Yesterday, I went to meet him in what seemed like a teen date. The sudden gush of hormones in adolescence. He invited me for tea that I turned down because I was unsure of meeting him too soon. And because he politely accepted my refusal to meet him and did not insist, my fickle mind pushed me to meet him. Wooing is all a mind game; a game of chase; will he, will he not? I had a bath, adorned a pink Chanderi Sari, had a light makeup, and sauntered out to meet him. As I tiptoed on the staircase, passers-by stared at me in amazement. It boosted my confidence.
“I’m beautiful. People look at me in envy. I can have what I want.”
With this self-pride, I went to meet him. When we met, he gifted me a brown parcel of books and a red colored dress. With him or should I say with the freshness of attraction, every little chore seemed bewitching. Like when I was struggling to put that big parcel in my bag, he offered to hold the bag. Oh! His hands touched my bag.
He calls our date “walk and talk” : ) and this is what we did most of that evening. I complained to him that unlike our last time, when he spoke the most, this time I will talk more. And he let me do that. I talked a lot and also listened a lot. It seems the more familiar you become to each other; the more you convey in minimal words.
We strolled on unfamiliar roads flanked by a lineage of whitewashed houses representing the regale era when multi-storeys and skyscrapers were amiss; when one exchanged hand-written letters; when men and women wore bell bottom pants and printed saris with puffed blouses; when women kept carved silver cases containing betel leaf filled with chopped catechu, sweetened jam spread, and cherries; when white ambassadors rode on bare roads. Soon I bid him goodbye and he held me in a soft embrace and I quivered with pleasure. As I walked away from him, my tender heart fluttered and my inner voice murmured:
“You seem to like him a lot?”
My threatened security muffled that voice and said:
Yes, yes I know that. Now keep quiet!
I boarded the next train and managed to grab a corner. Cautious that no one is watching me, I stealthily opened the packet to check the red dress. It had shoulder strings and I felt a tingling pleasure in my body. I then checked the price tag to check the worth of his desire for me. I yearned to wear that dress and hug the same arms that bought it; but it’s a far-off dream. In about 2 hours, I reached home with that desperation and called him. I confided in him that I wanted him to kiss me and that most men until now have rushed to infringe my space and I have repulsed them. Hearing this, he became cautious and said in a hushed tone:
‘You are too valuable for me and I do not want to hinder our relationship at any time in future. It’s good if we remain as friends sans sexual intimacy.’
I was taken aback and my luscious dreams scrambled like a pack of cards. I wrote back to him:
“Imperceptibly, today I became a child who has been weaned off from her mother’s milk. I rejoiced in those fleeting touches; when I clutched your shoulder with my hand as a car hurtled near me. In those touches, I had a reason to lean to you for spiritual comfort. Those light touches were like the sprinkle of a fountain that nourished my parched body. A body that has always been conquered through penetration by patriarchal men. My body has never been loved in a way that makes it feel respected.
But I have got nothing against those lustful men. Like me, they too have suffered for they could never experience the bliss of union; the mutuality and sanctity when 2 bodies come together from shared respect, love and selfless concern for the other. I have been able to confide my sexual and intimate desires for you because you made me feel protected. I knew that if you would make love to me, it will be to me as a whole person and not just as a mere outlet for ejaculation. Still, if you feel that we remain platonic, I respect your decision.”
This was my pacified reaction to a rejection I had from the man, I am insanely passionate about. As an appealing female sexuality activist (I have reminded this to him) I have no dearth of male suitors wanting to date me but they all lacked consent. But he is different from the rest. He met me just to meet me. He nurtures that attraction. A benevolence that increased his respect manifold for me. But with this seeming rejection, how do I salvage my damaged self-esteem. My conceit that I’m irrefutable. I whimpered, sinking my face in the pillow and then called my doctor friend Joyeeta for succor. Talking to her made me feel better and I thought it’s important to share my learning on how to cope up with a sting of rejection:
“Pallavi, its good that you cried. Crying helps unburden the emotional baggage we carry in our hearts. Talking and sharing with friends make you light. Being rejected by a potential lover is devastating when you’ve build up fantasies of instant chemistry, lasting love, and quick sex. More than the pain of rejection, it is about self-rejection, a no can shatter our years of built-up self-esteem in a moment. You should also strive to find purpose in life by looking outside beyond you and serve others through your contribution; comprehend your immense value and potential in a world desperately in need of you. Doing good is equal to feeling good : )”