Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Quora Question: What is the hardest thing you ever had to tell someone?

I was in my final year of school.

I didn’t really belong to any group, but was always the one that got along with everyone, and there was this one girl who did three out of the four A-Levels that I did.

In the earlier years, I didn’t know her so well, but now found myself sitting and chatting to her often. She was besotted with her first boyfriend, I met him twice, he seemed like a nice enough guy. She always dreamed of being a researcher in Mathematics, and worked extremely hard at school.

When we were filling out our university application forms she wanted to go to Oxford. She subsequently went for an interview and got accepted a place at her chosen college should she achieve her grades.

One day, I found myself sat next her in Maths class, she looked sad. “What’s up, you don’t seem your usual chirpy self,” I said. Her: “I got accepted to Oxford, but I can’t go.” Me: “why?” “My boyfriend isn’t very academic, he wants to study the arts, but in a local university, I can’t live without him. So, I will have to go with him.” “It’s a shame as I know how much Oxford meant to you, but I understand your predicament,” I said.

Sometime later, I overheard a conversation between two girls about my friend’s boyfriend, that he was cheating on her with one of them. I waited until one of the two left, and asked what was going on. “Yes, Abi, me and him have been seeing each other for months behind her back,” she said. “Have you got evidence of this?,” I said. Her: “yes, I can show you the emails between us.”

Now I found myself in a predicament. However, before I made a decision on how to act upon it, I needed to know what my friend’s boyfriend’s email address was, so that I could guarantee she was telling the truth.

The following week, I asked my friend to stay behind after school and study with me. “This is going to sound like a weird question, but you’ve known me long enough by now that you must trust me, what’s your boyfriend’s email address,” I said. Her: “this is weird, but, OK it’s …….” She confirmed my worst fear.

We were weeks before the start of our final exams. I was in a bit of a quandary. I mulled over it for a couple of minutes, and realised this wasn’t the appropriate time to tell her. I wanted her to focus on her forthcoming exams, I couldn’t break her heart just yet. “Abi, why did you want his email address?,” she said. “Oh, I just wanted to plan something.” “She smiled, you’re rubbish at surprises,” she said.

After the exams were over. I invited her out. I sat her down, and said, “bringing you here wasn’t an easy decision, but, I need to tell you something important. I have carried this burden with me, and agonised over what the best thing to do is. Over the course of getting to know you, I have become fond of you. I’m about to show you something that will not only hurt you, but me too.” My hand rummages in my bag for printed copies of the emails between the other girl and her boyfriend.

I slam it on the table. “Know that I only have your best interests at heart, you have perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue your dream. I can’t watch you throw it away on someone that’s undeserving of your loyalty. Please read.”

I had to sit and watch her facial expressions, and tears running down her cheeks. It wasn’t easy to sit there with her. She composed herself, and said, “thank you.” That was the end of the conversation.

Inevitably, the boyfriend was on her ‘hit list’ of people to see next. He confessed to not only having cheated with one but a few others in the same school! He loved her, but wanted to experience other girls on the side.

Many years later we find ourselves meeting up. Me: “I hope you don’t hate me given that I was the messenger of bad news, and broke your heart.” She said, “no, you must have found it difficult to bottle it up until after the exams, you really put thought into it. Look, I went to Oxford, met a guy while doing my PhD and am happy. The girls all knew he was cheating, but you had my back. A true friend. Who knows how my life would have turned out if you’d not told me.”

Sometimes, we find ourselves having to hurt people, because we know it will benefit them in the end.

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