She did not blame him, though she wished he would understand. She wasn’t even surprised he didn’t. She knew she was too complex and too confused about herself. He asked her in a steely voice, “Do you want to continue with this relationship? I cannot be a saint and pretend you love me when you clearly don’t”
‘Why does he have to get so cheesy all the time?’, she thought to herself. She usually refrained from using the word ‘love’; she had always maintained that there was no such thing and it was merely biochemistry at play. Yet here she was, in a sticky situation, falling short of words, unable to think of what she must say to him.
“You’re still in love with him. I know it.” He said quietly.
“I am not” She retorted and she knew she was not. She was over her ex, or at least almost there. It’s never really ever over with your ex. Though she still kept in touch with him, she was sure they could never spend an entirety together. They would never be able to make time for each other and soon enouugh, 3 years later, the magic had vanished. Even her ex had never fully decoded her, he never understood her pessimism the freedom she gave him, which was almost always coated with insecurity and or her cynical and logical views about the world. He cared, but that wasn’t enough for her.
It was then, that he entered her life. ‘This time its going to be different’, she had promised herself. Even though, they were as different as chalk and cheese, she was determined to make it work.
They had started their relationship on the a wrong note. He manipulated her to be with him, and she shamelessly knew she was being manipulated. She never admitted it to him, but she played deceptive with him too.
He was insecure about her, which funnily enough was a quality about him, which she both loved and hated. He was scared of losing her. She who was even more insignificant than bacteria. She smiled remembering the way he would shield her whenever the train was crowded, or constantly keep calling her whenever she did not pick up his call. She remembered the erotic charges that would pass through her body whenever he would come close. The faint smell of cigarettes, sometimes whisky, on his breath. She loved that smell, just like the growth over his eye or the pigmentation on his neck.
“Do you want to continue? Are you serious about us?” He repeated.
She reflected upon their future. She would never admit to him,but she had often thought about how her life would be if she married him. She imagined happy things; him cooking for her, her doing the dishes, the grocery shopping and the bathing together.
She, of course, never thought about the process of getting there considering the perils that come with dating your co-worker. Everything happened in secret.
She knew, he put in more effort into the relationship than she did. He tolerated her, but she had stretched it too far. That day she was angry, because he did not meet her, so she lied to him and told him she had gone to meet her ex. She wanted him to feel insecure, she wanted to make him want her.
But he didn’t. He instead recoiled into a cocoon, avoiding contact with her, and when he came out, he wanted to know whether she would be with him forever.
Forever, she thought, was too long a time. and love was over rated. Love was too trivial over duty or tolerance. It was hollow. She had only known him a year, she needed time, but he needed an answer.
She did not want to waste his time. She didn’t respond.She suddenly realized, in that moment, that it would never work out with him. She was attached and she had to let him go. He was right. She was pretending that she loved him.
“So I get it” he said bravely. She could hear him sniff. “This is the last time I am talking to you” he finished
“Don’t do that. Can’t we at least be friends?” She added immediately. She did not want to lose him.
“Please don’t make this hard on me” He said. There was a depressing quality about his voice that made her upset/
“Meet me for the last time, at least”
“I will. But I will decide the time and place” he added with finality.
“You sure, you don’t want to keep in touch” she added.
“I’m sure. Please don’t contact me” he said.
“Cool” she acknowledged in an offhand manner. “Do tell me when you find Miss perfect, though” she said and then winced as she visualized him with another woman.
“I don’t want another woman” he said. His voice sounded like it was about to crack.
“Bye then” she said casually
“Bye”. He paused reluctantly.
“I love you” she added and she felt it in that moment, but the moment passed too quickly
“I love you too. Take care of yourself” he said curtly. The sniffing on the other line was getting more frequent.
He cut the call. She walked along silently, a shadow among the crowd heading home after work, as her soul screamed silently, wishing he knew what went through her.