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Opting for divorce or choosing to continue in a relationship, the choice is yours.
Divorce brings out the strangest reactions in people. I’ve written reams about the shunning and other ignominious forms of ignoring that are the immediate lot of the recently divorced or separated person. I mention this again and again with disbelief and something close to horror because I cannot imagine treating anyone like that.
This attitude to other human beings isn’t because I have suffered from being treated like that. I would have been warm, welcoming and loving to anybody who was going through the terrible turmoil of divorce. And that holds true even for my pre divorce days. So I was surprised when people whom I had counted amongst my friends turned around and behaved abominably. Charmingly, one of these “friends”, in the first two raw weeks after the separation called out out to me across a crowded garden party – “Where is your husband?”
“Not here.” I’d replied, poker faced. And never spoke to her again.
But the reaction I’m going to write about is not the expected one of being treated like a pariah.
Shortly after I moved out of our home a neighbor, we’ll call her Mala, phoned me, she wanted to meet. With dread I dodged her suggestion that she come over to the rented apartment I was staying at, and arranged to meet her at a coffee shop. The apartment was a far cry from my earlier home which was a sprawling mansion that I had built with great care and decorated with great love, filled with artifacts, dogs and happy children. The apartment was dingy, cold with pock marked floors, no furniture other than two floor cushions and a mattress. To those-who-don’t-understand it may have seemed a bit of a comedown. To me it was a breath of fresh air; it pulsated with the oxygen of freedom. I didn’t think she would see it quite like that.
My real friends, my pillars of support questioned my wisdom in meeting Mala at all, certain that it would be unpleasant. I went ahead anyway having braced myself for a telling off, for pleas, a round of questions regarding my sanity and other such charming attacks. She started off by telling me that she appreciated my meeting her. We drank coffee and she went on to tell me how much she admired me. My guard went up immediately, sure that this was her way of stroking me before giving me the slap that she had come to deliver.
She went on in the same vein as I grew more and more tense. She began talking about her own marriage. She told me that she was very unhappy; her relationship with her husband was terrible. But, she had chosen to stay on. She was not going to make any changes because she didn’t have the courage to. She was quite clear about it. And strangely her own fear of change was what made it possible for her to truly empathise with me and understand the herculean effort it had taken for me to take the plunge. I received no judgmental condemnations from her.
I came away from that meeting having learnt a thing or two about human beings. It’s astonishing how many people have confided in me about their unhappy marriages. ‘But so many of them choose the life that they are used to instead of a new one. I have no quarrel with them, everyone has to find their own way and do what’s right for them. Having said which I cannot help but quote Virginia Woolf, whose 130th birthday it is –
“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.”
A freelance journalist and teacher, Kalpana is a feminist, an animal rights activist, passionate about the environment and fitness through yoga. She believes in a holistic and sustainable lifestyle and she also happens to be read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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