The Thing Called: Being Empathetic
It was November 23, 2013, 8 in the night, I just had a wonderful conversation with Kiran. She sounded happy and cheered me up, made me forget about the whole separation and break-up thing. It was a silent break-up, nobody in our friend circle, not even Kiran was aware of it. She did not know how she was helping me by talking. She was a soothing balm on my wounds. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to tell her about me and her, but I had promised not to tell anybody. Talking with Kiran gave me joy, but it was also unbearable. I tried my best to maintain a distance between our talks and my emotions, which were trying to come out.
After my conversation with Kiran, I went to my brother’s room. He asked me “How are you now, my little brother?” I gave him a smile and told him that I was certainly not ok, but would be soon. I still wasn’t aware how much time that “soon” was going to take.
He handed me a beer and we made a toast on being single again.
Bro: Do you want to watch a movie?
Me: Yes. Any movie other than romantic one.
Bro: Hmm …
He rummaged through his massive collection and selected “Man of Steel”
After some time, his mobile phone rang. He spoke for around 2 minutes. He finished his beer, got dressed and told me to finish the biryani, which he had bought. He had to leave.
After he left, I closed the door, grabbed my beer, made myself snuggle under a blanket and made an attempt to enjoy the movie. Even though I was watching it, my mind was elsewhere. I emptied the beer in one go, got out of the blanket and went to the mirror. I murmured to myself, “Why are you still thinking about her? She is not with you any more, you are just hurting yourself. Stop it and move on. The more you resist, the more it will hurt you.”
I slapped myself repeatedly as I told myself, “STOP THINKING ABOUT HER, SHE IS NOBODY TO YOU. YOU ARE NOBODY TO HER.”
Suddenly, the mobile phone vibrated in my pocket. It was Kiran.
Me: Yes, Kiran?
Me: Hello …
Me: Hello? Kiran, are you there?
I could hear her sobbing.
Me: Kiran, are you ok?
K: Can we meet now? I want to talk to you.
Me: Now? It’s 10:30 at night. What happened? Why are you crying?
K: Nothing … I feel lost. I can’t talk on the phone. We will talk on Monday.
Me: Hey, what happened? You don’t sound ok.
K: Sammy, he cheated on me. He cheated on me, Sammy. I don’t know what to do.
Oh shit, this should not be happening now.
Me: Kiran, I am coming over. Don’t do anything stupid.
K: Ok, come soon.
I dressed quickly and wore a jacket I knew this was going to take long and since it was cold, I better be prepared.
As I was riding, I could hear her voice in my mind, asking me to calm down and relax. That sentence made me ask myself why I was doing this. The answer flashed in an instant: because when I was in the same condition, somebody was there to help me. Now, it was my turn to give back. She had been there for me when I had been shattered. While I was busy contemplating, I reached the college. I phoned her and asked her to come out.
While I was waiting for Kiran, I smiled to myself and thought, “Girls! No matter how sad they might be, they would never break their habit of coming late.” I waited for another five minutes. She was wearing a black jacket and a black pair of jeans.
She hopped on my bike. I raced down the empty road as she hugged me tightly. Suddenly, I could feel something familiar, but I knew it wasn’t her. Nobody else had sat like this on my bike yet.
I could feel a strong tingling sensation running through my body, but I was jolted back to reality. She started crying loudly. I was clueless as to how to handle the situation.
Me: Tell me, where do you want to go? Do you have any place in mind or shall we just roam?
K: No, we will sit somewhere.
Me: Are you hungry?
She was still crying.
We drove for close to an hour and reached a restaurant which I knew remained open till 4 in the morning.
Me: Where do you want to sit?
She pointed to a table, which was remote.
However, the waiter gestured that we were not allowed to sit there, since it was dimly lit and many couples had been found indulging in ‘activities’. But I was a regular there and I knew the waiter, Shankarbhai. I gave him a Rs. 50 note and shook his hand.
Me: Can you please clean the table?
S: Yes sir.
Kiran was already seated at the table, and did not see this exchange. She saw another waiter approaching and asked him to clean the table.
I waved for the menu card.
Me: What would you like to have?
K: Sammy, I had my dinner.
She had stopped crying and looked calm.
Me: Ok, then we will have something sweet. Actually, I wanted to have ice-cream, but in this weather, I think we will start producing ice-cream soon.
K: You are very caring and funny. Your girlfriend must be very lucky to have you.
She was, but not any more. I wish she could have heard this.
K: How come I have never heard of her? You have a girlfriend right?
Me: Hey, we must try the gulab jamun. They prepare it fresh.
She nodded. I asked Shankarbhai for two plates.
Me: No, I don’t. I am single. Girlfriends are complicated. Enough talk about me though. You are asking questions, which means, the normal Kiran is back. So, tell me what happened.
K: After your call, I got a text from an unknown number warning me to leave Pinal alone. I texted back to ask who it was. She replied that she was Pinal’s girlfriend. They have been together since childhood and were getting engaged soon. I can’t tell you how shocked and betrayed I felt. At first, I thought someone was playing a prank. When she said her name was Kshiti, I remembered Pinal mentioning her name once, but he had never told me that they were together. I called Pinal and asked him about Kshiti. He didn’t know what to say. I told him I wanted to know what the truth was. He stumbled a bit and then asked me a question
P: What happened? Why you are asking such a question suddenly?
