It was the very moment that I stepped into his apartment that I realized that I had made a grave mistake. I still can’t explain why, or how, but I suppose the feeling was a premonition for what was to follow.
My eyes saw the haphazard apartment that he shared with a couple of roommates, the single room that I could see being filled nearly completely clumsy arrangement of folding beds from the edge over. Nails and hooks had been placed randomly along the walls, each holding up a pair of dirty jeans or an unwashed shirt. Only single fan hung from the low ceiling, swinging precariously in silence. But that wasn’t what had unsettled me, it had been the fact that there was no chair in the entire room.
I hesitated as I watched him shut the door and bring the lock home from the inside. It was only the second time I had met him apart from the brief exchanges in college. He had said that he wanted to talk away from prying eyes, he had said that all we wanted to do was to know me more. And I too had fallen for his claims, I had believed that he was innocent, that the most that could happen on a second date would be a kiss right?
But as he gestured for me to sit down on the make shift bed, I grew wary. I maintained a distance which I judged would be far enough for me to stop him if he made a move but close enough to not hurt his feelings in case his claims had been genuine.
How had I ended up here? The case was something you’ve probably gone through yourself. He was a close friend of a mutual friend. In fact, a number of mutual friends. But like many times in the past, they hadn’t exactly been ‘friends’ and were more of acquaintances. It hadn’t precisely been a crush from my side but sure there had been a slight infatuation, and when he had asked me out I had decided to agree. The only problem was, I didn’t really like him anymore now that I had actually had a face to face conversation with him that lasted longer than just ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’.
The primary thing about him that ticked me off was his accent. It was, well what can I say, primal in the least. His vocabulary and pronunciation pounded against my egoistic doors of being a lover or words, a lover of the English language. Most might believe me to be judgmental, and I admit, it is, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to like someone who’s only few reads had been the books that he had been made to go through by the school syllabi. And then his interests, there was barely anything in common with us, was what I had discovered. And if there’s one thing that I’ve grown to learn the hard way, is that the phrase opposites attract is only meant for movies.
Despite all this, here I was sitting mere inches away from him, alone in a locked room. What I feared more than him making a move was him saying negative things about me in college once I told him that it wouldn’t work out with us. Sure, people always say that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. But in truth, it does, and what they think about you goes a long way into shaping what you think of yourself as well. And what I did not want was what every girl who has dated more than 3 guys would usually get to hear about her. I’m pretty sure you get what I mean.
And so I sat silently and looked at my feet as he tried to make conversation, not once looking up and meeting his eyes. The little grey sequins on my belly flats grew more interesting as the clock ticked on. as I had anticipated, it wasn’t long before he finally made a move. He leaned over, his hands brushing over mine, and asked me if I liked him. I wish I had mustered up the courage to say no at that moment, but I was too afraid of what people would say if he ever told them anything. I was too afraid that all I responded with was silence. He took it for approval, as any average guy would do. He kissed me and I let him, too afraid to say anything until I was far out of his reach.
I had thought that it would be the most I would have to endure, the kissing, the light brushing of his hands against my face. But it didn’t stop there and finally I managed to whisper a feeble ‘stop’. But when has the average college guy ever stopped at such a weak attempt to halt his actions? I let him move on without any further attempt to stop him, and that is something that I have hated myself for more times than one. But he didn’t try much beyond, maybe his intentions had truly not been as uncouth as I presumed. I am thankful that he didn’t because I fear I might have not been able to say no if he had. To this day I still remember that despicable hour when I clenched my teeth and let someone whom I didn’t even like kiss me because of my fear. And yet I hated him more, I hated him for assuming that this was what I wanted when I had answered him with silence. I hated him for not really bothering to wait for my answer.
It was the sound of raindrops pelting against the window that had saved me, as I hurriedly excused myself from his apartment with a rushed goodbye. The rain had begun to drizzle in a waltzing fury of droplets as I rushed away as fast as I could. I couldn’t tell if the wet streaks running down my cheeks was the rain or my tears as I made my way home to safety. I hated myself for being afraid that day. But it was something that I managed to get over as time passed on and I learnt from my mistakes. And finally, the next day, I told him that it wouldn’t work out.
It was mere days after which I heard someone mention something he said about me. About how he found out that I was desperate for a guy and he had to say no to my multiple requests to come to his apartment. Believe me, this was not the worst of what I heard in the following days. My hatred soon cemented, and sometimes, even months after the incident, I still feel afraid, I still feel the fear.
How far can the fear of being spoken ill of go? For metropolitan girls, there seems to be no bound. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake or not, for in the end we’re always put to blame. We’re the ones who are bad mouthed when our feelings don’t match others.
Aren’t dates meant to be made to get to know one another? Then why do guys interpret the acceptance of an offer to go out on a date as anything more? Why are we not allowed to change our opinions with the same ease as they are without having to carry verbal scars in and around us for the rest of our lives?
No matter how much I have tried to avoid things, they have still come up. And now I have come to realize that people are simply a phase, and so is the environment that we live in. I have come to accept the fact that after the years in college, I probably won’t see most of the same people ever again; I won’t hear the same painful rumors. And with time, it will all fade. Sure it may hurt from time to time, when you hear someone say something about you that only you know is untrue, but all that you have to do is brave the words, and move on.