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  • Writer's picturePanchi

Chapter - IV 'Dandelions in her backyard'

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Who is an empath? A highly sensitive person who feels and often takes the emotional loads of others at the expense of their own emotional and mental well-being. Queen was a true empath, as she forgave and ignored the injustice done by Abhinav in their relationship. She had to be; otherwise, she would have noticed the multiple red flags in his behaviour that were beginning to pop up like dandelions in her backyard. Sometimes these dandelions join in a whisper inside her head that indicates something was not quite right, things weren’t happening the way they were supposed to. Maybe if she did some deep digging about what her gut instinct was telling her or if she wasn’t rushed into marrying Abhinav, she could have noticed that her marriage wasn’t a fairytale of some sort. Instead, there were fine cracks in their relationship that were beginning to spread like a plague to the foundation of their marriage, and eventually one day those cracks will fracture her home. But it was comparatively easy to ignore any red flags when he exhibited such affection each time another side of him was exposed.

Two years have passed, Queen still remembers the first day she met Abhinav. She was on a long leave from work at her home in Guwahati. Queen was nearing marriageable age and her parents were desperate to find a suitable husband for her. She was settled in her career and never had the idea of going for a love marriage against her parent’s wishes. A distant relative suggested Abhinav’s name to Queen’s mother. He was an emergency medical officer at a private hospital in Guwahati and that added like a bonus on her parent’s eyes of perfect husband material. One day on her mother’s appeal she sent a friend request to him on Facebook. Slowly they started chatting and it became a routine for them every day. In the beginning, he was very cheerful, jolly, and had an unexplainable charisma. He had a long list of friends on Facebook, somewhere around five thousand of them. It seemed like he was quite popular among his peers. Despite his popularity what made Queen more attracted to him was his down-to-earth nature. It seemed like he was a very simple and easy-going person. He cared about her, he genuinely listened to what she had to say, he memorized every line in the script of her life by heart and within a week checked off every last quality she was looking for in a man. After few weeks of interactions, she finally decided to finally meet this guy.

It was an evening on 27th December 2017, right after two days of Christmas Eve. Queen was getting ready for her big date. She was a bit nervous but it was okay because she was finally meeting the man she always imagined. ‘Maa is this dress okay? Or should I change and wear something else?’ asked Queen. She wore a floral red dress that reached below her knees which conveniently accentuated her body’s best features like her slender waistline and her long legs. Queen’s mother replied, ‘no dear I think it is perfect. This dress will attract the right amount of attraction towards you. You look very decent in it. Don’t worry, red is your colour. It suits you the most.’

The winter season in Guwahati begins in November and lasts till the month of February. The dip in the mercury level during the day and later the foggy evenings set the perfect tone for a first date. Abhinav got the address of Queen’s home on WhatsApp and he informed that he will reach there after an hour. Queen waited for him outside her house for more than 30 minutes but there was no sign of Abhinav. She started wondering if this was a setup or whether she had been ghosted by him and then after few more minutes of waiting finally his call came through.

Abhinav: Hey! Where are you?

Queen: Hi. I am right here at the address that I gave you.

Abhinav: What silly? You gave me the wrong address. I am near the cemetery.

Queen: No. No. I gave you the right address. Wait let me check again.

Abhinav: No it's okay. You can ask someone to drop you here. Till then I will wait for you.

Queen: Okay. I will ask my brother if he can drop me there.

She quickly called her brother and asked him to drop her near the cemetery. Following that she opened her inbox to check if she gave him the wrong address. But no, it wasn’t, she gave the exact current location to Abhinav. ‘Then why did he park his car so far away from her house. Was he shy? Was he feeling nervous? Never mind I will find out whatever it is after this date,’ thought Queen. When her brother dropped her few feet from his white polo Volkswagen car, she saw a handsome man in his thirties wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and a navy blue jacket. In her mind, she was able to picture him as her prince charming, her soul mate, her rescuer from this wretched like of singlehood except that she didn’t need any rescuing. Her situation was never actually that wretched thus she didn’t need any actual saving (at least not by someone like Abhinav.)

