“Even superheroes have girlfriend problems,” I remember Chuck Clayton telling Archie Andrews in one of the Archie comics I read as a kid. Now, I have come to the late and sorry realization that it is the supervillains who have boyfriend problems.
I was in Shillong for an interview for the post of Junior Resident Doctor. I had met a girl there, Sunidhi, who was already working there as a Resident Doctor at an ad hoc basis. Hence, she too had to appear for the interview to regularize her post. We started talking as we waited to be called in by the panel and became perfectly comfortable soon. We got along famously, if that be said about two hitherto strangers. By the time the process was over, I knew she was on duty that night. And we had a dinner date. I went back to my friend’s hostel room, who also happened to work in the same hospital, showered, changed and went shopping.
By the time it was 8 p.m., the time for the date, I was pleasantly high on potato juice fermented the Russian way. Well, I am no Casanova but I have sense enough not to stink on the first date. So I showered again, brushed my teeth, and sprayed some Spraymint into my mouth before I went to meet her. Yeah, and clothed too, if your perverted mind is getting any vibes.
So, we were there having some quality food. And me, being the glutton I am, did not say anything other than a mumbled “Yes” here and a “Hmm” there. After we were done she invited me over to her room. Now do not get any naughty ideas. It was not for coffee, but just some chitchat
There we were in her room. She on the bed and me on the couch we talked about music, books, cricket, the stuff. Laughing most of the time. But I must have looked like Suhel Seth to her- the “agony uncle” columnist-though I have always maintained I look far better than that old fart. Anyways she said: “Well, there is this one thing that I have always wanted to spill but I did not know whom to tell. My parents would kill me if I told them, and my brother would skin me alive.”
I knew instantly what this was all about. But I am nothing if not a good listener. So I leaned back on the couch and crossed my legs. Basically got myself into a better position to enjoy the story, and did not interrupt her. Hey let the lady take her own sweet time, eh? It was not that I had a plane to catch or something!
She drew in a long breath. “I had quiet a few boyfriends,” she said and paused. “I would not want you to judge me from what I say. Would you?”
I just shook my head
“This is about my first boyfriend. His name was Gautam.”
The way the word “was” had been used struck me immediately, but, the great listener I am, I said nothing.
“We had a pretty good relationship going for a better part of two years starting when both of us were in class XI. I will not bore you with what happened between us. It was pretty much the same that happens in most of the relationships. It was good while it lasted. Then I had to leave for Bangalore for my M. B. B. S. degree. Those were not the days of mobile phones and we could not stay in touch as much as we wanted to. A little by little I started to think of him less and less.”
Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
“So next time I was in Guwahati on vacation I told him we needed to break up because the thing we had would not work out, us being of different castes. He could not bring himself to believe it. Its like, he is the perfect husband-material type, but I wanted it to end. And the caste thing was not the only thing either. Let me tell you this- I am kind of selfish. I want a man to be settled in life before I go out with him.”
“You should have thought about it before you snared this poor guy,” I thought chauvinistically. I said nothing though.
“Anyways he started kind of following me around while I was in Guwahati. He would come to our house at midnight and call me from outside our gate. It was puja season and at the puja pandal he just sat there and stared at me more close to two hours. I was freaked. He was turning into a psychopath for all I knew.”
“All thanks to you,” I blurted out. Go to hell Mr. Good Listener.
She looked at me with her mouth wide open in a big O. “I hate you”. She paused for a moment. “I mean I told him things can not work, right? I asked him to move on- he goes his way I go mine”.
But sometimes moving on is not too easy. Especially if you are standing near a Fevicol hoarding.
“That was pretty much it. I went back to college. Then all of a sudden he calls up. He was babbling- must have been high on something when he did it”.
“Killed himself. Everyone thought it was an accident. He rammed his bike into a standing truck. But I know better. I got his suicide note by mail a couple of days later. I still remember he started it with “I love you” and ended it with “Sorry”. The rest of it was, well, the rest of it. I burned it and cried the whole day”.
“Wow, that was such a sacrifice. You crying I mean,” I snapped
“I hate you”
“Fine. I gather you have a boyfriend now. Is he of your caste?”
“Then why did you do this to the poor guy? You must know in your heart of hearts that you killed him. It was no suicide. It was fucking murder of the worst kind”.
“You are so bad. I hate you”.
“Fine, did I not tell you?”
“You must be thinking I am a big bitch. But I always feel guilty ab…
“Cut the crap. Guilty my ass. And I think you are a big bitch. Period”.
There was an uncomfortable silence. I stood up and said, “I guess I should be leaving”.
“Yes”. She was looking scared.
I walked back to my friend’s room in the darkest of nights. Alone. Lonely. Sad.
I prayed for Gautam’s soul. End of story.
See what I meant now? Supervillains have boyfriend problems.