Friday, 13 March 2009
Bikram sat brooding, his mood as dark and murky as his coffee. Damn it! The coffee tasted bad. It was much too sweet. Pouring it down the drain, Bikram wondered how his life was in such a mess. What he had done so wrong, that his wife had to divorce him. He had long come to accept that there was no real love between them, but after so many years.....divorce. It just didn’t make sense. The problem with him, Bikram realised, was that just signing a scrap of paper did not undo anything. In fact it made it really hard for him to believe that he had been married to such a cold woman.
Now at the age of fifty, to start afresh, it seemed ridiculous. More importantly, he had forgotten how. The loneliness was hard too. The pitying looks from people, he couldn’t stand anymore. What was he to do with himself? Start life in a new place---run away from the situation. Money was not a problem, and Malini hadn’t asked for any. She was divorcing him because her way of life didn’t match his. She was a jet set lady with a great career and after the kids had grown up there was nothing to bind them together. She had different plans—plans that didn’t include him. So there! That was that.
Maybe he should take up the offer in Kolkata, after all.
A new life. How did one go about it?
Best to go along with the flow, he thought.
“Thank God, my mother isn’t alive to see his day. What would she say?” (“I told you not to marry her!” he knew).
He had met her in college, a wonderful, vibrant girl. The parents had objected to the match but the young couple had refused to budge.
The first few years had been bliss. Then the children had arrived one after the other. Life had taken on a different dimension. She had to take a break from her career, something she resented to this day.
His career as a marketing executive had its own demands. He would to be gone for half the month and Malini would have to cope alone with two school going children and her job. She refused to give up her job no matter what. This was the main bone of contention between them, then. He never understood why, she needed a career.
For Malini, the divorce was a must. It was the only solution. Over the years she had taken over the burden of running the show. Bikram was never around to help. As the years progressed, Bikram and she moved away from each other. They were at completely differently wave lengths. She learned to never depend on him. The children were in a boarding school and she visited them as often as she could. On long summer vacations, they would go away to exotic locations and the children never guessed the truth. It was like---- play acting. How long could you keep it up?
The fights had been getting worse over the years. Bikram expected companionship from her. She was just lost in her own world of friends and colleagues. Her work kept her late in office and Bikram couldn’t deal with it. He wanted to spend time with her as he now was not travelling so often. But for her it was too late. Lately, they had just stopped communicating. There were no fights, no explanations. Nothing at all. Under one roof they lived like strangers, each in his world.
In his new life, Bikram was slowly settling down. The new job and city did help. Actually, it was the anonymity that helped. He could start on a clean slate. Not many people knew him and for some time he preferred it that way. The children, both married and settled did not bother with him much. So long as he didn’t get in their way. Basically, he was on his own. Bikram was picking up the threads. He had help coming in to do the regular chores that took care of immediate problems like food, dishes and clothes. Slowly, also spring was returning.
Sitting on a beach in Digha, watching the sun go down, Bikram felt a sense of peace. What was it that was making him feel that way? He just could not put his finger on it. He waited patiently for the answer to come. He knew it would.
As he walked back to his room in the nearby hotel, which he had rented for the week, Bikram finally accepted that he had come to terms with his divorce. He was actually happy. He did not have to live a lie anymore. He was finally free. His marriage had been a habit, a routine, which even though did not give him any pleasure, he continued. Malini had set them free, free to live life the way you wanted to. She had saved them both. She had saved their marriage, not dissolved it.
As he walked into his room, he dialled Malini’s number. She picked it up on the second ring.
Friendly as ever, she chatted for a while. Promising to get together next time he was in Bangalore, she signed off. Bikram was at last happy. Tomorrow he would visit the unexplored part of Digha he had been putting off.