Have you got “ditched”, “dumped” or “stood up” ever in your life? I have, so many times. I don’t mean that in the context of a romantic relationship or a date alone. Of course, that has also happened to me and I find no shame in admitting that. But these are terms used mostly to describe disappointments in one’s love life. We seldom use the same terms for the very same kind of treatment we face elsewhere. It got me thinking – why not?
My first clear memory of being “ditched” is from when I was 12 or 13. My brother and I had plans to watch the movie “Congo” together. That was a time when despite frequent fights, I used to look up to him and thought of being included in something by him as a privilege. So obviously I was excited about it. Our father came to drop us off and said he would stay with us until my brother got the tickets. We were right outside the cinema hall when my brother saw two or three of his pre-degree classmates getting tickets for the same movie. Need I say more? I was a liability all of a sudden. Luckily for him, our dad hadn’t left. So he was able to pack me off with dad saying how he wanted to watch the movie with his friends and not me. I don’t remember the exact words he used. But I still remember the irritation on his face as he looked at me in the dingy corridor of Apsara Theatre.
I remember struggling and somehow managing to hold back my tears and breaking down the moment I got into my room. Missing the movie was not what broke my heart; I didn’t even care about the movie to be honest. And maybe what my brother did was just what normal 16 or 17-year-olds do to their siblings. But to me, it was a big deal. I felt worthless, someone so unimportant that I could simply be thrown out and replaced by some others who were more important to him. Of course, this incident didn’t break us up or anything back then. I was much too young for that. But even today, decades later, when we share nothing more than a somewhat cordial and workable relationship and we are way too detached to hurt or make each other happy, this particular memory can still hurt me. Because as I said, that was the first time I was “ditched”.
Although I got a taste of this in mild degrees at times from friends and family going forward, the second biggest memory of being “ditched” is from my MBA days. That was courtesy, a guy who time and again talked about being happy about our new friendship and went on to hang out with me and some others I had become friends with. Among these was a girl who I used to spend time with for my first few months there. I knew this guy had a crush on her, but there was a senior who was interested in her and before long she started dating him. The day she went public with their relationship was the last day this “friend” ever talked to me. He went on to hang out with some other guys and literally acted like he didn’t even know me. I was already a pro at having some guy be friends with me only to get close to a female friend of mine through me and then side-lining me. But this quick and shameless a ditching? That I had never experienced before! Phew!
I do not have as many memories of being “stood up”. But the one time I really felt a taste of this, it was done by someone I was friends with for a few years and had only met once before. He was working in the Indian Army at the time. Since I was working in Trivandrum where he was from, we met once when he came down for his leaves. We were pretty much in touch and although not extremely close, used to have fun whenever we would talk. So the next time he came down for his leaves again and we made plans to meet for dinner, I was very happy. Especially so because my constant companion in Trivandrum had moved to Bangalore and dinner was always a drab affair for me. I was rather excited at the thought of having good company for dinner and ensured that I arranged my shift time and my training sessions according to our plan. By 6 I finished up everything, got ready for the evening and waited at my desk at work for his call so that I could go directly to wherever we were meeting. After waiting for an hour, and getting no response to my messages, I finally got out and walked to my PG, quite crestfallen. And when I finally did get a reply later that night, I read with tears blurring my vision that he had forgotten about meeting me. We never met again.
Sometimes a “forgetting-induced deserting” is momentary, but so much more humiliating and unbelievable. I once had a crush on a guy who everyone thought had feelings for me, but didn’t. I guess the first time I really accepted the fact that I didn’t mean anything to him was when we were walking side by side and I was talking about something. Quite suddenly, he crossed the road, reached the other side and then realized that he had forgotten completely about me. He turned around, looked at me with an expression that was half shame and half awkwardness, not knowing what to say, or whether to come back. As I looked at him from this side of the road, I felt a kind of embarrassment like I had never felt before, knowing that for him I was nothing more than a person who could be forgotten so easily even when I was right by his side and talking to him. All I wanted at that moment was to run away in shame and never look at him ever again.
While not many, I have also had my share of being dumped in every sense by some who used to be friends, putting an official, albeit not always verbal, end to our friendship. Sometimes I knew the reason, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I cried like a pathetic ‘dumpee’, sometimes I simply moved on without so much as a second thought.
Looking back, I guess it was all fine. Because none of these people really made too much of a difference in my life at the end of the day and the ones who really did, never treated me that way. We all have done some of this at some point or the other, I’m sure. There are people I have dumped knowingly and mercilessly for the kind of negative vibes they were bringing into my life and I am not sorry for that. I don’t remember ‘ditching’ anyone though, at least not deliberately or intentionally. However, if anyone has felt that way because of me, I am truly sorry! If you have done this to someone without really meaning to hurt them, this might be a time to think about it. Sometimes what didn’t seem that big a deal to you might have broken someone else more than you think, at least for the moment.
Also published on Medium.