Apple And Abigail: Books And Romantic Relationships

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Apple had very few relationships compared to Abigail. Most of the lessons she learned about relationship were from Abigail’s many failed ones. Since the day they met, Abigail has been claiming of finally finding the one”. Apple attributed this to Abigail fondness of reading romance novels during her teen age years, books she stumbled upon on her mother’s shelf. Those Mills and Booms and Harlequin Romances have filled Abigail’s head with skewed ideas about love. While she on the other hand had been fond of reading English classic novels and had grown a little bit cynical about love especially after reading Wuthering Heights where she decided Cathy, the heroine of the book was a little too neurotic for her liking. Abigail absolutely loved Cathy’s character when she told her about the book. After reading it she went on for days as if she was Cathy’s reincarnation.

“I am a Cathy. I am so her. Oh my God, Apple. Thanks for lending me this book.”

Apple had always preferred Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet among the heroines in classic English novels when it comes to love. Jane Eyre and Elizabeth were subdued and dignified unlike the overtly passionate Cathy, although she still slightly disapproved of their weakness for charming aristocrats.

Apple and Abigail were sitting in a cafe late that night. Apple was consoling her distraught friend who recently found out through Facebook that her boyfriend Oliver was cheating on her. She saw him kissing another woman in bar on one of her friend’s photo in Facebook. A snapshot caught the moment while a group of Abigail’s female friends were posing for the photo. Although his face was not recognizable, Abigail could tell it was him.

“Maybe he was just drunk.” Apple said earlier when Abigail lamented what happened.

“So what! That’s not an excuse besides I am sure he did plan on cheating on me. He lied to me where he was going that night. He said he’s having dinner with his dad. “

“Why did Anna post that photo before telling you Oliver was in it?” Apple asked, frowning.

“I guess Anna did not notice that it was him making out with someone or she wouldn’t have posted it. Anna did not remember seeing him that night. But I recognize the t-shirt he was wearing instantly. I gave it to him”. Abigail wailed.

“Did he admit it was him? “

“Yes! He said he wants to start seeing other women.” Abigail wiped her tears.

“You’ll get over him soon, I am sure.” Apple said, patting Abigail’s hand.

“I won’t! I really, really loved him. He is my soul mate. “

“You said the same thing about Bryan. Yet, you started going out with Oliver only after a few days of breaking up with him.” Bryan was Abigail’s last boyfriend before Oliver.

“ I know. But I totally misread Bryan. He keeps giving me mixed signals. I thought Oliver was not a player.”

“Of course everyone’s a player. Consciously or subconsciously. You know that.”

“ I know but sometimes, I still believe there is someone out there who just loves. Like Heatcliff . Someone who will love me absolutely, maddeningly.”

Apple rolled her eyes. “ Heathcliff is a fictional man. Written by a woman. A woman’s wishful thinking. I’ve always told you that men are more like Tomaz from that book Unbearable Lightness of being. In the novel, Tomaz made love to everyone women he met. ”

“Oh how dreadful. Why do you keep reading books like those.”

“Unlike you, I don’t look at the world in rose tinted glasses.” Apple retorted, losing patience with Abigail who seemed to have learned less from her own failed relationships.

“What’s wrong with rose tinted glasses? That makes the world bearable to look at. “

“Well don’t complain when you get disillusioned.”

Abigail sighed. Feeling defeated. “I suppose you are tired of hearing about my heartaches. “

Feeling guilty for being harsh, Apple took Abigail’s hand. “ Not at all. I am here aren’t I?”

“ Thank you for meeting me at such a short notice. I really appreciate it. You are the only one among my friends who have the patience to listen to me. Most of my other friends are so self obsessed. They have no time for listen to my problems. Their problems are always more important. Ugh.” Abigail paused.” I’m sorry I’m doing the same thing. Tell me what’s happening with you. What have you been up to? “

Apple blushed unexpectedly. “ Well, I met someone.”

To Be A Woman Independent And Single

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What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows; in this case , that women’s emotions are still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life and I know few woman who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to a conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons– but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…

Ella from The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

This novel have me in a tight grip. As I turned the pages I get sucked more and more into it. I can feel my mood changing, my being, my thoughts, influenced. My dreams becoming vivid intermingling with the characters in the book as if I am living their lives.

The Author a woman. The protagonist a woman who is writing about the life of a woman in the 1950s. About a period of time when the roles of women were set for change. Feminism was rising in a crescendo and women were breaking free from stereotypes but still galled at the fact that they still need the love of a man to make them happy. Her honesty stings. And still so relevant even today. The truth in her words scalds. It forces you to look at what you refuse to acknowledge.I am like a moth drawn to a fire. I cannot stop reading even if it burns me.

©JMKhapra

Illustration by Jofelyn M. Khapra