I Saw Him At The College Gate And Said Thank You For Making Me Stronger

Anonymous Anonymous in Single Women Bad Women on 7 August, 2017

Mine is a middle-class family. My father always wanted a son who could increase his business dynasty and thus improve his status in front of my paternal relatives, who all were relatively richer. But to his great disappointment, all he got was me and my sister.

Being the first to crush his dreams, his anger was always directed towards me. Or maybe it was because I had learnt to accept everything as my fault even at a young age. My sister Janvi was a little more independent. You cannot argue with her and win. So I was the reason my father always pointed to, for any disaster that occurred in the family.

My father didn't care about my studies. According to him,"to educate girls was a waste of time and money. After all, all she would do in future is give birth to more children and keep her husband's possessions clean".

Even between all this, I got admitted to a reputed engineering college. I was allowed to go there only because one of my paternal aunts came to know of this and congratulated my father for having a bright daughter, and implied an engineer is a better bait than an undergraduate, referring to my marriage.

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All I ever wanted in my life (and which I never got) was freedom. To dress as I want, to laugh as I want, to speak what I meant. I don't want to be like my mother, to live as a shadow, to have no say in one's own life. I couldn't imagine living like this my entire life. I wanted to break free. But I loved my father. I really cared for him. I wanted to show that a daughter too can fulfil his dreams. I wanted to be his "son".

I had always craved for his love, for his attention. So college was a dream come true.

But this dream turned out to be another nightmare. Everyone there was "kids of this era", with all their gadgets, looks and attitude. The sudden change from village to city made the introvert in me to sink even more. Even after the first semester, I didn't make any friends. The only acquaintance I had was my roommate Pallavi who was no better than me.

Then I met him. Shiva. He was the popular one, the "hero" of the college- rich, good looking, smart, and senior. One day he suddenly came to me and started talking to me. The way I was brought up, I was always taught to look down on myself. So naturally, I was shy and all I wanted was to get away from him and all the attention I got while he was with me. I don't know what he saw in me but he was persistent in always finding me and giving me compliments for one thing or the other.

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After a few weeks of these sweet gestures, one day while rushing to class after the break, he found me and openly told me that he was in love with me.

Although this lightened up my heart, I only smiled at him (for the first time) and asked him to meet me after college.

Later, I found him waiting for me by the huge banyan tree in the college garden. I went to him and we sat on the bench there. We were silent for some time. When he seemed too restless, I finally opened up and asked what he meant by love. He just looked at me, lost for words. He then told me, for him, love was life. I asked him if he would let go of me if I ever asked him to. He said yes. That was the answer I wanted. I stood up and told him he was not meant for me. For me, love is a promise to never let go. For me, love is survival.

That was not the last I saw of him. But that was the last I saw that flirty version of him. He became a good friend thereafter. He became a friend so special that I started opening up to him. Sometimes we spent hours together without speaking a word. He never asked me out. But we spent as much time as possible with each other on the campus.

I really started relying on him. And he too changed a lot. It turned out that he wasn't as much macho inside as he looked outside. He was a little stupid, a little adamant, and a lot more caring. He admits being pampered by his rich parents.
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But the one thing I admired the most in him was, he accepted my rejection most elegantly and never spoke of his love for me thereafter. This acceptance was new for me and I fell head over heels for him. This wasn't the usual campus love. There was nothing physical about it. It was purely emotional. I hid my feelings from him as well as I could for some time, but then on the last day of the third semester, I decided to finally tell him.

He was with his gang. I wasn't really comfortable around them. They were all the usual "beauty and the rich" type people. He had never introduced me to his friends and I was actually relieved that he didn't. So this was the first time we were going to talk to each other in front of them.

I went up to them and called out his name. There were some catcalls and whistles, but that day, nothing could bring me down. He told me we could move aside or go somewhere else to talk, but I wanted to talk to him then and there (how much I regret it today, you can never tell).

I told him I could survive life if he was by my side. I told him I loved him.

My words weren't received as I had expected. Everything was chaos at first. Shiva became pale and even before he could say anything, he was thrown into the air by his friends. Then one of the girls in the gang came to me and told me this was all part of a prank. Shiva was dared to hook the plainest and nerdiest girl of the college, and as stupid as I was, I had fallen for it. It was a blow to my face. I wished the earth would open up and swallow me then and there.

I couldn't look at anyone and I don't know how I made it back to my room. I was all cold and numb. I didn't have anything more to lose. Even the low self-esteem I had in me, I lost it for good.
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It was the semester break and for the first time, I felt relieved about going back home. After the break, I wasn't ready to go back. So I arranged for a transfer and came up with a really good story of better placements and low hostel fees to convince my father. Since my father had no time to spend for my "stupid college", I myself had to go collect my certificates and TC. My teachers were the only ones who would feel my absence there. How much more sad can my life be?

I met him at the gate on my way out. He seemed to struggle to look at my face. But I had my confidence. I dared to look straight into his eyes. I went close to him and with a soft smile, I told him "thank you".

After all, he had only made me stronger. He had taught me to expect no wonders in life. But even then, my eyes welled up with tears and I don't know why.
Editor's Note:

Make sure you share this story because this girl is a winner for not letting her circumstances keep her down.