Being The Other Woman: Introducing the Characters

If you haven’t read part 1 of this post, it is OK. You haven’t missed anything. This is the post I actually set out to write, and got bogged down in the details.

There are several characters in forthcoming incidents. I deliberately obscured the ones in the previous post, because otherwise they might be recognizable to people who know us. [I am relying on the anonymity of the Internet to prevent that from happening, but the truth is I still am scared of it occurring.]

So, without further ado, the cast of characters in the following short stories:

  1. JP: The inveterate scumbag, drug dealer, shiftless work-shirker, and general malcontent, with an appetite for the good life but not for the work that goes into realising that life.
  2. AQ: The rich kid with starry eyes, and the determination to carve his niche, albeit with a little help from mummy and daddy. Absolute charmer, with movie star good looks, and the pedigree to leaving swooning girls in his wake. [Boys too maybe, I am not judging.]
  3. The French Student: Not conventionally handsome, but still arresting enough to draw plenty of attention. Tall naval officer, with a authoritative presence, and boyishness that first melted my stony heart and then broke it into a million pieces.
  4. CC: The British heartthrob. Star of his own series on my blog. The one I thought was different, but turned out to be a philandering playboy.

And then there is me.

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Emotional Infidelity

I am ambivalent on the whole notion of fidelity in relationships, because I have always felt that physical infidelity is not as bad as emotional cheating. My relationships have always been high on the sharing factor, especially the last one.

Having said that, I don’t think cheating is excusable. I have been guilty of it twice, wrongfully accused of it once, and it took me ages to get over the trauma of feeling like a piece of crap stuck to the bottom of a pig’s hoof. I think I will get those stories out of the way first, as catharsis, and then get on to the real point of this post: being the ‘other woman’.

The first time I was “cheating” was not really a cheating scenario, although my boyfriend of the time made it seem like that. I sort of fell into a relationship with a bloke in college, and we dated for a few months, till I ditched him for someone who was a friend and way more understanding (or so I thought). I was a firm believer in the concept of romantic, ever-after love, and I moulded my reality many times to fit this ideal. Of course, it didn’t work. I broke up with the other guy within a month, because we were severely incompatible with each other.

All this wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t snog one while technically being with the other. But I did get back together with the first guy after the stint with the second. We dated for 3 years after that, and he never let me forget it. It was exhausting and demoralizing, and he forevermore believed that I was going to cheat on him at some point. I didn’t, for the record.

The next time, 3 years on, I was breaking up with this same dude. Every. Single. Day. And then getting back together with him in the morning, because he behaved like a twerp. It was a self-destruct cycle that lasted for months I think, and I was a ruined husk of a person at the end of it. During this insane phase, one chap at my post graduate college and I became friends. He was my shoulder to cry on, and of course I mistook all the affection I had for this one ray of light in my otherwise dark world as my knight in shining armour. And one evening we kissed. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have taken me by surprise at all, because the writing was on the wall. But yes, that proved to be the point at which I stamped my foot down, and say no firmly to parasitic boyfriend number 1.

We didn’t actually start dating, but we kind of made out a few times. He had a job off-campus and I barely saw him at all. When I did, we hid our not-quite-a-relationship. It was surreal. In the interim, I met the ex a few times, and he generally prevailed over me to take him back. I said no multiple times, but I lacked the force of conviction, and honestly a bad relationship is like addiction: you get used to the familiarity of being with a parasite who is sucking out all your life force.

Finally, the ex moved off to his placement, and the replacement was off-campus too. I was finally free. However, by this time, I was alone on the inside. I didn’t have any friends because of this ongoing saga. It had sapped so much of my will to live that I didn’t have any energy to pour into forging new friendships and associations.

Except one friendship. We started talking. Talking a lot. He had just gone through his own breakup where his girlfriend had unceremoniously dumped him for another guy, who she had been with for at least 3 months before this guy. [She later slept with this guy a few more times, while dating THAT guy. And finally married the other dude. And I thought I was confused.]

We started going out together. Coffee, dinner, movies. Because of my highly restrictive first college relationship, I demanded the replacement be very OK with any number of male friends. Or bugger off. His choice.

Of course, we eventually developed feelings for each other, and one night it culminated in a smouldering kiss. The next morning, well a few hours later, I called it off with the replacement. He was, not pleased. And went about the college explaining what a harlot I was. Because of a kiss, mind you. Oh and he didn’t hesitate to throw it back it my face that it didn’t surprise him, because after all I had kissed him while being with someone else.

True enough. While at the time, the negative attention nearly sent me to an early grave, in retrospect it wasn’t so bad. I have lived to learn that I am entitled to change my mind; I need to have more impulse control; I need to be more firm; and that there is no such thing as the perfect romantic ever-after – that shit can just go die. A perfect relationship needs commitment and work, and emotional fidelity.

