‘I am not insane, you have to trust me!’
I protested as my wife dragged me in to the white brightly lit Psychiatrist’s office. She murmured something to the attendant, made me sit down on a comfortable chair and left. I waited impatiently, embarrassed of having ended up here. I wasn’t a Shrink’s-Office material. I had a decent job, a consistent academic record and I hailed from a very respectable family.
I tightly shut my eyes close, and hoped that it was all just a bad dream – that my wife hadn’t seen what she thought she saw. It took me a few seconds to realise that I never dream, and that I was a sound sleeper. I closed my eyes again, and prayed that my boss or anyone I knew didn’t come over, and it took me two more seconds to remind myself that I was an atheist.
Maybe they were right, after all. Maybe I really was insane.
I was nervously tapping my feel down on the smooth marble floor, when the attendant with the bright pink lipstick walked towards me with a smile and said that I could go in.
I looked over at my wife, nervously. Kallol smiled and told me to go ahead. I walked into the Doctor’s office, with my head screaming shameful insults at me. It was a spacious cubicle, and I spotted the Doctor, sitting behind a large teak desk.
‘Hello, Doctor.’ I said, with a weak smile. ‘I’m not insane. I don’t even know what I’m doing here, or why she dragged me down here. But now that I am, and I’m paying for this anyway, I want you to help me.’
The nervousness was screaming right off my face. I knew it. I tried to pretend like it was all normal, and failed at an epic scale.
‘It’s okay, Mr.Runa.’ The Psychiatrist had a very senior look as he asked me a few random questions. I answered them.
No major heart problems.
No traumatic childhood experience.
And no, depression didn’t run in my family and neither did Schizophrenia.
Once all the random questions were asked, he looked up with a well-practiced smile. ‘So, what is it that you want my help with, Mr.Runa?’
‘There’s this memory, Doctor. A very scratchy memory that I want to get rid of.’
He took out a fat bulky leather diary and asked me to give a detailed account of the feeling.
‘You know how some trends never go out of fashion?’ I said. ‘Bright red lips. White Shirt and Blue Jeans? Smokey eyes?’
The dark haired doctor nodded sympathetically and scribbled something down in his notebook.
‘That was her.’ I completed the sentence and the ‘She was the girl that never went out of style. She was the kind of girl that God makes you meet when you’re young, so that you’ll keep comparing every other girl to her for the rest of your life. She was cute, not beautiful – mind you, but cute. She was brilliant, she had a cosmic intellect and a very strong emotional quotient as well. She was always stable – I have never seen her anxious or excited. Never seen her cry, except once. I distinctly remember her telling the same thing about me as well. She kept bouncing back, no matter how badly I made her crash. We were trending, for a very long time. We still do, I think.’
‘Explain.’ He still didn’t look up from his book.
‘All of us have that one person we’re never over with. That one person whose memories would haunt us for the rest of our lives. There is always that one relationship that makes us feel like it never ended, although it did. There’s always that one person whom we fear would walk into our wedding and say, ‘Don’t do this, we’re not done yet.’ All of us have that one person. I had Rupsi.’
‘You lost your heart to this girl and never got it back?’ He asked, his sharp eyes observing the tiny flicker of uncertainty that escaped my eyes.
‘No.’ I stammered. ‘I lost my mind to her.’
‘I don’t get it. Are we talking about a romantic relationship here or not?’ He paused for a minute before he added in a low hushed tone. ‘An affair, perhaps? Were you in love with the said girl, even after your got married?’
I laughed a sad laugh.
He had asked me the toughest question. The question I’d been running away from for the seven best years of my life.
‘No affairs, I can promise you that.’ I was very careful not to use the word love or Romance.
How do I even explain this? These were thoughts that made sense in the mind, but when put into words, they become empty and unfathomable.
‘So you do love her?’ he asked again.
‘That’s the problem.’ I finally brought up the courage to confess. ‘I don’t know.’
Rupsi was the Devil in disguise.
When I first saw her, she looked quiet, soft and patient. She was tiny – about five feet tall and weighing exactly fifty kilograms. She was pretty, her smooth olive skin was flawless and there was something about the way her eyes twinkled every time she smiled, that made anyone turn around and look twice. She had a tiny oval faced shape, with pretty eyes and full lips.
