[Continued from here.]
Sheetal had never been a very close friend of mine. We had each other’s phone numbers – just in case – and our communication was limited to forwarded SMSs, a few times a month perhaps. So I was taken aback when one of these difficult days Sheetal messaged me asking me to remove all her photos and other traces from Rahul’s computer. “It’s over,” She ended.
“But …what the….???” I was immediately on the phone with her, desperately looking for explanations in my stupid, blundering, bundle-of-nerves way.
“That’s none of your business. Who are you to this relationship? No one! What do you know about what I have been through over the last three years? To you he’s your “best buddy”, your “saviour”, the embodiment of virtue, isn’t he?” Sheetal was on a frenzied roll. The truth that was tumbling out of her was what I’d suspected it to be all of these years.
Rahul was an emotional abuser. Hours of mental torture, extreme possessiveness to the point of not letting her talk to other boys, name-calling her parents – Sheetal had seen it all. In fact, Sulagna, when I read your article on emotional abuse, it was pure déjà vu. Manipulation, lies, presenting a charming face to the outside world and to top it all – when push came to shove, blaming it all on the victim. I saw it, you see. I witnessed it, right in front of my eyes. But Rahul was…Rahul. My best buddy. My saviour. The embodiment of virtue. I had tried to look past it every time I found myself face to face with it. Now I felt responsible. I had failed Sheetal.
“Don’t do anything. We’re OK.J J ;) ;) ” That’s the next message I see from Sheetal, as I scroll down my inbox archives today. I know. Women!!
In spite of being ineffective in splitting up the couple, which I knew – and still know – is what Sheetal needed, this hiccup in their relationship holds a huge significance to me. This was the genesis of a deep friendship between me and Sheetal. My depression wasn’t getting any better. I was desperate to trust someone, to open up to someone, to have someone croon me a few words of sympathy. I held on to Sheetal like a drowning man to a straw. She didn’t hold back. We became the best of friends, sharing everything about Ranja and a tiny little bit about Rahul. (Sheetal is a Bharatiya Nari, remember? ;))
Months passed by. Our exams ended. Rahul travelled to another university in a different city for his internship. And then one day I received a call from him.
It fills me with anger, pain and shock as I relive that call even today.
“You think I’m a fool, don’t you? You think I don’t know anything about what’s going on? I’ve checked out all of the messages that were exchanged between you and my girlfriend you son of a b***h! You see, I had plenty of time when you were deep in sleep, probably dreaming of her naked body. I can’t stoop to the level of “battling this out with you,” so to speak. So let me tell you this once and for all – you’re free to get as close to my soon-to-be-ex girlfriend as you want, but do not contact me ever in this life again. For you, I never existed.”
I sat on my bed, shaking, with tears running down my cheeks even long after he’d hung up. I had no idea what had just happened. I had never, ever thought of Sheetal as anything other than an understanding, trusted friend. How could I? Ranja – and the pain of losing her – occupied every square millimetre of my heart. More than the pain of losing my best friend of three years – the pain of feeling wronged overwhelmed me. I wailed and wailed for what felt like hours but was in reality 15 minutes. And then I popped two Avomine tablets and slept the whole day.
“Tujh se naraaz nahi zindagi, hayraan hoon main…”
Yeah life is ironic sometimes. That’s the painful tune which woke me up next morning as I peered at the screen, barely recognizing Sheetal’s name through my groggy-eyed haze.
One more deluge of tears. Rahul had used up his entire dictionary of teenage slangs in an hours long call he had had with her the previous day, Sheetal informed.
“I almost hate myself now. Even though it never crossed my mind that you could be anything but a very close, very dear friend to me, maybe he’s right. May be it’s impossible for a male and a female to be just friends. I’m sorry for everything Rana … ” The trauma had left her out of her senses.
We talked. For hours. Sharing our sorrows. Our pain. The hurt we felt for being misunderstood by someone closest to each of us. And in the end we agreed he was beyond us. He had something in him that was tearing him apart. And honestly, neither of us had the capability to handle it. From this point, we started avoiding him.
“Missing you…” That’s the next SMS from Sheetal currently showing up on my phone.
“Rana you understand me so well…I feel I’ve known you for many lives…” Reads the next.
I smiled. To my utter surprise I started feeling the first few puffs of that sharp, heady, intoxicating thing inside myself again. It all fell in place. Sheetal?? But of course! We were both survivors. We both wanted the same things in a partner – truly-deeply-madly real love, a pure heart and absolute honesty. And hey – we could share anything and everything with each other, even our deepest fears, pains and stupid hopes. I did it again.
Sulagna, you know, sometimes such tiny things affect our lives in such immeasurable ways? Like you couldn’t find your wallet in the morning, so left for work 5 minutes later than usual and when you arrived at the station you found out all trains were running an hour late because your usual train – which you missed because of the delay – has just met with a terrible accident?
Sometimes, it’s the reverse. Something huge happens and shakes up your tiny, mundane life in ways you never expected. Or deserved.
Rahul’s dad died in his office of a sudden heart attack just a few weeks after we fell out. Long story short – Sheetal went back to Rahul. “I’m sorry, but I can never forgive myself for what happened. I feel guilty. The least I can do is be by his side now…” She sobbed into the phone.
I pretended to smile.
What could I do? I know the world is not fair. Good things happen to bad people.
But still I stay awake at night. I haven’t been able to make peace with myself. Not yet. What should I tell myself? Any suggestions? What can I tell myself to make sense of what happened to me? Am I being oversensitive? Like most people should I pretend emotions don’t exist and the cruder aspects of life are its only real aspects?
I don’t know.