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#4 That Internal Conflict

“Don’t you think this is a little awkward?” I asked.

“It kind of is, but I think we should still give it a try,” he said.

Usually, I would never accept an offer like that, but I don’t know why I said yes. One of my close friends called me an evening before and said that her friend in Indore had a recent break up with his girlfriend, just like how I had a breakup with Aman recently. She thought I needed someone to talk to and that guy needed it too. I was reluctant, but for some reason, she was excited to set us up. The numbers were exchanged and this was the first time he had called.

“So, Rupaali, what do you expect out of this?” He asked.

“I don’t know. Honestly, I have no energy to get into a rebound or a fling right now.”

“I don’t have that kind of energy too. I think I am still stuck with her memories,” he said.

“Maybe I am stuck with his memories too. I am still coming to terms with the fact that he’s out there living without me and managing just fine. I mean he is the same person who would keep telling me how he can’t live without me.”

“I know, right! That’s exactly what I ask myself too. Where did the love go? Where did the memories go? You feel cheated when they just move on and not feel a thing while you wander in tears, looking for answers,” he said.

“Let’s not talk about the exes. It would only spoil this conversation,” I said.

“You’re right. We should avoid that. So how do you think this should go further?” He asked.

“I never gave it enough thought, actually. Is there anything that you’re looking for out of this?” I asked.

“For now I just need someone to talk to. These days, I enter my room at night after keeping myself busy all day, start crying and stop only when I am asleep.”

“Same here,” I said.

“Today, for a change, I entered my room after a tiring day and have called you. So far there is no crying and if this conversation goes well, hopefully, you and I would sleep without shedding tears,” he said.

“You’re right. I don’t know about other things, but talking with you would definitely help me get distracted. You sound like someone I can strike a good conversation with.”

“The good part is that we’re sailing in the same boat. We understand each other’s pain. Maybe we can find ways to fight this through together,” he said.

“We can try,” I said.

The conversations went on, we discussed our lives and he turned out to be quite impressive. He was well spoken, well behaved, quite charming and witty too. We discussed life, dreams, aspirations and what not. I told him a bit about how Aman cheated on me and he told me about how his girlfriend’s family fooled her into leaving him and get engaged to someone else. When I checked the time next, it was 2 AM already.

“You’re quite a talker, we’ve been talking for more than two hours,” I said.

“Really? I never realized. Maybe it’s because after a long time we have someone to talk to,” he said.

“Maybe,” I said and smiled.

“Rupaali, there’s something that’s going on in my head for the last few days now, maybe I can discuss it with you,” he said.

“Yeah, tell me.”

“You know, it’s been a few weeks that I have broken up with her. I’ve been clueless about my life since then. I’ve been looking around and I don’t see a way to get out of this mess and move on. Every time I try, there’s a sense of belonging I have with my ex that comes in the way,” he said, “I don’t know if this happens to you but…”

“It does, I feel that belonging with Aman too. He had his ‘breakup talk’ with me, had his share of closure and then left to never come back, but I am left alone since then; stuck with questions,” I said.

“It’s funny, but I am still not able to digest the fact that I am single. I still feel guilty when I notice some other girl,” he said.

“Exactly, every time a guy would approach me, I would feel like running away. Even after my ex cheating on me and walking over our relationship, I am the one still scared of disappointing him,” I said.

“You know, since last few days, I’ve been thinking to push myself a little. I am looking to create an internal conflict within me to break this sense of belonging,” he said.

“Internal conflict…?”

“I have a feeling that unless I don’t create a conflict within me and let a new feeling fight with an old one, I’ll never be able to move on,” he said.

“Your ex-girlfriend, or even my ex-boyfriend for that matter, never broke that sense of belonging, never looked for that internal conflict, they just moved on. Why is it that we have to put these efforts and not them?” I asked.

“That’s because they are the ones who chose to leave. They are the ones who threw us in this situation and gave no option but to deal with it. When someone chooses to leave, there’s always a long thought process behind it. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see it. We receive it as a jolt and hence we begin coping with it when they’re already prepared to live without us,” he said.

I paused. Thoughts of my last conversation with Aman occurred to me. I recalled how calm he was and how bitter I felt listening to him.

“You okay?” He asked.

