Friday, March 28, 2014

When I Say No...

She came to the balcony and noticed the new boy who had moved into the neighbouring house standing in his balcony, facing hers. She pulled up the wicker chair and leaned back, her books in hand. She tried to focus on her studies, but was also aware of him. She pretended though to be completely engrossed in problem she was trying to solve, and soon, it did draw her in. When she looked up after half an hour, the boy was not there. She smiled to herself - he must have got bored staring at her bent head. Then it turned to a giggle - how foolish of her to flatter herself! As if he couldn't have been standing in the balcony just to enjoy the view!

But a few days later, she couldn't ignore the coincidence. He was definitely there in the mornings and evenings whenever she went to study. She enjoyed the cool breeze, which was the main reason for her being there. His presence also brought a thrill, but with time, it discomfited her. She changed her timings - going 15 minutes earlier in the mornings and 15 minutes later in the evenings.

Were his timings also changing? When she mentioned it to her friends, they laughed and teased her. It was flattering. But she had ambitions, and being hooked up to a boy who did nothing other than stand and stare - a great poet's urging us to do just that didn't seem aimed at this purpose - was not part of it. Hold on, she told herself. You are jumping the gun. He is just passing time idly... She forced herself not to cringe and hide.

When the blank call came on her landline, she intuited that it was him. It made her nervous. The next stage was when he managed to get her mobile number and started messaging her. She oscillated between replying asking him not to contact her and not responding at all. Neither seemed to work. His messages ranged in intensity - from a simple hello to professions of love.

Ignoring was the only choice and she stuck to that. Her friends teasing her was not amusing anymore, and she became withdrawn because she saw him almost every day. Not in the balcony, at least, not like before. For she had stopped stepping out. Now she studied in her room. But balcony was part of her house and she needed to go there to dry clothes, to pick up the dried clothes, to water the two saplings she had planted, on a thousand mundane chores.

So yes, she saw him still but that was rarer - as there was no set timing. But she had to go to school, to tuition classes, she had to return. And at all those specific times, he would be there, in his balcony or somewhere near the entrance to his block, or at the very gate of her complex.

Then he started following her - not obviously, of course. But she found him outside her school once, buying something from the hawker. Seeing her, he offered the toffee but she refused and doubled her pace, tears welling up. She was scared to tell her family or friends, and scared to walk around alone.

On such days, he would message variations of the same message: "Why do you ignore me? I know you are pretending, that you are thinking of me... I know your no means yes, so why are you teasing me? I can wait forever... but make it quick. :)"

Sometimes she would want to scream at him, and instead she would reply: "My no means no... Stop hassling me."

"See, you reply to my message. You are interested."

You are damned if you do it; you are damned if you don't!

She felt guilty. Was she somehow encouraging him when she looked at him involuntarily? She always looked to see if he was in his balcony. Did he think it was because she sought him?

She avoided trips to the balcony - for that's what it had become, a journey to be planned.

And then she got a letter from him. He thrust it on her and she was too startled to reject it outright. She read it in the secrecy of her room and started shivering. A suicide threat if she refused to accept his love.

That night, she cut her vein, unable to take the responsibility for the life and love of another individual so prematurely.
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