The Second Chance - Part II
The Second Chance - Part II
--- Continued from last week.
Liam was Jess’s school friend. In a way, they had grown together and knew a lot about each other. But only what each of them chose to show. Isn’t it true that sometimes we are not open or intimate even with the closest of our friends or relationships? I don’t see any flaws with that. Some people do. To each his own! He was a successful, handsome guy who had many friends and people who loved him. But inside he felt empty, just like Jess. But it was nothing that Liam could not deal with. Even if he wasn’t, I don’t feel he was answerable to anybody. Just as Jess. She had moved away from a life that was not serving her, and, sadly, Liam was a part of it.
“I can never be the person you want me to be, and I know that, and, it ends there.”, She had said to him when he got aggressive after her rejection.
“I’ll take care of that.”, He had said, and, she felt an eerie sense of suffocation, as if, she was trapped. She didn’t understand what she had done to give him the impression that they could be something more than friends.
Jess was a fun-loving, open-hearted, kind girl and somehow a misunderstanding had led Liam, her friend, to believe that she loved him too. When Jess realized it, she started keeping her distance because she didn’t want to hurt him any further. Jess knew what it meant to be in love with the person who does not love you back and she did not want Liam to be hurt because of her. More importantly, she felt Liam was a nice person, a person with a heart of gold, and, the way he treated her was, in a way healing her from a lot of things... which, she was not remotely aware of. It was just his presence, his comforting, caring presence. She didn’t feel anything more than that.
But things went bizarre after the dynamics changed for him and she wasn’t aware. Liam got agitated and started doing anything and everything to get her back, even if it meant humiliating her, insulting her, bullying her, socially isolating her. He didn’t know love can’t be forced... but Jess, ... she was in love with someone else. She could not do anything to help Liam from getting hurt because of her. So, the best option she felt was to distance herself from him and everyone he employed as a means to get in touch with her. Jess knew that with time Liam would be able to get a grip of his feelings, accept them and move on. That’s what she wanted. She wanted him to be happy, and, she definitely didn’t want him to be unhappy because of her. Had Liam understood this they would still have been friends...
Jess was very private about her life and she did not feel there was any need for an explanation to be given to Liam about it. She felt there was enough to deal with already without other people’s opinions and interferences and so she hated to be open about her personal life. Barring that, she was a very loving and helpful person. She had helped quite a people in her life, but since she respected the privacy of other people, she never made an issue about what she has done and for whom. It gave her a sense of preserving the sanctity of the bond; work or personal; that she was in. More so she was concerned about the person she was in love with. Jess didn’t want anyone knowing about him because she considered their bond to be really pious. It was not something to be discussed at the breakfast table by strangers in a college canteen. But, because of Liam, the exact same thing was happening and she detested him for that. Jess tried to explain to Liam that they were great friends and could be just that, but that disconcerted him all the more.
Quite annoyingly, he shared the conversations that Jess had with him as friends, with their common acquaintances, some of whom told her about it and thereafter she loathed him. But Liam didn’t stop pursuing her..., sometimes through blank calls and emails, at others, via common friends.
“Give life a second chance..., sometimes those are the best.”, Liam said to her. But Jess didn’t agree and left him to clear his head. She knew he was hurt, but she was hurt too. Because of him, his immature behavior. How could he be so selfish? She felt, if he really loved her, he would let her go, else, he was a fake.
Jess had tried too long, saving their bond of friendship, but she used to get perturbed at what he would do to irritate her by getting in touch with her common friends and acquaintances. It was as if her life was out for display, and it was disgusting to her. Jess’s hatred for Liam was growing by the day, by the hour in fact. She only wanted to be left alone so that she could focus on building a life for herself. And thanks to Liam who claimed to love her, every single thing that she loved was taken away from her. But she didn’t give up on herself. She considered this terrible pain in her life as a boon, an opportunity that was going to help her wipe away all that wasn’t working out for her and she knew she would succeed someday.
