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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Party

I walked into a party nervous about being there by myself and knowing no one but the host. It was only my 2nd month in the new city and though there was nothing to complain about, life wasn't that exciting too. So there I was, trying to spice things up a bit, building my social circle, and prancing around in party clothes that would otherwise have gathered dust in my walk-in closet.

There he was, looking forlorn, standing by the window with a beer in his hand. I took in his blue shirt and stone-washed jeans and wondered if he was single. A quick glance at his ring finger confirmed that he was not married but I was pretty sure that he either had a girlfriend or was gay. After all, isn't that the sad story that most single girls narrate after they spot a cute guy?

I glanced at him several times hoping that he would not notice. It was hard to stop myself from looking at him. He had the most gorgeous blue eyes that complimented his outfit and his silky locks of hair made him appear like a model straight out of a "Head and Shoulders" commercial. My silent prayers were not heeded. He indeed did notice me while I tried to pretend that I was staring into space and not at him. My heart began to race as he approached me and said with the smoothest voice ever, "Hi! I am Paul." Tongue-tied, I barely managed to smile back. With a questioning look on his face, he continued to stare at me.

"Sheela!!!". I was shaken out of my reverie as my friend yelled out my name. "When did you arrive?", she asked completely ignoring Mr. Paul. "About 20 minutes ago.", I managed to mutter. "Great!! Hope you are having fun!", she said and wandered off into the crowd while Mr. Paul grinned at me.

"I thought you had strep or something.", he said with a smirk on his face. His sarcasm failed to perturb me, as it would otherwise have with anyone else. "I am sorry!", I exclaimed. "I was just a bit distracted then. I am Sheela. Nice to meet you!" And that is how Mr. Paul and I struck a conversation that evening that lasted well into midnight. The house began to fill up as guests of all shapes, sizes, and colors arrived and danced to loud music. It was apparent that Paul and I both knew no one but the host and his wife, my friend. It was as if God had brought us both together to keep each other company that night, I thought.

We managed to slip out of the party without anyone noticing. I was a bit tipsy from having had 3 pegs of Bacardi and Coke and knew I had a little too much to drink.

"Are you drunk?", he asked flashing his magnetic smile yet again.
"Yes, I think so.", I said, and without any further thought wrapped my arms around him.

Before long, we were in the backseat of his car, kissing each other fervently.
"Are we doing the right thing?", I managed to say as he paused to catch some breath.
He did not answer me and continued to kiss me all over my face and neck. Very soon, he had undone my bra and his hands had deftly made their way into my shirt, groping my breasts. As he pinched them hard, I began to gather my senses. I opened my eyes, squirming in pain, and tried to make myself sit up. I failed to do so as Paul grabbed my wrists and bound my hands together.

"STOP!", I shrieked. He refused to listen. "STOP, Paul. Please, stop.", I pleaded. "You are hurting me!", I screamed. He merely chuckled. No one heard my wails that night as Paul gagged me with his handkerchief.

Thirty minutes later, I was back in my apartment.

Today, all my party clothes are gathering dust in my walk-in closet. I refuse to go out of my apartment after sunset. I refuse to date. I refuse to let any man touch me. I refuse to talk to anyone whose name is Paul.

This is the story of Sheela, a victim, who lost her virginity the night Paul raped her.

This is purely fictional. Any resemblances to anyone you know is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From Bangladesh, With Love

She was 19. He was 24.
She was from Bangladesh. He was from India.
She was a Muslim. He was a Hindu.
And then it happened.

She had arrived into the United States a year after he had. Being a volunteer driver for the university, he had been in charge of the students arriving that day. As she walked out of the airport, appearing lost, but pretending to be cool, chewing gum like a cow trying to swallow plastic, he could not help but grin. After a brief introduction and loading over a 100 pounds of luggage, they were on their way to the university.

"Where are you staying?", he asked her.
"I don't know", she replied nonchalantly.
"Where am I dropping you off then?", he asked her puzzled and slightly irritated. He had only been told to pick the students up and drop them off at their destinations. He did not want to be in charge of their accommodation too.
"I don't know where I am supposed to be going.", she whispered.