When I first saw her, she looked like a delicate flower that had to be handled with care. She looked sensitive, precious and exceptional.
Rupsi and I were in the same college. I still remember the first day I ever saw her. It was during an elocution competition that I had been preparing for all week.
The good news was that, she was participating as well. The bad news was that she was participating as well.
She wore a pastel coloured skirt that flowed up to her knees, and a cream turtle neck tee. She had a School Girl-ish look about her that would make anyone smile. Her hair was plaited into two tight braids and her face was dripping innocence.
It was all Deception.
Not something that she did on purpose, though. Fate played a cruel joke on her, giving her a charming child-like face, and Chanakya’s evil intellect.
Little did I know that beneath those bright blue eyes was a very fiercely competitive spirit that would chop anyone who dared to step in her way. Two seconds after I completed the thought, she walked up to the stage and gave the most mind blowing speech I’ve ever heard in my life. I stood starring at her, transfixed, and wondering how someone so little could strip away the confidence of an entire crowd.
She was powerful, and she knew it.
We were always at odds with each other, because we held the same tastes and the same passion.
We always wanted the same thing, sported the same competition, and fought for the same job. Our similarities of taste and intellect, only fueled our competition. However, at the end of all the rivalry rested a priceless artifact.
Rupsi had fallen in love with me. And I was flattered.
‘You were flattered?’ The doctor almost spat out on his coffee in disbelief. I cringed.
‘Seriously? That’s the word you’d use to express the feeling you got when someone like this Rupsi you just described proposes to you? Unbelievable.’ I could see all the respect he had for me drift away from his eyes as I spoke.
‘Listen, I’m not in a Psychiatrist’s office for no reason, okay?’ I snapped. He seemed impressed with the justification and went on to scribbling in his notebook.
I rolled my eyes and continued the narration.
‘Say you’ll remember me?’ Rupsi was sipping into her coffee.
She looked at me with such intensity, that I eclipsed in her eyes.
‘Ofcourse, I’ll remember you forever and ever.’ I said, quickly turning away. She was immersed in love. It was easy – so very easy to tell. The way she walked, the way she talked to me and even the way she said my name. She carried love around, spreading the aura to almost anyone and anything she touched.
‘I must share with you a matter of great Delicacy, Runa.’ She began. Her voice was clear with confidence, and her eyes were sparkling with a kind of enchantment that reminded me of a fairy tale I’ve heard when I was a little kid.
‘I’m in love.’ She said. ‘With you. And I just thought you should know.’
I still get chills when I think about how someone so young could confess their feelings of first love without their voice cracking even to the slightest amount. She was absolutely cool and assured.
Was it even possible for a girl her age to have the poise and grit that she did? I do not think so.
It took me a few minutes for the message to sink in. And I reacted in a way that surprised both of us.
‘Listen Rupsi, I like you. I really really like you and I think you are one very fascinating girl. But…’
‘Oh there it is. The tragic ‘but’. I hate that word.’ She interjected. I could sense that she was starting to fume with rage.
‘We’ll never work out, Rupsi.’ I said.
Liar, Liar, Liar. My mind was screaming. You like her. You like her. You like her so damn much.
‘Why the bloody hell not?’ She burst out. Her eyes were beginning to redden with rage, and I felt a gut-wrenching bolt of fear stab my gut.
‘Because….Umm….because….’ I stammered, my voice was brimming with doubt, fear and uncertainty. ‘Because we’re too similar. We like and want the same things. Love isn’t supposed to be like that, remember? Only Opposites attract.’
Yea, goog job. The voice in my head was getting louder and louder. Fake it, young man. Fake it till you make it.
‘Opposites attract. Agreed. But it never lasts. It is an unstable reaction.’ Her arguments were completely justifiable. But I refused to admit it.
‘You are over thinking this.’ My voice was now beginning to weaken.
I looked away.
She got the cue and she prepared to leave. She turned back one last time.
‘I am a very logical person, Runa. I think you know that. I will use all the analytical skills that I have mastered over the years to move over you.’ She said and got up.
