Just a few days into the new year and I’m already rewinding the past. Revisiting the past might sound entertaining to a lot of people. For me, it brings back a lot of trauma. As a closeted gay person with a career in filmmaking, family functions were not my thing. But sometimes, even I couldn’t avoid them.
Most of the family functions begin with fat shaming me and end with tearing me apart because of the career choices I’ve made. For the rest of the function, they keep themselves entertained by criticising how I dress and lecturing me on how I should start ‘acting’ like a lady. “Who will marry you if you keep acting this way?” But were any fucks given? Not one. I was never a person who would go with the traditions that society has stitched to their lives. And that too with a guy? It cracks me up every time.
The universe has played elaborate pranks on me. One of them was during my first year of college. Getting into a degree college was not a big deal because everything remained as it was. Same classes, same faces. But things were about to change.
I was moving on from a crush of mine. For some time, I didn’t have a crush on anyone. I was in a space with just myself, listening to Sufi songs. Traveling from Matunga to Borivali didn’t seem much because of Kun Faya Kun. I was one with All Mighty. But as always, He had other plans for me.
It was a few days after my birthday when I entered the college and went straight to the canteen. The five-minute journey stretched to thirty minutes with all the socialising I did on the way. My friends joined me. The canteen was the cure to our boredom.
Relaxed, I ordered tea for myself. I sat with my friend. She waited at the exit after I was done. I went to pay for my tea and a person I don’t really talk to approached me and explained how her friend wanted to talk to me. So, I went with her, forgetting about my friend who was waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting much.
But then I saw her.
She was sitting in her seat and when she saw me, she got up and handed me a chocolate. I was confused. But I took the chocolate and asked her in Marathi, “Kay zala? Chocolate kasha sathi?” (What happened? What is the chocolate for?) Her friend replied to me “Tu tujhya birthday la tila chocolate dilas tar ti tula parat dete aahe chocolate.” (You gave her a chocolate on your birthday, so she is giving it back to you).
I didn’t remember shit.
I shared chocolates with everyone. It wasn’t just her, so don’t blame me if I don’t remember. I thanked her and told her that she didn’t have to. But she was very humble and thanked me for giving her the chocolates even though I didn’t know her. I still didn’t remember shit but she helped me remember where we met. It was outside the library with one of our mutual friends. I thanked her for the chocolate.
As a 90s kid, I was very much into Bollywood and drama, so naturally, I have a bad habit of flirting. I flirted with her for some time before I remembered my friend who was waiting for me. I said my goodbye and quickly exited the canteen. I looked back again to steal a glance at her. She was not at all my type. And nothing other than the fact that she was older than me came to my mind then. I went to my friend who was quietly observing everything. She gave me a teasing look. “What’s up?” she asked knowingly. “Nothing. Just flirting.”
“Just be careful and don’t get hurt again.”
I should have listened to her.
Two months went by and I did everything physically possible to be with the chocolate girl. Let’s address her as UJ. For the first time in my life, someone was interested in me. I was happy and more confident. I was spending my entire day with her. I sat for all the lectures she attended. It is insane to think about now but, it’s wild “the things you do for love”. I was falling hard and fast for her. UJ was showing signs that she liked me too. I thought something was happening between us.
And that is when the first red flag appeared.
One of her friends mentioned her having a boyfriend. I was shattered into a million pieces but somehow managed to gather the courage and ask her about it. But she avoided the topic as fast as she could. I was confused but gave her the benefit of doubt. A big mistake on my part. When I think back, I regret not having made things super clear then and there.
A month went by; we were in a situation ship. It definitely was not a relationship. We used to go on dates and make out in the back seat of an uber, in college, in movie theaters etc. Let’s just say we made out a lot. I was in a happy place. I felt lucky for being loved and cared about instead of it being one-sided.
Red flag number two hit me then.
Her friend started talking about her boyfriend. I was visibly in shock when she said that he was her fiancé now.
The first thing that came to my mind was, what is this person that I’ve become? I was the person she was cheating with on her future husband. What was I doing? Things needed to stop then.
