He's a college dropout. His father disappeared when he was a child. His mother is currently stuck in a "smelly hospital", unable to get out. And Deepak? Deepak has three months to live. The sooner it comes, the faster my misery will be over.
Really, if he doesn't die soon, I will kill him myself. You might think I'm a really shitty girlfriend. Don't I love him? Of course, I do. I love him so much that it physically hurts.
But I never should have. The last time I spoke to Deepak, he said, "I told you not to fall for me." But of course, he had given me fair warning. But tell me how you wouldn't fall for a person like Deepak? He is such an admirable character!
When he was twelve years old, his father disappeared from the Kashmir border. A hard-working soldier set out to patrol one day and never came back. It drove his mother mental. She didn't want to believe that her husband died. Instead, she accused him of abandoning their family. She became unbelievably neurotic and took it all out on my Deepak.
Every time Deepak stepped out of the house, he had to do it carefully. If he came back from school ten minutes late, he would find his mother in hysterical tears. That's how bad her mental condition was- she kept thinking that her son would leave her too! So instead of playing street cricket, he stayed indoors and read books. Eventually he wrote hauntingly beautiful poems as well. Well, what can you say? Tragedy becomes your best muse.
In his third year of engineering, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Fortunately, it was curable. He had radiotherapy and the tumor disappeared, leaving his floppy straight hair intact. But it destroyed their savings. As if that wasn't enough, his mother became so afraid of losing him that she completely lost her mind. He got out of the hospital, and she got into it. The financial strain was too much to take. His mother eventually became bedridden and was put up in the hospital itself. He had to leave college and get a job to support himself and his mother.
When I met Deepak, he was a reckless bad boy. He was infamous for being irresistibly charming and having broken several hearts. He worked his magic on me too, but not before warning me about that illusion called love.
"Don't fall for me," he said. But smart women like me do just the opposite.
I didn't really fall in love with him at first. And he was quite open about the other girls he was seeing. Kala from his office, and Esha in Mumbai. I, Sapna, was localized to North Bangalore, for early evenings on slow weekdays.
But when the stories started, I was gripped. I admired him for overcoming what he had. That admiration soon turned into pride, and then to burning passion. I was more loving to him, more caring, and I did everything I could to make him happy because I believed he deserved it. On some days, the strain of all his hard work would show on him, but he would carry on smiling. He would hold me gently and make it feel like everything was alright. And in return, I believed that he deserved every comfort in the world. I did everything I could to ensure that.
He kept repeating this to me: "I will leave you before I hurt you." But little did he know that I would be hurt most if he left me. Especially if he left me because he was dying.
Last August, he finally broke the news to me. The brain cancer had recurred. That explained why he had been avoiding me for the past few days! That explained why he never picked up my calls! I was worried sick. The doctors had said that it was operable but there was a 70 percent chance that it might turn him into a vegetable. He didn't want to take that chance. But that meant he had only three months to live.
He had no idea how to tell this to his mother. He had told Kala. He smiled weakly when he recounted it. She had expressed concern. It's not that she didn't care, but she had begun to distance herself from him. He didn't want the same thing to happen with me. Thankfully, he didn't have to see me every day. He had decided to stop meeting me entirely. He had to deal with his stress by himself, you see?
I was numb when I came back home that day. I carried on for the next two days like a robot — but I was worried sick on the inside and I didn't dare call him. When I finally did, though, he didn't pick up. Then I got obsessed with trying to get in touch with him. I cursed myself for not having said anything while I was still face to face with him. All things said and done, I was still his FRIEND. And friends don't run away when the other person is in trouble. I didn't want to be that flaky.
I called and called. Sometimes fifty times in a row. But there was no response or reply. Several days of pestering later, and a flood of messages on Facebook, he replied. "I need to deal with my demons," he said, "and you should too. But by the time you do, I will be long gone."
He needed me to stay calm and leave him alone. But I couldn't do it. So, for "my own good", he blocked me everywhere. Soon enough, his phone was unreachable, his Facebook profile blocked, no WhatsApp, not even LinkedIn. He went out of sight a month before he was supposed to die. And there was no way of finding him again.
For months later, I turned every street corner half expecting to bump into him again. I haunted our joints, our bookstores, our cinema halls only with the fading hope of seeing him smile. I had no idea if he was still alive, and I didn't know when he had died. So I harboured that sliver of hope that I might one day find him.
