Her exasperated tone was quite a contrast to the smile she had on her face as she said: “I’m with a friend. Is that OK with you?”
The thing about Shasti is that she attracts rather a lot of male attention. I swear, some dudes are straight falling on their knees with rings if she so much as flings a kind word in their general direction.
So we’re chilling one weekend and she gets a phone call, seems some model from Kashmir is blowing up her phone on a regular basis. Shortly after finishing her call with him, and peeps I kid you not, dude’s brother calls to try and get a date. Shasti switches off her phone, turns to me with a sigh and á me dit: I don’t understand, all these men, I turn them down but they keep calling me!
You keep answering them.
I can’t ignore them!
Then stop giving them your number.
I make it clear that nothing is going to happen.
Really? And how, pray tell, do you do that?
I tell them that my parents need to approve of any man I’m with, and that my parents wouldn't approve of them.
OK. Well, step into the shoes of one of these guys. You've told them that your parents wouldn't approve, you haven’t said: I’m not interested. What might the sort of man who straight tells thee, “ I've been watching you for the past hour, and I've decided I want to marry you” be thinking when you give them the parents spiel? I mean for all you know, the guy could be saying to his friends, “boss, give me six weeks and she won’t care whether or not her parents approve!”
There was something Shasti said to me later about not wanting to run off potential friends, and it got me thinking. As ex-pats we’re pretty much alone here. We’re starting a new life, and it’s tough to risk losing the few people you've connected with by telling them you have romantic feelings for them, or indeed attempting to disabuse them of theirs. It is understandable for anyone in our situation to be loath to disrupt the comfortable equilibrium they feel they have attained.
It’s hard to put oneself in situations where one’s hearts and one’s feelings are at risk of being hurt. That’s why real love, romantic and otherwise is so profound – for it is, in part at least*, the power to destroy oneself freely given to another. And I would wager that very few people like to think of themselves as the kind of person who breaks hearts and hurts feelings – It can be absolutely devastating to your identity when someone tells you that you have crushed them.
So while I can empathise, I can’t say I really feel too sorry for the lady. I’ve crushed people in worse ways than merely telling them I don’t think of them in that way. I think of these people often. Of what comfort to them is my resolve to do better? And I have been absolutely shattered by people I loved… People I still love. So right now my mood is: I’m done with the pussyfooting. Rejection is always hard to take, but I doubt anyone could make me feel the kind of rejection, and sheer soul-destroying sense of worthlessness I felt, most acutely, last winter.
On a lighter note, but still real talk, I don’t feel too sorry for my dear friend Shasti, because I’m craving affection these days. If I had models from Kashmir after me, every time my phone so much as vibrated with their names on caller ID I’d be out like the vapours and on their divans eating fresh lychees quicker than you could say Finrod Felagund.
* Bear with me, I’m still working this stuff out.