By Suma Varughese November 2011 Is there life after rejection in love? Yes, absolutely, says Suma Varughese Sunday dinner at the Sathe household had been a rather lacklustre event in the last few weeks. Avijit, the family funster, who kept the household on its toes with his quips and jokes, was nursing a broken heart. And all the laughter had ceased.This Sunday, like other Sundays, Aivijit sat silent and morose, barely eating or registering the talk around the table.“Hey, Avijit, I was just telling the family that my new assistant, Sheela, told me that I have a dashing personality. Mom is so jealous!” said Dad, trying to pique his interest. Avijit looked up, smiled a ghost of a smile and went back to studying his plate. He had not yet told them that his girl friend, Amita, had broken with him. But Nisha had heard it over the grapevine that Amita had broken off their relationship because she had fallen in love with someone else. Avijit was hurting, but how were they to support him when he would not let them into his world? The family tried its best to be sympathetic to his feelings. Nisha took over his personal grooming and ensured he had clean clothes to wear. Mom left little books all over the place with titles like, How to get over a broken heart. Dad forced him to go walking with him every morning. But still he would not open up.Finally, Ajoba, watching his grandson playing with his chappatis, could bear it no more. “Beta,” he called out, “It is okay. This too will pass.”Avijit shot to attention as if electrified. A deep sense of shame mantled his face as he realised that his family knew what he was going through. He struggled for control, but before he could quite help it, tears were rolling down his face. They were the first tears he had shed after the love of his life had rejected him. How branded he still felt by that sense of being considered not ‘good enough.’ It was as if his intelligence, his character, the prizes he had won ,or the many friends and family who loved him were nothing in comparison to being rejected by this one being. It was astounding. How could she have so much power over him?Mom went to him and enfolded him into her arms. The rest of the family waited in respectful silence. Something hard and cold melted in his heart as Avijit cried. The immense hurt seemed a little less devastating. He began to feel better. Eventually, he lifted his head, and wiped his face on his mother’s pallav as he had done when he was a kid. He was still too embarrassed to look at anyone in the face. But Ajoba leaned out and took his hand. “It’s okay,” he repeated. “You must know Sathe family fact file: The Sathe family lives in Mumbai and consists of Ashwin Sathe, a trainer and counsellor and Abha Sathe, a writer of children’s books. Ashwin’s parents, known as Aji and Ajoba, stay with them. Ajoba is a retired college professor turned Vedanta teacher. Ashwin and Abha have three children Avijit (20) an engineering student, Nisha (19) in her second year in college studying Eng Lit and Alka (16) in her class 10. The family meets every Sunday over dinner, where problems are thrashed out and solutions offered. articles/ Dinner with the Sathes. that being rejected in love is a very hard thing to go through. There is absolutely no need to feel ashamed of it. It is one of the initiation tests all of us need to go through to mature in life.“It was like being decimated,” said Avijit. “I have never felt this sense of being in someone else’s power so acutely. And when she told me that she had fallen in love with someone else, Ajoba, I felt crushed; as if my sense of self was completely destroyed. What is this phenomenon? Why is it so? I feel as if who I was has been split into so many pieces and I don’t even know if I will be put together again.”“Falling in love is one of those experiences that pull out our stuffing. For the first time, we consciously experience the sense of needing someone else to be complete,” observed Dad. “Romantic love often reveals to us our own sense of self-esteem. The stronger the self-esteem, the less compelling the allure of the other. We may still feel strongly attracted to the other and genuinely love and care for them, but we will not feel such a deep sense of dependency, nor will their departure cripple us.”Avijit stiffened. “You make me sound like a wimp, Dad,” he said. “Don’t tell me my self-esteem is so bad!” “Son,” said Dad, “Most of us struggle with poor self-esteem, especially during our teenage years. Even those who consider themselves to be the masters of the universe secretly suffer from a sense of inadequacy which they seek to remedy by achievements or popularity. Real self-esteem is a sense of feeling complete from within. It is a quiet, centred feeling and such people generally emanate peace, calm and a sense of quiet confidence.”“Like you, Dad,” said Avijit. Dad smiled. “Thank you,” he said. “But let me tell you I had terrible self-esteem at your age. One of the many things that helped me work on it were the relationships I went through.” Nisha’s and Alka’s eyes widened. “Dad, don’t tell me you were some kind of serial lover or something,” Nisha said. “Does Mummy know?”“Yes, Mummy does,” said Dad crisply. “She went through a few herself, you know!”“Oh my God,” said Nisha, eyes rolling, “Family secrets tumbling out.” Dad turned to Avijit, “Each time I went through a relationship, it helped me evaluate my self-esteem. A relationship is actually like a self-esteem meter. And I worked on myself. Whatever hurt and pain I went through, I experienced them. I looked to see what I could learn from the experience and where I had gone wrong. I forgave myself for having goofed up, I affirmed that I loved myself. Eventually what others said or did not affect me much. That was when I felt ready for a real relationship and I met your mother.”“What must I do?” Avijit asked. “Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Cease to judge yourself for feeling angry or hurt, or vengeful or in need of her company. Actively work to counter the low feelings by affirming gratitude, love, and other positive feelings. Recognise how blessed you are to have so many people love you;. Do some social work. Nothing like supporting others to help you get out of your head. Do a lot of active exercise. Slowly you will heal. The mention of her name or the sight of her will no longer lacerate you. And soon, she will only be a memory.”“It’s a lot of work,” said Avijit, wincing, “but yes, I think I am up to it.”“Love,” exclaimed Alka in tones of disgust. “Who wants to go through it? I’d rather have a dog for a company than a man, for sure.”The family laughed, relieved that the crisis seemed to have passed.
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