We met after three months at the Annual Parents Day in our daughter’s school. I was wearing bright, gaudy colours and high heels contrary to my usual conservative dressing. My best friend said it would make me feel better. I let my hair fall loosely on my shoulders and chatted with an old time friend. People may have gossiped but no one knew we had separated. He was wearing the navy blue striped suit he wore the first time we went out for a formal dinner. My heart froze when I saw him approaching and the first thought in my head was please God don’t let him make a scene in front of all these people. But he was smiling with a strange dazed expression on his face, very close to when we met for the first time. I smiled back and greeted him like it was actually the first time we were meeting. We strolled off to a far corner of the arena, perhaps I wanted to be alone with him or maybe I was just afraid of being overheard by other parents.
‘I never knew you were this beautiful. You have changed immensely’. He said.
I smiled. ‘I was always a butterfly, but you never noticed. I just unfolded my wings now and you think I have changed. I had all these colours wrapped up in my cocoon all the while we were together’. I said.
He looked away with a distant expression. It was as if a trance had been broken. He wanted to make things right but I started off at the wrong foot and his ego took over. It seemed like the world had frozen and I was reliving old moments over and over again. The last arguments spun inside my head.
‘I have never known a woman like you; if I had I would have known how to handle you’. He said.
I replied. ‘What makes you think you can handle any woman at all. We are people not things that can be handled or manhandled. All you did was show your character and that was the end of our relationship. What makes you think you can do it right by manipulation.’
He winced visibly. ‘I was just trying to say I miss you and you are lashing out at me.’
‘Then say it in simple plain words, my dear. We women are simple straightforward creatures. All we need is a man to say ‘I love you, I am sorry, I will be there for you, do not worry while I am there’ and mean all of the above. Is that too much to ask?’ I sighed.
‘Women and simple don’t go together. You cry at the smallest things, make an issue out of absolutely nothing at all, love people who hurt you all the time and take everything at a magnanimous scale no matter how minuscule the problem. Look at us, you overreacted to everything I said, did, didn’t say and didn’t do!’ he yelled.
‘Oh, I see. Just because I skipped the expected drama and told you to be honest, your volume has gone up by several hundred decibels. Excellent! How many issues are small for you? Adultery, lies, dishonesty, manipulation and eventual absentia in the most critical moments are small matters? What is a big deal with you? Your favourite team winning the game, the new car everyone is talking about, your android phone or your weekend buddies and their rhetoric?’ I retorted.
‘Goodness! There we go again. You hate everything that I love in my life. What has my buddies got to do with us not getting along?’ he said.
‘See what I mean darling. All you heard was the last few words. And that is the bottom line. I tell you what I want of you to make me happy and you turn a deaf ear to it. The only time you listen is when I am yelling and making no sense what so ever. Why can we not have a casual conversation without the darned self mutilation?’ I screamed.
The tears came and then I just didn’t want to say anything at all. There was no point in telling him what I felt. It happened every time I tried to talk to him. Either he would stomp away angrily and be distant for days or he would cuddle me without really understanding what I was saying. It was never about winning an argument. All I want is for him to understand me the way I understand him. I know he doesn’t litter on purpose, he is too tired and lazy when he gets home from office and he is used to his Mom picking up after him. So, I bundle up his shoes, socks, tie and shirt from different parts of the house and put them in place. I know he cannot decide if the shirts need to be ironed or washed so he leaves them on the sofa. I pick them up and sort them accordingly. I know he loves the spicy fried food when it’s raining so I make him a special treat every day if even I don’t have an ounce of energy. I understand that he ogles at beautiful women so I dress up for him with utmost care even on days when I want to roam around in my pyjamas. When I do all of this and so much more without him asking why cannot he take the extra effort to find out why I am sulking today. I know he has trouble remembering anniversaries and birthdays but he can put up an alert on his cell phone like he does for all of his friend’s hangouts. He can randomly get flowers from the street vendor on his way home and just whisper I love you when I am feeling low. Is that such a difficult thing to do?
We parted without a single kind word or goodbye. He left early for work and i drove back home. I went quietly to bed and he thought I was angry. The next day I woke up at dawn and made him breakfast with a smiling face. Being hurt does not mean I love him any less or I would stop doing everything I do for him every day.
‘I love you darling.’ He said kissing me goodbye.
‘I love you too hubby.’ I smiled.
He drove off but his mind was a haze. ‘I will never understand women. What does she want anyway? Last night it was like we have come to the verge of insanity and now she is pretending to be an angel. Why can she not understand that I am not one of her girls? Guys will always be guys. Big deal I forgot our anniversary! We are still married aren’t we? It’s not like I forgot she is my wife. I lied to her last time because I lost track of time playing poker with the guys and I thought she’d be mad if I told her. So I said I was working late and she chatted with my colleague’s wife and found out. Why should she interrogate me or other people about my whereabouts? I am a big boy and I can stay out if I want to. If we were better friends I would have easily told her I was out with the guys. The only thing she thinks about is me having an affair. Why would I want another woman in my life, I am sick and tired of just one! She wants to change everything about me that she used to adore. She nags like a grandma and then insists that she is doing so for my own good. I wanted a wife not another mother. And then the tears! No matter how illogical the argument, the last resort of winning is tears. If I give in immediately, it saves the next few days of headache. And if god forbid, I yell back, she will be a nun for the next two weeks. Why can’t she be the same innocent dear girl I met and fell in love with? She never argued, talked back or yelled. Has she changed or was all that an act? How in God’s name can anyone be happy in a marriage like this?’ He pondered.
‘Hey, I am working late at the office today. The boss wants some work done speedily. Please have dinner without me.’ He said as he drove out of his office to the club.
‘ Oh honey, I was hoping we could go meet Mom and Dad today. It is Dad’s birthday.’ I pleaded.
What the heck, he thought. She must have called her Mom and shared all the details and now she is trapping me into a lecture by her parents. ‘I am sorry, but I cannot leave work commitments. Why don’t you go ahead and I will see them some other time.’
I called Mom and said I am not feeling well today. We will come by this weekend and celebrate Dad’s birthday. The truth was too embarrassing to share. How could I tell my parents that the man I defied everyone to marry doesn’t love me any more? He came home very late and I had already gone to bed. He fiddled with his phone while I pretended to sleep. He was upset why I didn’t greet him and make him feel better. I was angry that he had missed such an auspicious day again. Like every anniversary, birthday and Valentine’s I was still alone trying to keep the romance alive. Our marriage breathed its last today. It may linger on for years but the silence will grow exponentially and love will wither in the same proportion.
Somewhere along the way, in what he said and she said love was lost and forgotten. Two worlds that merged out of adoration emerged lost and barren. The backlash of spoken words hurt deeply and somewhere along the way things were misunderstood in abundance. We forget that men and women are just different. They have to find a common ground and build a system of communication. Nothing less will work. What holds marriages together is not romance, it is understanding and compassion. I hope this little piece helps people think what their spouse is thinking before they react or overreact to anything. The rest is a smooth drive downhill.