That Feeling Called Love

She dabbed some more concealer on the scar. She was good with makeup. Nobody could tell that beneath this layer of expensive makeup were marks that had shattered her. These scars would fade away with time. But the pain that they bought would take a lifetime to leave her heart.

A sprinkle of her favorite perfume and she was ready.

She looked at herself in the long mirror. Dark blue kurta with an embroidered neckline. White churidar and dupatta. Silver bangles jingling at her wrists. She completed the look with her favorite antique jhumka’s that belonged to her grandmother.

She smiled at her reflection. She knew Indian wear suited her. And today after a long time, she had made an effort to look good.

Grabbing her purse, she went down to her car, instructing her driver to take her to this fancy new restaurant where she was to meet him today.

Sitting back, she couldn’t help but remember that day. No matter how much she tried to wipe off every trace of those memories, her mind always went back there. To that day.

They had met through common friends. Both young and in love. He was the perfect guy to her. Moody sometimes, she always thought that was a personality trait. That was just how he was.

He always checked her phone. Going through every text message and the day’s call history. Every message was questioned and every call detail asked.

This was his daily routine. He checked her phone, went through her mails, and never allowed her to meet anybody else. Forget about guys, even her girlfriends were scrutinized by him.

She believed she was madly in love with him and would have died happily for him. And he almost killed her.

Emotional blackmail was an everyday routine. He brainwashed her to an extent that every friend and family seemed like an enemy.

She loved him with all his heart and believed that he was the one for her.

They could have had a fairytale life according to her, if only he was not this possessive. She got scared when he screamed at her. He broke her phone twice in fits of anger.

She would ball up in a corner and cry herself to sleep, praying all the time that he would calm down.

“He loves me, he loves me, he loves me….”.

She would keep saying that to herself whenever he apologized to her after hours of screaming and abusing her.  And when he apologized, he became the angel she had fallen in love with. He showered her with kisses and gifts and seemed like he was genuinely sorry for what he did.

She would forgive him every single time.

Initially it happened once or twice. But soon, the screaming and abusing became an everyday matter. She walked around the house like a zombie. Scared to even breathe. Worrying all the time to not do something that would upset him.

Work was solace for her. A tiny voice inside her always told her that his behavior was wrong but she never found the courage to talk to him about it. This was just how he was. Maybe she was not able to show him how much she loved him.

She spent endless days and nights trying to figure out how to make him understand that she loved him and never wanted him to be angry.

But everything failed. Day after day the verbal abuses and the taunts continued. And with time they seemed to increase. It was like he had a spilt personality. Sometimes he showered her with so much love that she felt overwhelmed. But when he was angry, there was nothing she could do but just keep her head down and let him vent out his fury.

She had signed up for a new project. It meant a new team and more challenging work. She was shifted to a new branch office and was pleasantly surprised when she heard someone greet her in a voice that was vaguely familiar. She turned around and saw her best friend from high school. Tanmay. They had lost contact when they went to different colleges.

Today, after 6 years, he still looked the same. The same infectious smile, same tousled hair, and the same cheerful nature.

And it took him just one look to realize that something was not right with her.

She didn’t smile that freely anymore and rarely talked. This girl was the fun factor of any party. And now it seemed like that spark had died somewhere.

It took almost two weeks for him to have an actual conversation with her. It seemed like she avoided anyone who tried to be friendly with her. She worked hard. Concentrating on every detail of the project. But she rarely mingled with anybody.

Getting her number was an even tougher task. But never gave up on her. He kept trying until finally she started coming out of her shell. She started talking. Not like she used to, but at least she talked.

From coffee breaks to lunch to a text message once in a while.  Slowly she started smiling more often and talked more.

She enjoyed his company. He was always happy, and cheerful. She realized how much she had missed him. She liked working with him and felt good when he noticed how she had taken care of every small detail of this project.

The workload had increased way too much and the deadline for the project was soon approaching. That day, she got late at work and by the time she finished, it was way too late to find a cab back home. She called him up but he didn’t answer. That was enough to tell her that he was furious. She had missed a few of his calls a couple of hours back. She would have to explain to him that she was in a meeting.

One of her colleague offered to drop her home. She knew he would be furious, by this but them she had no other choice. She wanted him to pick her up but he was not answering his phone.

She saw standing on the porch. She felt her heart sink at the very sight of him. He smiled at her colleague and thanked him for dropping her home. But she could tell that he was way beyond angry.

When the car pulled out of their driveway, he grabbed her arm and dragged her inside the house and slapped her so hard, she felt blood in her mouth.

She fell on the floor and before she could react, he picked up a flower vase and aimed it at her face. It smashed against her head. And all she remembered was seeing blood.

That knock was probably what was required to bring her back to her senses.

She did not deserve this. This abusing and screaming. This was not love. This was freak control. She was just a punching bag for him.

He kicked her hard in the ribs and left her squirming in pain.

When he went upstairs, she tried to stand up, only to fall back again for the pain seemed to intensify with every movement.  She dragged herself toward her phone and with every scrap of courage that was left in her, called the police.

They found her 42 minutes later, bleeding and crying. She was curled up in a fetal position. 42 minutes. Every second of these 42 minutes had felt like a lifetime to her. They went upstairs and dragged him down. He hurled abuses at her and promised to come back and kill her.

The police dragging him away was probably the best balm for her wounds. She had suffered enough. She let out a sigh and went to the hospital in the ambulance that was waiting for her. She could finally breathe again.

She was jerked back to reality as the car stopped outside the restaurant. She gathered her wits and stepped out of the car.

It had been 8 months since that day. It was time to move on.

As she walked inside, she was ushered to the table where Tanmay was waiting for her. The look he gave when he saw her gave her butterflies in the stomach. She saw him give her a long appreciative look. And when their eyes met, the depth in his eyes made her realize, that this was what love really felt like.

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