It was a lazy Sunday morning, I checked my phone but she didn’t reply to my message. I re-read the conversation and there was nothing wrong but she stopped replying to me after I asked her about her uncle who had recently come down from London. She replied saying, “yeah, he’s fine.” There wasn’t any conversation after that but she was definitely online for the next fifteen minutes.
A hot sip of tea got me worried about where we were going. We’ve been together for the past two years and there seemed to be nothing wrong with our relationship. But something is bothering her and her lack of being able to express it makes me take a step back in opening up to her completely. We’re a combination of best friends, lovers, family, jokes and a loving duo when we’re together. But somewhere, there is this level of unwanted attention drawn to her silence that makes me believe that the dark side of a person says a lot about them than the happier one.
Darkness does dig out the deepest of emotions. It’s what attracted me to her. I know I made her laugh and I changed that grumpy look that she adorns 24/7 to anyone and everyone. But somehow I feel the darker side to a person just grows with age, with undue thoughts, differences in people, with confusion and lack of communication. I try to engage in this aspect and she voluntarily puts herself out there but somehow she gets all silent and quiet and I know there is a reason behind it.
Women are not hard to understand, their silence is!
Silence, in general, is hard to understand and can be misinterpreted in so many ways. I’m patient with her but sometimes I feel like she doesn’t want me to give that much importance to this side of her. But, I really want to understand the ‘looking down while passing a random group of boys, the covering up of her shoulders and chest with a shawl that makes her uncomfortable, the grumpy look that comes back whenever there is another male figure around her’. I want to know why loud noises and whistles hassle her. She seems stuck in her web of a chaotic world yet she looks so elegant when I catch a glimpse of her coming out of her lane, at 2 in the afternoon all troubled and hassled. Her face slowly brightens up when she sees my car.
“Let’s go. Quick.” she shouts and I started driving. “What’s the matter? Why do you want me to go so fast?” I asked.
“Nothing I’m hungry, duh” her voice slowly fades into her normal soothing tone as she takes off her scarf and looks for the seat belt. This is the third time I noticed the difference in her friendly insult, she wasn’t looking into my eyes like she always does. Her nonverbal gestures seem to disturb me because it speaks differently of her. I feel like she’s hiding something or she’s running away from me.
As I drove, I realised she was awkwardly quiet so I asked her about the last conversation we had and her reason for not replying properly. “I did reply to you, what more do you want?” Again, no eye contact and that’s when I knew something was wrong.
I asked her about her uncle since that was the last thing we spoke of and she made that sarcastic face and taunted me about my fetish for my car and how unbothered I was in appreciating good music. She started playing her favourite song and in this stubborn artificial silence I decided to think of my constant restlessness to know more about her uncle, and the subsequent behaviour she adorns. I began to think of my need to know and her need to hide it all.
The long car-ride got me thinking and I understood my need for her to open up. I adjusted her chair and she gave me that loving one-liner, “Thank you, my gentleman.” She somehow noticed that my expression didn’t really change. No smile, no reply. I had called for the waiter. She then asked me about my behaviour.
I took the chance and confronted her this time, I asked her about her uncle. She told me to ignore it and her whole mood changed. I asked her to open up to me but she didn’t want to. So I decided to cut short the lunch program by just ordering some snacks. My intention wasn’t to cut her off but for her to realise the importance of opening up to me. I figured my reason of guilt, silent situations and irritability. But what’s bothering her, is now becoming my reason of growing silent again.
She finally spoke up, with teary eyes. She controlled really hard but she looked down every time she felt the tears would fall down her cheek.
“My uncle isn’t a good man. He harassed me a lot. His touch wasn’t good and I knew it right from the beginning. I didn’t want to open up about it and since he was in London, his frequent visits bothered me, yes, but I would escape it by going on trips and outings. I kept myself busy and told myself that these things don’t need much attention.”
She looked at me, wiping off her tears and said, “It’s hard, not giving attention to this side of me and covering up for it every time. Even though it happened years ago, I don’t know why it did, that too with no fault of my own.
I didn’t bother telling you because I thought it wasn’t important, it’s really hard for me to open up to the fact that I was sexually harassed and…”
I interrupted, “Me too.”
She stopped with a confused gaze and I owned up to her about my need for her to not hide the things that need utmost concern. These situations need to be addressed and shared. Maybe this is why her silence made me restless. I figured the reason but I wanted her to open up so that I too could share the horrifying experiences that I went through as a child.
A person’s silence in awe is something we admire but if its anything other than that, it should be understood and expressed. In a world where thoughts and secrets increase more than rich and valuable conversations, one must always be considerate about understanding those who fail to express their deepest of emotions.
“Your power to express gives me the strength to grow past all the hardships. Open up, it gives me courage!”