Liam’s behavior was affecting her negatively in ways she could not understand and she didn’t want to deal with him anymore. She would often reminisce her good time with Liam and feel why did all this happen? She remembered how in one holiday season when Liam was to visit his village, Jess had asked him, When will you be back?” Liam had replied, “In a day or two, and, I am gonna bring Malpoa.” Jess’s eyes had sparkled... That was her favorite sweetmeat. Like a kid, she had persisted him to get loads of them because she was sure to have a big share which would leave others without anything. When he came back, she kept her word. She ate loads of it and Liam looked at her disgustingly. But she cared a damn about it. Liam always had issues with Jess’s eating. She was a foody and, she wasn’t annoying in any way. She was very well behaved while eating and even otherwise, but Liam would taunt her about it. She would only be free to eat loads in front of those she considered close friends.
But that didn't matter to Liam. He was this critical, self-obsessed person who was desperate to find faults with her so that he could pick on her and put her down. But what used to irritate Jess was he himself was quite a ridiculous person in terms of so many habits. He was late to college most of the times, could never handle someone else being praised in front of him, sort of a wannabe... But she had never commented on any of it. But he would never leave a chance to talk shit to her face or behind her back. It was as if he had some inferiority complex for no fault of her and thus he wanted to undermine her so that he could feel secure within himself. That's what Jess felt when he used to treat her obnoxiously... He was a complete two faced hypocrite who wanted to be right all the time. Jess didnt have a problem with him being right, but his hypocrisy and two facedness was too much to deal with. No one else had an issue with her, then who was he to bloody decide what she should and should not do? He would mock her for eating every two or three hours which she had to because of her underlying health conditions. She hated him for that too. But Jess never explained him the reason, because, she felt he didnt deserve her answer. That was Jess. If she didn't like someone, she meant it, and, she made sure to keep the required boundaries. She would never repeat any hard lesson that she learnt in life.
One day Jess just lost it. Not out of purpose or something, but one of Liam’s friends came over to invite him for a conference hosted by their college just so that Liam could have free food and because the food was really good. Liam was thinking if he had the time before responding to his friend. He was known to go to functions just for food even if there was no context. He was a party person and loved to have a good time. Jess had never objected to that, but, that day, she hurt him once and for all.
So, when the common friend asked Jess if she wanted to join too, Jess briefly looked at Liam, and then looked at the common friend inviting them, and said, “I don’t go to irrelevant places for free food.” Both, the common friend and Liam looked at each other and Jess could see that they were disgusted. But she didn’t care. Liam and that common friend of theirs felt that whatever they did was appropriate all the time, but it used to hurt Jess many times. But since she considered them friends, she used to ignore it.
But they never ignored some of the things that they didn’t like about Jess. They would make an issue out of it, joke about it and she didn’t like it. Because of all these and other discrepancies, Jess never considered Liam seriously, although he was one of her special persons. She really wished Liam would not have developed any feelings for her because then she would be able to stay happily in her bubble of unrequited love, focus all her energy on her career, and eventually, someday, find someone where all her pain would be left behind and she could start a new life.
Jess was not prepared for Liam... and, as for him, he was dating someone else at the time, trying to figure things out... To make things worse when he was not able to handle her rejection, he character assassinated her and that ridiculed her to the core! She felt how could things be different for him? It was offensive to her that when Liam was juggling between her and his then girlfriend, it was fine. But when she was not opening up to him because she was genuinely in love with someone else, he had made filthy accusations on her. And all this, despite knowing what she felt. She had never given her any wrong indications to him on purpose.
Jess had told him once, “We are very different, and I don’t think we can ever be together.” She believed in it thoroughly. Even years later her perspective about it did not change. But more importantly, she did not know of a better, decent, way of telling Liam that she did not want to be with him. It wasn’t that she was used to being chased by guys all the time. In fact, it was the opposite. She had been a nerdy, independent, bookworm all her life. And, suddenly Liam was all over the place trying to claim his right over her, decide what she should do, who she should talk to, what she should be wearing...
It was suffocating, annoying, creepy. Who did he think he was anyway? She wanted to scream at him and tell him that there were a ten thousand things about him that she hated, but she was not the one to make a ruckus about everything. But she felt, he didn’t even deserve that she shared this wisdom with him. He had stooped way beyond what she could ever imagine and she found herself in a very difficult place in their friendship.
To be continued...