This was two years back. The new computer, sorry – laptop, was my birthday gift. The internet connection had opened the world in my fist. ‘Google ‘sounded magical as it had an answer to all my questions. It was summer time; the sky had turned dark. Curtains of my room went flying with the breeze from Teesta river. I sat holding my laptop when a friend-request popped up in one of the social media sites. I was curious.
“I have been seeing you over a year as you go to your school and return. Indeed you have such beautiful hair and big eyes.” He said as we began chatting.
I blushed. No one had ever spoken to me like this before.
“May I know who you are?” I asked.
“I am Rakesh Sharma,” he said, “A teacher at a missionary school. I have just completed my studies and joined here to teach classes VII to IX. I know you are much younger to me but still I don’t know why I just can’t stop myself from watching you and thinking of you all the time.”
Now this was much more than what I expected. My heart was beating faster, cheeks were burning and out of excitement, I even don’t remember what I typed next. In a few days I started staying awake till late hours in the night, chatting.
In between our endless conversations, Rakesh often reminded me that I shouldn’t ignore the studies. I found him really caring. But forget studies, practically nothing got into my brain. I lived in trance. My mom noticed. “Why are you so absent minded these days? What’s wrong with you?”
I told her that I wasn’t keeping well. Actually it was the after-effect of staying awake all through the night. Even while talking to my friends, I often got lost in my reveries.
Riyan was my childhood friend. We had studied together since Class I. He called me one evening. “I think you are hiding something from me. Please do speak. You can trust me. I will never use your secrets to malign you. “
I too wanted to tell him. But how could I? Rakesh had told me to keep it a secret. “It’s between us. I love you and you should know it. The world might create problems for us. If they know then you will be taken away. I don’t want to lose you.”
I had believed every word of it. How blessed I felt to have found love! I was a romantic at heart, had an image of a hero in my mind. Rakesh had now occupied that canvas.
I just managed to tell Riyan, “No! Nothing! Don’t worry. It’s a mere headache. I will be fine.”
I went to Anupama ma’am for tuitions. She was more than a teacher in my life. This young, beautiful lady was pursuing her PhD in literature. She always inspired me to do new things. She was my friend, philosopher and guide. She too stopped me at the tuition on a Saturday. “You look lost. Is something bothering you? Please open up to me and let’s talk. You know you can trust me.” She assured.
I had tears in my eyes. I badly needed someone to whom I could confide. I had never faced this kind of dilemma ever. I questioned myself whether this was correct. I knew I was cheating on my parents and well-wishers. But “love” cried loud; all guilt and self-doubts drowned into it.
The summer vacation was over. School had resumed and I was in class X. Rakesh and I met only a few times in public. I still remember 17th July 2015. It was his birthday and he wished to celebrate it privately, only with me. We had planned to be together for an entire day. I was trying to find suitable excuses at home. As I had told none of my friends, I couldn’t take their help. It was a Sunday; so at 9 am I had my regular tuitions at Anupama ma’am’s place.
She was out of town that week. I convinced my parents and was permitted to stay with her for the whole day. I went out with Rakesh.
It felt like a dream come true. Rakesh hugged me and kissed my forehead. I managed to save my pocket money so that I could buy a bottle of perfume for him. We had lunch together, sat in a park for some time exchanging promises for life. Then he said, “I wish to get closer to you. I have the keys of my house. Will you visit my home?”
I was scared now. I denied outrightly. He still insisted. “Please! Don’t you trust me? “
He did not delay much after this. Soon we were in his room. He kissed me and we were lost in each other for some time. Now he wanted more. Somehow my senses jolted back. I asked him to stop. Tears had welled up in my eyes. It felt terrible. I almost ran out. Alarms raised by the brain ripped apart my heart. I reached my house, ran inside the washroom, opened the shower and cried a lot. I didn’t know why I felt cheated. I was hurt.
“Am I over reacting? He had just tried to make love. After all he loved me.” I tried to reassure myself. But somehow, some values I received at home were meddling with my peace.
I was very sullen; did not chat with him that night. I didn’t feel like seeing him again. But this was just the start of a long trial.
Anupama ma’am came to our home out of the blue. I was extremely dejected to see her. My mother started the conversation. Barely after a few minutes, my secret was out. Already the guilt and now the accusations! In front of my father, my mom and Ma’am, I was forced to confess the entire episode.
Koochbihar is a small town where almost everyone knows everyone. I got to know that another friend of mine had seen us together at the park. The word had spread. I was extremely ashamed of myself. Riyan called me that very night.
“Please don’t deny the facts.” He advised. “You needn’t feel so bad. It’s okay! You are extremely good and soft hearted. I am worried because you are emotionally shattered. We are there; let us know whenever you need us.” I had cried over the phone.
“Riyan, now I wish I had told you everything earlier.” I lamented.
Anupama ma’am came back to see us in a couple of days. I had not eaten a morsel in two days, nor did my mom. Anupama ma’am had found out the hidden truth of Rakesh Sharma. He was a married man! I was aghast.
So all his feelings were lies? All his promises, all his praises, were false? And I had loved him like a fool! I had even disobeyed my parents to be with him, disappointed those who loved me! I was sinking in self-hatred.
Anupama ma’am explained everything to me like a true friend. She advised me to come out of the “infatuation”.
“You have done nothing wrong. If he cheated on you, then it is not your fault. But approach things when you are mature enough to verify the truth. You have to focus on your studies now. Life is long; treat it as a lesson of life. It’s only a very small episode at which you will laugh when you grow up.”
Her words still resonate in my heart. Her kindness and warmth at that moment helped me deal with a lot that I was going through. My parents forgave me for my mistake eventually. But more important is perhaps that, gradually I too managed to forgive myself.