It was a silent morning at home. Keerthi hated these silent mornings. She realized that her sister-in-law, Jaya, is sulking again. This has been the second sulk day for her this week. Keerthi is tired of her ways. However, her brother Ramesh is pretty used to her histrionics and would not discourage her from doing so. Many a times, she thought of discussing with her brother and asking him to be harsh with his wife. But, she knew Ramesh. He would never take hasty decisions and he must have some solid reason to go through all her tantrums. She hated waking up worrying about her brother and her nephew. They deserve a better person, she thought. She kept her thoughts to herself not to incite new problems.
As she was about to get ready to go to college, she got a phone call from her friend Hema.
Hema said, “We’re waiting for you. Come soon. We know that today is an important day for you. We are so excited for you.”
Keerthi said, “Why did you guys reach college so early? I’ll be there in an hour. And, it is just another day for me.”
Hema interrupted her and said, “I know. You must be happy you got Ved. Given the situation, I’m pretty sure no girl would say no to him.”
Keerthi did not want to answer that question. She knew that all her friends would be very angry on her today after she tells Ved about her decision.”
After disconnecting the call, she looked at the mirror and wondered when she would find her soul mate. Ved seemed the perfect match after she broke up with Kiran. Yet, the fact that he played mind games to get her attention made her hate him. Though she was confident of her decision, there was some doubt lingering in her mind that troubled her. She did not want to miss such an awesome person. She needed some advice. She’d, usually, ask her brother for his opinions on all these things. They keep no secrets amongst each other. But, she did not broach this topic because she knew that her brother is also going though the same problem with his wife. But, she felt the need for some advice.
Before leaving for college, she went to her brother. He was busy checking his mails and preparing food for his son. His wife would not cook when she is sulking. Keerthi was furious at his suffering. Losing control on her emotions, she blurted, “Why do you keep up with her mind games? Aren’t you tired of all this? Why don’t you do something about this relationship? It’s hurting you and Shyam. I can never understand why you are keeping up with all of this.”
Ramesh smiled. Keerthi did not understand his reaction. She just wished she could take things in her hand and scold her sister-in-law and reprimand her. She waited for a few seconds anticipating a response from her brother. Then, she gave up and started moving out of the kitchen.
Ramesh said, “Thank God, you brought up this topic. I thought you’d talk about this long ago. Why did it take so long?”
Keerthi was furious once again, “Are you trying to comfort me here? It is your relationship that is at stake.”
Ramesh smiled again and said, “Listen. There is something that I need to tell you. I know that you found out that Jaya is playing mind games. And, you are tired of her mind games.”
Keerthi heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Finally!”
Ramesh continued, “Listen. There is more to her story. We know very little about her. I, too, hate people who play mind games. Yet, I’m keeping up with her because I came to know of her intentions. There is nothing sinister there. She never sulked to demand money from me or to part ways with me. She never had a singular goal to do all these things.”
Keerthi felt agitated once again and said, “Then, why she is doing all these things? Is she mad?”
Ramesh laughed and said, “Let us not go that far. Listen to me carefully. I spent some time analyzing her sulk episodes and realized that she never expected anything or did all this for her benefit. It took some time for me to realize that it is a part of her coping mechanism. Whenever she feels that she may lose me, she’ll play this game. It is her way of checking if I continue to remain loyal to her.”
Keerthi interrupted him, “This does not make any sense. There is no logic in this, at all.”
Ramesh started explaining it all seriously to her. “When she was young, she saw the troubles her mother faced with her father. He cheated on her mother and acted irresponsibly. Her mother always lived in fear that her husband will leave her. She died with the same fear. We only know that she died of cancer. But, her daughter know the truth. So, Jaya also has this fear that something like that might happen to her. So, she keeps finding ways to test my loyalty. I took some time for me to realize this. Trust me. I sought the help of a professional counselor to deal with this problem. We came to this conclusion to remain understanding to her. Slowly, she’ll give up on these traits. I’m ready to wait as long as necessary for her.”
Keerthi was flabbergasted. She could not believe the entire conversation.
