Reading Time: 8 minutes
Maria was a singer I’d found via Facebook within my 2nd-degree network.
She looked pretty; she was a singer, and I was taken by her.
So, I angled to try to get her to come and record at my studio.
After some back and forth she did come, she did record, and then we would head out for a date a few days later.
Quite early on in the relationship, we went for an evening out at Sound – a nightclub in London. Some of my family were in attendance including my cousin Ajay and my sister Shanti.
The night went well and without issue.
Until we got to KFC to finish our night off on a high.
At this stage, it was just Maria and me. There was a girl looking in our direction whilst we wolfed down our chicken pieces.
‘What the fuck are you looking at?!’ Maria spat out at the onlooker.
I froze and suddenly found my heart in my mouth and the chicken strip being swallowed by myself seemed to rush further down my throat in fear all of its own.
‘What are you talking about? You got a problem?’ The onlooker responded spiritedly.
Maria was 5ft 7 (1.7 m)and had the bone structure of a UFC athlete – she just looked like she was strong (and she was).
‘C’mon on then!’ Maria aggressively spoke and gestured back as she physically leaned into her words with the look of a phoenix in her eyes.
But hey! I said to myself….
‘You’ve wasted Deepak and so is she…so think nothing of it
And so the moment passed and we resumed eating.
This was just a few weeks into our relationship and was ultimately an indicator of how toxic this relationship became just from the outset.
Maria came from an abusive family with a father who’d been violent towards her mother, sold drugs, been imprisoned and had a complex relationship with her children.
In terms of her historical relationships as well – they’d all been musicians and mostly had ended pretty badly as it turned out.
It wasn’t a great track record but it was something that I paid no heed to.
Now, during this period there were indeed other singers both male and female who came to my studio.
As things developed – it became eminently clear that Maria was extremely uncomfortable with other females coming to my recording studio.
And as I made concessions she began to make inroads into every aspect of my life.
On paper, we were great; I was a rapper/successful recording studio owner and she was a singer with a record label in the pipeline.
In real life…
I remember meeting her family for the first time including her mother, auntie and her sister.
By this time her violent language and pushing and shoving of me had become a pattern. I was unsure of how to handle this and wasn’t without my own problems; causing issues, feeling insecure and desiring approval.
Together were definitely a toxic mix and we soon began to reach a tipping point.
‘Totally agree!’ We both laughed – Maria’s auntie and I shared a joke together in the family living room.
I’d also spent a good 10 minutes chatting with Maria’s younger sister.
Maria gave me some very stern eyes each time I looked at her.
I was confused as she smiled and chit-chatted with various members of her family but then quite quickly pulled me aside.
‘What are you doing?!’
“What do you mean what am I doing?” I was lost.
“Stop flirting with my auntie and talking to my sister like that!!” She said quietly but extremely aggressively.
Suddenly it felt like we were back in KFC again.
I was totally lost for words.
I couldn’t focus or concentrate and didn’t know how to approach any discussion with her family; wondering how a smile, shared a laugh or otherwise would be interpreted.
Things had already become grim for me in this relationship.
I’d often stay at Maria’s place in North London and there’d been a particular incident when she’d got angry about a singer at my studio and physically shoved me across the room.
To my surprise, I’d stumbled backwards into her mirror knocking it down as she pointed her finger and screamed at me.
Upon another occasion, we’d had an argument, and she had outright punched me in the chest.
I wasn’t emotionally equipped to deal with the problems that Maria bought into my life; my own problems as well as running a business.
The other side of running a recording studio from home was that you got lonely. Very lonely.
I’d spend 8-hour days with no real dialogue or engagement.
My success meant that my sense of ‘being’ got totally swallowed.
My sessions were entirely about the musician who turned up. Their music, their mixes, their journey.
Not a single question was asked beyond the empty pleasantry of ‘cool bro you good yeh?’
And then with the clock ticking, we’d move into sessions whilst I also had to manage the egos of a group of rappers inside a small room looking to maximise their time spent.
At times, I’d have 6-8 rowdy guys turn up to watch one musician record.
It became a stressful affair just managing such a group let alone mixing.
Maria didn’t give a hoot about this, and she had a day job that kept her busy and I soon became even fearful of a female singer contacting the studio.
Soon I found myself sitting in my studio, with a 4-hour gap between one session and another and I’d just burst out in tears.
I was living with my folks, they were both at work; my friends were still at their day jobs and I struggled to have someone within my community to whom I could simply talk to.
And still, I poured efforts into trying to make my relationship with Maria work.
As all of this flashed through my mind as we were at her family home I stormed out of the house and into the street in a bid to walk away.
