“My mother believes that hanging a dead clock brings bad luck.” He said removing the clock from the wall.
He successfully changed the batteries but the needles still didn’t move.
“It’s stuck,” he declared.
“I am too.”
I looked intently into his brown eyes, ready for war. This is the right time.
“I can’t do it anymore.”
“Okay. We’ll try later.” He said placing the clock on the dining table.
“No. I mean this.” I said frantically moving my hand between the two of us.
He still looked puzzled.
“I am so sick of people looking at us in disbelief. ‘how can someone so good looking as him choose to be with someone so average as her.’ I am so sick of being insecure all the fuckin time.”
“Did someone in the party say something to you?” he asked, looking down at me, placing his hand on my shoulders.
How could I tell him that it was his mother? She was so sweet to me, till she found me alone in the kitchen, and told me about the ‘pretty’ girls she had lined up for him.
“…but you are different,” she had said.
I pushed his hand away. His gentleness felt disgusting.
“Have I ever made you feel less?”
He rightly interpreted my silence as a no.
“So you are going to punish me with no fault of mine?” he said irritatingly.
“I am not punishing you. You will find someone way better.”
Someone your mother would adore.
“Riya, you are the most beautiful human I know”
The faces of all his past lovers flashed in front of my eyes. I wanted to puke. His breath on my lips was suffocating me. I didn’t foresee that it would be this difficult. I hid my face with my hands and screamed.
“WHY CAN’T YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? To move away without asking any questions. I CAN’T. How can you be so stupid to buy into others’ rigid colonial ideas of beauty?”
He would never understand. The trauma of wanting to wear a color but being told that you are too dark to pull it off, of constantly receiving suggestions from aunts on how to lighten and brighten your skin.
“I am sorry, okay. I know you have been hurt before, but I can’t change that. I wish I could. But I can’t. But please trust me when I say that I love everything about you.”
I felt guilty for making the man I love beg for my trust. But I will not budge today. I looked away, trying with all my might to hold back the tears.
“I know what you’re trying to do here. You are so comfortable in this state of self pity, that everything and everyone who makes you feel otherwise, you just push them away. You don’t want to face the truth that you are enough. You don’t have the courage to love yourself.”
“And you shouldn’t love someone who doesn’t love herself. That’s too much of a responsibility.”
“Loving someone is not always a choice you make, Riya!”
“With that logic, unloving someone is also not a choice. You might just wake up one day and feel that you don’t love me anymore. Isn’t that exactly what happened with Abhi and Nitya?” Nitya’s sobs last night reverberated through my ears.
‘Everybody warned me that relationships should always be among equals! I should have listened.’ she had said.
“HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE IN THIS RELATIONSHIP? Everybody’s opinion matters, but not min….?”, he stopped mid-sentence, a wave of understanding spread through his face.
There was dead silence in the room. The clock suddenly started ticking as if prompting him to also move forward.
He moved towards me instead and cupped my face in his steady hands. I was too exhausted to push him away again.
“I am not Abhi and you are not Nitya.” He whispered.
There was something in the way his voice broke by the end that made me believe that he meant it.
“But I am so scared,” I finally let go. I melted in his arms, my head on his chest, my tears wetting his khadi shirt.
“We all are, Riya. But that’s what love is. A giant leap of faith.” He hugged me back.
Roopal is a 25 year-old who struggles to define herself in words, though she professes to be a writer. Or maybe she doesn’t want to. Words hold weight, they smell of eternity. How egotistical of humans to believe that anything can last forever. She likes to define herself through her current emotions which are transient. She thus makes it clear that this is her current state of being. If you meet her again in a few months, she might be a different being. During this phase in her life, she feels young, playful, carefree, always beaming with ideas and energy. Her insta id is @roopaljain20_. You can listen to her on spotify: ‘The Healing Circle with Roopal Jain’.