of safety blankets

I lay on our bed last night, wide awake, worrying that I didn’t know what to do with the blog. I haven’t been feeling like writing lately, because I never have the time.

But as I stared at the ceiling in the dark, I became aware of how his arms and legs are always wrapped around me like a blanket as we sleep – a blanket that I couldn’t, wouldn’t ever want to imagine having to sleep without. If I pull away, he’ll ask if I’m okay, and fall back into sleep without waiting for an answer. In a few moments, he’ll realize I’m not glued to him, so he’ll find me and tuck me back into his chest. You may see this as corny but I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is to feel safe and loved and protected, especially if it’s something you have not experienced before.

And then it hit me. It’s not like I don’t have the time. I just don’t want to do anything without him. Every waking moment is somehow about us, about him and me and our love. I barely survived his trip to Bangalore. I had to wear his unwashed t-shirts, go to sleep in his dirty shorts, stalk his Facebook profile for hours to be able to live. I can’t live like this is all I could manage to say to him every time we spoke before breaking into hysterical sobs.

And now that I am expected to travel for work for a month, I don’t want to is all I can think about. Because when he’s not there, I feel like I’m drowning, like the world will consume me and there will be nothing when he gets back.

Ironically, that’s exactly how I feel when he is around. I feel like he’s consuming me and there’s nothing left for the world. I feel irreverent for so casually sidelining all the other blessings in my life.

This is how I was with my first husband, and it bothers me.

Could it be that I am always looking to be in a relationship that draws me in and keeps me safe? Do I need to pull away a little bit to be able to see things clearly?

I don’t know. Do you?

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of depth

He sat at the edge and gazed at the ocean as the rest of us ran around in the water collecting seashells and laughing and talking.

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From time to time I turned around, waving at him and asking him to join us, but he’d just wave back and look half tired half thoughtful, so I decided to leave him alone. But at the back of my mind, I constantly worried about what he might be thinking. I couldn’t leave him alone.

I ran back to him, dripping with water and planted a sloppy, wet kiss on his cheek. He said nothing, just smiled. I waited for a few more seconds and then slowly walked back into the ocean, the salt from my tears dissolving into the abyss. What isn’t he telling me? I felt stupid for crying but cried anyway.

Later, we were walking on the shore hand in hand, when he suddenly stopped and kissed me. I know I’ve said this before, but I love you, Ana. More than I’ve ever loved anyone. I’m finally happy. 

It’s true. He has said it thousands of times before, but somehow, those words sounded different that night. It was almost as though he reached inside himself and fished out the words that he felt most deeply and laid them in front of me.

And I could think of nothing else to say other than ditto.

of crazy-ass surprises

Sitting at the airport without a book to read can be a painful experience. But in my case, having a book to read pretty much led to the same fate. Here’s the story.

When I was leaving Bangalore, Giggles gave me a book, a really tight hug that resulted in a cramp just below my ribs and a stain (tears? drool? I’m not really sure) on my t-shirt. But the book found its way into my laptop bag. I’m not a fan (not that I have read it yet) of the Eat Love Pray genre – whatever it is called, but I had promised Giggles I’d read it at the airport. So I had to.

I was walking around with my cabin baggage getting from the security check point to the lounge, where I had have to wait another two hours for my flight. They had pretty much made me disassemble my cabin baggage – with the laptop, mobile, and camera in the tray, my two bags were reduced to pretty much size zero – and I was trying to put my stuff back in when I found the book.

So as I slid my laptop back into its place, I saw the book, and I remembered my promise. Now, usually I’d lie to the person and say, yeah babes I read it and loved it thank you for the thoughtful gift, I couldn’t do that to Giggles because she’d be sure to ask multiple choice questions to check my understanding I can’t really lie to someone I love.

I pulled the book out, tore open the cellophane cover like I intended on ravishing what lay inside, and then set about reading. While I walked. Into a marble stand that contained sundry showpieces in a shop.

Who the fuck put this here, How am I walking into a store without even noticing, Don’t they put doors on shops anymore – these were questions I was thinking in my head.

Don’t you think it’d be a good idea to sit down and read is what a random Sardarji was asking. Aloud. Two of his three children were giggling at me, very much like Giggles. At least they weren’t pointing.

I picked up the stuff I had dropped, and walked away, limping. Just to piss the sardarji uncle off, I continued reading like nothing had happened. And then, I saw, from the corner of my eye, someone who I’m sure was walking towards me with the intention of bumping into me. I stopped at the last second just to make a point, and looked up angrily. Mister had his typical frowning-but-also-smiling face on. Whoa! What did I do to make you so mad, baby?

Fuck! What are you doing here?

Going home with my family, what else!

It took me a couple of minutes to realize he had given me the best surprise anyone can ever give someone who loves them. He’s flying back to Delhi with me. Tonight. Right fucking NOW.

Well, not technically with me coz he isn’t on the same flight and he just boarded – but Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Though my head is still swarming with questions about how he managed to pack ALL his stuff while I was there in the same house, and whether Giggles and Fartsypants and PepTalk knew, and why he didn’t tell me sooner – the year couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Except, of course, for the bruise on my knee.

of questions

Because I’m attracted to you, he said.

As I tried to make sense of what he had just said, one of his hands found its way around my waist for the briefest moment and his face came really close to mine, and it felt like my skin was on fire. I withdrew, and then realized my skin wanted to be on fire.

And what did I do? Punched him in the face. Not because he was attracted to me – I already knew that – but because his saying it aloud meant I’d have to end it with him.

