I was at Subway, looking for a $5 note to pay for my sandwich and cookie. I realised that I was holding the line, and looked up to silently apologise to the customer behind me for the delay. Our eyes met, and I almost dropped my purse. It was him.
No, he wasn’t an ex. He was one of the five best friends of the guy I had dated once. He was the ‘friend’ who told me John doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. He had to do the dirty work because either John didn’t have the balls to break up in person like a man, or was too busy screwing the girl he was cheating on me with. I couldn’t figure it out to date.
I didn’t bother with an apology, and got back to pulling out the change from under the debris in my purse.
“Hello,” I heard someone say. The cockiness in his voice didn’t leave me guessing who it was.
“Hi,” I mumbled. I was instantly angry at myself for feeling anxious. Nervous. I said to myself that I didn’t want to look into his eyes, when the truth was that I couldn’t muster up the courage.
Him: “How have you been?”
Why can’t he just leave me alone! I felt like the skinny kid who is bullied by big guys at lunch break in school. I hoped to moon and back that it wouldn’t show on my face. Please God! I can’t let him have this satisfaction.
Miraculously, I found the note. And made a solemn vow to clean my bag as soon as I got home today.
“I will let John know that I bumped into you. In case you have any unfinished business…” The goading in his voice did it. I snapped.
“Don’t bother. We have no unfinished business.
And by the way, I heard you got married. You have a wife now,” I paused, to make sure it sank in.
“And eventually you will have children. Maybe daughters. I hope you will be able to keep her safe from guys like yourself.”
He might have lost his cool if we weren’t at a public place.
“Though I doubt it. I hear they say Karma is a bitch.”
I walked away, with my sandwich and cookie.
I had to stop outside to breath. That pseudo act of bravado had left me gasping for air. If it were a movie, this is where I would have collapsed on the floor and cried. But it wasn’t. This was my life. I could only draw in deep breaths and hold onto my very fragile composure.
John was a mistake. I knew it, and so did rest of the world. He was a rebound for me, but never did I intend on hurting him. Somehow, we had an unspoken understanding that this story would not get a ‘happy ever after’. And we were okay with that. We needed someone at that time, and were happy to fill in those shoes for each other. However temporarily the arrangement might be.
He had gone to great lengths to pursue me. Six months of persuasion for a relationship that lasted around the same time. He had a gang that he always hung out with, and I tried to adjust within, even though I couldn’t stand some of the people in it. I blamed myself for the demise of my last relationship, and decided to be my most accommodating version. In retrospect, it was one big mistake.
I should have picked up on tell-tale signs, like he would be gone for hours, a certain sort of shallow attachment, repeatedly borrowing money that never made it back to my account despite promises, etc. He had introduced me to his mother, and she was such a kind woman. I had trouble at home, and sought approval and love from her instead. I helped her cook, even washed dishes, for she had eczema. My mother wouldn’t have recognised me had she seen me in a place like that.
Couple of months down a rocky relationship, John ghosted on me. This is when THIS man told me that it was over. Yes, he was the one to deliver it to me. His mom, who was ever so kind to me, flipped faster than I can blink my eye, and accidentally told me that they were in talks with some other girl’s family to finalise a date for John’s engagement. A girl John had been in love with for a ‘while’.
I was then left standing behind the closed door. I didn’t understand what had just happened. I was heartbroken. Not monumentally so. And if I were honest, my female ego got a hit where it hurt the most, and I couldn’t deal with that.
I sent soppy messages and emails, incessant calls, until my best friend pulled me back and said, “you are only upset because he walked away first. Not because you were in love with him. Stop dramatizing it and causing yourself unnecessary pain!”
She was right, obviously. I stopped trying to contact him. And moved on.
Couple of years later, I met an old friend, who scratched the wound and cut to the quick. He told me that John only pursued me for he had bet with his friends that he would woo me and I will go out with him. I don’t know how true it was, but boy did it hurt. I gulped, and said, “well, there isn’t much that I can do now. Let’s just let bygones be bygones.
Suffice is to say that I didn’t stay in touch with this particular friend either.
So after all this – promises, ghosting, breaking up through your friend, vicious rumours about me (and stories about my body), ripping me off my hard-earned money, cheating on me with another woman – this man’s friend had the audacity to say hello.
Well, hello to you too sir.