Illustrated by Tejashree Ingawale
I was tired of love, and love was tired of me.
“Are you okay?” he asked, as he pulled away.
“Another flashback. I’m sorry.” I sighed.
I couldn’t kiss him anymore, I needed to breathe.
“It’s okay.” He seemed disappointed.
This wasn’t new to me. This disappointment was a familiar voice in my head. Another empty echo locked in my memories. I knew this all too well. Casual sex didn’t come with any commitment. At least that’s what these sexual encounters were. They would cum, they would leave.
Love, however, meant commitment. Commitment that made me conscious. I trusted someone, I loved them, but between us was a big wall of memories, of sexual abuse, and of manipulation. I know what it was, but I still couldn’t call it rape, for how heavy that word feels. Did love violate me? “Dear love, am I your victim?”
I’d whisper to myself, “I can’t let him change me. He was good, a sweet boy. It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be.” Another intervention and invasion of my mind. Tossing the blame around in an endless circle, endless cycle, I would struggle to locate where love was lost and replaced. “It’s this abusive patriarchal society. Maybe, just maybe if this world were different…if he were different…I’d be safe. I’d be loved.”
My thoughts would run all over the place, incoherently. I had to defend him, to grant myself respite. But peace never came. Love is blind, they say. So, was this love, to defend the person who raped you? Was I a fake feminist? I would never defend such a man. Another spiral of stupefying self-doubt. Did it happen to me, again? Was my trauma valid?
It gets difficult to identify why it happened. It had happened before, with another boy. A boy I called my brother. Now, my flashback features a new cast.
As a believer in love and its many forms, I have lost trust in my many lovers. Whether it’s that cousin brother from 11 years ago, or this partner of mine from a year ago, one betrayal mixes with another.
So, I turned to another lover of mine, a friend indeed, who watched me struggle and then said, “I know you’re sad and things got out of hand, but it was never that bad. You fought now and then over how you’re not having enough sex but that doesn’t mean anything. I mean, what he did was wrong but he’s been there for me. It’s difficult for me to ditch a friend.”
I felt betrayed, for he was ditching a friend. Me.
“I feel unsafe. I can’t detach you from what he did to me, if you enable him. You have to tell me who you want to be friends with. You have to make a choice” I said.
“Give me a few days. He’s my friend.”
“Me, or the man who abused me?” I asked again.
“A few days.”
The call ended. It’s been more than a few days.
I didn’t mean to remember my haunting past and disappoint a stranger who couldn’t care less. Fleeting intimacy, a momentary encounter, and the stranger I had simply shared a few convenient kisses with, didn’t need to know how I was edging. Edging, but not sexually.
I’m afraid about when seduction will transverse its boundaries and grope me, but this shame and guilt that I carry must not be unleashed. So, I’ll let this stranger leave, as his disappointed sighs become part of my void.
If love is a rose, as they say, then mine is rather grotesque. No roseate petals, thorns eager to draw blood from clinging hands. Dear Rose, I’ll let you go too and watch you fall onto the ground, thorns still intact.
Gory, isn’t it? A girl with bleeding hands. I’m not hopeful, not really the optimistic kind. However, potential love interest, if you’re reading this, I think it’d be funny to tell you, “you’ve caught me red-handed.”
Yes. That’s how it goes.
Sagrika is currently an undergrad student, pursuing law. She’s passionate about law, poetry, literature and art. She’s probably giving someone a lecture about communism right now.