Ultimately, for me at least, it wasn’t the stray kissing that broke the camel’s back, it was the need to be understood and cared for. The desire to have succour and a safe haven from the strife in life, and the other person being that haven.

I also broke up with the last guy in this story, and I fell headlong in love a few years later with my French Student.

I’m cutting this post in half, because my catharsis took almost a 1000 words to expiate. Part two coming up shortly.

The other stories have become a series in their own right. Good grief.

Inappropriate

So there is this thing I have been wanting to talk about, but I have no one to talk about it to. My only girlfriend is my mum, and she takes whatever I say quite seriously. And this is just something that I am cultivating like a hobby; an inappropriate private hobby that exists exclusively in my head. So I am going to talk about it here! Lucky you!

Tl;dr version: I have developed a crush on a very cute guy, very much younger than I am.

Full version: I have developed a crush on a cute coworker, who is not only younger than I am, but also has a partner. Not that I would have pursued this avenue anyway, because I tried dating someone younger once, and it was a car crash. The maturity level was so atrocious that I wound up with severe mental and emotional scars. So making out with cutey is not an option.

But. Fantasy is a whole other thing.

We do interact quite a bit at work, since our work overlaps. However, I have avoided letting myself get too close. This is new for me, because he is usually just the kind of person I would be pals with, and perhaps that’s the draw.

We have loads in common, and loads of things that we vehemently disagree on. Most of our non-work interaction is argumentative, and oh my god he loves to irritate me so. The trouble is that I kind of enjoy his irritating behaviour, which I solely attribute to the above-mentioned crush.

It doesn’t help at all that he has a deep voice, which I find impossibly attractive in a guy. I have no idea why voices cast this spell on me, and to look back all my exes has lovely deep voices. It isn’t conscious at all, and if I appear to be shallow, I should also mention that I have dated the ugliest guys too. None of it matters really, but a crush is an indulgent fantasy after all, and I can gush a little about the creamy voice.

Next, he is cute. Like REALLY cute. Full lips and nice eyes. Also, he isn’t overweight like me, and isn’t a skinny little stick either. He has a full head of hair and broad shoulders. And he smells nice! Not that I sniffed him, but I have been often enough in his vicinity to notice.

Initially I thought he was developing his own crush on me, for many reasons. But I don’t think that’s true any more. Which is perfectly fine, because it is less likely that we will find ourselves in a position to take this any further. Whew.

There is just this thing. I know my tells when I am attracted to someone. [Thankfully no one over here else does.] My tells are that I have a small smile around my crush or when I am thinking of them. I tend to look straight into their eyes, with a slightly wide-eyed look. [Because I have big brown eyes, and they work dammit!] And finally, I blush very easily. Thus far, I have blushed only once in his presence, and that is because the group was asking me about a Tinder date. I was a little flushed because he wanted to know all the details, the gossipy creature!

Also, I am fairly aware when someone is attracted to me, even slightly, and even over the Internet. Hence the confusion of earlier.

But. That one thing I mentioned earlier? I know that mostly two people who are attracted to each other look into each other’s eyes. It is just too intimate for a casual or friendly interaction. And yet, in some of my unguarded moments, I look straight into his eyes, and he looks into mine.

It might mean absolutely nothing, but I cannot help the little fireworks in my head. And I know quite well that my eyes are shining [read: big brown eyes from before], and I see his eyes dilate just a little. And those moments are amazing and terrifying in equal parts.

Maybe?

Just after I pressed publish on the last post, I remember an incident during my Europe trip.

This was during the time I spent in Paris, staying in the room adjacent to my crush. We were in the same year, and so were the two boys he was staying with. And they pranked me.

It was an innocent enough joke: they rang the doorbell, and pelted back into their room. We opened the door, only to hear their door shutting in a hurry. Of course it was them. So of course, we did it back.

The second time they did it, we were waiting for them. We yanked open the door to see them hooting in the corridor, and we all had a good laugh.

The next morning, we were coming up in the elevator. Our floor was pretty high up, and as my friends were getting off, I saw the boys waiting to step in. I grinned like a maniac, and pressed all the buttons. I quickly ran off, but I heard their cries of outrage as the elevator doors closed.

Come to think of it, I knew he knew about my crush on him, thanks to the teacher letting the cat out of the bag. Did he like me too? Were all these pranks meant to convey that message?

I have no idea, but it is an amazing thought to have so many years later.

Valentine’s + DDLJ

After a long day of work yesterday, today was meant to be quiet. But of course, it wasn’t. A friend came over, and once he left, I settled in to a night of movie-watching.

