27. Business as Usual

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

~ Dr. Seuss

A couple of weeks after I settled into my new home, and got the internet properly set up, I went through my email notifications for news about Mr SG’s activities. I found that I felt no resentment towards him and reading the articles just seemed “natural”.

I continued to add on to the repository and saved images individually. When I had enough images, I emailed them to him labelling my emails with numbered subject headings, so he could figure out the set.

While in the past he would acknowledge having received a complete set, ever since that last meeting where I didn’t take a photo standing next to him, he just didn’t respond. I learned not to expect it.

There were some articles that did not sit well with me. He was becoming more involved in politics and some of the media pieces became more intrusive and not really newsworthy. Where I had an opinion, I wrote him. I cautioned him about how he was being presented, advised what I could for future reference and hoped he saw it not so much as nagging but a silent partner watching his back and being the voice in his head. If he read my emails.

It was not all hunky dory in celebrity land and I wondered if he ever thought that he had bitten off more than he could chew. As a demonstration that I harboured no hard feelings for things said in the past, and that I could set aside whatever personal affections I had for him to maintain a working relationship, I offered an olive branch.

It was about 5 months after our meeting as colleagues. The silence having started even before that. I sent him an email, said what I had to say about what I read, and offered him my ears as his sounding board whenever he felt he needed an outlet. While I stated that he need not reply to that email, I ended it with a proposal to forget what had been uttered and to pretend that none of it took place.

He replied a few hours after. His reply was simple: “Thank you” for the email and that he “appreciated it”. That was how we broke his silence.

Months after that, his PA had informed me that he was planning to visit my home country. He had asked if my family was interested to attend the formal event being held, for which he was the invited guest speaker. I extended the invitation to my sister and asked her to spread the word.

Unbeknownst to me, my family met him not only at the event venue, they also sent him off at the airport.

During the event, the sister who had met him before was re-introduced to him. He recognised her and in his opening address, she said he spoke of how good it was to see the familiar faces of people he regarded as his family. He then looked in the direction of my sister and the other members of my family.

How unfair is that??? They, he considered as family. Me, a colleague. If I had not had affections for him, I would have been very angry. :p

My family saw him leave at the airport and my eldest sister said he had taken the time to meet with them first before he left.

We continued to communicate through emails, snail mail for a few years after. I could still ask him what I wanted and when it counted, I always got a reply.

He eventually got engaged to the girl who had made an appearance by his side, as his date, at a community event. Mutual friends reassured me that I was better off. They got married in one of the most publicised wedding ceremonies for that year.

He was my Facebook friend for a while too but I had the strange suspicion (with less than concrete evidence) that she checked on my wall using his account. I promptly removed him from my friends list and was annoyed that he had allowed for my privacy to be compromised. I don’t think he noticed the disconnection. Most of his posts are probably updated by his PA.

 When their first born was delivered, I made the conscious effort to stop contacting him. I left it open to him to reconnect – I keep the same email and that was the most common way we kept in touch, and he has my mailing address, if he kept it, if he ever wanted to.

I just stopped everything on my end.

It was not all that difficult to do.

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22. Who do you love?

“If I could but know his heart, everything would become easy.”

~ Jane Austen (Sense & Sensibility)

Before I continue with what happened after my huge mistake, and what other dumb things I did, there is something else I want to share. This is for those who know me, and know who Mr SG is.

In the very first interview that I read about him, it was reported that a very close friend of his stated he was not seeing anyone.

In one of the first few emails I sent him that first night we communicated, I said I found that hard to believe but was it true? He replied that he had a girlfriend for a year, and “in a couple of years”, he planned to settle down (with her, presumably).

That was one of the reasons I was lukewarm about the whole thing, at first, and continuing with the communication was more out of curiosity about the person, and how much I can do to get more information about him from the horse’s mouth. It was just a challenge. At first.

As his popularity grew, and more interviews were conducted, I tried to read between the lines of the many articles published about him. As someone who has had my own words quoted in the (local) newspaper, I know that what comes out in print isn’t entirely what was said. There were a lot of inconsistent information about his relationship status.

