“bad breakups are like bad haircuts,” i said to my sister. “we look at them as permanent damage and consider them to be irreversible, but they get better with time.” my sister understood my words much better than i myself did. perhaps, that’s why she didn’t cling on to the person she dated for two years…unlike me, who, even after four months of a breakup hasn’t forgotten a four week long relationship.
I was introduced to Sahiba during the summer of 2008. We were both little girls back then who were learning to react properly to all the happenings in Delhi that year — the Noida double murder case.
The first time I met her, I thought she looked like a proper Sikhni with long (and braided) hair who certainly took pride in her religious identity. So, I guessed that she was named after the Guru Granth Sahib.
I was told that the two of us were destined to be friends because everyone in our families knew each other — her parents were close to my parents and her elder brother had grown up with my elder sister. However, I never felt forced to be friends with her for Sahiba welcomed me into her life with open arms. She understood the world I had created with my imaginary friends, didn’t mock my obsession with witchcraft, and laughed at my childish jokes.
A few months after our first meeting at a place where almost everyone seemed unfamiliar, I was taken to Sahiba’s house because our parents wanted to exchage presents. That day, she asked me to help her with a rangoli pattern she wished to create. She respected the fact that I took my art very seriously and allowed me to work as much as I wished to. Not once did she fight with me over how much rangoli powder I wasted.
Soon, Sahiba became a constant in my life. The two of us would stick together in all the anniversaries, birthdays and Navy social events. We found comfort in each other’s weirdness and didn’t need our elder siblings and cousins to entertain us. In fact, we refused to include a third person in our duo. Once, during someone’s birthday celebration, the two of us, as eight and nine year olds, entered a room full of army and navy kids and rushed out immediately. We both had similar social anxieties.
My mother started referring to the two of us as Hatim and Hobo after she saw us playing pranks on small(er) children in Kota House, Defence Headquarter. Sahiba would join me whenever I decided to embarrass myself in front of adults or whenever I got scolded for troubling someone’s child. While I was the troublemaker between the two of us, she always shared the blame with me. Whenever her parents showed up in gatherings without her, I sat at a corner and refused to play with any other child.
When I was dropped at my cousin’s place in Arjan Vihar during the summer of 2010, I was told that I wouldn’t get bored because Sahiba lived nearby. Every evening, the two of us would run around Arjan Vihar and play games that no one else could join in. She always shared her food with me, but never asked me to share my chips with her.
The only thing that bothered me about Sahiba was that she never lied to her mother and refused to censor my actions and words while repeating them in front of her. Sometimes, I’d worry that her mother would inform my parents about all my shenanigans. But, Sahiba always made her swear that she’d never say anything about me to my parents. I realised soon enough that my secrets weren’t too bad because her mother referred to me a “good girl”, out of the blue, in front of a bunch of adults. It was then that I understood how Sahiba’s truths never projected me as a bad influence.
While I barely studied as a ten year old, Sahiba always topped her class. But, whenever she heard someone talk about how much I needed to learn from her, she maintained a poker face and laughed a little extra on my jokes later on. I now understand that the ones who laugh at my jokes the most are the ones who care about me the most.
I met Sahiba for the last time at a common family friend’s house in the beginning of 2011. It’s been more than a decade since she laughed at my jokes. It’s been more than a decade since the two of us sat quietly under a blanket and watched a Rajinikanth film.
A few months back, I was told that Sahiba was no longer with l us. Today, as 2021 comes to an end, all I can do is ask myself why I didn’t message her the day she followed me on Instagram in 2018. I wish I had invested my energy in her instead of all those irrelevant guys back then. I wish I had read and appreciated the poems she’d written in the past one decade. I wish I had known what all she was going through and had held her hand one last time. I wish I had made her laugh as much as a seventy-five year-old laughs in a lifetime.
