Getting dumped isn’t the end of the world. The silver line of a breakup (first only faintly visible) is we get to feel and smoothen out the rough curves of our personalities.
In this essay I talk about my first love and my first break up. Though that first love seemed like my last, time proved me wrong. Looking back into the broken shards of the relationship I also see how scattered a human being I was.
On one April morning. The lockdown continues. Bengaluru, India.
How have you been?
I have been juggling with writing, admin work, personal stuff, cleaning, laundry, cooking, and staying updated with the news.
Different news clips catch my husband’s and my attention even though we both scroll Google News. We share and collate our information at the end of the day during dinner unless he decides to escape to the bathroom. (For context you would need to read the first part of these pandemic chronicles. I can only hint that he avoids a dinner of raw eggplants and bottle gourd still in one piece.)
Only one morning did we see a video on COVID statistics else we prefer to not distract ourselves at the beginning of the day.
The whistles of a black kite which is hovering above me in the light blue sky are the only sounds that break my attention now and then. In front of me, a green parrot just flew by; I see more of them in the morning, when one after another they go, searching for grains and guavas and water and, maybe, more parrots. The coffee cuckoo, similar to the one that used to visit me in my previous apartment, also flew from one tree to another in the park in front of my writing studio.
I have stationed myself in one corner of this studio on a chatayi or as we say a mat nowadays, and from here I write my heart out. In this nomadic life, you can find me on and off in Bangalore, for I always come here to be with my partner, and thus I pen down many pieces from his vicinity with a temporary feeling of home.
Having spent more than four months now as a nomad, I have realized that you don’t have to own or rent an apartment to be at home. Neither are you always on the go even if you are living a nomadic life.
At the end of the day when I think about getting back home, I imagine a quiet place, where the bathroom taps do not drip and where I cannot hear the screeching tires or intruding honks, but I can only tune into the crickets singing songs to each other. Where I can lay on a bed or in a sleeping bag in a tent, preferably tucked away in the midst of trees, with a warm cup of tea and a book to read. From where I can make a phone call to my parents and family for they worry if I disappear for even a day. I imagine a home that is a window into the world, or it has a window from where I can see the world, which I like to have at a distance. And that is all.
Such are my preferences these days. I started penning down this article to tell you about how my priorities shaped up the year 2018, and so on I go.
After struggling for a year, I broke up with the man I had wished to spend the rest of my life with. Then I flew to the other end of the world. In that foreign land, I picked up a million tiny parts of mine and weaved them again. Then I breathed life into that lifeless me. After a year, I returned to the old city and happened to run into him.
I thought I had moved on. And I had. I am with someone else now, and I love my current partner most earnestly.
My mother called me thrice at 8 in the night. Editing an article, I thought something had happened and picked up the third call. And then after some small talk about my writing and if I was ever going to take up a job, she said she wanted to talk about something.
As a thirty-year-old unmarried woman in India, I recognize this something, like dogs can sense tsunamis, for at least five years now. This something — without any exception — is marriage.
To humor her, I asked what did she want to talk about. She said she always worried about me and often cried because she cannot do anything else. That she didn’t know what my life plans were. That nothing made sense. That I must have been lonely. Didn’t I like having a family? Was there anybody? That why couldn’t we — mother and daughter —share everything with each other.
These sentences stumbled out of her mouth as she choked.
Over the years, I have approached various men — both successfully and unsuccessfully.
I initiated the flirting and conversations and intimacy. I have realized expression makes everything easier. Don’t bottle up your feelings for long — unless expression would ruin everything.
Think what is the worst that can happen.
In college, I approached a friend — we used to gel well together — but he acted as if there was nothing. Hurt, I acted stupid, and this rejection gave me the best-drunk story of my life. More on that in another article.
All of us — men and women — think that we need seductive powers to approach people. No. Approaching people — some of whom might be our romantic interests — need confidence and social skills. It is not a mission — it is a day to day activity. You need to make people comfortable around you. No magic tricks, no email courses, no guides, no love gurus can teach you this.
To understand how to approach women, let us look at what are women exactly looking for.
I was unsure about this topic but then I thought of all friends, their friends, colleagues, men and women on internet and dating applications or marriage websites (this is specific to India) — looking for a date, a relationship, a life partner. Someone to share spaghetti and a glass of red wine at the end of the day or a samosa and a chai in the evening. To watch a movie on a Saturday night tucked in bed with grilled chicken on plate and whiskey on the rocks in glasses. To go for an impromptu drive in rain on a Friday evening with classical music on the radio. A post-Sunday-lunch lazy sex with soft music in the background.
We all have friends, family, roommates, work, paychecks, hobbies, goals but we all need someone to look at us with a burning warmth in their eyes. To say that we mean the world to them. To say that they won’t be able to live without us. They crave that one hug of ours in the morning. They want us to bear their children, sleep the rest of the nights in one bed, and celebrate Diwali and Christmas together. When they see a slight cut on our finger, they overreact. They hold our hands sometimes and tell us that everything would be all right.