He took her to a cafe which was situated in the most famous place for couples in the city. The cafe was located inside a plaza building. It looked like a decent place, a place where someone will take their first dates or their would-be wives. The cafe had a cozy ambience. They were playing the song ‘This is why I need you’ by Jesse Ruben which was currently on the top of her playlist for go-to romantic songs. When she sat in front of Abhinav at a corner table she could almost feel the lyrics of that song coming to life.

You make the edges less sharp

You make the winter feel warmer

You make my weakness less weak

You make the bottomless deep

You make the waiting feel shorter

Abhinav held her hands in the most romantic way and she could feel the warmth of his hands spreading all over her skin. That was how he made her winter feel warmer. They chatted for some time about his work and their families. Abhinav ordered a large mozzarella cheese pizza, a strawberry mojito, and a banana milkshake for himself. In between lines, he dropped a hint about him being a fitness enthusiast. He mentioned about his Keto diet which explained why he didn’t touch the pizza that they ordered. When they stepped out and it was time to bid goodbye to that cozy little cafe Abhinav seemed a bit distracted. Then he went on to say something which left Queen second-guessing.

Abhinav: You know there is a bar upstairs that offers loose girls at a price.

Queen: What do you mean?

Abhinav: Loose girls are actually what we call prostitutes. I have heard these girls wear short skirts and flirt with the men who come there as customers. Anyone can pick them up for an agreeable amount of money.

Queen: And how do you know that?

Abhinav: One of my friends told me about it. It is ridiculous right.

Queen wondered, ’why the hell is he telling me about these stuff. What is he implying? Is my dress too provocative? Is he getting uncomfortable in my presence?’ Abhinav noticed the sudden unsettling expression on her face and quickly changed the subject. He went on to say,’ our fate must have brought us together. I think we must have known one another in a previous life and after a long search on my part, I finally found you.’

Queen: What made you say that?

Abhinav: I knew from the moment I laid my eyes upon you that you are going to be the girl whom I want to marry.

Queen: But we have just met. We don’t know each other very well. Isn’t it too soon to decide about marriage?

Abhinav: No. I am a doctor so I have some knowledge about human psychology too. Moreover, I have a strong intuition that you will be a perfect fit for my family.

What Abhinav was doing here was called ‘grooming’. Just like a predator watching its prey closely, a Narcissist is calculated in his attempt to manipulate a victim into a more vulnerable position by claiming a special bond with it, which sets the stage for the victim to accept abusive behaviour in the future. This was just the beginning of a roller coaster of emotions that Queen was about to experience in her coming days.

Then he offered for a long drive to Queen and she couldn’t deny it because she felt like it was a basic sense of decency to reciprocate his offer; after all, he was kind and affectionate to her. Abhinav drove his polo to the outskirts of Guwahati to a place called Narengi.

Queen: Where are you taking me?

Abhinav: I want to show you something.

Queen: Okay. But why are we moving towards the outskirts of the city?

Abhinav: Because the place where I am taking you to is a bit far from here. There are fourteen thousand square feet of land owned by me and my father near the Royal Global University. (Royal Global University is an educational institute located in Betkuchi of Guwahati suburbs).

Queen was confused why Abhinav was showing her his properties during their first date. Was that some kind of bait? Was he trying to beguile her into thinking that she was a lucky girl who was about to marry a rich person? The insatiable need of Narcissists is to capture the attention, attachment, and adoration of others for the sole purpose of maintaining their false sense of entitlement and superiority. If only Queen knew about this before. She could never guess his personality traits at first. She took him at his face value. He seemed like an innocent person to her who was trying to show her his belongings.

Queen: That is impressive. There are a lot of lands owned by you and your father I guess. You seem like a Thakur to me.

Abhinav: I don’t like to boast about my belongings and money cannot always buy happiness but it can surely make your life easier. Don’t you agree?

Queen: Yes, definitely.

It was an awkward first date for her. She was both happy and nervous. This was her first proposal for marriage and she thought her mother would be screaming with joy when she hears the news. On the contrary, Abhinav was completely relaxed and calm during their entire first date; almost like it was a routine for him. There were only a few ups and downs in the tone of his voice when he talked to her. He seemed kind of superficial but he meant good. Ultimately he just wanted a life partner who could understand him and be his lifelong friend.

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