For the longest time in my life, I believed that time played the most important role for everybody. Be it a dream career, a web of emotions or conflicts with a loved one, I thought our time had the power to fix everything. All we needed was some time to breathe, some time to reflect and introspect. And some time to heal, of course. So, I was never in a hurry to chase a particular destination or crave instant gratification. I aimed for long-term happiness and I knew that would require patience. Fortunately or unfortunately, I applied a similar theory when it came to love. All I ever wanted was a love that could last. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy or perfect. I didn’t expect it to be, anyway. I was ready for all the ups and downs that any healthy relationship would bring my way. But I knew - in fact, I was confident that it would be worth it.
So, it all started when I was 19 years old. He and I were in the same batch and even pursued the same course. We must have passed by each other or talked a few times during team presentations but somehow failed to notice each other intently. It was only when I caught him dancing (rather goofily, I must say) and he spotted me reading a novel while drinking at a college party, one night, that we really ‘saw’ each other clearly for the first time. I still remember the first thing he said to me, “Wow! Wine and William Shakespeare. Now, isn’t that a classic combination of...” I thought he’d say something nice but instead, “...torture?” Then he laughed a bit, though shyly. And I spent an hour (or maybe more) theorising what seemed, to me, the most beautiful interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and A Lover’s Complaint.
He knew everything that I was talking about. He might have even disagreed on a few things, but he did not stop me. Later, he confessed that instead of listening to me, he was busy observing the tiny fingers of my hands as they reached for my hair and played with it or the number of times I pushed my specs back on my nose while speaking. At that point, it seemed to me like all the stars in the sky aligned for us to meet. I knew I had found the one. Although we were quite different - in our opinions, interests or ideas, we got along extremely well from the beginning and found a perfect balance in one another. And the rest was history!
Amidst a countless number of dates, vacations, long-distance colleges, changing jobs, changing cities, changing friends, we stayed - as I had hoped - together. Most importantly, we remained madly and irrevocably in love with each other. So, when he popped the question of marriage, along with some champagne, on my 29th birthday, I couldn’t wait to start spending my life with him. I was ready to be his and make him mine, officially! If you had asked me then, to give up my life for him, I would have gladly done that as well. That’s how much I loved him. The 10 years that I spent with him obviously, weren’t easy. Yet, it all felt right at that moment when he and I sat dreaming about our future. But little did I know that the struggle isn't over yet. And what I had hoped to be our happiest decision was in fact, our worst one.
Long story short, his family was against me from the beginning. Somehow, they thought that I didn’t deserve their son or that he could do better. Whenever I went to see them, I tried really hard for them to like me, if not love. But I could never get the right vibes from any of them. Even their smiles seemed fake. And although that should have been enough for me to take a step back, I didn’t. I was adamant on getting them to like me. It was only when we introduced our families to each other that I realised how I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Turns out - they not only disliked me but my family as well. Though my parents weren’t as prim and proper as his, they were respectable and loving - qualities his family lacked. They asked my parents the kind of questions that you would easily expect in an interview. I could see my folks becoming uncomfortable but for my sake, they decided to keep their cool.
Then, they dropped the bomb. His family hinted (not-so-subtly) at the amount of money they would ‘expect us to spend’ on all the ceremonies including our marriage along with some ‘mandatory gifts’ for their distinctively large family. I was not only shocked but partially mortified. I couldn’t believe this was happening. And the worst part was - my 10-year-long boyfriend, my soon-to-be-fiance, the love of my life, didn’t utter a single word in our defence. He just stood there, quiet and indifferent, as if he were almost prepared for this outcome. At that point, I realised that no matter what happens from this moment on, he’s never going to change. He’ll never be able to defend me or my family - neither now nor after marriage. He’ll never fight for me. I never doubted his love but I knew that he would never respect me the way I deserved.
Two days later, I still waited. I waited for HIS apology, if not his family’s. I waited for the thousands of messages or unlimited calls that I was so used to receiving whenever I was upset with him. But this time, I didn’t get any. At the back of my mind, I imagined a scenario where he would be busy fighting and arguing with his parents at their terrible behaviour with mine - so much so, that he’d want to leave his home for me. But as each day passed, my expectations reduced. On the seventh day, my phone finally, buzzed. It was a text from him. I was already prepping myself to reply to his “I’m sorry” message with “You should be.” when I realised that it was something else, instead. “So, what did your parents decide?” it read. And I knew that now, it was time for ME to grow some spine, even if he lacked one.
So, yes - I broke up with him. And though ‘time’ didn’t really turn out to be my best friend, fate was on my side. Two years after my breakup, my father introduced me to one of his friends’ son who turned out to be exactly like me, this time around. He and I bonded over our love for food, travel and adrenaline-pumping, experiences. And with him, life has been quite an amazing adventure since. Today, I’m lucky to call this man, my husband. We decided to quit our 9-5 jobs to open a startup together - a decision we’re both immensely proud of. I also live with my in-laws, happily, who have managed to pamper (or spoil) me to the brim. Although it took him longer than I imagined, my husband was worth waiting for. After everything that happened, I can tell you this - ending my 10-year-long relationship was the best decision of my life.
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