He realized then that she had come unprepared and without having made any arrangements. He also sensed that she was trying to fight back tears. Feeling sorry for her, he offered her to come stay with him and his roommate until she found an apartment. She had no choice but to say yes. And that's how Fatima and Niket began their journey.

On the third day, Fatima confessed to Niket that she did not have the money to rent an apartment. In her words, she had escaped from her home in Bangladesh because her father had wanted her to marry his friend's son. She had borrowed money from her richer friends in order to get to where she was.

"Please help me.", she pleaded with two teardrops rolling down her cheeks, shining brightly as the moonlight fell directly on her face. Niket had a sudden urge to run his fingers through her unruly hair that remained curly all the time. But all that he did was squeeze her shoulder and nod his head. Fatima continued to stay in his bedroom while Niket slept on the couch in his living room for the next 6 months. Fatima did not know that he sometimes went into the bedroom only to watch her sleep peacefully often wondering how it would feel to have her sleep in his lap. Niket did not know when and how he had fallen in love with her but felt empty and lonely when she left home to go to school.

One night when she returned from the library, she found him pacing up and down in the hallway.

"Is everything alright?", she asked.
"No. It's not.", he answered wringing his hands. "I am in love with you and want you to know that.", he stated, almost in a rush for fear that he might never again be able to utter those words.

When Fatima did not answer him and simply lowered her gaze, he felt stupid and rejected. He saw that she was crying silently and knew not what to do.

"I am sorry.", he managed to mutter.
"I love you too.", she replied.
"What?", he said in disbelief and embraced her as she continued to cry on his shoulder. He did not dare to ask her why she was crying. All that it mattered that she loved him and that made him happy.

He began to kiss her tears away, softly placing his lips on her closed eyes, and rocking her back and forth.
"Its ok baby. Don't cry. I will take care of you baby.", he whispered softly in her ears as she whimpered his name.
"Take me inside", she said. "Make love to me."

Within minutes, they both were standing by the bedroom window stark naked locked in each others arms. Niket could not help but wonder how Fatima looked so beautiful even in the darkness of the night as he caressed her, touched her, stroked her and kissed her over her entire body. Fatima quivered with pleasure and begged him for more. Niket gave her all that she asked for and even more. An hour later, they both lay side by side satiated with pleasure and covered with beads of perspiration.

The next morning, they were both rudely awakened by the phone that rang nonstop. As Fatima answered it, she began to panic.

"My dad's here!", she shrieked. "He is coming to take me away to Bangladesh."
"What! No! He cannot do that!", he yelled back.
"Yes he can!", she shouted in anger and sank into her bed and started to cry.

An hour later, her dad was at their doorstep. Or so he thought.

As the pounding on the door began, Fatima enthusiastically opened the door. Niket was confused as he saw the cops standing outside his apartment.

Fatima then turned around and pointed to him, and said...."Here is the guy who raped me last night."

Six months later, Fatima was seen at another university with another graduate student.......

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. I am going to come back and comment on them one by one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Move

This had been her 3rd long distance relationship that had miraculously survived. After she fell out of love with her first boyfriend after he moved to Australia for a Master's degree, she had been guilt-ridden and very upset about having done that to him. She had sworn then that she would never fall in love again and would agree to an arranged marriage set up by her parents. Her vow was soon broken when she met Nakul, her new next-door neighbor, who was originally from Delhi and had moved to Mumbai for a short project.

Nakul and she shared a relationship for three years. She was blissfully happy for the first 8 months until he had to return to Delhi. She feared that she would fall out of love with him too. Luckily, she did not. She made every effort to visit him every 2 months but almost always felt that their bond was growing weaker. Nakul seemed distant each time and the last time she visited him, she knew why. He had found someone else in Delhi.

"Nothing serious", he said when she had discovered her emails in his inbox. "Will you marry me?", she asked. "I would have to ask my parents.", he replied without a blink. That's when she knew. Nakul did not really love her.

