Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Of butterflies: these and those

These winged creatures seem to be dominating my life right now: the nectar-feeding, garden-fluttering, fiancé-favourite variety and the tummy tickling ones. Myriads of butterflies touch and go my insides as I sit here waiting and worrying and imagining how everyone must be practicing their ‘helloes’. V is meeting babu (dad) today, and to say the least, babu’s meeting V. The two most important men in my life will have an interface today. I can only hope they emerge on the other side unscathed and open…
Everyone’s scared. No one knows anything and everyone’s trying to appear educated. God knows we can put out the largest butterfly garden…if we put together everybody’s: V’s, his parents’, my parents’ and mine. The only real fear is of first impressions; especially when the cultural contexts are impossibly different. Knowing, though, that all the people involved are educated, civilized, etc.; the knowledge of the damage potential of one wrong statement made, even in the most innocent of intents, is what is scaring the hell out of me. These relationships are for life and it is only the least that one hopes for the best, at least to begin with.
I am getting married (deep breath). I now even know when. I mean I know precisely when – the 11th of February 2008. But of the many dualities that mark and will continue to mark this relationship, a doubt of whether I will be ‘allowed’ to remember this date as my marriage anniversary remains; because the 11th of Feb is only the first of our weddings – the Hindu/Bong one. A Catholic wedding (date still undecided) that will ensue the Hindu one will almost always demand to be considered for equal candidature as the anniversary.
Choosing V as my life partner was as simple as the rest of it is complicated. Bypassing the argument that simplicity or complication are both just states of the mind, I’ve often sat considering what this relationship entails…and omigosh, for the rest of my life!!!
V and I had this conversation yesterday which led me to notice that no one had asked anyone whether or not they wanted to get married. I was moving along my decided course and V just seemed to have blended in. I had marked my timelines and I wanted to get married. Tick in the first social checkbox – post graduated at 23; tick in the second social checkbox – work for a year; third in the third – marry at 24 and four- a kid (preferably a girl) at 25.
Through my acquaintance-friendship-dependence-unity with V, and my simultaneous break up with A, we never even had what can qualify to be called a courtship. What started out as a virtual acquaintance, transitioned easily into an alliance marked by interminable phone calls of confession and heart-to-hearts to quickly yet un-ostentatiously to this day when we stand engaged.
Its weird and wonderful how these decisions were made pat, in complete doubtlessness. Even as I discovered his love of creepy-crawlies and his mulish ways, the feeling of correctness pervaded. If, as I believe, God speaks through the gut (heart actually… but God and gut are alliterative), I know this is right, and bright and beautiful…just like those butterflies V’s trying to teach me to appreciate.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Curse of Goodness

(written sometime back)

I am home now for sometime and back to doing what I do best here - talking to Ma. Hour after hour of talking - those platters of thought:made up of experiences, replete with the flavours of love, hatred, humour, joy, sorrow and such other familiars. Our tete-a-tete got us to look back at may last year as we sat over a cup of tea this morning.

The months of May-June are the foot loose months for us. That time of the year when the mountains beckon and take us backpacking from one hill station to another on a family holiday. They always made for wonderful memories...until May last year (2006).

The trips always begin with Delhi and end with it. The trip last year also ended with the capital and so did a life. R kakima (bong for aunty) committed suicide...

Our family had befriended the S's on a March eight years ago. They almost instantly won approval from all of us (Ma, Pa and I); and before long, congenial family dinners became a weekly ritual. S kaku (bong for uncle), was, of course, the biggest hit among us. But then again, he always is one with everyone. An IPS (postal) officer of a high rank, extremely humble, educated, soft-spoken, cultured - polish and finesse personified. What could stop us mere mortals from being bewitched?

His wife was of a slightly different strain - on the outside and a different tune altogether on the inside. R kakima was also educated, intelligent, cultured, and all that jazz. For some reason, she cooked chana almost each time she invited us for dinner. Besotted by her son, mildly indifferent to her daughter and quite unhappy with her husband. And yes, chronically depressed.

The son, A, could be described completely in one word - 'eccentric' and the daughter D as 'mild'.

We socialised with happy fervour with this 'nice' family during their three years in Nagpur and intermittently after their transfer to Delhi. Of our personal little triumphs during their stint in Nagpur was having slightly lightened that dark cloud of depression that always loomed large over R kakima. She seemed to have learned to smile more and needed her anti-dep pills less. S kaku constantly kept up his diplomatic stance; and we never quite understood what R aunty had against such a 'good' man as her husband.

S kaku was my ideal - the seemingly perfect son, husband, father, friend, professional and all other roles he cared to get into.

One could worship him, but not love him for he didn't love back. With all his honey words and good intentions, he kept his distance. Ever the diplomat/bureaucrat, patient and controlled; an impossibility of an entity to love, to be thought of as ones own. But we kept brushing the lovelessness under the carpet, so overwhelmed we were by his perfection; and kept pretending to not understand why R was unhappy despite her 'good' husband's 'goodnesses'.

Over the cups of tea this morning, in retrospection, a flash of insight made the truth appear as it always was - as we had never seen it. His 'goodness' had killed her.

He'd always refused to fight her. No denial could have been crueler. His lack of acknowledgment was the greatest of insults that one human could inflict on another - a human, otherwise equal on all counts. His was the cruelest way of torture- that of being so good that one couldn't take it. He was no wife-beater after all - how could she or we or anyone blame him? All the silent violence she kept turning inside - sinking deeper into the dark depths of depression while he kept collecting kudos for being the good husband with a difficult wife. No one understood her. Not until she made that final statement last summer.

As we thought about it, a wave of guilt swept over us as we realised that we were just as much partners in crime. Not only did we not understand, but we failed to acknowledge as well. We took sides with the good and forgot the humane. The curse of goodness claimed a life and a handful of consciences.