He was suave, flamboyant and known as a ladies man. She was mature, studious and considered to be level headed. They were classmates and acquaintances in the first three years of their engineering and got close to each other in the last year. Both of them landed in Bangalore after getting placed to two well known IT companies. Considered poles apart, when they decided to get married, most of their friends tried to dissuade them. Needless to say, they went right ahead with their plans since their respective families had no problems.
I was the elder sister she had never had, she used to say. We were hostel mates and I knew what was happening in her life from day to day and was privy to the gradual change in their realtionship from being friends to much more than that. We used to keep in touch on and off after they moved to Bangalore and hadn't met for the last 4-5 years. After being here for more than 5 months we finally met last week.
The first thought that came to my mind when I met her was, "She seems to be so releived than happy to see me." The story slowly started unfolding.
"There were subtle hints here and there right from the beginning. Certain phone calls which he used to take in another room, some missed calls late in the night. I was so hell bent on proving everyone wrong who said we won't survive a year that I just ignored all these signs. But for these signs everything was alright between us. Then came our first daughter. I had gone home after my delivery and I could sense a change in his attitude towards me. There was nothing to which I could actually put my fingers on, but something was amiss. After coming back, we were having dinner one day when he got an SMS and I knew this was it. After he went to sleep that day, I went through his phone and my knees just gave way. There were some explicit messages from his best friend's wife. They were having a rough patch in their life and my husband seemed to have been filling the empty space in the other woman's life. I just could not believe that this girl who had poured her heart out to me was having an affair with my husband."
"Why didn't you confront him then and there?", I asked.
"Whenever I have confronted him on anything, it has always turned out to be a major fight ending in listing out what is wrong with me and how he made a mistake marrying me."
I just could not believe my ears. This was a couple everyone considered ideal. Both of them well settled in their careers, two beautiful and smart daughters, is this what was happening inside their closed doors?
She continued with her story, "I checked the messages which were going up and down for a few days. Then I asked him. He didn't say anything for a day. He then said it was an old friend of his and it was nothing. I knew he was lying but wanted to believe that it was not so. Next day I called up the number and one hello from her and I knew he had lied. As soon as I confronted him, he apologized for causing me so much pain and like a fool I thought that was the end of it."
I still could not believe this was the same girl whom I knew years back, who used to be so strong willed and not willing to compromise on anything that was against her beliefs. In her own words, "I loved him so much and I was so desperate to make my marriage work. I just could not accept the fact that my husband loved someone else. Somehow, I used to feel that all this happened because I had failed him some way. Moreover, he was a very good father to his daughter and she was also very attached to him. Anyway, one day I just told him that I cannot accept the fact that he had someone else in his life. His answer stumped me- "Why are you so worried? I am not going to leave you and marry anyone else. I love you just the same and you are the most important person in my life." Like a fool, I did not argue any further. Somehow, days went by, I used to get upset whenever I thought about it and sit by myself and cry."
A few months after this, she got selected for a six month assignment in the US. She did not discuss this with her husband, just informed him that she will be out of the country for the next few months and that her mother would be there to take care of their daughter. He didn't say anything. The day she landed and called him, he again started to blame her for everything and even said he could not put up with her mother. The verbal trauma went on for two months, finally she could not take it any more and she came back.
Things were kind of calm for some time after that and they had a second daughter. This time she didn't go home after the delivery. A few months later she again sensed something amiss. One day she got to see a few mails of his by chance, he had forgotten to log off. She saw a mail which he had sent to the same female telling her how the day spent with her was one of the best days in his life, how much he misses her etc. What shocked her even more was another mail to a friend of hers whom she thought was very close to her. She had discussed almost everything in her life including her husband's affair with her. And now she sees some mails going up and down between them. She was shocked beyond words. That was not the end of her shocks for the day - the same evening she got a call from her brother. A massive heart attack had snatched away her till then hale and hearty father.
The next few months passed in a numb state. When I met her, she still hadn't got over her father's sudden death. I asked her, "So what happens now?"
"Chechi*, after my father's death, I sat and thought a lot. Finally I have decided that I do not have to take it. But for these mails and messages, I don't have much to complain in my marraige. He loves me, depends on me for everything and will never leave us. But then, is that enough? What if I had done the same things to him? Would he still have continued to love me? I don't think so. I have decided to give my life one final chance. This time I am letting it go. The next time something like this happens, he is out of my life. I will never poison my kid's mind against him since they adore him, but I have had enough. I am so glad I met you today. What would you have done in my place?"
What answer do I give this girl who was so full of life, brought up as the darling of her three brothers? But I knew I did not even have to think before replying to her question. However someone might profess to love you, if he or she does not care about hurting you, the answer will always be a no. Beacuse it is never love, just a convenient way of living. There might be people who are happy with that, but not this girl. She would be crippled for life, she was half way there anyway. Yes, it might be unfair to her daughters but then it is more unfair to bring them up in a place where the trust is lost between their parents. I don't know whether anything that he does can make up for the pain that he has caused her. She will never look at anyone with the same innocent eyes.
For her sake, I keep hoping she does not have to take that final step. It is so obvious that she loves him so much that the mere thought of leaving him almost shatters her.
Why do people hurt the very same ones that they love? What exactly is this thing we call love? Is it really death do us part in spite of anything that happens? Why does someone risk some very precious things for momentary pleasure? What makes a husband or wife seek something out of their marriage? Where do kids stand in this equation? When is enough, enough?
* Chechi - Elder sister