Giving up

My friends have stopped drinking and eating meat for Lent.

The joke is that the Pope gave up the papacy.

I have given up romance.

Not for 40 days.

Forever more.

The laws of the universe perhaps ordained it.

Because he came in to my life two years ago on a Good Friday.

I remember that evening only because of what happened after that day. My friends and I were out dancing and drinking at a club and he seemed to know someone in the group.

I don’t remember paying any attention to him after we were introduced. Just before we left, he came across and as it happens with a pleasant person that we meet socially, we casually exchanged phone numbers.

It may not have been obvious but back then, I was trying to shut out a lot of pain. My dear friend Susan had died and I was teetering on the verge of a breakdown. In those terrible weeks that she lingered and clung painfully to life, I’d held on to sanity.

Susan was my pillar of strength. The pillar that held me up for years when I had gone through the most awful period of my life. A time that I would wish on no one. A time that had also made it difficult for me to think of romance or relationships.

Susan’s illness had occupied my life. I had stopped working to sit with Susan through the day. In the evenings, I accepted every invitation to go out and get sloshed; I’d dance and hang out with people who talked about frivolous stuff.

Stuff that I cared a shit about. Not life and death. Anything but that. that’s how I ended up partying that Friday.

I can’t fathom why I didn’t turn away when he called me. And continued to call me. Perhaps the attention was gratifying. It took my mind off the relentless existential questions that preyed on me.

How do we begin to care about someone? Is it lust that creates a chemistry that we mistake for something more?

It didn’t work that way for me. Not this time.

The funny thing is that we didn’t meet all that often. May be once every few weeks.We chatted though. Evening after evening, until one of us fell asleep.

Mobile technology and 24×7 connectivity fanned the flames of passion on his side and fed my neediness.

We talked about everything and anything. Sports, politics, work, people. He was a fixture in my life.

The times we met were lustful. He was impatient and hungry; his need was so overpowering that I didn’t mind. He didn’t seem to notice that I was passive; accepting, not really participating

He was the companion I had missed. He was warm, intelligent, intense. I could really talk to him. He was funny, irreverent, caustic, sensitive.  He had me loopy with just his words.

Weeks melded into months in the ebb and flow of our relationship.

And as happens the balance shifted. Now it was I who sought meetings. And we met less often.

We still talked. Sensing a shadow, I held back. Desisted from talking.

He reached out. “We connect, we are different, let’s hold on to it”, he said.

We talked some more. My body had thawed, I was seeking and giving, not just accepting.

And then I murmured, “There’s space for no one else but you.”

A cold wind began to blow.

And so it came to pass that when we met after a long long time, he had me pinned against the wall as he whispered, “I don’t want to hurt you. I’m afraid I’m becoming too attached to you. It is not good.”

I told you he was sensitive and intelligent.  He was being the gallant man, taking upon himself the burden of my neediness.

He delivered the kiss-off  like a KO punch. With great aim and accuracy. I smiled; how could I cry? Did I have a choice?

I don’t rant or rail. Abstinence is making me calm.

copyright: Sandhya Mendonca,2013

Author: sandhya mendonca

outpouring of occasional whimsies

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