I’ve written quite a few posts (and even more comments) which talk about how I failed to get friends and relatives out of abusive or semi-abusive situations. It’s not an easy thing to do, because a lot of the time, people simply don’t WANT your help. They don’t want you to interfere in their life, however miserable it may be and I usually have to bow to that.
After all, I’m no savior from heaven. I’m just an idiot with my own ideas on how life should be lived. Just another random guy with a stubborn, abiding loyalty towards people I’ve come to like and respect. It’s that loyalty which causes me anguish when I see those same people suffer. But it’s their own life, and if they don’t want it to get better, so be it. I can make suggestions and help them out when they need it, but that’s about it. I cannot go any further than that without encroaching on their lives.
So most of the time, my arguments and assertions do not work. But there was one time they did, and I want to lay it out right here, in the vague hopes that it might help others who are in the same situation as the one I occasionally find myself in.
We trooped into our favorite Cafe Coffee Day as usual, me and Hardeep, for a little bite. Typical, bog-standard college chatter flew back and forth between us as we ordered our usual. I’ve always liked CCD, like maybe 50% of the college students here in India and just like most of them, I’m not sure why. But whatever the reason, the place was comfortingly familiar, and I expressed my heartfelt sympathies as H ranted unhindered about the “f*cking a**hole professor” who gave him a grand total of three marks on the last quiz.
That’s when H spotted her in a corner.
H had had a major crush on the girl since he was a wee first year, but he’d never really had the confidence to tell her. I guess it was her own personality which made him feel a bit shy. I mean, she oozed confidence. It radiated from her in all directions like the golden rays of the sun. A quiet layer of understated competence, warm when it touched you, and beautiful to look at. All three of us had been close in our first year, but she’d sort of drifted away over time. It was nothing deliberate. I still counted her as a great friend, as did H, but what with different branches and electives, and the complicated practical schedules, we simply didn’t get to meet each other as often as we liked.
But something was wrong today, and I didn’t need H’s swearing to tell me that. It was obvious from that face that her morale had to be at something like an all time low.
We waved to her and she waved back with a brave attempt at a smile, obviously surprised at seeing us there. We took the liberty of joining her and H didn’t waste any time as he asked her what was wrong.
As I expected, she denied that anything was wrong at all.
But ten minutes of gentle coaxing, and it came out.
“He slapped me.”, she said with a choked sob.
Aman. Her boyfriend. He was a slightly built guy, a bit of a nerd, really, but apparently he was more of an asshole than he looked.
I sat very quiet as H laid out with great precision what he’d like to do to Aman as well as the female members of his family. It didn’t cheer her up one bit, and what she said next was exactly on the lines of what I KNEW she’d say — and wouldn’t mean.
“I know. I’m going to break up with him.”
We did our best to cheer her up for the rest of the afternoon, and when it was time to leave, I promised her I’d stay in touch.
Two days, I saw her with him again. She looked terrible. Her eyes were lackluster and there was a horrible defiance in her face as I looked at her. It made me feel sick to the stomach that this bastard could have so much power over someone like her. I am prepared to swear that I actually felt truly, physically nauseated about the situation. And I didn’t know how to help.
So I decided to do the best I could. I talked to my parents. Talked to my sister. Talked to female friends. Asked them how I could help her.
And finally, I started to talk to her. I soon realized that there was no point telling her what I thought of her boyfriend, because she’d always come up with excuses for him. I resorted to more positive ideas. I told her that at least I was going to be there for her. I told her that I still deeply respected her as a person. I cut down on my free time a bit so we could spend some good time together, maybe in a basketball game or even just sitting around the campus.
At times, she’d grow too dependent on me. I had to tell her to back off a bit. I still had a life to live, and I had my own problems. Several times, I told her to stop using me as a permanent sounding board and to actually do something about the situation. It was probably a bit heartless, but I had to do it.
I was afraid of failing, or making the situation worse. I am no counselor, after all. But I knew there was little chance of making her go see a counselor, so I was all there was, and I was committed to doing my best to get her the hell out of this nightmare. There were so many times when I thought it wouldn’t work. On such moments, I even resorted to rhetoric. Would she want such a father to her kids? Would she like it if her own daughter married a guy like that? It wasn’t kind, but it was all I could do.
It took over a year, but then, one day, she broke free. She ditched Aman. And when she called me up to tell me about it one beautiful spring morning, it was probably the happiest I’d felt in a long, long time. Because the winter was gone, and the glorious, beautiful spring, was here at last.
The events here happened over a year ago, and I’m happy to state that Nisha is almost back to her usual energetic self nowadays. I have her express permission to publish this on my pseudonymous blog as long as I don’t mention the real names of the protagonists. H didn’t quite manage to get it on with her, but hey, you can’t have everything in life. 🙂