We sat side-by-side in office chairs in the building he had recently purchased to start his very own practice. The air was musty with the smell of wood shavings and wall primer, and even though it was November, and we were in the tundra of Canada, the sun managed to beam in through the bare, unframed windows, scattering the light through the room and highlighting lines of dust particles that floated by.
I was only in town to visit for a few days, so we had to get all the paint picked out and bought before I left the following day. Although I was quite sure at this point of what colors we were going for, his Type A, compulsive, perfectionist nature (which I had grown to absolutely love) wouldn’t allow us to make a final decision without looking at all possible options, so we had gone through dozens of pages of paint swatches and were finally nearing the last of them.
We were just a few short months of celebrating six years together. Met when I was 18… he, 26… and while much of our relationship was long distance, just as much of it felt like it was meant to be a Disney fairytale. Of course there were rough parts. Bad parts. Mountains. Mole-hills. Blunders. But in my mind, those were just the bloopers—not really meant to be shown as part of the full story; so I made sure to barely mention them in the narrative of us which I had so meticulously perfected over the years. The introduction. The meeting. The presents. The sparks. The romance. The jokes.
You see, my naiveté caused me to believe those were the only parts that mattered. No. Wait. It was my culture. My upbringing that taught me to believe that the gaffes…red flags…rumors, warnings and suspicions were written in pencil. Meant to be erased along the way.
When you love someone, you commit.
When you commit to someone, you pledge yourself to them.
When you pledge yourself, you forgive them whole heartedly.
You look past their shortcomings. You allow them a second…third…even fourth chance if needed. Especially as a woman. An Indian woman. A Hindu woman.
That is love.
He handed me his Blackberry “Babe, text my brother and tell him to bring the pick-up so that we can go to Home Depot to pick up this paint.”
He swiveled his chair around, his back toward me, and started to fiddle with some wiring on the desk. I opened up a new text and began typing in the message field, and a notification ribbon dropped down from the top of the screen: “New Email from…”
I had seen her name before. I had heard and even spoken her name before. She was the topic of quite a few conversations between him and I.
In the 3 seconds that the ribbon lasted at the top of the screen, I thought to myself
“Ok, so you have one of two choices:
1. Open the email
2. Ignore it and move on.”
Of course I opened it.
Now, he had been telling me for a few months that he felt a hankering to go backpacking through Europe. I was thrilled by the idea. Encouraged it. “You must go! You work too hard, and deserve some time off for a vacation of any kind!” It never once crossed my mind to go with him; after all this would be some ‘me time’ for him…the man I loved, escaping the stress of everyday life and doing something for himself. I loved the thought. Nothing would make me happier.
I tapped on the notification at the top of the screen to open a full email. It opened “Hey babe,” and continued with the only other five words I remember in the entire email “Here’s our itinerary for Germany.”
And just like that, the light switch turned off. For a millisecond I entertained a fleeting urge to stab him in the neck with a pen that lay on the desk next to me. Then it passed. *click* OFF.
All feelings. Off.
All fond thoughts. Off.
All obligations. Off.
All commitments. Off.
A feeling of calm blanketed over me.
In a flash; as though I had trained for this moment al my life, I forwarded the email to myself, deleted it from the sent folder, marked it as unread and finished the text message to his brother. We went to Home Depot. We bought the paint, and when we pulled into his parents driveway (where we were going to have dinner) I looked at him, and with a somber smile, said “I just want to let you know that when I leave to go back to Florida tomorrow, that is going to be the last time you ever see me.”
“Okay…what is it this time…” he started. And to be quite honest I don’t recall much else that he said. Yelled. Went on about. The words dramatic and over-reacting were thrown in there. It’s always something was in there somewhere, maybe? I blanked out: OFF, remember?
It was the last time he saw me. Or I him. And while he called me cold. Melodramatic. Rash. I had reached my limit. It was time I listened to my conscience. My inner voice.
Was I being dramatic? Rash? Over-reacting?
You see, some years before I had received a phone call—the first of a few. A girl—the first of a few. “I don’t know what your relationship is with him” she said “but we have been dating for 3 months.”
The stories echoed each other. I was devastated after the first one. The others had less and less impact. He convinced me they wanted him, but he chose me and they were jealous and were trying to ruin us. He said it wasn’t so. So it wasn’t
They knew his nickname for me. They had pictures with him. They forwarded me text exchanges. Email exchanges. They knew times and places of events and different happenings.
But he said it wasn’t so. So it wasn’t.
They stalked me. Trolled me. Harassed me. Begged me. Warned me.
But he said it wasn’t so. So it wasn’t
I didn’t listen to the voice inside my head. My heart. I didn’t listen to my inner queen. She was suppressed. Silenced.
Why? He checked all the boxes. All the should be’s: Hindu. Trinidadian. Prefix Dr. Good family. My parents approved of us getting married. His parents loved me. I was at the age at which marriage is expected. As was he.
I was taught everything I should look for in him. Everything he should be.
What about the things I should strive to be? Happy. Respected. Treasured.
I should be loyal. But am I not worth being loyal to?
What about honesty? Trust?
Why was I never made aware that love is intended to be a two-way street?
I had neglected myself for the last time. My needs. My wants. What I deserved.
In that moment, I chose to redefine the ‘shoulds.’
In that moment, I chose to listen to my inner queen.
In that moment, my dependency, unrequited veneration and one-sided love for another, turned OFF.
And in that moment, I chose me.
About our author: Vishala was born in a little, lush village in Trinidad, raised in Florida and currently reside in the North East, in the tri-state area. She comes from a lineage of conservative Sanatanist Hindu philosophers yet feels equally as defined by her identity as an American. Her experiences as a granddaughter, a daughter, a sister, a Hindu, a scientist, a teacher, and foray into the corporate world .gives her a unique view on life.
follow Vishala on Instagram @protonprincess123