I eventually concluded that during the time that I was interested in him, and prior to my big mistake of offending him, he was not seeing anyone. Why? He said so himself, at the gathering where he took my number. He announced to all present that while he was “dating” the girl announced as his girlfriend, he did not have a girlfriend. As in, he just went out on dates with her. Also, in the article from the magazine he asked me to obtain, it was published that he was still searching for a significant other.

A source, who was probably closest to him, even suggested that it would have been o.k. for him to find someone local to the country he was training in … and the person surely would not have encouraged that if he was indeed already in a committed relationship.

What started as a challenge gradually turned to familiarity, and then, interest, after I felt convinced he was unattached.

 

21. Seasons change, as do people.

“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”

~ Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice)

After the autographs were signed, and the photographs were taken, the members began to disperse… for some, it was an opportunity to strengthen new-found friendships based on mutual interest. Others came with friends, or family and just wanted to hang out. The younger members brought parents. There was also someone from the media – some local internet publicity person.

Mr SG retreated into his office to sort some things out and after he was done, he re-emerged. I watched him and saw him looking around. As he searched he called out the name he knew me by, and when I waved (I had not actually moved from my spot on the sofa), he nodded in my direction and said, “I’m leaving”. I smiled and said “o.k.” and asked that he take care. He then looked for the president of the club to say his goodbyes.

I stayed on to chat with the friends that I made through the group, helped with some of the packing, and then I too excused myself and made my way back to the hotel.

He texted me that night. That text, in which he thanked me for coming and for the gift, brought me to clouds higher than the plane did. I had a smile plastered to my face for a long time after.

All that time, right up to the moment his mission took place, I continued expanding the website I put together for him, which meant he kept in touch because I let him vet each section. Just before he took off, he actually requested I compiled the media pieces on him, so I also created an online repository separate from the website. I added materials from before, during and after his mission.

We had brief conversations on the phone. And I really mean brief. All but one of those conversations took place after I phoned him.

One time, just once, he phoned me.

I was in my office talking to my partner and we were chatting about him. Almost as if we had said his name once too many times that we conjured his presence, my phone rang. I had to re-check the caller ID when I saw his name. I confirmed it was the name I never expected to see, and the phone literally flew out of my hand… I had to catch it mid-air before it crashed to the ground.

You should have seen our faces – mine and my partner’s. She grinned as I cleared my throat. She might have whispered “quickly!”, I don’t remember now; both of us were concerned that he might hang up if I took a second longer to answer.

I was making all sorts of facial expressions as we spoke, because I was happy and nervous. My partner stayed in the room to listen. He spoke of the gift I made for him, and how his father wanted one of the 2 parts I gave. When I said “no…”, he assured me that he had no plans of giving it to him. I made a mental note to offer his father something else or maybe a smaller copy if and when I had the time.

He then mentioned that he was being interviewed for a magazine published in my home country. It was one of those you’d get by subscription only. And the only people I know who subscribed are doctors, dentists and lawyers … you know, for their waiting rooms. He asked if I thought I could get him a copy. I said I would try. At first it was difficult. A friend offered me her copy. I then found the publisher and they asked me how many I wanted. He was pleased to hear that when I updated him.

The publishing office staff said this one thing that I daren’t ask him about, even though I was curious too. She said, if he was the subject of the interview, “we would normally give them a copy/copies”. I made some sort of excuse and assured her that they were for him and she had seen me contacting him (to ask how many he wanted). I don’t know why he called me to ask me except, was that an opportunity for him to call without seeming too obvious?

Once I had the copies of the magazine, with extras for a couple of the other members, I called him to ask how he would like me to pass them to him. I mentioned my intention to meet with a few of the committee members that weekend and he agreed to meet me then. He told me to let him know once I arrived.

I flew to that city again that weekend, and went straight to his place of business. The other members of the committee were there too. It was to be my last meal with them before I migrated to my current home.

Unbeknownst to me, he had called the place around the time we were just gathering for dinner. He spoke to his staff and asked if I was there, when they told him I was, he asked to speak to me. The expressions of the people in the group were very mixed. I was very uncomfortable. If darts could come out of their stares, I would have been like a voodoo doll stabbed by several.

