One of my long-standing ambitions is to write the screenplay of a Bengali wedding movie. And this was there long before Yash Chopra and Meera Nair drowned us in Punjabi baroque.
And the inspiration was a couple from college… she was a sweet Bengali girl. He was a sweeter Tamil boy. Met in school. Liked each other in +2. Fell in love in First Year, Got married a year after college. The families never had an opinion to the contrary.
It was I who thought of fictional twists involving joint families, vegetarianism, orthodox rituals and other assorted villainy!
There was another couple in Bangalore. They met in engineering college. He smuggled in liquor for her and her friends to drink. She, in turn, took an indulgent view of his drunken binges. She came from an orthodox Bihari family. He came from a liberal Marathi background. Her family literally ostracised her for marrying outside the caste. She gave up her family to be with him. He made sure she never missed them.
I had two readymade examples of Made For Each Other couples. I mean, these guys knew each other for a longer time before marriage than after. Even their squabbles were fun to watch… they knew what the other would say before they opened their mouths.
Couple I: I go on to Orkut and locate this friend of mine. Relationship status – Single. Children – Yes, not living at home. Is he the same guy? These South Indian names can be very common. Yes, it is. And yes, we are separated. We will be divorced soon. Single? After 15 years of double? Does he even know that “children not living at home” applies to empty-nesters only? When I met them almost exactly two years to this date, they were on the verge of moving into their own flat and terribly proud of their infant daughter.
Couple 2: In the course of planning a party, I suddenly hear that we can’t invite them together. Huh? They are living separately. Double huh? Umm, surely it is a bad fight. So, isn’t a drunken party the best time to make up? No, their minds are made up – and you don’t complicate matters by asking awkward questions. What complicate matters? The last time I met them (about a year ago), it was at the Holi party at their new flat and they were never more in love. And now they are separating – if that isn’t complicated, what is?
Too many friends have got separated for unnamed reasons for me to be remain blasé about the whole phenomenon of divorce. And these friends are too close for me to indulge into ideological debates. Should economic independence imply less tolerance? What constitutes torture? Don’t people realize shortcomings when they are courting each other? Are arranged marriages more prone to divorce?
All these questions lose meaning as all standard stereotypes are comprehensively shattered. And at the end of it, one is left grappling with intensely personal issues.
So, what can possibly happen in a year or two – that completely annihilates a decade of togetherness?
Am I the only brain-dead one who is unable to think of any conceivable reason for these people separating? Or, maybe reasons are really not needed to separate after years as man and wife?
I had been so close to all these four people that I have been singularly unable to assign any blame to any of them. Surely, these guys – who have been such faithful lovers for each other and such dutiful friends for me – could not have been guilty of the standard grounds for divorce?
In fact, it would have probably helped (in a perverse sort of way) if I could have identified the villains of the respective episodes. Then, I would not have felt so uneasy. I would have known whom to blame and whom to sympathise with.
Now, there are only victims.
An uncomfortable silence. And a helplessness, as I see them trying to pick up threads of their lives and get on with it. Alone.
Thanks to my absolute inability to influence the situations, I am living in hope.
Hopefully, they will realise that loneliness is too high a price to pay for freedom.
Hopefully, they will get back together again.
Hopefully, they will realize goodbyes are never final.