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The term “falling” in love in itself is a misnomer, as love is supposed to uplift and be the most euphoric experience for both lovers. But in this case it was indeed falling in love. It was my second semester in varsity, I was staying in the girls residence, away from my mother for the first time. I survived the first semester well, concentrating on the academics. Being away from home was not a daunting experience as I had been independent from my mother even when I stayed with her. I stood my ground, I had my own thoughts but she overruled me and I had to do what she wanted. Even in high school, I was on the opposite end of popularity, and that increased my sense of independence from the norms of society.

I had not been in any previous love relationship, except a long running crush of four years on a guy in high school. I didn’t want it to develop into anything more even when he showed interest because of the fear of it being less than this grand fantasy in my head.

When I got to varsity I was willing to let my guard down and let someone near. Sipho was in a relationship with another girl and even though the Freedom Charter declares that the people shall share, I wasn’t into that idea. I still am not. I gave him an ultimatum, her or me. I was left holding pieces of my shattered heart.

Then came along OD who persistently and consistently pursued me. I wasn’t that into him but I let him in and allowed him first entry into my piece of heaven. My prized virginity. We enjoyed great physical chemistry but that is as far as our connection went. I felt like we were just going through the motions.

My whole world was shaken and turned upside down with the entrance of T into my life. He broke through my armour and melted my heart; and my brains too. He was in a toxic relationship with another girl whom he loved but who was yanking his chain and playing with his feelings because she knew how he felt. I loved him still, despite knowing the truth of his situation with her. I was the “other woman” and kept coming back for more of his scraps. The whole campus knew of us, my friend kept trying to get through to me. But when you’re hooked on someone, it IS like a drug. He was my drug, he made me high, and I felt wretched without him. I left a safe, predictable relationship for a wild rush of an illicit affair.

One night we snuck into a house that was kept for visitors to the campus. We got very cosy and romantic, but we never went beyond touching and kissing. There was a television series on, it was based on the Thomas Hardy book, Tess of D’Urbevilles. Immediately I related to the poignancy of Tess’ life and love for a man who rejected her. Angel, Tess’ beloved, was fighting societal pressure too, and loved Tess but couldn’t express it. Over time, nearing the end of the semester, I found courage within and slowly inched myself from him.

The semester ended and I headed home for the holidays. I bought myself a copy of the book Tess of D’Urbevilles, I still have the copy. I listened to Tracy Chapman, and wallowed in enough self-pity in attempts to heal my wounded heart. That semester taught me lessons in love and self-worth. And that in the end we all have choice in each situation we find ourselves in.

And I still wait to rise in love.

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