Thanks to Valentine’s Day, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge came up as a suggestion on Amazon Prime. Of course, I am now past the point where thoughts of love bring up heartache, so I pressed play.

The strains of music started up almost immediately, and I was transported back in time.

When the movie came out, I was all of 11. I was caught on a tidal wave of romance created by the songs, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, and luscious shots of Europe. I had a massive crush on a boy at the time, and I kept imagining him and I in the protagonists places.

A few months later, my school organised a trip to Europe, and my parents thought it would be good for me to go. I was the only one from my class to sign up, but the boy who I had a crush on did too. We were not on speaking terms, him being blissfully unaware of my existence, so I didn’t find out this little titbit till we were at Dubai airport.

When I clapped eyes on him, and he was a gorgeous chap, I think birds and hearts must have flown around my head in a celestial dance. My crush and I were going to Europe for a trip together. Without our parents. JUST LIKE THE MOVIE! OMG OMG OMG.

I nearly fainted with the thrill of it all. I don’t remember much about the travelling part, but I do remember each time we checked into a hotel. After a lot of misses, it was in Paris that we were assigned adjacent rooms.

Paris. The city of love. On New Year’s Eve. My head exploded.

Of course, there was sightseeing. I spent a lot of time fantasising about him and me, even though I hadn’t the faintest idea how to get past the crucial step of actually speaking to him. I had no idea about his personality. I didn’t even know what his voice sounded like.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, one of our chaperones cottoned onto my crush. And proceeded to tease me, publicly, throughout the rest of the trip. It was all in good fun, and although I was horribly embarrassed, I did sort of enjoy the attention. At least he was now aware of my existence.

We had a party that night, and we were paired off to dance in the new year. I sadly didn’t get partnered up with him, but I must admit that it was the most movie-like experience of my life.

Every time I watch DDLJ or hear strains of its music, I feel like that ecstatic 11 year old, starry-eyed, and with an unshakeable belief in romance and love.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love. Even though we aren’t together, and things have changed so dramatically, I still cherish the feelings we shared for the short time we spent together. I love you.

Nostalgia is a Dangerous Thing

How many times have I beaten this dead horse? Many, many times. However, like all life lessons in my ridiculous life, I have realisations incrementally.

Today, mum and I were chatting about our relationships again. Now that my dad isn’t there, it is easier to talk about the bedroom stuff. It also helps that I am older, and she knows that I was intimately involved with three of four of my relationships. [Haven’t yet brought up the cherry-popping story. To be fair to her, she hasn’t pried either.]

We were discussing romance, and the different definitions it has for each of us. Unsurprisingly, for my parents and later for me, the movie-style magic wasn’t it. We are rather prosaic people with greater interest in comfort than romance.

Anyway, we started talking about my ex. I do talk about him, so that she begins to understand my connection with him; why he was so important; why I couldn’t get over him for so many months. I also hope that she will see why another relationship seems impossible to me, even now almost a year later. It is like his essence has seeped into my skin, and I can’t rid myself of it.

There was profound sadness when we were talking, because she did love him too. She opened her home and heart for him like he was her son. That was at my bidding, when I asked her to treat him the same way she would treat me. And she did. She lectured him, and got mad at him, and told him off, and cuddled him, and teased him, and the works. Those were components of my relationship with my parents, and he got exactly that. The only thing I forgot was that he wasn’t me, and he could never understand where she was coming from.

As the conversation wound down, there was a moment of sad silence. I thought to myself about what would happen if he came back into my life. How would we address the issues of the past? Would we be able to reclaim the joy that we had before? Would I feel like I was coming home to him once more?

The truth is, I have no idea, but the thought terrifies me. I have tended my familial relationships carefully over the years, and fixed rifts before they consumed everything.

This rift though? Seems to be far too late. Sometimes there is just no going back.

First Love

For today’s offering on the altar of my blog, I was thinking about writing about my first real boyfriend. Then I remembered I probably have a post written about him somewhere, and I should dredge that up first.

[I’ll add my 2016 bits in post the recap. So stay tuned.]

When I was dating my exes, occasionally I would remember my first boyfriend. Well, technically he was the second, but then again the actual first was a total wash-out. So NAM was whom I considered my first real boyfriend. I would feel horribly guilty, because whenever I thought of him, there was a wistfulness that crept into my mind. He and I were so good together – we laughed, we quipped merrily away, and we were so young. But it was a doomed relationship from inception because he was a Arab Muslim and I was an Indian Hindu – and never then twain shall meet. (Although he was rather liberal in his outlook.)

