fact, we each thought that the other was the love our life. But the situation was not conducive to our relationship. We were adding on to each other’s stresses and worries. It was unfortunate, and perhaps the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but it was time to say goodbye.
I think of him often. And I know he does think about me. A love like that is hard to find. We were good together. We had the kind of chemistry you read about in books and see in movies. It was all just perfect - except the time that it all happened.
It wasn’t meant to be then. Perhaps if we had met when we were older, slightly more mature, more stable, we would have handled things differently. But I suppose we'll never know now. Or maybe we will. Maybe we will meet again - and the timing will be just right!