Her eyes were tight and blank, but I could say she was angry. Very very angry.
Before she left, she turned back at me, and leaned close, so dangerously close that my heart stopped beating. Her face was inches away from mine, I could almost feel the warmth of her lips, but we weren’t even kissing. She stood like that for what seemed like forever, before her hands reached down to the desk that was between the two of us.
Before I could even restart my heart, she did something I wasn’t prepared for.
With a swift fling of her tiny hands, she threw the table that was in between us, up in the air, and walked out. The table swirled up in the air and crashed loudly, startling and petrifying me.
I knew that this wasn’t over yet.
By the natural progress of emotions, it is said that after anger comes sadness.
I saw her the next day at my doorstep.
She was wearing a big black tee, her hair was messy and her eyes red and puffy. Tears were streaming down her face and her cheeks were stained with the washed out mascara. She was in a very vulnerable and emotional part of her life. I could feel it in the way she gazed at me. But I refused to let her in.
‘I never cry in front of people, Runa.’ She said. ‘For me, tears are very personal. I do not know how you can haunt me so badly.’
‘Please Go away.’ My voice was merciless. I knew that I was brutally breaking the young girl’s heart. But I honestly had nothing else to say. I knew what my parents were like, and I knew what she was like. I knew that even though I had talked with her about Nuclear Power, Live In Relationships and the crashing of the Chinese Economy, I was still an Indian guy from a very, very, very conservative family. I knew that as much as I’d like to pull her towards me with a tight hug, I did not want to get kicked out of the family as well.
‘Why?’ Her voice was quivering, but her eyes were looking at me with the same grit that I had seen in her, a million times before. ‘Give me one good reason.’
‘Because I’m scared. The last time I saw you, you threw a large teak table and shattered it into pieces. I am clinging on to my dear life. I have commitments. Please don’t kill me.’ I said.
She gave a smug, self-obsessed smirk.
‘Why would that scare you? That was anger management. You know, Chuck a table or two, up in the air every other night and watch it crash. It might help your feelings.’ She was justifying her actions, and I rolled my eyes.
Not even a sorry. How very typical of her.
‘Everything is wrong.’ She said. And suddenly all the strength in those steel eyes were gone. She was now pleading. ‘I am distracted when you’re here. I’m distracted when you’re gone.’
With every rejection, there is that initial phase of anger when you just want to hurl a table in the air and make it crash. But then, the reality underneath it is that you are really sad and you end up kneeling on the floor, crying and realising that you really wish that it had ended differently.
I saw it. I saw it all in her eyes that were begging for a chance.
I remained cold.
My heart twisted with pity. What have I done? What have I done to the bright, young girl who was bubbling with self-confidence? I quickly snapped out of those thoughts.
This wasn’t my fault. I told myself. Her falling for me, and destroying herself was all her. It was all her fault. I never asked her to fall for me anyway.
I succeeded in pretending to be icy and heartless. Not something I am proud of. But it was not something I could help either.
She was a very precious little girl, and I was afraid I could never give her the happy ending that she deserved. I was afraid. I was afraid that I would tell her I’ll be there forever and always and then disappoint her later.
But my heart did hurt that night. I despised the being I had turned into when I saw her helpless and pleading with those deep blue eyes.
‘I should ask you to leave right now, Rupsi. I know full too well where this is going to lead. We’re never going to hit the bull’s eye with this. We’ll keep going round and round and round. It’ll be pointless and insane.’
‘I like insane. Maybe I am insane.’ She argued, tears flooding down her face, but nothing moved inside me.
‘Well, there’s the problem then.’ I said with an air of bitter coldness. ‘I am not insane.’
She never took her eyes of me.
She changed. She wasn’t sad and moping around anymore.
In fact, she looked a lot brighter than before. She was filled with a kind of hysterical happiness. She smiled at me every time we crossed paths. She sent me good morning texts day after day without fail. She started writing, and soon I heard that she had landed a publishing contract with a Publishing giant. We talked to each other occasionally.
When I asked her about her writing career, she got all excited and invited me for her book launch party.
When I said that I had got placed, she smiled and wished me all the best.
When I turned twenty three, she wrote me a beautiful letter.
