Everything was going perfectly fine, until I stupidly fell for a crush and stimulated my own downfall, straight to the depths of hell.
The guy was a year senior when I was in high school and used to stand next to me during assembly. I was in the ninth and we were usually made to sit next to tenth standard students during our exams. Both our names came pretty much at the end of the register, so more often than not, we ended up sitting together. Asking him questions during the mathematics exam had become a habit, even if they were pretty simple. In a way, it gave me a chance to talk to him.
He was very polite and kind, at least in the beginning. It was pretty obvious to him and his friends, that I had a huge crush on him. To be entirely honest, it wasn’t something I was entirely hiding. I would purposely choose a table across from his in the cafeteria, participated in those stupid art competitions even though I couldn’t draw a straight line, only because I knew he would be there too; after all, he had great artistic skills.
The icing on the cake was when I joined Facebook. It was new then, and almost everyone in school had an account. So, as if I wasn’t being silly enough, I had to go and make a profile and then like and comment on every single post of his. Literally. Every. Single. Post. That indeed helped no doubt, it caught his attention and we became friends. I thought everything would be easy after this. Naïve. I know.
I made it a routine to wait for him to come online, just so that we could chat. Those stupid texts made me so happy that every time my laptop pinged, my face lit up with a 1000-watt smile. Then came the day which caused my smile to fade, for a long time. He told me on chat one evening that he wanted my help with a poetry assignment. He asked me to meet him at the playground, after school. I didn’t say no. Now that I think about it, I wish I had.
When I went there, the following evening, the playground was deserted. I was out there, standing under a tree, my heart beating, a thousand beats a minute. When he finally came, he wasn’t alone. He had six of his friends with him, out of which two were girls.
They bullied me, and he took great pleasure in that. They pulled my hair, called me names, lit a candle and shoved it in my face. I was terrified of the hot wax, I had once shared this intimate detail with him in our chats, and he did the very same thing. At the chance I could get, I ran away. I ran home as fast as I could. Halfway through, I broke down and cried in front of a church.
The rest of the academic year, I became a shell. At home, I didn’t talk much either. My parents got worried, but there wasn’t much I could tell them. The only solace I had, was the time I spent in the park near my house. I went there every evening and gazed at almost nothing in particular. Two months I spent like this, until one day, I noticed I had a companion. A new resident in the neighbourhood; he was living alone and was in his last year of post-graduation. He was studying to be a therapist or a shrink as they call them these days.
He used to sit there with me every day and talk about work. It used to irritate me, a lot, but I never got up and left. I always let him finish his stories. Three weeks later, I knocked on his apartment door, as mom had asked me to deliver some baked goods to welcome him. He was surprised to find me at his door, I showed him the cookies.
He stared at me dumbfounded for two minutes, and I realized that this was the first time I had said anything to him.
He invited me inside but didn’t ask me to sit in the living room. Instead, he took me to a dimly lit room, with lots of books scattered on a table. There were different quotes on the wall, one of them said, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about you if you have the guys to do, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” There was an open, empty notebook and a pen lying on the table.
I glanced at it and slowly built up the courage to do it. A knock on the door finally snapped me out of my trance. Two hours had passed. I looked at the notebook, the poem I had written was three pages long and had way too many typos. I left the notebook there and went home. The next day, the brought the same notebook to the park, but this time, he kept quiet and let me write.
I never took it home with me. And he never asked me to talk about it. It wasn’t until a year and a half later, when I finished my 10th board exams, that I wrote about the main incident. By then, three notebooks were full and I had a new one in hand, this one that I bought myself.
That day, instead of meeting at the park, I rang his doorbell. When he opened the door, I shoved the copy into his hands and went inside and sat down in front of the TV. He didn’t accompany me to watch the football game, but sat at the kitchen counter and read everything that I had written.
Twenty minutes later, he came to me with two cups of coffee. As soon as I took the first sip, I broke down and cried. Not because the coffee had burnt my tongue, but because I was finally ready to let out all my anger and sadness. Nine years have passed, and as I write this story today, I can feel the loving gaze of my husband on me from across the room while he makes coffee for the both of us.
Though we are eight years apart in age, it doesn’t bother us at all. I remember when on my 18th birthday, he asked me out on a pizza date. Well, technically, it wasn’t a date, as were sitting at Dominoes, and talking about human behavior, neuroanatomy and what not. By then, I was pretty much used to it, we never had those giddy conversations like others who had just fallen in love. I never told him about my favorite movie, color or books. Together, we found our new favorites.
The only common thing we had was our love for reading. Mine, to read novels, literature, and stories and his, was to read to me. So just like that, oen day, we decided to swap our books and read what the other one does.
Imagine the horror, when he placed, Existential Psychology in my hands and I placed Sidney Sheldon in his. It took us ten minutes before we looked at each other and burst out laughing. I still smile in secret, thinking about his reaction on reading the preface to that Sidney Sheldon novel. He grimaced in such a cute way, all I wanted to do was kiss him.
My favorite memory is when we kissed for the first time. It lasted all of three seconds before I realized that my glasses were coming in the way. Clumsy, I know. I was his very first patient and I still haven’t paid him for all the years of therapy that he’s helped me with. My parents still don’t know about the school incident that happened, no one knows about it, except my husband.
He is 32 and I’m 24. He has his own clinic and practices Psychotherapy and Behavior Therapy. I got my MBA degree last year and I’m working for an MNC. My parents showed little resistance to our marriage as they knew him very well over the last few years.
Had he not sat down that fateful day beside me in the park, I may not have recovered, at all.