‘Do you know that Rumi is married to our cousin?’, she asked as I pronounced his name.
Looking dolorously at me, she squeezed my stained palm with her own and sighed. I understood that she wanted to hear everything. After-all, I knew that she was going to be my closest friend in that house.
‘We were the kind of goals’, I told her as a scant smile escaped my lips. That was not what I was supposed to talk to a sister-in-law but I did.
‘I remember the day we first met. It was at the funeral of our friend’s dad. Rumi did not stay in the country too long after we fell in love. He had to leave to Canada because that is where he said he had planned his higher studies…’.
‘Did things change after he left?’, she asked me like everybody else.
‘No. That distance, the time difference and the seldom conversations we had only mushroomed the love between us.’
‘Then what happened?’
‘We hit this point of reality. We had to walk out of our little world and face the world outside of it. I swear, it was not easy because I discerned the slow humiliation between us. We started to have the kind of arguments we never have had before. Selfish, vexed conversations about our situations. That is when slowly ‘our problems’ turned into ‘my problems’ and ‘your problems’ and he decided that talking to me any further about anything was of no use and I was not ready to stop him. I let him go to see if he’d bounce back. We’ve done that a several times, but that one time he got lost. Never returned.’
She squeezed my palm again. I teared. Not sure if I was hurting inside or if it was just the crystals of the hand chain pricking my hand.
‘We went weeks without talking. The only information I knew about what or how he was doing there was through his statuses and posts. Sometimes through some of our friends. Not easy, you know. I broke myself trying to console me with all the false beliefs that I am going to be fine without him because in truth I wasn’t. I couldn’t be.’
Shaira looked at me like she was feeling every single word I uttered but I know she did not. I don’t think anybody could, because be it love or the pain that the same love that gave me, it just would remain between Rumi and I.
‘Did he talk to you after that? I mean, how did he move on?’
‘I think he found a hundred reasons to hate me. A year after we stopped talking, I saw that he had bought the house he had once told me that he wanted to buy for his parents. I was happy for him, truly but his friend told me that he had bought it because it was something I was opposed to and he wanted to show me he was doing better off.’
‘Were you? I mean, were you opposed to his responsibilities? Is that why the two of you started having issues?’
‘Not true. I think the two of us had pressure that we did not know how to handle. I can’t say we were not mature, but this definitely is why. He said he can’t think of marriage until he got his sister married and my parents pressured me with countless proposals. Embracing reality, I think needs patience in abundance and we had a dearth of it.’
‘I found many reasons to not move on when people told me I must find some to get over him because I had hope. I strongly believed that Rumi would understand me and come back to me. When he got his sister married off… even then I hoped that he would come back but soon I heard of his marriage as well. I think that was my last straw.’
‘That is how long-distance relationships work, Taz’, she said finally and I tittered.
‘The best part of our relationship I’d say is this distance. If not for this distance I would not have known the real Rumi. I would not have known that the same guy who loved me for a thousand reasons could also gather the strength to find a thousand more to hate me. Long distance relationships are beautiful, Shai. It just requires hella’ lot of effort, patience and hope. I think I was just unfortunate, I could not stop it from breaking.’
I smiled even though inside I was dying; to know that I was going to start a life with someone who was not Rumi, even though it was hurting me, not out of hate for him but because of the love that I know I’ll continue to have for him besides all the hate that he had thrown at me over the five years I waited for him.
‘I had been selfish about him, Shai. I’ve been very selfish. Now I think I must start living for this one guy who had accepted me for the mess I’ve been all these years. I don’t know if this will be another phase of love but I think I will be ready soon though I am not right now.’