Why you should care
Because Cupid does not play nice.
“I promise I’ll never ever do anything without your explicit consent.”
The speaker? A charming 29-year-old wordsmith. I was unemployed, and an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. I was craving affection, love and sexual intimacy, and above all, I wanted to escape from my dreary life. It was a Saturday afternoon when we met. Online. Then, after a few witty exchanges: “How far down the rabbit hole would you like to go?”
“All the way with the RIGHT person,” I wrote. “If we were ever to meet, what kind of events would unfold in your imagination?”
“Oh, there’s no end to the imaginings of how and what events would unfold if we were ever to meet. The question is, would you like to meet?”
“Yes, with a pepper spray. :P,” I wrote.
And after a little more back-and-forth, I surrendered to his charm. He said he’d buy my plane ticket to New Delhi. I was hesitant at first. I was afraid he might stand me up, or we might not click in person. But I had to give it a shot, and so in less than 48 hours I was in his arms.
He was nervous when he came to pick me up at the airport, and even when he took me to the hotel he’d booked for us. As luck would have it, the hotel was closed, so after wasting almost another hour looking for another hotel, we finally got one. I couldn’t wait to get in.
He then went on to tell me that after he was raped by his domestic maid, he started enjoying it. I was baffled.
As soon as the door closed, I fell on the bed; it was a morning flight and I hadn’t slept much. I proceeded to get in his arms to break the ice and then closed my eyes. After a minute or two, I opened my eyes and kissed him. He kissed me back and then took me to a nearby restaurant to have food.
After a couple of drinks, he opened up, and he was even wittier in person. He talked about pop culture, food, art, TV series, politics, his family, Delhi, Bombay, whatever. I was taken by him. He was a journalist.
As evening set in, we went back to the hotel, and then he gave me two amazing hours of cunnilingus. As the night came, we snuggled next to each other and he showed me videos of John Oliver. I felt safe and happy with him. Even though he seemed too good to be true, all sense of rationality had left me. I was infatuated.
At night, we kissed and took off our clothes. Before I knew it, he was on top of me. We went on kissing, and then he tried to penetrate me without a condom.
I had a lot of anxiety regarding penetrative sex because of a past sexual assault by one man and emotional abuse and gaslighting by another. I’d told him in our messages that I wanted condoms (when he told me that he was a whore). That breach of trust triggered my anxiety regarding sex.
I went into semi-shock. Prior to this, we were cuddling in the dark and he said that he wanted us to be exclusive. “Am I just another guy whom you would fuck and forget? I haven’t felt this for a long time,” he said. “I didn’t think I could feel this again. I don’t want you to be with anyone when you go back. If we fuck anyone, we fuck together.”
And then, he tried to penetrate me without a condom.
Throughout the night, he tried. I drifted in and out of sleep and tried to push him away. He made puppy faces. I kept saying no. I said, “Let’s wait.” Eventually, when it was early morning, he fell asleep.
I was here, moneyless in the capital notorious for rape, and I was at his mercy.
The next day, everything was sort of normal in the morning but by evening it all went downhill again. I felt guilty that we didn’t have penetrative sex the night before, so I told him to bring out the toys he had brought. Out came the baby girl dress, the ball gag and the handcuffs, among other things.
I tried on the baby girl dress. I loved it. He went out to get stuff and told me to lie down. He came back, blindfolded me and asked me to drink something. My trust in him was already shaken because of the previous night, so I told him that I didn’t want the blindfold.
He asked me to talk about my past, I guess to figure out why I wasn’t having sex with him.
I got triggered, again, because it was painful to recall my dysfunctional childhood and an emotionally abusive relationship with a lover. After listening to everything, including a suicide attempt by a family member, he joked about it.
I lost my temper. He told me to “move on” and not pass my emotional baggage on to him.
This was both funny and shocking to me because when he was hinting at wanting to start a relationship, I’d blatantly told him that I have a lot of emotional baggage and my partner will probably have to bear the brunt of it. He had pretended to empathize. And now he mocked me and asked me if I thought he was a psychopath? He then went on to tell me that after he was raped by his domestic maid, he started enjoying it. I was baffled: Should I also enjoy sexual assault because he thinks joking about it is an effective defense mechanism?
But I was here, moneyless in the capital notorious for rape, and at his mercy. I couldn’t afford to spend the money that I had, it was my only savings. On top of that, he started to control the temperature of the air conditioner, knowing that I was cold. I tried to get closer to him, to sort out our issues. He pushed me away.
The next morning he told me he’d go to work, and then take me to his home, and the next day I would be back home.
Later, he texted me that work had come up and he had to leave the city. He said he’d reimburse me once his company reimbursed him. I was devastated because my intuition told me he was going to stiff me. I went to the airport though and booked a flight. The price was just a few bucks under all of my savings.
But I went back to my apartment and downplayed the entire incident when my flatmates asked me how it was. And a week later, he blocked me on the site where we met.
Indrani Sarkar is a pseudonym used to protect the writer’s identity.