Ramesh felt like concluding the conversation. He said, “It is easier to judge people based on their actions. But, we want others to judge us on the basis of our intentions. So, it’d be better to dig up a bit deeper and know the rationale behind certain behaviors. This is what my therapist told me. And, it has helped me a lot. If needed, we need to talk with them and ask them why they are playing mind games. So, I dated to ask Jaya and she opened up about her mother’s suffering in the last few months of her life. She never told anyone about that. Even her father does not know about that. So, it always helps to check with people directly before assuming things.”
Ramesh’s final words shook Keerthi completely. She was not unsure about her decision about Ved. She decided to call it quits with him just because he was playing mind games.
She reached college after some time. Ved was ardently waiting for her response. She could see the curiosity in his eyes. Keerthi walked up to him and said, “We need to talk.”
Ved responded, “Please don’t tell me that you do not love me. I can feel it.”
Keerthi said, “Will you come with me? There is something that I need to know before we talk about my acceptance of your love.”
Ved was perplexed. He thought it’d be easy.
Keerthi and Ved sat at a corner in the coffee shop. Ved was almost sure that Keerthi was rejecting him. He could not control his emotions. Though he hated the idea, he felt that killing himself was the only option for him.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Keerthi said, “Look. I need to know some things first. I did not like so many things that happened in the last few weeks.”
Ved tried to say something. Keerthi continued saying, “Will you please let me speak it all out? You must answer all my questions after listening to me. It is very important for both of us.”
Her last words seemed somewhat pleasant for Ved.
Keerthi continued, “A few weeks ago, you befriended me. First, you acted desperate for my attention. And, when you got my attention, you acted weird and stayed away from me for some time. For a few days, you would not look at me. I felt so bad then as though I made some mistake. And, when I talked to you, everything changed to normal again. You played this game at least three to four times in the last few weeks. Initially, I did not realize that I was being played. Now, I know that you made me feel desperate for you by playing these mind games. It took some time for me to realize that these were all mind games. Can you please tell me why you did all this? Why could you not come forward and tell me that you are interested? If you really want my love, please be frank. I will accept the truth now rather than repent about everything later.”
Ved was astounded. He wondered how she could exactly decipher the entire scheme. He decided to tell her the truth. He, too, did not like the idea of winning her love on the basis of lies. He admitted, “I’m sorry. But, I did not have any chance. You are the most beautiful girl in the college. I’m a guy with average looks. You are smart and intelligent. After you broke up with Kiran, there were so many guys who were vying for your attention. It is a dream come true for any guy to be able to propose to you. Do you know that you have this air of confidence and maturity around you? The guys are frightened to approach you. So, it took a great amount of planning and analysis and this was the only way to win you. But, please trust me. I did all of this to win you over. There is no other sinister intention there. And, it is not just about your looks. I always liked you because you are practical and mature. But, would I get a chance to tell this all to you unless I do something very different. So, this was my plan. I feel bad that I played with your emotions. I, too, cried many times when you were with Kiran. I always wanted you in my life. I don’t know how to say this. But, winning you is my goal. It is not just about your beauty. If your parents do not agree, we can elope now and I will take care of you. I just want you. There is nothing more to it.”
Keerthi felt so glad she listened to her brother’s advice. She could feel the sincerity in Ved’s love. She said, “If you really love me so much, how will you cope with rejection? Like…If I say that I do not love you.”
Ved’s smile faded and he said, “For a moment, I thought about killing myself. But, I’m not so brave. So, may be, I’ll slip into depression. This happened regularly for the last couple of years ever since I saw you. So, I think I’ll live with that. But, I know for sure that I cannot love any other girl. I’ll stay sad for the rest of my life. That’s pretty much is what is going to happen to me.”
Keerthi felt so glad. She knew she could trust him. Or, she thought of giving him a chance. She felt extremely glad at the way in which things turned out since morning. She felt the need to apologize to her sister-in-law. She would do it later. She needed to win Ved’s love before it is too late.
Keerthi said, “Alright. In that case, promise me that you will never play mind games again. We need to talk about things directly. I hate those mind games.”
Ved replied, “Sure. Does that mean you accept me as your love?”
Keerthi smiled and got up to walk away from the coffee shop. Ved could not control his excitement. He immediately grabbed her and hugged her tightly. Keerthi also held him tightly and whispered in his ears, “I love you too.”