In a time of aspirations and dreams, I made a brave decision to resign from my job at an MNC, fully committed to realising my long-held dream of cracking government exams. Determined to succeed, I enrolled in a coaching institute, even though it had been four years since I graduated. The fear of remaining jobless only fuelled my determination to study diligently and conquer at least one of the many exams ahead.
As the classes commenced, I couldn’t help but notice a cute guy in our midst. Playfully, when a friend asked about my love life, I jokingly confessed that it was limited to just noticing cute guys around me. Little did I know that fate had a twist for me, bringing this cute guy into my life.
A parking predicament brought us together. On one of those frustrating days when my bike was trapped among many others, the cute guy appeared like a knight in shining armour.
Without hesitation, he offered to remove the bike, causing the obstruction, and his sweet smile instantly melted away my annoyance. I awkwardly thanked him and continued on my way, little realising how this seemingly ordinary encounter would change the course of our journey.
Amidst the hustle of classes, I found joy in my learning experience. Eager to participate and share my knowledge, I often found myself among the first to answer questions in class and excelled in the occasional tests. My flair for writing comprehensive running notes made me popular among my peers, who regularly borrowed them.
The cute guy, let’s call him Mr R, was a charming presence in our group. He displayed a friendly and amiable nature when interacting with a group of girls, including me. Though despite our increasing interactions, I still didn’t know his name. After a few attempts, I mustered the courage to ask a friend; thus, his name was revealed.
Curiosity soon turned into surprise when my friend told me that Mr R had inquired about me the day before, and he seemed to be genuinely interested in getting to know me better. I couldn’t help but blush.
A few days later, I received a follow request from him on Facebook, and soon, we exchanged numbers.
It was evident from our conversations that he was interested in me.
I must mention here that I am above average looking and have had my share of crushes; Mr R was cute — I mean, really cute. You could literally notice every girl’s eyes on him when he walked by. But he did look younger than me, so while I was flattered by the attention he gave me, I warned myself not to jump to conclusions.
And despite those good looks, I wasn’t looking for a relationship then.
After ten days of chatting, he confessed to having developed feelings for me. And that he intended to speak with my parents about marriage too. He was only waiting to get a confirmed job.
Startled, I reminded him that we hardly knew each other and that I was serious about getting a job first. And there was a high possibility that my parents would disapprove anyway. I told him I couldn’t promise anything more than friendship because I didn’t believe in love.
Nevertheless, he wanted to start as friends and see where our bond would lead.
As our friendship blossomed, I continued my studies and writing exams alongside. Mr R’s presence became a constant in my life. He would wait for me before and after classes, sit with me during breaks, and simply enjoy being near me as I studied. I must confess, I enjoyed the attention and his sweetness.
In one of our conversations, I broke down and told him about a guy I used to like — we never ended up in a relationship. This is a crucial point to remember, dear reader.
Mr R understood it and even teased me that it didn’t work out with the other guy because Mr R and I were destined to be together.
Later, he confessed that he had asked a senior about my relationships. Though this amused me, I didn’t think much about it at the time.
One day, I casually showed him messages from another guy in the institute — they were flirtatious. He seemed angry and even took pictures of the conversation, saying I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore.
A while later, that same guy who was texting me confronted me, saying that I should have told him directly if I had a problem with him and not sent the message through Mr R. Confused, I learned later that Mr R had confronted that guy and there had even been an altercation.
The attention that this incident then received was humiliating. When I told Mr R that I could choose and fight my battles, he verbally abused me. It began with calling me names for my apparent attention-seeking behaviour. And he went on to incubate that I enjoyed teasing and flirting with men. He told me he was a fool to fight for someone like me.
I was shocked and hurt, but I forgave him the next day when he came to apologise. I thought it was just him being possessive about me.
In the meantime, he had begun borrowing small sums of money from me. Initially, he would repay this within a day or two, but gradually, his promises to repay became empty ones. When I tried to talk to him about it, he told me he was ashamed to still be financially dependent on his parents and didn’t want to trouble them by asking them for more.
At one point, I finally decided to stop giving him the cash; he made it a point to tell me that day that he hadn’t eaten. And when I asked him why, he blankly said, “I didn’t have the money for it.”
Of course, I would end up feeling guilty for this—it was, I see now, his plan all along.
So I’d end up lending him smaller amounts or offering to share my lunch with him. This made our friends and others around us believe that we were together.
Gradually, I noticed he would get angry when other guys spoke to me unless they called me didi.
He would even read messages I had exchanged with other classmates under the pretext that he was just curious. While I had nothing to hide, I wanted my privacy to be respected.
By now, our classes had ended, and I had cleared exams for 2 State Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and was waiting for my offer letters.
Eventually, I picked a job and moved away from the city while Mr R was still looking. Our friendship continued, and our phone conversations quickly became an essential part of my day; however, so was the possessiveness and borrowing money.
At this point, he was incredibly insecure about not having a job and with me building a new life with new friends in a new city. Sometimes I dreaded our conversations, but he reminded me of home at other times and helped with my homesickness.
And yet, I couldn’t imagine a future with him. I was so used to his presence that I ignored all the red flags. I kept lying to myself that this was the last time I would send him money or this was just till he found a decent job… the lies continued… our fights increased.
If I had to be brutally honest, at this point, all that he had going for him was his good looks.
By now, my family was ready to start looking for a groom. Of course, Mr R knew about this, but he said he wasn’t prepared to talk to my parents yet, and neither did he want me to marry someone else.
I began hating our conversations. But the day everything crumbled was when he asked me for a large sum. He said he had lost the money his father had given him; he never told me how or why. This time, I put my foot down and told him I wouldn’t be his bank anymore; I reminded him that he had yet to pay the amount that was pending all this time.
He was persistent with his requests and even resorted to begging me for it. When this didn’t work, he tried to make me feel guilty by telling me that I was throwing him under the bus, and he didn’t expect this from me after all this time. I held firm, and when all of this didn’t work, the calls stopped.
At first, I was sad, the realisation that I was just a source of money for him hurt. But after a few days had passed, I was relieved. My stress levels came down; I was in a great place mentally.
All of this was short-lived.
We met a month later at a common friend’s home. He apologised and told me he only did what he did because he was hurt. Hurt because I didn’t understand his love for me. Because I was more bothered about the money and didn’t allow myself to fall in love with him because of my pragmatic approach to life.
None of this should have mattered, but it did. I told Mr R I would give him another chance.
But people don’t change. Within two days, Mr R began asking me for money again.
This time, I was strong. I didn’t break. And neither did I give him any money. He called when I was speaking with another (male) friend. Mr R kept calling incessantly. And when I finally did call him back, he demanded to know whom I was speaking with. When I told him, the abuses began. He told me I should be ashamed of speaking with men he disapproved of. That, yet again, I was encouraging men, himself included, and other nasty comments that I wouldn’t want anyone to read.
I was immensely hurt. I had had enough this time and told Mr R I was blocking him. I added that I didn’t need toxic people in my life and that he should not try to contact me anymore.
He began threatening me via SMS and other social media platforms. He told me he would come to my city, to my new workplace and hit me in front of my colleagues to “show them who you truly are”.
I was scared but couldn’t confide in my parents either. I thought of taking leave from work, but thankfully, when I spoke to my friends, they persuaded me not to live in fear. I continued going to work, though I must admit, I wore a scarf. But slowly, with time, I wasn’t scared.
I learned a crucial lesson, though — stalking, possessiveness, toxic masculinity, these all may look impressive in the movies. Still, in the long run, trust, compatibility and, most importantly, respect goes a long way to build and maintain a relationship.