She entered my life during a time when I felt both powerful and vulnerable (all the time). I was a bundle full of contradictions back then (something I still am). My heart was relieved because I had finally spoken out, but my mind kept scaring me about the harm that could be caused to me. That is when she brought stability into my life and said that I did the same for her. She told me that my messages (of love) made her feel at peace (the way she felt whenever she saw a flower). Suddenly, I had someone in my life who balanced out all my negative traits. She was someone who liked math (I hated it), who understood Philosophy (unlike me), who was a fast (I took a week to read The Book Thief), and who, despite being a student of Economics, spoke more in Literature classes than me. Sometimes, I felt intimidated by the way she spoke (she could put all ‘debater boys’ to shame). In those intimidating moments, I told her that she’d make a great leader (to which she always said that she wasn’t willing to lead). For her, I was willing to write more than I usually would (I felt the need to match her energy levels). Today, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to read what I wrote to her (and what all she wrote to me) without tearing up. Something I do know is that nothing in me has really changed. I know that I will fall in love again (with someone who is either too ‘cultured’ or unapologetically ‘uncultured’) Perhaps, the cycle of me feeling every extreme human emotion for (or because of) my significant other won’t really end.
I am often told that I react too much (overreact). I always agree with that.
I am learning to feel less embarrassed about my reactions (they have gotten me everything I consider worth having in my life.)
When all the “vocal” women, (pseudo) feminists, and those pretending to care about my “community’s well-being” failed me, my reactions helped me survive.
It works in the favor of “progressive” individuals to distance themselves from “women who react too much” and embrace men who do the same (my favorite professor once said that men are at the center of power and everyone wants to be near the center.)
I do realize that I have fewer people in my life now than I did two years back. That is partially due to the pandemic and partially because I reacted too much this year.
They might’ve punctured my soul, but I don’t care.
I feel like texting an ex-girlfriend
and asking her to talk to me…
But, I know she’ll say ‘no’ (“not in the headspace”).
I feel like emailing the professor
who accidentally gave me a different grade.
But, I am scared of writing too soon.
I came across an email I had drafted
a day before my birthday this year.
It was addressed to her…and read,
“it’s been a while since we broke up (81 days) and 2 years since i was assaulted. i am so sorry for not being able to move on. but, i just can’t. i can’t think of myself with anyone else but you. i can’t feel for anyone else. not because you are the love of my life. but because you are just lovely (and loveable).”
I didn’t send it to her (of course).
I knew she wouldn’t respond (“trying to articulate a reply”).
There have been times when
I have asked the universe
why it showed me the carrot
when this (like every other relationship of my life)
was going to be an absolute failure.
During those times,
I have also reminded myself that
it wasn’t a failure…
it was 4 weeks of…everything (love, lust, her anxiety, my PMDD, and our conversations).
“For you, a thousand times over,” is all I wish to say (to/for her) over and over again.
I am neither a loyal slave (like Hassan) nor a guilty friend (like Amir)… But, if I met her in person, I’d look at her and say, “For you, a thousand times over.”
I am not the one to have made (hollow) promises. I am certainly not the one who said she would catch a kite. But, when I see hope in her eyes, I’ll close mine and say, “For you, a thousand times over.”
She might not be as broken as Sohrab (hopefully). She might make an effort to nod (and smile). Whenever she chooses to fix her broken soul, I’ll hold her hand and say, “For you, a thousand times over.”
Kolkata tolerated me for most of 2020 and 2021. But, frankly, I now realise that it doesn’t really feel like home. I know I belong in Delhi.
Returning to Kolkata after three and a half months makes me feel lost once again… It is the same feeling that I get in those weird nightmares where I have a math exam the next day and haven’t touched most of the chapters.
24 hours of me being in this house and I am already annoyed, nervous, and worried. I am simply back to where it all started. This is the place I attended my first hearing from (22nd of October’20)…the place I attended all my classes from throughout my second year…the place where my last relationship started (didn’t end here, thankfully). As a whole, I can’t think of anything memorable or worthwhile that this city has given me…except, maybe, strength (and willpower).
I wish I could be more grateful. I wish I could have better control over my mood and my thoughts. I wish my hormones made things better instead of worse.