It was a cold winter afternoon and I had an early 8 am lecture to attend in college. As soon as the Cost Accounting professor was done, I raced to the canteen to buy myself some idli sambhar because my stomach had been growling throughout the lecture.
And there he sat, under the banyan tree reading a book, with the sunlight dancing on his chocolate brown ringlets. For a moment, I forgot how hungry I was and couldn’t help but keep looking at him. For some reason, I was instantly drawn to him. Being the extrovert, over-excited girl that I am, I went over and sat next to him, introducing myself. He meekly responded but I could tell that he wasn’t deliberately trying to be curt but instead, was just a shy guy.
Later I learnt that he was pursuing his bachelors degree in Mathematics and he liked keeping to himself. The fact that he was an introvert, quite the opposite of me, attracted me to him even more. There was something about him that made me want to talk to him and get to know him better. And this became my new mission in life.
Every time I saw him I’d go and talk to him and though, initially, he was a little taken aback, slowly he got pretty friendly with me. In between those short conversations, one-sided chatter (mostly) and questions that I hurled at him, we started liking each other. He asked me out through a love letter. Old-school and classic, I thought, he was downright adorable!
But as I got to know him more, I got this inkling feeling that he wasn’t always being honest with me. He slowly started opening up to me, telling me stories of his childhood days, school and friends. But sometimes he would be hesitant and hide things. Like he never talked about his family, I had observed. This started to get to me. The mysterious aura was great but now I wanted to know what he couldn’t tell me. I guess they are right when they say you should be careful what you wish for because what I found out was beyond believable.
One day after a long conversation I confronted him. I told him he had to share all the dark thoughts that he constantly battled with in his head because they seemed to be plaguing our relationship too. Either that or he could leave me.
He hesitated a little and then told me the truth. Four years ago, he had a sexually active relationship with a girl. And this girl was actually his stepsister. When he was just 17 and she was 19, he had lost his virginity to her. She had come into his life like a knight in shining armour when he was battling to come to terms with his parent’s divorce. They lived together, which had made their relationship convenient. And since they were not blood relatives, legitimate as well.
Over time, their intimacy reached a level of dependency. They claimed their love for each other and made elaborate plans about their future. She promised him that she only wanted to be with him, except that was not true. And he found out about that when she agreed to marry a family friend through an arranged setting. And just like that, their love story came crashing to the floor and with it, so did he.
As supportive as I wanted to be, I couldn’t digest this dark past that he had. The day I found out, I didn’t say much. I tried for the next few months to put it all behind, but it just didn’t seem right.
In retrospect, badgering him to tell me the truth was not such a good idea. It led to the eventual demise of our relationship. But on the other hand, if I had learnt all of this later, it would’ve hit me way harder. The only memory that I want to remember him by is the shy boy sitting under the banyan tree reading a book, with the sunlight dancing on his chocolate brown ringlets.