A Series of Unfortunate Relationships: The College One Part 1

Friday, March 12, 2021


After the fiasco of my last relationship, I did not want to fall in love again because I was terrified of the consequences of that attraction. It did not serve me well on either front as it angered my parents and even I was not happy being entrapped again. I decided I would focus on myself and see where life whisked me away. There were so many things I wanted to accomplish anyway, and I had made a mess of things where my education was concerned. My grades had fallen drastically and I had not told anyone about that, least of all my parents. They would reprimand me and lament about wasted money and time and that I deserved the punishments I had received so far. My situation would probably worsen anyway because there would be no solutions provided just glares and reminders of the mistakes that led me to my current state. All I could do was figure it out on my own and talk it out with my close friends. 

    My friends could only help me so much as they were figuring out their own lives and trying to pry themselves out of their own cages. My two closest friends at the time were also Pakistani so we were all in the process of escaping the unrealistic ideals we were chained to. The strange thing about my parents was that they would not call and hound me while I was out unlike my friend's parents who would check up on them at least once per hour if not more and none of us were given a proper curfew. Our curfew was that we needed to be home once our college classes ended unless there was something important going on. So naturally, we resorted to skipping classes in order to have some free time to explore and enjoy ourselves which led to not focusing and doing well in our studies. We would use the time to escape from our confused lives and find some semblance of normalcy. Those became some of my fondest memories, the ones where we would skip class and go for long drives in any random direction. I memorized the road maps of my region just by getting lost in them and heading to different areas where we would stop and have dinner before heading home. This was stressful in its own way because my friends would be receiving constant calls from their parents who would ask them where they were and I knew my own parents would be suspicious as well and interrogate me once I arrived. I am sure they knew what we were doing and tried to scare us out of phase but it didn't really help their cause. If anything, we all rebelled more because we desperately wanted to be treated like adults and allowed to just simply live. We weren't out there committing crimes against humanity we just wanted to enjoy company with our friends. 

    I relaxed and focused on my studies as time went by. I gained confidence in myself and enjoyed experimenting with different styles and outfits to see what I liked. I moved away from dressing in loose and ill-fitting clothing and learned to appreciate my body. I loved wearing hats and colorful clothing and became obsessed with certain brands like Ed Hardy and Tokidoki. The transition was easier because the trends of the time were long shirts or dresses over pants and tights. I found ways to blend my conservative upbringing into the current trends in a comfortable way. I began working part-time in retail to earn some pocket money while studying and somehow I was able to manage all of it. I still wanted to skip class to have fun outside of my home and I still dreaded the part of having to go home. I feel almost guilty thinking this way now because I know it especially hurt my mother. So you see, I am still juggling the consequences of my actions to this day. It never became easy to see her so upset when all I wanted to do was to learn in my own way. I did not agree that the only way to preserve their honor and respect was to be sequestered away at home and only go out for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, with immediate family, and for studies. There is more to life than that. I even continued to practice my religion wholeheartedly while accepting my flaws because I understood that my relationship and spirituality are lifelong and I will continue to improve the person I am. A small part of me felt like a hypocrite because I was going against what was being taught to me but I became obstinate. 

    I could feel a transformation occurring in the way I held myself and how clear my mind felt after a very long time. I wanted this feeling to last forever and had no intention of anything or anyone ruining this feeling for me. I was happily single and in my early 20's. It is bizarre to consider that since reaching puberty this is the first time I was truly single and in the beginning I didn't even realize that this was unusual. Particularly since I did not really care to be with someone or go out of my looking. These headaches just fell into my lap. Yes, that is how I viewed the male population that I became attracted to, headaches. I was intent on enjoying myself now for the time being and fully in my element. Because of the freed space in my mind, my friendships flourished and I met some amazing people in my college years. They kept me grounded and helped me focus on my studies and life began improving. The only thing holding me down was my past and it bothered me that I ruined my educational career so early on and fixing my mistakes would be twice as difficult now. I wish somebody told me to just stop and take a break until I was ready because it would have taken the same amount of time but it would have protected my mental health and my grades.

    I was completely oblivious to the male attention around me at the time, although my friends would mention that there were some who would notice me in class and around the college campus. I became so focused that none of this mattered and I laughed it off. I decided I would rather make friends than love interests and enjoy their company instead. There was one person in a couple of my classes who drew my attention because he seemed on top of everything. He would always sit in the front of the class, ace his exams, and seemed so put together. I admired that immensely and it curiously drew me towards him. Sometimes during lectures, I would catch myself gazing in his direction wondering who he was and wishing to get to know him in some natural organic way. He would always pair up with the same people during labs so I was not able to find a way to make it look like I bumped into him on the sign-in sheets in class. One time during cellular biology lab, while cheerfully cutting my prepared paraffin wax blocks on the micrometer the mysterious entity joined me. We greeted each other pleasantly and began working side by side and I really enjoyed my afternoon. Mind you, I was more interested and excited about my lab work and focused on creating perfect and beautiful kidney slide preparations but working beside him added the cherry on top. 

    I became friends with a girl in the same class who would sit beside him each day and later on I learned they were dating. She would give me random bits of information about him here and there so I began learning more about him in an offhanded way. I learned he was significantly older than the rest of us although he didn't look that way at all because he changed careers and was slowly working his way up from high school level sciences. He wanted to become a neurosurgeon. I admired and appreciated his resiliency and even respected making such a drastic life change so his age did not bother me at all. Not only was he working hard but he had the brains to achieve his goal. He would usually be the one with the top grade on each exam and I found that incredibly impressive. At this point, I was happy admiring from a distance and learning more about this curious individual. 

    It just so happened that my organic chemistry lab partner in the following semester was a close friend of his and he began to divulge secrets that would make me laugh. The person in question was across the workbench with his girlfriend at the time. This made for amusing and interesting conversations during the intense chemistry labs and helped my time go by faster. Also, my partner was a high achiever as well so we matched pretty well during the lab and made it through fairly smoothly. He was quite younger than me and I felt a little inferior inside knowing that he would be achieving his dreams much earlier than me and that I should have taken this class at his age. But then I thought about my current crush and how hard he was working despite being older than I was and succeeding. This would provide me with the hope and inspiration I needed to continue. My lab partner invited me to join them for lunch a few weeks later and I happily obliged. It was an enjoyable experience albeit slightly awkward because I felt like the odd wheel in their trio and I indulged myself in that moment. While walking back to our class after lunch, the girlfriend casually asked me if I was dating someone and I loudly stated that I was not interested and that due to religious implications it would take some time for me to try again. My crush listened quietly, smiling through the entirety of the conversation without contributing a word. 

    A few months into the semester, I noticed the girlfriend stopped wearing her bold red lipstick which she used to adorn herself with every day. She also began sitting in a different seat a row behind the guy although they were still on speaking terms. I didn't ask but I felt they broke up. I don't know why this made my heart skip a beat because I convinced myself that I would not pursue any relationships and focus on healing myself. During the next chemistry lab, I casually mentioned what I noticed in class but my lab partner hesitated in spilling information to me because he was upset about the entire situation. What I learned was he hoped that they would get back together and they could all be a happy family together. I found this guy a little strange but amusing at the same time. He behaved as if his parents were divorcing and he was caught in the middle. He was significantly younger than the other two who were in their thirties, so a part of him may have genuinely felt that way. He worried about having to take sides if their friendships worsened.


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