“I promise to make you the happiest woman, if only you let me. We will travel this world together, and you know I’ll never stand in the way of your dreams. Would you really marry any guy your dad finds instead of giving me a second chance? What went wrong, Sana? Tell me. I still love you, and always will... " Rishi texted me.
It’s been almost a year now since I broke up with him. We had met in college. Back then he liked my best friend - in fact, I was helping him set up with her! But texting all day and plotting all night only brought us closer instead. And along the way, we fell for each other. Cliched, I know - but I would rather have let my life be the romantic cliche most girls live - the happily ever after - than living what happened soon after…
Five years ago, I fell in love with Rishi. We were really great together and the best part about our relationship was how we really, really cared about each other. When college came to an end, it was time for us to walk our different paths. But we decided to hold on across a 2-hour time gap - a 2,500-mile long-distance relationship. You see, this was the first time when both of us were stepping out of the comfort of our homes to live independent lives alone in the big world. Our lives were changing, and the only thing that felt constant and secure to us then was each other’s presence in it - and so over international calls, WhatsApp texts and Skype, we made up for physical absence.
Every few months, Rishi would return to meet me, and I would jump around feeling super happy. Too often I’d run to kiss him to make up for all the times on phone when he was so far away from me. Everybody knew I was in love, everybody could see I was in love... But only I knew how sometimes I would question it all. Question my need for more. For in my gut I felt that love should be more. I often found myself wondering if Rishi really was the man I wanted to spend my entire life with... Never could I answer in the affirmative, however much I wish I could. Because there was more to why I felt the way I did, why I had started questioning my love for Rishi... I had met someone else. I had met Kabir.
Right from the start, I just felt something so electric and alive about him. Everything he thought, everything he said, his past and his future - they drew me in, made me curious! He was that rare kind of person who really knew how to touch the lives of everyone around him, bring anything dull to life! This was a man who challenged society and broke its norms as he lived. He had perspective, intelligence and energy that I hadn’t come across before. You know how some people walk into your life, and your world is never the same again? Kabir was that person for me. He egged me on, and I started doing things I never thought possible. I stopped fighting with myself and started fighting for myself - being happy and dancing to the tune of my own heartbeat. I felt capable, full of potential and so happy with him. I saw the world through his eyes, and it felt better - it wasn’t the dream that I lived with Rishi. It was a ride that made my heart race - and maybe that was what I was looking for?
I fell in love with one man... while I was in a relationship with another...
I knew how it looked like to everybody, because it felt worse to me - but I just couldn’t help it! I couldn’t help feeling what I did for Kabir, I couldn’t help wondering whether what I had with Rishi was just friendship grown into habit. And I couldn’t help feeling guilty for being in love.
On so many occasions, I tried to break it to Rishi, but words somehow always failed me. I didn’t know how to explain any of this to him - of course he would never understand it. Why should he? After all, would I have done so, had I been in his place?
I thought I’d make life simpler and just return to my hometown - away from my daily flux of feelings, away from Kabir. But, well, life had other plans... For a picture I took with Kabir, in a somewhat intimate moment, found its way to Rishi - and I had no explanation to give him after. That look on his face of utter disbelief... It was all too apparent for me to ignore.
I broke up with Rishi - I guess not loving someone and yet being with them is a kind of cheating too. But I also decided to let go of Kabir, despite my love for him. For he had been in a steady relationship with someone else all along - one that I didn’t want to end like mine did.
Walking away was difficult, more difficult than I thought it would be. But it was important. After a long time in my life - I took a decision that was only about me. My life and my feelings had become a ground pounded upon too often, and so I chose to pack away my feels for other people for a while and just be with myself.
It’s been a few months since, and all I know right now is that I am happy to be on my own, getting to know myself first before committing to another. At least I won’t ever fool a Rishi for a Kabir again, and if a Kabir ever does come again - this time, he may only sweep me off my feet, without shaking the very ground upon which I stand...
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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Published on Sep 10, 2015