When I went for her book launch party, she joked about how the protagonist of her novel was based off me and how she ‘kinda’ cried when she had made him die a very gory death in the very beginning of the novel. She described how she had made him trip into a large tank of lethal chemicals, and while his skin was getting scraped out by an army of super powered aliens, and then being thrown to a pride of hungry lions who rip him into pieces and eat him up alive while he’s still screaming for help.
‘And that’s not even the goriest murder I’ll ever write.’ She said. Her eyes now shifted to me. ‘There is this character in the sequel, who breaks his lady’s heart. I cannot wait for you all to read how he died. A fortnight of nightmares, guaranteed!’
The audience laughed but I was frozen with fear that I couldn’t move.
The woman was insane, and I was terrified.
A few months passed and I was asked by my very orthodox parents to meet a very orthodox girl with whom they thought I should have a very orthodox arranged marriage. I said okay, and things were finalized between the families. All that I knew about my future life partner, was that her name was Kallol and she did not drink coffee. (This, her mother boasted with pride when my mother asked if they’d like some filter coffee when the families first met.)
But I was okay with it all. She was beautiful, and quiet. She listened to her parents, and did not talk back to anyone. In fact, she did not talk at all. She looked quite familiar, because she was raised just the way I was. We did not even look at each other or utter a word that day. Or that entire week, or even that entire month, until we were forced to meet again for our engagement.
Rupsi, however, behaved quite peculiarly when I had invited her over for my engagement. It was the kind of marriage that I had told her I would have.
A proper arranged marriage that made my family happy and content.
She walked in, pretty as ever, draped in a pink saree, and her hair styled into bouncy luscious curls. She wore a very fleshy tinted lip gloss and her eyes were darkened with an ebony coloured eye shadow. She looked stunning. I tried looking away from her – but I couldn’t.
She knew this, she was completely aware of how captivated I was by the way she looked, that she walked towards me ,with an evil self-aware smile.
‘When are you going to feel this magic I’ve been feeling ever since I met you?’ She asked, as she walked in with her glowing eyes with that Know-It-All-Smile. However, something wasn’t right. He gait wasn’t steady, her eyes weren’t looking straight at me.
The closer she got to me, the more obvious it became that she was heavily intoxicated.
‘How many days more of obsessive stalking do I need to do before I get you to say yes?’ She flung her arms around me and fearlessly dragged me into a hug.
I was startled and in shock. I looked around quickly I was relieved no one had noticed.
‘None.’ I said removing. ‘I’m getting engaged.’
I was starting to get worried. I wondered what was it about me that still gave her hope that we could have a happy ending.
‘I can give you a million reasons why you should chose me.’ Rupsi said.
I was scared yet again, and I prayed that the night would end soon.
The way she glared at my fiancé, Kallol, sent chills down my spine. It looked like she could jump on her and rip her head of any minute.
‘This girl, she’s beautiful, attractive and stupid, agreed. You have a thing for good looking dumb girls and she fits the description. Agreed.’ She paused as her eyes drifted away from Kallol’s to mine.
‘But would she understand your taste in music? Would you be able to talk crushes with her? Would you be able to discuss books and movies? And above everything else, would she write a novel for you?’
She had hit me at my weakest spot.
I gave up.
I couldn’t pretend anymore.
She was forcing the truth down my heart and I was suffocated with all the pointless struggling. I couldn’t live with Kallol for more than a couple of years.
Once all the attractions faded away, there was no intellectual compatibility.
There was something scary about the way her eyes sparkled with determination.
There was something incandescently attractive about her badass attitude, and the way she chuckled after she made her point only made me recoil into the doubt and uncertainty I was running away from ever since the day I was first asked to meet Kallol.
Rupsi started at me fixedly with daring toughness carefully noticing how her words were starting to have an effect on me.
Grit was a sensitive instrument to be used against a man who was in denial.
‘Don’t do this, Rupsi. You’re ruining everything.’ My voice was stern, but my eyes did all the pleading.
‘I can’t help it okay!’ Rupsi shrieked.
‘I can’t help it if you look like a Greek God, or this sudden urge that I feel to hold your hands and walk in the rain. I can’t help it if there’s someone one else.’ Her clear blue eyes were welled up with tears now.