I went to the phone and confirmed with him that I would wait till he arrived. One of the committee asked why he had asked for me and not for them. I really didn’t know what to answer.

When he came, he sat with us and we chatted. He poured us some tea and continued being a pleasant host. I gave him the magazines, which he signed for us. He didn’t seem to have any plans other than to spend the evening with us.

Then I made a mistake.

You see, I don’t like photos of myself. I often find that I ruin the picture. I prefer to be the one behind the camera. So, when the group gathered for a photo with him, I took a few shots. He called for me to be in the picture and gestured that I stood next to him for it. I agreed in the end but the person next to him seemed comfortable there and made no attempt to change positions.  Awkwardly I stood at the end. I had hoped for another picture of just the two of us. However, his expression had changed and after that, he said he had to leave.

It might have been only my imagination but he seemed to have been offended.

He was cold after that, very cold.

He ignored all my emails and text messages, even though I tried to explain.

20. Is it all just my imagination???

“Elizabeth could not help observing… how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man”

~ Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice)

So. How exactly did I get it into my head that Mr SG might be harbouring unspoken feelings for me?

After that gathering, he returned to that faraway foreign country where maintaining communication was difficult. He continued with the emails and where it would save time and effort, he replied through the group.

Without disclosing the content of the email, I found he was opening up, but then that all might be just my perception.

We met again on a few more occasions. Mostly before he completed his mission, twice after.

On one of those occasions when we did meet, I had my eldest sister with me. The rest of the members spent time with him in another section of the room, separated by a glass wall. I was told that he had asked for me to join the group but one of the members wasn’t too keen. She had asked why I should be there when I was not even from their country. Catty.

Once they were done with the meeting, he rejoined us. Photo opportunity. We took one of him with my sister and then it was my turn. We stood naturally next to each other and our arms automatically went behind the other person. I was not sure where to place my hand and felt around for the back of the chair that was just behind him. I could sense his hand doing the same with the chair behind me. It was comfortably awkward. I liked that picture.

As he was about to adjourn to another group, where his friends and brother were, I called for our transport and left with my sister.

From different individuals, I have heard that he said positive things about me. It was to the point that some jealousy arose from the other members. I didn’t really care about most of them. I was older than they were and wasn’t in the running for “games”. He and I are of the same age, and perhaps that was why we got along. One girl introduced me to her mother and friends as Mr SG’s “favourite”. When I asked her why she had said that, she mentioned being told so by another person and also because of the way he spoke of me.

I called him over the phone once, he was on a vacation abroad. It was new year’s eve. Had he been home, I wanted to invite him to join my family for our celebrations.

On another occasion that we met, after his mission was completed, he asked that I stood next to him as he looked at the gift I gave him. He asked for my number.

I had his number but he never saved mine, until that night.

It was another formal event. The atmosphere was a complete opposite compared to the first one I regretted attending.

While he signed autographs and took photos, I sat on the sofa right by him. We were not next to each other but we were close enough that I could see him and he could see me. He turned every now and then to look. Maybe that was just coincidence.

When almost all the guests had got their autographs and photo opportunity, I went to get mine (I have many but it was part of the event, so I was happy to have more). When I went to stoop down next to him (he was seated and though he was tall, I didn’t want to appear like I was towering over him), he stopped me and said he was going to stand.

We stood next to each other yet again. This time our arms went around each other spontaneously. The photo was not taken immediately. He was talking to someone on the other side, still holding on to me. When we were ready, my friend took the photo for us. She took 2 shots.

He then sat down and asked me to whom I wanted the autographs addressed. (He knew I had many already :p). I gave him a couple of names and then he asked, “who else?”. It seemed to me that he did that to keep me there. When he asked for more names, I asked if he would mind if I called my sister, to see if she had any requests. He agreed. I even let them talk to each other on the phone. All that time, I stood next to him.

We eventually stopped as other people were returning for more pictures with him. A group wanted a photo with him altogether and their photographer asked if he would stand. He said, “No.”. I teased and said, “Mr SG would only stand for me, right Mr SG?” and without hesitation he replied, “Yes.”