Credits: Stocksnap

Our relationship started as many would – tentative, uncertain, and messy. We were friends, but we had our secrets. We moved in totally different circles that the times we spent together were few and totally platonic, and we were content with that.

For some reason, we always felt that we were connected by something that we couldn’t specify. A friend once told me that it could be the proverbial red string of fate, which the Japanese and the Chinese pertain to as the unbreakable bond that the gods have tied around our fingers which would one day bring us together. I initially laughed at the idea. It seems less funny now, after all we’ve been through.

For four years, we would come together only to be separated by circumstances. Twice you left me, and once I was guilty of doing the same to you. For such a long time, we never spoke with each other. Nothing was official, after all. It was simply a matter of getting way into moments that we tried to convince ourselves didn’t really mean much.

And then finally, we decided to give it a shot. It was both frightening and exciting, and we approached the idea of being in a relationship with each other so carefully that you’d think we were trying to diffuse a ticking bomb.

But the real bomb came elsewhere.

It happened one early morning. A man took me to an empty lot and sexually assaulted me. I couldn’t fight. How could I fight a man with gun? The next thing I remember is walking home and calling you up. I was oddly calm. I thought that maybe after what happened, you wouldn’t want to be with me anymore.

You surprised me with what you did. You met me and took me to a nearby pares house – the only thing open so early in the morning – where you urged me to have breakfast. I realized then that I couldn’t even hold my spoon and fork because I was badly shaking. You took them from me and patiently fed me.

It was then when I started sobbing. You placed your jacket over my shoulders, and vigorously wiped away my tears with your hands. I asked you if he hated me for what happened; if you saw me as someone tainted and ugly.

You cupped my face in your hands, and in that old, rickety pares house you said, “To me, you will always be the most beautiful woman in the world.”

You will never realize how those words have helped me heal from that incident. I held on to them when I tried filing a criminal case against the man. He was never found and that frightened me, but what you told me was one of the few things that helped me gain back my courage to trust in people again.

We’ve been together for almost a decade now. The incident seems like a faraway nightmare. At times, I would remember and it would shake me to the core, but you would always keep me grounded to the present. Now I believe that the legend of the red string of fate is real, and it brought you to me during the time I needed you the most.

Thank you for being there back then, and thank you for being here now.

To the man who told me that I was beautiful, thank you for still thinking that I am.

*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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