She was on her knees now, literally begging for me to stay. I badly wanted to, but I couldn’t.
‘I can’t help myself.’ She said as she walked away with tears in her eyes and a soul-less body.
That was the last time I saw her.
‘I still don’t know why you didn’t get together with that girl, young man. Worse still, I don’t understand why all this made you end up here. The logic of it all beats me.’ The doctor said looking up from the diary.
I gave him a long cynical look, before I spoke up again.
‘The story isn’t over, yet.’
The night after my wedding, I found myself starring at my reflection in the mirror. The room was filled with an alluring golden light. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find myself yet. The perfect guy, with the perfect drees, perfect hair and perfect arranged marriage and the perfect wife was everything I’d ever wanted in my life. But the perfect guy was beginning to repel me. He wasn’t perfect in the real sense of the word. He was made of an innocent girl’s broken heart and shattered dreams. He was far from perfect. He was ethically flawed.
He was a despicable human being, and I couldn’t stand him.
For that split second, all the decades of composure and calmness I’d held, failed me. I grabbed the flower vase that right next to the table, and hurled it angrily at the mirror. It shattered into a million tiny pieces, and I could see a tiny million more versions of me that I couldn’t stand.
I grabbed everything I could find and broke it. The frustration of it all boiled up and intensified with each item I broke, and I soon had shattered all things big and small.
I had lost her. I was married to someone else, and it was all going to change. One thought led to another and the all the tiny thoughts led to a chain reaction and soon I was begging for a second chance. With Life. With Love.
My anger still wasn’t vented out completely, when I suddenly gabbed the beautiful pillows that had been laid down on the bed, and started tearing it apart. I was so engrossed with the gory business of murdering the pillow that I did not notice that my newlywed wife had walked in.
I can only imagine the horror of what it must’ve been like for her, to have walked in on me like that, and on our wedding night, that too. I expected her to cry. I expected her to fight. I expected her to argue or leave the room angrily.
But Kallol stood there, in silence, and eyed me carefully.
‘I was told I was getting married to a Senior Business Analyst. Not some pathetically insane little boy.’ She spoke softly and I could see tears were beginning to well up in her eyes.
‘No, I swear.’ I looked at her with nothing but heartbreak in my eyes. ‘I am not insane.’
She paused and thought deeply for a minute.
‘You know what, my best friend’s father is a well knows Psychiatrist in town. I think he’ll be able to help you.’ She said.
I tried protesting, but it didn’t work. And here I was. In a shrink’s office.
‘Mr.Runa, you still haven’t answered my first question.’ The doctor finally closed the notebook and looked up at me. ‘Do you still love her?’
I paused. It took me a while to process the question.
‘I guess, even though we never were in a relationship technically, she’s still the first girl I ever fell love with without ever wanting to. I guess, she’s still my Ex. The one girl I’ll compare everyone else to. The most flawless masterpiece ever.’ I finally confessed.
‘Was she pretty?’ He asked with a smile, impressed that I had finally admitted my true feelings.
‘Oh, yes. You have no idea.’ I remembered that I had a picture of her in my pocket, and I handed it out to him. He looked at the picture intently for a while before handing it out to me.
‘You know what the worst part is?’ I continued as he looked up at me in silence. ‘With everyone who now walks into my from this point on, my wife included, I’ll be looking for hints of Rupsi in them.’
He continued looking at me sharply, right into my eyes that looked strangely familiar for a split second.
‘That’s where I want your help, Doctor.’ I stammered. ‘I want you to help me remove all memories of Rupsi from my mind.’
He laughed. Of all the things he could’ve done, he was laughing. I was confused, and I looked at him, perplexed.
‘Funny, this profession of mine.’ He said as he got up and poured himself a cup of coffee. The way he walked towards the coffee pot, and the way he stood kept ringing a bell at the back of my mind but I was too exhausted to remember why all of it looked so familiar.
‘What’s so funny, Doctor?’ I enquired.
He smiled an smug little smile at me, and the bell rang louder and louder inside of my mind.
‘A Handsome young man, walking into my cabin, and asking me to help him forget my daughter. What are the odds, huh?’