That, my friend, is the kind of chemistry I had to walk away from that night. It wasn’t easy, but I have never wanted a relationship with A – I am already in one with Mister. And btw, A knew too that nothing would come of our little game. It’s not like he has been pining for me – he goes home with a different girl every night anyway. I am just someone he can’t have and therefore, wants.

Are you familiar with the exhilaration that flirtation gives you; the gentle tug of anticipation and the endless possibilities? The joys of not knowing? The guilty pleasure that only comes from knowing that someone wants you desperately?

That night, when I went to A’s club to see what he was up to, I was looking for the same thrill. I needed to remember how it felt to be desired. A’s being “in love” with me is exciting and flattering, and I needed to feel the temptation again. I sought nothing else; I did not go there to cheat on Mister, and you know that.

Why, then did I need to be reminded of my marital status?

Does marriage turn people into asexual beings who don’t (or shouldn’t) care how people react to them? 

Do you not feel some sort of self-aggrandization when you indulge in harmless flirtation? Do you not feel this magnification of self-image when someone fawns over you?

What do you do when you learn that a good looking guy in your office/gym likes you? Do you not make an effort to dress better or behave better around them?

 

 

of betrayal

Memories of abuse that I couldn’t deal with made me start this blog exactly a year ago, and I thought that it was only fit that I end the year by talking about this episode that left me emotionally crippled. For the longest time I put off writing about this, but I also know that if I don’t get it out now, I never will.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for all the love.

 


 

Ana?

S! How are you!

The words had barely escaped my lips when he consumed me in a giant bear hug. God, I haven’t seen you in years! How are you?

Asphyxiated, I wanted to say. But I said engaged, just to see how he would react. I thought I saw a flicker of emotion in his intense brown eyes and a bead of sweat on his forehead. Was he this short back then?

That’s great news! Tell me all about the lucky guy! 

I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t pass up that opportunity to rub my awesomeness in his face. Let him realize he misses what he was too chicken to claim. I went on and on as he sipped his coffee. He was awfully quiet, and I was insanely happy about that.

Does he like to dance, he finally asked.

So you remember my checklist! Yes. He dances really well. And he cooks and is very patient. He never gets angry. He’s perfect! 

He was obviously jealous. Have you guys had sex yet? Or are you still waiting for the right guy?

Actually, yes, I said. And then I realized I shouldn’t have.

After a moment of awkward silence, I got up, saying I had to go to work, and he asked if I was still working in Gurgaon. Yes, I said again, surprised that he remembered that little detail about me. We hadn’t been in touch for two years save one birthday phone call.

He told me he was headed home (which was in Gurgaon), and that he could drop me to work. I was about to say no, thanks, my shift doesn’t start until 5 pm and I’ll take the cab, but he mentioned his bike, and my face lit up like a fucking house on Diwali (yes, I know I’ve said that before, but in an entirely different context – my face was on fire that night).

I agreed to go with him to Gurgaon. I just have to go home and change. That way I can just go to office right after I drop you.

Sure!

Big mistake.

An hour later, I was at his house, sprawled on his bed like a dirty bed cover. And there he was, sitting on my chest, his knees holding my arms down, his crotch dangerously close to my face. All I could hear was the thumping of my heart and a few incoherent words.

You bitch! How could you let him touch you!

Then I felt his hands on my crotch. Did he touch you like this? What else did he do to you?

Let me go. Please! My head reeled as he moved his unwanted fingers all over my body. I tried to cry but the tears just wouldn’t come. I trusted you, S. Why are you doing this to me?

I loved you, you cunt, and you never once let me touch you. 

I knew it was true. He and I had become friends after I bumped into him at the graduation party. We had hung out at his place many times, and had developed some sort of feelings for each other. I knew he liked me, but I also knew he had a girlfriend back in Kanpur. His face came very close to mine one day, and I asked if he intended to marry me.

Sure. But there was a hint of hesitation in his voice that I couldn’t ignore.

And now, there he was, trying to rape me. Take what I wasn’t willing to give him readily – not then, not now. I had to do something.

I didn’t even know you loved me… you never said anything, I said as he unbuttoned my jeans with one dexterous move. Carefully, slowly, I whispered the words I loved you too, but you never said anything!

As expected, he paused. You’re at an advantage when you know your potential rapist.

I tried to tell you that day, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how you would react! I felt ashamed of myself for being such a lying, conniving, manipulative bitch, but it was me or him, and I chose me.

He eased his weight off my body and slowly got up, sobbing.

I got off the bed, hugged him, and wiped his tears. You can’t marry that guy, he said.

We need to talk about this S., but first you need to calm down. Go, wash your face.

As soon as he entered the washroom, I sprang off the bed and bolted the door from outside. I picked up my bag as he pounded on the door, demanding that I unlock it, or else.

I slipped on the stairs, twice. I called the first friend I could think of who lived in Gurgaon.

I said in as calm a voice as I could: Listen, I need help. S. tried to rape me, and I ran away. I don’t know where I am, but I can’t be far from his house. Can you pick me up?

He found me under a tree, sitting quietly, staring at the road.

Oh my god, are you okay? What happened?

Nothing. I’m fine.

He took me to the nearest coffee shop and we sat down, and I told him everything. But the tears wouldn’t come.

That bastard. Promise me you’ll never speak to him again.

My phone rang. It’s him.

I didn’t answer. My phone rang again and again. I didn’t answer.

Then, a message. I’m looking for you so I can drop you to office. Answer your phone, goddammit!

Leave me alone is all I could type.

I couldn’t go to office. I called in sick and went to my future (now ex) husband’s office. One look at me and he knew something was wrong. What happened Ana, he asked.

I told him. I saw anger in his otherwise passive eyes – I saw him tremble with rage. Give me his phone number is all he said. I handed him my phone.

And then I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.