He didn’t even deny that they were serious about each other. Can you believe it?
K: I got a call from her saying that you and Kshiti are together since childhood. Tell me Pinal is it true?
P: Baby, listen. Why don't we talk about this tomorrow? it’s almost midnight. Do one thing, you go to sleep. I will come there tomorrow and talk.
K: No, I want answers now.
P: Baby listen to me, I will explain everything to you, but not now, my meeting is going to start soon. We will talk about this tomorrow.
K: Ok, but just tell me, were you close to Kshiti?
P: In a way of saying, yes.
K: Was it a serious affair?
P: Yes, I mean, no no no.
She took a long pause.
K: Tell me Sammy; what would you have done if you were in my place? Before I could say anything she started off again.
K: You know, I used to wake him up early in the morning for his exams and his meetings. Before joining this college I was with him for two months. I washed his clothes, learnt to make paranthas and gajar ka halwa, his favourites.
She started crying, but this time she wasn’t crying because he cheated on her. She was crying at her own fault for being so stupid in love.
Shankarbhai approached our table with the gulab jamuns.
Me: Thank you.
S: Anything else, sir?
Me: We will tell you later.
Me: It’s hot. Be careful while eating it.
She carefully cut a piece with the spoon and blew over it, before trying to feed me. When I noticed her hand approaching me, I immediately pretended that I was busy trying to eat my own.
I put myself in Pinal’s shoes and realised how he must have felt during those two months.
Me: No, you have it. I am having mine.
So I opened my mouth and allowed her to feed me, and I was like, 'Oh my god, its perfectly cooled to normal eating temperature'. With that small thing I got a clue that she must be good at cooking, and I felt a little sad for Pinal, I said in my mind, 'Pinal you are such a stupid ass to leave a girl like this – the perfect home-maker'.
Me: It’s really good, better than last time. Now, you eat it.
K: You know Sammy, I felt liked he cheated on me, I think he just wanted to have fun. That’s why he was with me. I am so angry for allowing myself to be made a fool of. But now I have decided that I am going to take revenge for this. He should pay for what he has done. Tit for tat.
Me: Whoa! Easy, cowgirl.
K: What do you mean Sammy? He ruined my life.
Me: He was your boyfriend Kiran.
K: Yes, but after what he has done to me, I feel disgusted to call him my boyfriend.
Me: Ok, but what after the revenge? Do you think you will be satisfied?
Me: You are absolutely wrong my dear. Revenge will only satisfy your ego. What will be the difference between you and him then? Is it really the right step?
K: So what do you suggest?
Me: I have an idea, which can serve your purpose. Since you truly loved him, and thought he was the one for you, let him talk and explain when you meet him tomorrow. While listening, don’t just listen, but empathize with him, step into his shoes and imagine how you would have reacted if that was you. After listening to him, ask him if he was taking this decision under pressure or he genuinely loved Kshiti. If he says he loves this girl, then just tell him that you also love him deeply. If spending the rest of his life with Kshiti is going to make him happy, then let him go. I know it sounds weird, but this is the crux of Mission Revenge. Remember, whatever you do in your life, excel in that, and you will achieve great success. Thousands of Pinals will line up for you. This altruism will be more satisfying than any revenge you wanted. Now, eat those gulab jamuns, they are waiting for you.
Kiran laughed, cut a piece and fed me again.
Me: If you won’t stop feeding me, I won’t come out with you again.
K: Sammy, I haven’t seen this side of yours before.
Me: Hmm …
K: What hmm? Now this is rude.
K: How about a beer?
I waved at Shankarbhai and asked for two Heineken Light. It was 2 am, a few customers were still around. The weather was chilled, Kiran too seemed to be chilled and so was the beer. But within me, I could feel a pleasant warmth. We raised the beer to each other. Each sip of beer I took seemed to intensify the feelings within me. I finished my beer quickly, while she was still halfway with hers.
K: What are you thinking? Hey, don’t worry about me, I am ok.
She smiled. I smiled too.
K: Now tell me, what were you thinking?
Me: I was just thinking, it’s a very nice place to hang out at this time.
K: Yes, it is.
Me: Shall we? (I gestured with my hand)
When she sat on my bike, she hugged me tightly again. After a while, I felt something cold on my shoulder. I realized they were Kiran’s tears. She must have cried copiously on our way to the restaurant. It was a thick jacket, still her tears had found their way through. While I was lost in thought, Kiran thanked me for listening to her.
Me: Don’t worry dear, I will always be there.
K: Sammy …
Me: Yes, Kiran?
K: Sammy, I love you!
Me: Me too!
K: No, I am not talking that way. I am really in love with you. Please be my boyfriend.
Me: Kiran, don’t push it. We are good as friends.
K: Then why not as a couple?
Me: Some things are better if kept the way they are. Besides I have never seen you from that angle. We are better as friends than in a relationship.
K: Yes, you are right. I am getting emotionally unstable, drop me at the hostel before I do something stupid.
And we both laughed.
I dropped Kiran at her hostel. I reached home around 3:30 a.m. My brother still wasn’t home. I locked the door and crawled into my bed. But I wasn’t ready to sleep. I was busy thinking about her.