When we were alone again, she hugged me trying to explain what was happening. She was being forced into the marriage. Her parents were forcing her into it because of her past. She didn’t want to marry him. My response changed from flight to fight in no time. I was ready to be there for her. Anything she needed at all! I was furious but needed to keep my cool.
I shared this with one of my friends. At this point, only two of my friends knew what was going on between UJ and me. UJ had asked me not to tell anyone about our situationship, so she was not aware of them. But talking about her made me so happy that I had to share things about her with someone. My friends warned me, but my rose-colored glasses were on and I couldn’t see the red flags anymore.
Four months went by in our situationship, and our summer vacation commenced. She had to leave to go to her native place. I needed to do something for her before she left. So, we both agreed to go to ‘the snow world’. I booked everything and prepared for everything that was needed. We got a cab and started towards our destination. As usual, we made out a little in the backseat. We were about to reach the destination when she shifted to the other side of the car. I looked at her and asked her what was up.
She looked at me and without any hesitation, not even a little, she said, “I want to marry him. I love him and he is the person I want have a future with.”
I was confused and hurt. What happened about her being forced into this? What about when she said she didn’t love him? Nothing made sense. I was so fucked and hurt; I was done with everything.
“Okay then. As you wish. We’ll stop seeing each other from now on. Nothing should happen between us from this point onwards. I’ll make sure not to cross the line and you shouldn’t cross it either. We are done being whatever we were.”
After saying such an intellectual thing, I balanced it out by saying the stupidest thing I’ve ever said in my life when she asked “But, you’ll be friends with me right?”
I cried the whole time we were in the snow world and she was trying to cheer me up. But once the harm is done, it’s done. You cannot undo it or try to bandage it.
Life doesn’t work that way.
I lost contact with her after she left for her native place. She didn’t have much time because of all the chores that she managed there on her own. My patience ran out after fifteen days of not talking to her, so I called her brother. He told me that she didn’t even have time to look at her phone with the number of chores that she was handling. And it turned out that she was at the native place of her husband-to-be. So being the daughter-in-law, she has to do all the chores and be the ideal wife. I was out of my mind when I heard what he was saying. I was frustrated. I treated her with so much respect, love and care. I always made sure she was treated right. Why was she being treated like that by her in-laws? I reminded myself not to cross any boundaries.
One day I got a call from her asking me to meet her again. I agreed.
I was sure something might happen and I’d get tangled in some trouble again. To avoid that, I took a friend with me who knew about us. UJ still didn’t know that two of my friends knew everything about us.
We met. After talking for a while, habitually, I went with her to the station to drop her off. As my friend and I were about to see her off, while exiting the college gate, I saw a very beautiful girl standing near one of the food stalls waiting for someone. I pointed out to my friend that I really need someone like her to be my girlfriend. UJ didn’t waste any time in saying what she said next.
“How can you like a girl? That is not right.”
That was so ridiculous. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from her.
What was she saying? What about the six months that we were together? Making out anywhere possible? She didn’t just dismiss my sexuality, but also my love for her.
“There is nothing wrong about liking girls. I’ve liked girls and I thought you would have known that by now.”
She pretended not to know a thing because my friend was with us. Something in me switched then and I bid her goodbye outside the gate instead of walking her to the station. I made up my mind to never cross paths with her again.
Family functions felt like a piece of cake after that. Family’s judgment was nothing compared to your so-called ex-girlfriend’s closeted homophobia. She tried her best to contact me but I made up my mind to not look behind and I did so, religiously.
While writing about this, so many years after it happened, I looked her up online. She is still single and hasn’t married anyone. She’s pursuing her dream of being a Bharatnatyam dancer and was hopefully happy. Looking back, I should have confronted her about dismissing my love for her. It would have been okay if she wouldn’t have accepted our relationship. But my love?
I have recited this story so many times to so many people but not once did I think about what I would have done or said differently for the situations to be better. In this mess, I understood one thing about myself. Whatever happens, once I fall for a person, I don’t care if that person is with me or not. I just want them to be happy and nothing else.
One thought on “Scarred Rewind”
Live your life girl, stay the same. Good things are gonna come.
Stay blessed, be happy.