And what a huge fool I was for hoping that he was alive! I wish he was dead already!
I struggled for months without closure. I was depressed and I didn't think of talking about it with anyone. And just as I was healing a little bit on the inside, Valentine's Day came. Last year's Valentine's Day was still fresh in my memory. A year seemed to have gone past so quickly, yet it seemed like ages since I last spoke to my Deepak. I was sitting alone at home on a Saturday with nothing to distract me, and I began picking at my wounds... not letting it heal.
For some reason, I Googled Deepak's name. Every other Deepak but mine showed up on the results page. I tried looking for him on Facebook again, but my efforts were pointless. Suddenly, I remembered Esha. Did she know anything about him? Had he been in touch with her? I knew that he had a certain soft spot for her. When he spoke about her, there was a tone of fondness in his voice that he never explained. I had to find out if I could learn anything from her, but I knew nothing other than her first name and the fact that she lived in Mumbai.
I don't remember how long I spent scrolling down on the Facebook results for an Esha in Mumbai. I looked at profile after profile, wondering if it could be her. I didn't dare send a message to anybody asking for a dead Deepak. And at last when I saw her, my heart stopped dead.
I still had no idea what she looked like. But Deepak was there in her profile picture. It said "Esha is in a relationship with Deepak (October 2014)", the month he was supposed to have "died".
For a minute, I was so relieved that he was alive. My eyes brimmed with tears. But at the same time, I couldn't help but notice that he was a little too alive. Why was he still looking healthy? I opened her profile to check. A brief glance at her check-ins told me that they had spent a lot of time together lately. But how was that even possible? Especially with his mother and her abandonment issues. Did she die and he survive? Nothing made sense to me.
I wanted to send a message to Esha and ask her right away. But I didn't know what to ask. I just didn't know how to say that her boyfriend was actually MY Deepak! I spent the rest of the day in unrest, not knowing what to do. And the next day, I went looking for his mother.
Again, all I knew was his mother's first name and the hospital she was in. I went to NIMHANS. It was an even more absurd task because I had absolutely no idea where to look. She had one of the most common names- Kamala. There were probably fifty Kamalas in that hospital. How was I going to look for a long term patient, possibly with a mental illness? No sentence I framed in my head sounded right. But I hung around for longer than I possibly should have, just to see if I could spot someone or even something that would give me a hint.
I got a little more than just a hint that day. I saw his mother herself! It was unmistakable- she had same eyes, the same nose, and the same kind smile. And she was a nurse. Not a patient- a nurse! He used to keep saying that his mother was "stuck in a smelly hospital". Suddenly, I began to see those words in an entirely different light!
I mustered up enough courage and walked up to her. I asked her in Kannada, "Are you Kamala?" Yes. "Are you Deepak's mother?". Yes, Why? "Is he alright?"
She suddenly lost her cool and began yelling at me- "Who are you and why are you after my son? You witch! Stay away from him!". I did not know how to answer her. I was embarrassed and I disappeared as quickly as I could. My face was hot with shame and my head was swimming in confusion. I had also noticed that she wore a mangal sutra. It looked shiny enough to make me suspect that her husband was definitely around.
I came home to find that all my sorrow had disappeared and I had literally become blind with anger. I am so furious right now that I could kill him for not dying.
I don't know what the problem was when he has already told me about Esha. If he wanted to move to Mumbai and settle down with her, he could have said so straight away. I would have gotten over him in two days for leaving me. WHY DID HE HAVE TO LIE ABOUT DYING? And what about his parents? Why did he lie about a lost father and a mad mother? Was it some kind of twisted excuse to justify the fact that he didn't finish college?
I had to talk to Esha right away. But when I logged on to Facebook again, she was gone without a trace. I don't know what happened between mother and son after my visit to the hospital, but I could NOT find his girlfriend. And now I'm beginning to realize that I spent my time, emotions, effort and money on a pathological lying loser. I'm beginning to realize that I may just have been a mad last fling before he settled down.
I am MURDEROUS. My God, I am murderous! I can't believe I was conned like this, and I don't know if he's out to manipulate another woman's mind and ruin her future as well! Somebody stop him!