However, I am not going to dwell on the pitfalls and the eventual demise of our short relationship, but more on the parts that still make me smile when I think of him. He had to be the most intelligent, romantic, exciting, charming individual I had ever met. He was kind and sweet, and he had a roguish twisted grin that used to melt female hearts left, right, and centre. His jet-black hair flopped cheekily over his brow, and he had the most chocolate-y brown eyes I had ever seen. It was no exaggeration that he could have had any girl in the entire college, but for some bizarre reason decided I was the one for him.

There was the complication that my best friend at the time was completely bowled over by him. It also helped significantly that she was also Arab and Muslim. I really didn’t think I stood a chance with such a dazzling character, so I didn’t try. (I was seriously overweight and had hair that went beyond my knees. DWEEB!) Oh and I was all of 15, whereas both of them were 18.

I suppose we started becoming friends because we lived near each other. I would spend hours after class in the IT centre, and he would be hanging around as well. Just goes to show how incredibly innocent I was that I never thought it was odd that his and my work finished at the same time. I lived about 45 minutes away by foot, and I used to walk that distance (I was in England, and I loved the countryside). He had a bicycle, and again it never occurred to me that it was odd that he pushed it all the way home. Just to walk alongside me.

I still remember the day we actually started dating. He had been coming over and spending time with me, watching stupid movies and chatting into the small hours of the night. My best friend obviously didn’t appreciate our budding friendship, and talked to me at great length about how she and NAM were dating and hitting it off so well. It never struck me to consider WHEN they were actually dating. I was such a DUMB kid. The feelings continued to develop and I continued to deny they existed. I had only confided in my landlady’s daughter, Stacey.

One evening, NAM and I had had a small argument – which I can’t even remember right now. He called me up saying he had something to say to me. I stood on the porch in the freezing cold and waited for him. He showed up, and stood making small talk. I was so mad that I didn’t want to invite him in, but Stacey overruled me. (She was really fond of him.)

The mother and daughter pair were going out, so they were off getting ready. NAM and I sat watching TV, and I refused to speak to him. (Yes, I am aware that was infantile, but ‘poise’ wasn’t in my dictionary at that time.) Stacey hung around trying to get us to talk, till she lost her temper with me altogether. It was her belief that NAM fancied me, not my friend, and therefore I should tell him I liked him too. (She was a much smarter 11 year-old than I was a 15 year-old.)

Finally they were on their way out, and she left with the parting shot that maybe I stood tell him that I fancied a bloke. I couldn’t believe my ears, and I stared at the shut door in abject horror as she winked out of sight. I mustered up every inch of courage and looked at NAM, and I remember squeaking out, “Didn’t you want to tell me something?”

Every trace of the grin habitually on his face had been wiped off. He replied, “Yes, but who is the guy that you fancy?”

Me: “That’s irrelevant. What did you come to tell me?”

“You first.”

Even after that tell-tale remark, it didn’t strike me that he had come to tell me he liked me. I cringe at my stupidity.

I looked at the carpet for approximately half an hour, while there was pin-drop silence in the room. Finally I realised he wasn’t leaving without an answer, and wanting desperately for the earth to swallow me up, I blurted out that I liked him.

Again with the pin-drop silence.

And then a few seconds later, I was in his arms, looking up into his smiling face and doubting my hearing because he whispered, “Me too.” in my ear.

So many years later, and this story still brings a smile to my face. It was in 1999, and here I am 17 years thence, still thrilling slightly to the romance in that interlude.

NAM – those were his initials – was far more mature than I was, and there were many reasons our relationship failed. I expected our romance to unfold like a romance novel, and of course it didn’t. In retrospect, I would have to experience the requisite misery too, and that would have been awful. I just wasn’t very smart at the time. [Still not smart, but at least now I know it.]

NAM and I broke up in a few months, and I played the role of tragedy queen to the hilt. Thank you, exclusive diet of Hindi movies. I thought that a first love was the last love, and I was resigned to pining away the rest of years in solitude and melancholy. Ha. If you have read my Spring-Summer Connection series, this happened shortly before those events. Stacey’s house was my first paying guest accommodation in Scunthorpe, and the hero of the series owned the second. Altogether I lived in three places during my two years there.

[Also, the best friend in this story, and the best friend in the next series are the same person. I was a terrible friend clearly.]

Eventually, I came back to Dubai, and I think NAM went back home to Doha. He emailed me a few times, just as my family was moving back to India. The better part of two years in England, and me acting like a ridiculous movie trope, wasn’t enough to convince him, but in early 2003, he suddenly realised that he couldn’t let me go.

Finally, I lied to him about being in another relationship to make him go. That moment in my life was about my family, not about my love life. Certainly, it wasn’t about a doomed relationship at the tender age of 19.

NAM and I didn’t keep in touch. I did try looking for him many times, but he doesn’t seem to have an online presence under his own name. To be honest, part of me is glad. Because, as I’ve said before, nostalgia is a dangerous thing.