The Day I Stopped Hating

I did not stop hating today. But I did stop hating somebody.

But then again, maybe “hating” is too strong a word. I stopped disliking somebody today, and I am mighty glad I did.

She used to mean a lot to me; but not in the romantic sense. Defnitely not in the romantic sense. I admit I did have thoughts about the possibility of us; those thoughts were serious, but in all earnestness I had promised myself not to go too far.

I was, at that time, in love with someone else.

I realised at that time also, that if I ever hooked up with her, it wasn’t because I loved her, no. It would have been a relationship based on convenience.

I had never been in a romantic relationship, while I very much longed to be in one; and the girl I was in love with didn’t quite reciprocate my love in the way I would have wished she had. So you see, this would have been a great opportunity to right these wrongs.

I treated her well. She treated me well. Some of my friends thought we were attached. I sometimes thought we were attached. But we weren’t. We couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

She never said she was in love with me. I presumed she was in love with me.

The gifts she gave me. The 6-hour phone calls at midnight. The hearts she drew on the gift wrappers, which she later camouflaged into weird-looking stars. The coy way she looked at me, through the side of her eyes.

I thought she was in love with me. Still do. But I was not in love with her. Never was.

Those 6-hour calls. They bothered me. They were too late, too long, and I was too sleepy. But I didn’t know how to say goodbye. So I endured.

She started sharing her problems. I wasn’t ready for that. I tried to solve them, I couldn’t. I felt useless. She made me feel bad for leaving her still feeling bad.

Then she cried on the phone one day. I told her to stop. She didn’t. It irritated me, much like nails on chalkboard. She still called me. I wouldn’t pick up. She sent me text messages. I ignored them. She sent e-mails. I classified them as junk. She sent me a pen-and-paper letter. I kept it, but never got down to replying.

I finally did reply — 6 months later. I waited apprehensively for her reply. It never came. I rejoiced. But I felt guilt. I hated her. She irritated me to the core. And she never knew it. I never told her.

I hated myself for hating her. I hated her for making her hate myself for hating her.

A few years on, today, I went through my old mails and gifts. I saw the heart disguised as a star. I saw the cancelled “love”s, cleverly hidden behind more neutral words.

She never was that bad. The gifts she gave me, the letters she wrote me — they made me smile. And I only realised it now.

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