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This is the true story of a VP of a multinational company, a man who is far from ordinary, but who has been unable to have a truly loving relationship, lonely despite ‘having it all’.
Author’s note: This is a true story of someone I met briefly. It is written with permission. Names and places are changed to protect identity.
There is something about loneliness. It gnaws from within and spreads around. No matter what you feed it, it always seeks a companion; a human companion. Nothing else satiates it. It opens its fang and digs into you, deep. Maybe a touch or a human voice can make it disappear. At 36, when you live in a city that swarms with people all around you, loneliness is still a constant companion. When I go to the office, it sits near my table. When I walk on the streets it sits on my shoulder. When I enter my house, it sits on my heart.
Working as the vice-president of a multinational financial company provided me no relief from this gnawing void within me. Neither did my new apartment. It only enhanced it. My last three relationships failed. I took refuge in Camus, Nietzsche, and Kafka. I tried to reason about love. Maybe that was where I failed.
I am still trying to come into terms with the fact that the three women I loved, left me. I had often sat and wondered, “Why did they leave me?” I said to myself often that, it might be due to our intellectual differences, perceptions or needs. But maybe Rohini, who left me last summer was right. She said, before slamming the door, “You are so you, I can’t carry it on.” Maybe being me has to do something with their abandonment.
Sex seemed like a relief to the everyday monotony of loneliness. Buying a human for sex never really appealed to me or maybe hurt my male ego a little. So, I used social networking sites.
My target was simple, much younger girls or married women. I checked their likes – if one liked Gulzar or Beatles, it became easy for me. I checked pages dedicated to an actor or musician and tried to talk intelligently. I sent hundreds of friend’s request. Most got rejected. Some blocked me and a few accepted. I chatted first on FB, and later some gave their numbers.
I tried hard to justify my physical need to be my underlying motive. However, even after all the physical intimacy, I waited for a woman’s company. I waited to be heard. I waited for someone to ask me something, maybe my name, or hear someone call my name. Why on earth even after everything, a man’s heart seeks a woman’s companionship?
Being an atheist is not helping me much these days. Is there a higher power who created us with too many needs; human companionship being one of them?
Sexual relationships are not that easy, as they seem to be; at least not for me. I always preferred to leave the room first after every encounter. It gave me a fake sense of relief that I was not alone after someone left. Every time a woman woke up to pick up her clothes a sense of nausea seemed to burn the pit of my stomach. It reminded me of my mother who left me half asleep on my bed. Later, I heard stories of another man she had loved and left for Dubai.
So, I always wanted to leave the woman first. I liked to break away from their soft flesh before they put me aside. It was such a game always. So tiring, yet I never stopped playing it.
Again after every three months, I needed someone new. The old ones have either faded away or made other choices. Of course I stay in Mumbai, the glittering city of choices. But deep in my heart, I want to make a choice between someone and someone else – maybe someday I will. Someday there will be two choices.
That evening I saw my notifications on FB. Devika, a 21-year-old ad-photographer had accepted my friend’s request. Man! Her eyes were beautiful.
We spoke on the first day.
There is something about some people, they are just so natural. They are so comfortable being themselves. When I was 21, I was still deciding who I wanted to be. Devika just accepted who she was. She was like her hair. Long and flowing. I asked her where she stayed. She giggled. There was innocence in her giggle; I thought that was irritating.
I thought she was immature. But deep down, I was jealous. She did not have my gnawing loneliness. She will never go through the crisis or pain that I go through: a man who cannot accept anything ordinary; a man who hates anything and everything that is ordinary; a man whose greatest fear is that he will be forgotten as an ordinary man.
Devika made me feel restless, made me bring back the feeling of living a wrong life. There were moments when she would smilingly sit next to the driving seat. She would not doubt, she could dream, she could forgive, and most importantly she was happy to be ordinary. That day I wanted to trash her head against the glass.
Devika brings a mist through which I see my Dad, sitting in our veranda, smoking in leisure. Maa left him because he was just an ordinary clerk in a government bank. So, from that day my fight was to be anything but ordinary.
When all the boys went to school with short hair I decided to grow it. I got expelled for a week, but I was less ordinary. It made me happy. I resented Dad. Even when Maa left both of us, he accepted it and still smoked cigarettes. IIM was my ticket out of the ordinary. I made it. I made through the best of jobs. I travelled. I always put my best foot forward. But the more I grew, the more the ordinary life attracted me. But I never gave up. I changed beds, clothes and women. But deep down, I longed for a home and a woman who would be mine, someone who will never abandon me for being ordinary.
Devika came to my apartment to spend time. The only woman who ever came and I never made love to. Every other woman I knew or was close to had needed me in some way or the other.
My first love needed me as her savior and I loved that daily drama that came with him. There would be nights I had to keep awake on the phone because she had fears going to sleep. Deep down I felt important. I felt less ordinary. It ended up, both hating each other. My second love needed my approval. I tried to act strict. Once she grew up, she left me. The third love wanted to fix my life. She realized what a wretched life I lived. I failed there too. I was too much myself. She left me too.
I can tear people apart. I could make girls cry. So, all my life I had people who needed me, needed to be saved. But like always, there came a time, my abusive nature turned towards them. They walked away at the first instance. And now I meet this college graduate, who does not even need me for approval, and not even sex. She was so easy with my presence. She neither needed to change me or my approval of her existence. She gave a damn to my philosophy. She lived her own life.
As, months passed I started growing an incredible attraction towards her. For the first time in my life I started to feel good with another human being. Was it love? One day when she was not around, I was too drunk, I sent her a love dipped text confessing my love. No reply came. She met me after three days without any expression. She acted as usual. Was she too wise or I a fool?
I became addicted, I wanted to protect her, tell her about my world. My jealousies and violence grew stronger within me. I was so helpless with her ease. She was the only woman I could not touch within; I could not shake her, melt her, hurt her, love her or even feel her. I started crying to myself often.
Three months later, she left for her masters in photography in London. It hurt me more, because I know she is the kind of woman who will find love and attention. She is the kind of woman, who even if hurt, will get over it. It’s written in her footsteps that she will find love and acceptance. She will always be the choice. I never could express my strange feelings towards her. I let her go with an easy smile. I knew I might just end up just as an FB friend because I have seen life, 21 brings too many people and infinite possibility.
I blocked her the day she left India. I have never again heard from her. But she comes to me, sometimes as a smile, sometimes as a pizza or sometimes as a colour, and a strange feeling of love engulfs me. This strange love makes me ordinary. I just smoke a pile of cigarettes, sit on the balcony and cry. I cry a lot. I become like my father; ordinary. And with that, a strange love towards him evokes within me.
I decide to call him after ten years!
Image source: a still from the movie Dil Chahta Hai
Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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