*Swaroop (name changed) is an investment banker and shared his story with our writer.
I mean, I didn’t have to comb my hair or spend hours washing or wiping it in winters. I didn’t enjoy being the odd guy out but learning kept me busy.
My mother, a strict disciplinarian, always emphasized that looks didn’t matter but having some education did. I could have rebelled but somehow I always thought of ‘girlfriend and boyfriend’ being restricted to films or the rich people circuit. After all, ordinary people like me and my family needed to follow the routine of eat-study/work-sleep.
Wanted to have a gf
I was lucky to have been in a boys' school and then in one of the best academic institutions in India where the percentage of girls is almost negligible. I often thought that I was better off to have been born a boy with a receding hairline than a woman in this situation, especially in my country, but I tried to introspect as little as I could (at least on this topic).
Little did I realize that my days with this thought process and its resultant bliss were limited. In my third year, I became a part of the social media circuits. I wanted to be attractive. I wanted to find myself some nice friends who were girls because I wanted to choose my own life partner, especially as my school friends were putting up super cool images of their happy-selves with pretty ladies.
'Meetings don't matter'
I started conversing with people (to be more specific, girls) on Orkut, Yahoo messenger, chatrooms – everywhere. Whenever I was asked for photographs I would use a standard set where somehow my eyes would be highlighted, head ignored or I would put up some of my paintings.
It was on one such occasion that I met this girl. We were in different cities. We chatted a lot, had some fun and after some time she even professed her love for me. I was on cloud nine.
I remember asking her, 'How can you know that you like me when we haven’t even met?' and she had responded, 'Meetings don’t matter. We have been good friends for over ten months now. I do depend on sharing my thoughts with you and we can always meet once I finish my course'.
It was after this conversation that she was about to visit my city and proposed that we should meet. This was the first time that I was to meet a girl (socially, i.e. in the like-like way), and also one who said that she liked me. I was preparing myself that morning when a school friend called and started teasing me as well as in a joke of sorts asked me, 'Has she ever seen you, takle?'
I got cold feet and somehow all the thoughts that I had ignored till that day came back to haunt me. I thought I was an educated spiritual being for whom physical selves didn’t matter but I was nervous now. It wasn’t about me but about someone else accepting me. I did not go to meet her.
To say that hell broke loose is to put it mildly. The girl I liked took offence and thought that the reason why I hadn’t gone to meet her was that I didn’t feel anything for her. I couldn’t explain my reasons without bringing to light all my insecurities.
When the school friend whose teasing question had begun this sequence of events realised what had happened, he felt guilty and started counselling me. He made me realize how wrong I was to have not met someone who had professed her love for me. She had professed this love for the real me and not a physical body. Something in his words and the fact that I really liked this girl pushed me into doing something drastic.
I bought my first air-flight ticket and visited this girl’s town. It was to be a surprise where I organized this meeting with the help of her sister.
I was waiting, the clock was moving at a speed which seemed slower than usual and then she stepped into the restaurant. She reached for her phone, all the while searching for me (I guess, or her image of me) and then when she realized that it was this bald guy's phone that was ringing, her reaction was unnerving.
'I like you but..'
She seemed shocked. She tried to smile but didn’t meet my eyes. She came to my table, we must have had something but I knew something was wrong and then she said it, 'You aren’t what I expected you to be. I liked you, but as a friend…'
I could see what she was trying to tell me and even though I did not want her pity I wasn’t sure how was I supposed to react. I am still not over that incident and haven’t met any girls out of the official surroundings because intellectually I know baldness shouldn’t count but emotionally I still feel rejected because I was bald.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.
This article was first publised on 25th January, 2013.