Our Love Story (pt. 1) — The Crush
So lets start at the beginning, of our love story that is. It all started with the crush.
I first saw Karan after 6 years in the Dominican Republic, when my marriage was nearing it’s end. Life was spiraling out of control. My business was failing; my expenses were enormous. For the second time in my life it felt like everything was going to collapse and I didn’t know what to do about it. I was a mother with two preschool children in a foreign country with no secure income.
So my only solace was my walk to the supermarket. I would connect my ipod and forget my troubles. It was a 20 minute walk. I would carry the groceries in my backpack.
On one of these walks, in May 2008 I saw Karan. He was unloading large metal parts out of a very small compact car. He looked at me as I walked down and smiled. I was dazzled. He had a beautiful smile, strong arms, bluish black skin, shiny black hair in an awkward cut. His hair looked like a 90s wedge cut, kind of silly, and it made him look extra young. I just remember this electricity going through me when our eyes locked and feeling intensely curious as to who he was. I knew he wasn’t Dominican but I wasn’t sure where he was from and I wanted to know.
Over the next year I would see him on my walks. I would take these walks 3-4 times a week. They were my break and my reason to get out of the house. After I separated from my husband, later that same month I first saw Karan, I joined a gym on the same route so then I walked sometimes twice a day.
Months passed. Sometimes I would see him, sometimes not. There would be weeks where he would be gone and I remember thinking, “oh too bad, he’s gone” but then he would be back. He was my guilty pleasure.
Gradually I learned little by little his story. There were a whole bunch of them all living in this house a block away from the supermarket in a sector called Gazcue. Gazcue is a nice, gentrified neighborhood in Santo Domingo — lots of trees, lots of old homes. It was my favorite neighborhood.
The house they all lived in was this adorable old home that had beautiful artistic details and often a sign that said “room for rent”. I was always curious about the place. Well I was even more curious when I saw a group of around 10 dark foreign men all living there. Plus, often there would be large metal parts, like giant cylinders, in the garage. I was fascinated as to what this was all about!
So one day they were all gathered out front and I was coming back from the supermarket with my kids and they said hello. I used this as my opportunity to find out more. Turns out they were all from India and they came to work on cruise ships as mechanics. That explained the strange metal parts. Why India? I asked but they said that Indians liked the Dominican Republic because it was easy to get a visa and there was more opportunity (well they learned that wasn’t necessarily true).
Karan was the one I really wanted to talk to but I was shy and didn’t want to make it too obvious so all I found out was his name. He tried to tell me his full name “Prabhakaran” but I didn’t understand him so he just said Karan instead. He didn’t speak English hardly at all.
So after we were introduced I got a little bolder and over the next six months, when the opportunity presented itself, I would say hello or some other pleasantry. It was a kindergarten flirt.
From the first minute I saw him I developed crush, a serious, can’t get him out of my head crush. I didn’t know his age but I knew he was younger. I tried to reason with the crush, tell it it was too impractical but it wouldn’t go away. I tried to imagine Karan was dumb and just a little boy. That worked briefly but the crush remained.
Then in the Spring of 2009 they opened a fruit shop and Karan was the one working there all the time. The crush remained but this convinced me to move on. What, I thought, could a foreign man working as a fruit seller, offer me and my kids? Crush or no, I realized I had to let him go, or so I thought.
Little did I know that Karan started the fruit shop because the “job” that brought them to the Dominican Republic turned out to be a scam and they were all stuck there with no money and soon no food. So, he did the fruit shop to feed everyone, not just himself. That is the kind of man he is.
So that is the crush. I stayed with it for over a year. I wrestled with it; I denied it; I avoided it. But the crush prevailed.