She quickly followed and quietly snarled ‘what the FUCK do you think you’re doing! You’re causing a scene!’
I remember another time we were walking in the local park near my mum’s place in West Drayton and she said ‘only a real man would be strong enough to stand up for himself and you’re clearly not a real man!’
She rattled off those words with a mixture of menace and glee in her words and demeanour.
On another occasion, she took a record from my beloved vinyl wall and smashed it across the side of my head which left it bleeding out.
This was the night before the 2nd video shoot which I had organised and assembled an entire team for her and us.
The recording of the video was extremely toxic again because of the atmosphere between us…and slowly I began to be consumed by her command over our relationship.
By this time I had successfully rolled out the ‘Red Room’ – which was the 2nd recording studio under the Deep Impakt Recordings brand.
We were headed in the right direction – but it was a direction that required focus and emotional stability.
I had neither.
My sound engineers at the Red Room were taking clients home directly and mixing down their stuff.
I barely attended the Red Room studio to check how things were going.
I left it all to my business partner Kobi who I’d taught how to do some basic mixes (him being a budding engineer himself);
But there were complaints about the mixdowns not being the same ‘Blue Room’ quality.
I had set the second location up and just assumed it’d run itself.
And equally, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Unlike the period when I set up Deep Impakt Recordings the first time and voraciously read up, sought advice, googled and had been a man of complete focus… This time I was relying just on my own smarts and instinct – and I failed to combine this with any level of reading.
Coupled with the violence and dominion that Maria held over me….
I’d often totally breakdown by myself, have heart palpitations and scream to myself ‘how do I make this stop’.
No one in my family knew.
I kept the violence a secret from everybody and my tears were kept strictly for when everyone was out of the house.
I became a master of disguise and I’d often stay at Maria’s and we’d deal with our turbulence through an inward-looking lens of turbulence.
And so the violence continued.
Finally, I told my brother somewhat about what was going on.
That Maria had hit me a couple of times and that sometimes I’d instinctually been tempted to hit her back, but thankfully so far it hadn’t happened.
My brother’s clear shock and disgust at the situation seemed to critically change something in me.
Inside my head, there’d been some kind of running subconscious narrative that this was ok. That it was ok to be treated in such a way.
My brother’s reaction was the first real sense of outside confirmation that my inner turmoil was justified and I moved from ‘why am I feeling like this?!’ to ‘this is WHY I’m feeling like this.
I don’t remember the details of the argument.
I was in Maria’s kitchen after a blazing back and forth and was preparing something to eat.
She followed me down the stairs shortly after and I could see she was fired up.
I didn’t see it coming until it came.
Maria had punched me square in my top lip.
I could immediately feel the pain start throbbing and instinctively before I could do anything consciously I raised my hand and slapped her back.
This was the first time in our turbulent 7-month relationship I’d ever hit her.
She was shocked – and so was I.
She tenderly touched the inside of her lip and I could see there was blood.
She moved from shock immediately into accusatory anger.
‘That’s it you fucking prick! I’m going to call the police – what the FUCK did you just do’
And all of a sudden my brother’s words rang true.
“Bro – look you need to get out of this relationship – because it’s only a matter of time before you just react and hit her back and she calls the cops. As soon as that happens mate you’re getting nicked for domestic abuse – cops won’t care about the history”
I looked at my watch quickly.
It was 12.13 am and here we were gesturing at each other downstairs.
“I’m leaving!” I retorted.
She smiled and almost laughed because SHE HAD heard it all before.
I messaged my brother and said “bro – come and get me RIGHT NOW please”
There had been a historical pattern with Charlene and now Maria of me kicking up a fuss and threatening to walk out/leave.
Initially, it would warrant a hurtful, vulnerable reaction from both who would cry ‘don’t do that and there was a visible look of how much I meant to them that rose up.
This would be like gold dust for my own insecurities, so they fed off me.
Of course, once you make such a bold statement and don’t back it up you become the proverbial guy who cried wolf.
And threats seem empty, gestures that demonstrated weakness more than strength.
And from Maria’s perspective, this was yet more of the same old story.
“Yeh right” She laughed “Let’s see!”
But unlike before I was able to show her the text that HAD actually been sent and the call came in from my brother who told me “I’ll be there in 45 minutes”.
This made it different.
This was a new behaviour I was exhibiting.
But Maria was still sure I was bluffing. And tell the truth, I was wondering if I’d actually go through it and leave on such a sour note.
But leave I did.
And I was only to see Maria once more, one month later…and I’d never see her again.
During this month away two important things happened that truly changed my life forever.
I’ll tell you about those things in a later letter. If you have any comments/questions about this one just respond via email and I’ll get back to you
Meanwhile, catch you on the next one!