“Yeah. I was just thinking. Isn’t it unfair that they get to break our hearts and move on, while people like you and I are still scared of walking towards a new life?” I asked.

“It is, but the good part is we have a temporary struggle of breaking this sense of belonging which they have forced upon us. What they will have to deal with is permanent guilt,” he explained.

“Makes sense; but how do you think you’re going to break that sense of belonging?” I asked.

“By pushing myself to feel happy outside my ex’s presence. Do things I would have never done being in a relationship with my ex,” he said.

“So let’s say, if a guy asks me out and I reciprocate if I like him, would that be breaking a sense of belonging?”

“Yeah, anything that’s uncomfortable for you because of your ex. I think that’s how you begin to move on,” he said.

“Do you think it could lead to a rebound relationship?” I asked.

“What I am suggesting is not hooking up with someone just because we want to feel good about ourselves, but we should just do things that make us feel happy without the existence of your ex,” he said.

“Even if I give it a shot and go out on dates, I would not be able to strike that connect. My discomfort would show and it would ruin everything,” I said.

“That’s the battle we have to fight I guess.”

“What about you? How do you plan to create that internal conflict?” I asked.

“My ex-girlfriend and I used to travel a lot. I think the best way to replace her is to go travelling with someone else. Experience that thrill with someone else. I wonder if something like that is possible, where I ask a girl to be my travel partner, but there are no chances of something more,” he said.

“The struggle is real I suppose,” I scoffed.

“Quite real,” he laughed, “but I am glad about the kind of conversation we’re having, at least we are discussing solutions and ways of moving on, and not sobbing over the past,” he said.

“You’re right, I like this internal conflict theory of yours; I think it will work for me.”

“I hope it does,” he said.

We said good night to each other and hung up. I was sleepy, but I was smiling for the first time in weeks. He was right; we could be each other’s distraction. However, we turned out to be something more than just the distraction for each other. The relationship we went on to share was beyond understanding for many people. The beginning of it all happened a few minutes after he hung up. I was about to sleep when my phone rang again, it was him.

“We can be each other’s internal conflict,” he said.

“Um… I didn’t get you.”

“You can’t go out with guys because they will have expectations and they might take advantage of you because you’re vulnerable. I can’t expect a girl to travel with me and not have any expectations other than just being a travel partner. We both understand each other’s situation and we can actually help each other create that conflict,” he said.

“You mentioned that we’re vulnerable, things do get messy in situations like these,” I said.

“It would get messy if we try this with other people. We know each other’s situation; we know what we’re expecting from each other, it’s the safest bet,” he said.

“Even if we try to be each other’s conflict, you’re in Indore and I am in Mumbai, how is this going to work?” I asked.

“The distance would be positive in an arrangement like this. It would keep things in check. I keep travelling to Mumbai for projects. We can meet, hang out and try to feel better in each other’s company. If one of us can’t strike a connection, the other would understand the problem and nothing will be ruined. We can do this until we’re ready to date other people,” he said.

“You really think it won’t turn into a hookup, rebound or friends with benefits?” I asked.

“We’re emotionally not in the state Rupaali, we’re just going to be two people helping each other heal and alter the habit of being with someone,” he said.

He sounded genuine, but it was a lot to process at once. Honestly, I wanted to say yes but decided to sleep over it.

"It’s only our first conversation, I want to think about it,” I said.

“I understand. Take your time,” he said.

“Thanks.”

He was silent for a few seconds.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You know how this feels?”

“How?”

“It’s like you and I have collided with each other while we were running away from ourselves. We’ve banged into each other, got up, dusted our clothes and looked around to realize that it’s dark and there’s just forest around us. There’s no one around – just you and I stuck in the forest. Lonely within, yet have each other’s company. We have options. We can give cold shoulder to each other and start running our separate ways, or we can help each other find wood, light some fire and sit around it to talk. We can tell each other stories, maybe embrace each other if it gets cold and tough, help each other fill the void, get through this dark night and wait,” he said, “wait for the morning to arrive.”

I didn’t say much after that. These words by him eventually became the reason I accepted his offer. Yes, he became my internal conflict and helped me get over Aman. After getting comfortable with each other we even travelled together. We healed each other’s pain, had some mad experiences together during our trip, but describing all of that would need another story.

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