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.

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