She was heartbroken, depressed, and isolated for almost a month. She was already 27. Most of her friends were married. Some of them even had a child. And here she was, lonely and without any urge to find someone for herself. Her parents showed her pictures of several men, prospective alliances that had come through an ad that her parents had placed in the Sunday newspaper. None of them appealed to her. Her thoughts kept running back to Nakul, her heart wanting him but her mind warning her against a man who had cheated on her.

And then one day, he came into her life like a knight in shining armor. Manish had always been a good friend. The friend who was not "boyfriend" material. He was a short, geeky guy with a funny dressing style and hardly her type. He had often lent her his shoulder to cry on with she sometimes reluctantly accepted. The last that she wanted was Manish as her boyfriend!! And yet, one evening, when she was slightly tipsy from her wine after dinner with him, she did not push him away when he tried to kiss her. His lips felt great on her lips, she loosened up, cherishing every second of their lip-lock, and wrapped her arms around him.

"Will you marry me?", he asked.
She nodded with tears in her eyes.

That night, after she was no longer drunk, she went over and over the entire episode in her head. Was it the alcohol that did the talking? Or did she really want him? When he called her the next morning with a "Good morning sweetheart.", she knew. He was the one. He was her short knight in a gaudy silver shining t-shirt who had always been there for her and accepted her for who she was.

The next month, his company decided to send him to the United States for a project. She was shaken and terrified. Her past told her that her relationship would end soon. Manish told her it was only a fear and that he would never to do anything to hurt her.

"You are the one", he kept saying over and over again in an attempt to reassure her. "I would never do anything to hurt you. You know I have to go. But I will be back soon to make you my bride."

She felt secure only for a short while. When his phone calls and text messages started dwindling, she began to fear that he had found someone else. She started questioning him, checking his inbox to find cues that would alleviate her fears, and began taunting him. He would sometimes clam up and sometimes be patient. And yet, she could only go a certain amount of time before unwarranted doubts would creep up in her head.

Manish did not return to India for two years. He said he was trying to save up money for their future. However, she was yearning to see him, to hold him, to be kissed by him, and to wake up next to him every morning.

"I send you pictures every week.", he argued, when she cried about missing him and wanting to see him.
"That's not the same!", she yelled back. "Do you think its a good idea for me to visit you?"
"How? It won't be easy to get a tourist visa.", he said patiently.
"How about me coming there for my Master's degree?", she asked.
"Think about it hard. Do whatever your heart desires but do it for yourself. Not just for me.", he said in his usual geeky style.

In 6 months, she was ready. She had gained admission in a university which was only 40 miles away from his apartment, or so he said. She had no idea. She knew no one else in the United States. That made it all better, she thought. There would no relatives spying on them and she could enjoy quality time with him. As she sat on the plane, all that she could think about was how her 3rd long distance relationship had miraculously survived. She was finally going to be with him.

After 18 long hours, she was finally in Chicago! Her eyes were dying to see him. She could hardly believe her eyes when he walked up to her and hugged her. He looked different. He looked stylish, confident, and mature. She hugged him hard amidst tears and he gently kissed her salty face.

"How are you?", he asked. "Did you take good care of yourself?"
She nodded her head in joy.

At his apartment, she fell asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

The next morning, he said,"Let's find you an apartment."
"Wont I live with you?", she asked in dismay.
"No sweety. Your university is too far away. We can meet every weekend but we can't live together."

She felt heart-broken but said nothing. After all, he knew best. She knew nothing about the United States.

"When do we plan on getting married?", she asked later that day.
"Marriage? What do you mean?", he asked.
"Aren't we going to get married?", she asked with fear and shock.

He gently took her hands in his and said,

"Darling. I care for you very, very much. But I am not sure if I love you."

Here she was. Away from what she called home. In a big country that she knew nothing about. For someone who did not love her anymore. Her third long-distance relationship just failed. After she was in close distance with him.

A true story of someone I know.