Nadia and Mark met ten years ago. They started talking electronically at first and in a short space of time, got to know and like each other swiftly. Not long after, they met and the atmosphere was pierced with immense tension and anticipation. And so, after that initial meeting, a relationship ensued.
‘It will never work’, ‘It won’t last’ bleated the commentator who knew both parties. Many reasons were cited; the age difference, distance and the more visually prominent differences. In light of this, and through all these challenges, the relationship continued and flourished. Each had their own battles with themselves also. Mark was in a bad place where he was buckling under the weight of expectations of him, whilst Nadia had problems accepting the image of herself. Being with Nadia helped Mark’s confidence grow and climbed out of his bad place and turned himself around in other aspects of life. He did everything he possible could to reassure Nadia about herself in an emotional and difficult battle. The differences that people cited did come into play but the couple managed to get through every obstacle that lay in their way. There were trust issues, mainly with Nadia even though it was her who broke that trust at one point.
As the months passed, the love grew. Arguments borne out of love and frustration became more frequent as the distance became more difficult to cope with. Meetings began with a hug and a kiss but ended with tears of sadness all the more often.
After a couple of years, things reached to a head. As well as all the other difficulties, Nadia had become increasingly upset that Mark had not told his parents about their relationship and felt as if she was some dirty secret. This was upsetting for Mark who was caught between a rock and a hard place. He was so very immensely proud he was with Nadia and he told the world apart from his family. Stuck between two cultures for most of his life, his heart told him one thing, his head another. He tried to get across the point that her ethnicity had nothing to do with it and he did not really want to make that private part of his life unprivate to his family unless he really had to. It was a big boat to rock.
Unbeknown to each other at the time , as they entered the final weeks of their relationship, they reinstated their love for each other. Nadia was struggling badly and told Mark it would be best for him if they broke up. Seemingly unable to stop her, Mark asked her best friend to look after her as the end was nigh. Her friend reassured Mark that Nadia had nothing but immense love for him. As frustrations grew over not being able to see each other due to academic commitments on both sides, it was decided to call time on the relationship, temporarily at least. This was marked with an angry and emotionally charged conversation. Nadia once again challenged Mark to tell his family but, much like most of his life, he put them first and said he couldn’t, not at that stage. Three days into the break, Nadia called Mark up and croaked that she could not cope with the situation. Mark assured her that this was best for both of them for now.
One week later, and the situation was irreversible. Nadia out of nowhere had changed her stance and there was no going back. Mark tried in vain to win her back, citing everything he would do to make it all better but to no avail. Much was said from both Nadia and Mark out of anger, love and a mix of other emotions. And so Mark left Nadia to it. The next several months and years that followed, were punctuated with Nadia, who was by this time with someone else, seeking Mark out to give a torrent of abuse. She said how it was all a mistake , a regret, how thoughts of him made her cringe, how she would never have married into ‘that’ type of family. So much anger emanated from her tinged with hypocrisy. Mark struggled to separate fact from fiction from their relationship. He was so confused. How could the same thing be one person’s biggest mistake and the other person’s biggest achievement.
The years passed and eventually Nadia and Mark met at a gathering of mutual friends. Three years had passed since they had broke up and it was an awkward atmosphere dotted with small talk. A few days later, Nadia got in contact with Mark and goaded him on to tell her how he still felt about her and what he might have said if no-one else was about. It would be the last time that Mark would give a reaction to her questioning. More years have passed, and Mark has no idea what Nadia is up to. The last conversation that they had which was three years hence, was again full of anger with Nadia insinuating that Mark had taken advantage of her at the time. It would be the last time that they would speak.
And so the legacy lives with Mark as his confidence has continued to ebb away. Social confidence that he had prior to their relationship, has all but disappeared. He allowed himself to let himself get utilised by others as they seeked to massage their own egos. Mark himself craved attention, any kind of attention, even if it was not the most savoury kind just for the sake of feeling wanted. More often than not, words never really turned into action and Mark began to recoil into himself. Once a quite emotionally open person, he became numb on the outside and could not get close to anyone, mainly because actions and words of others did not really give him the confidence to do so.
In the decade that has passed since he first embarked on that relationship, he still has many unanswered questions. He will never know if the one thing that he actually thought he got right, was real. He will never know if the one thing he called love, remains unrequited. He often wonders what would have happened if he put heart before head back when he was with Nadia and if it would have played out any differently, or even if the principle of making that choice would have changed how his life continued.
Today Mark is left with little confidence, and after deciding not to get used by anyone else, not many people to talk to, lest he open up to. He is of the mindset where he would just stay mute rather than appease others who only spoke to him at his beck and call. As well as all the other unanswered questions, he still wonders if there is any answer to the ‘Two Cultures’ problem and whether there is any hope left for him to fall in love again in a conventional way.
This is just a mere synopsis of Mark’s (love) story and but a chapter of his complicated life.