Tales from an Immigrant
Tale #1: The First Love, 2003–2006
A Series of Five Love Tales from a Goan Girl
You are the love of my life.
The apple of my eye. My escape from this sorrowful life.
My eye to perception. My love for life.
You are my reason,
to move forward.
The phone incessantly rang as I answered phone calls as quickly as I could. “Thank you for calling Pizza Hut, can you please hold?” I declared while I answered each call, mindlessly slamming phones onto their receiver, moving on to the next phone-call, efficiently placing people on hold as demonstrated during the new employee orientation.
It was pouring heavily the day we met. I recall staring at the silent raindrops falling on the window in front of me, while I heard the clanging of pizza pans in the background. Our supervisor and store manager removed each pizza from its pan and sliced them as quickly as he could, as they slid out of the oven.
I was always good at multi-tasking I thought — watching the beauty of the rain, while continuing to place the sea of calls on hold. As I day dreamed throughout my morning of answering phonecalls, I saw a boy in the backseat of a car outside, stopped at a red light, trying to get my attention.
I ignored a lot of boys during that phase in my life. And decided to ignore him too. It was an easy task for him to get in touch with me, I thought. The number of the Pizza Hut chain I worked in was boldly written in white paint on the glass windows that surrounded the building. I saw him use his flip phone to dial the number, while he looked at the window. I felt my palms sweat and my heart beat faster as I waited for the phone to ring with his voice on the other end. His name was Sandeep.
Three years of a relationship that constantly struggled with arguments, deceit, physical fights, but most of all, we struggled with not knowing how to love each other.
“I lost my virginity to him” I kept telling myself while I sat in silence in the library of the junior college I went to, my favorite place to be, to bring clarity and peace to my mind, contemplating the end of our relationship. Three years, I battled with staying in this relationship that was finally coming to an end.
The previous evening, I went to dinner with one of my best friends who told me he liked a girl. And even though I was dealing with a whole list of issues in my relationship, I genuinely felt extremely happy for him. He told me not to get too excited, and in that moment, my heart clenched, and my intuition kicked in. I felt the earth beneath my feet shatter and drift apart from me. Something was terribly wrong.
I wanted to run. I wished I had never come to dinner. And while I felt these intense emotions, he asked me a question, which in hindsight, I should have said no to. He asked if I was still dating Sandeep. What followed, was the beginning of the end, of the three-year poison I had drunk.
The girl my friend liked, was dating someone else, who happened to be Sandeep. I wanted to believe this was all a dream. And each time I kept telling myself to wake up, I felt my feet on the ground. I thought about saying he was mistaken, and defend my first love. But, I was tired, defending a person who had their own set of issues of self-worth, and that this was our time, our time to heal from the energies that have wronged us. I was beginning to believe, that I was worth so much more than our fights, our arguments, and the few good times we had — I was worth my dignity.
I decided to call a truce.
It was February 14th, 2006. My best friend, the girl he liked and I, decided to confront Sandeep. I told Sandeep to meet me for a valentine’s day dinner and a movie. He also made plans with her, the girl my friend liked.
In our three-year relationship, he had relationships with many women. I should have left a long time ago, but I kept telling myself I lost my virginity to him. I overheard him speaking softly to other women when I was in the bathroom, I had read some emails and text messages by chance, but most of the time, he would tell me how inadequate I was, compared to the others.
As his car pulled up to our meeting location, which was close to a movie theatre, my friend and the girl he liked, hid in the backseat of his car that had tinted windows.
As Sandeep got out of his car, I noticed his hands filled with valentines day gifts. I do not recall exactly what they were, but I recall him telling me how much he loved me, and that one day, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, which he often would tell me after our fights.
I chose not to remember everything else that transpired after this.
The girl my friend liked sprang out of the back seat of their car and spewed words in Punjabi at him on the top of her lungs.
I threw everything that he had given me, at him. All the teddy bears, cards, clothes, and notes over the past three years. As tears rolled down my eyes, I faintly drifted out of the present, and heard his frail voice “Are you the girl from the window.” I drifted back to the day we met.
How I chuckled at his frail voice, as I placed him on hold. The confidence of a sixteen-year-old me, not caring that I would make him wait while I hung up on him mid-sentence when he said “no wait, I want to talk to...”
And when he called back to ask if he could come by to see me, I had a sly air to my response “Well, anyone who wants to buy a pizza can come by.” Never once did it ever occur to me that I would have fallen for a faintly voice.
As I try to peel off hurt from my past, I am beginning to realize I mistake attention for love. I have never known love the ways in which I give it. I certainly have never known how extraordinary of a human being and woman I am. I am learning.
Learning that we all come from hurt, and we all come from a misunderstanding of who we really are. And more than a lot of things, we need each other, to help each other, to continuously find the love we have for ourselves, without losing ourselves in the nature of love.