Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
“She knew from the bottom of her heart that she hadn’t done anything wrong in calling and talking to Shree as her conscience was absolutely clean.”
She was shivering when she typed out the message on WhatsApp. But she could gradually feel the strength in her nerves. She curled her fist for that final strength and hit ‘send’.
Shree and Ganga first met during the initial meetings of their company’s annual function. They both were strangers coming from two different business units but who shared a passion for the arts, theatre and music.
The first thing Ganga had noticed about Shree was his beautiful handwriting. He was scribbling some rubbish on the white board when Ganga observed those letters, the graceful curves, the confident lines and the more striking underlines. Ganga herself had a distinctive cursive inherited from her father and was always curious to see that of others. So when she watched Shree write – it was as if the fragrant jasmine was flowering with the movement of his pen.
They worked together on a small skit for two weeks. It was an environment they both loved – charged with thoughtful discussions about the great stalwarts of theatre and humorous enactments of some of the worst Govinda performances.
Ganga was not at all surprised to realize that she liked Shree very much because of his palpable intellect and the various common interests. The discussions during the practice sessions then started extending to casual chats outside the practice room. They were messaging through the office communicator, sharing interesting emails, books, articles, and what not. There were regular coffee sessions which lasted for at least 40 minutes and still the topics to discuss were endless.
Shree not only made Ganga laugh a lot but also gave her mind enough fodder to always be alert, active and keep thinking – which was the best part of it. He gave her so many unconventional yet fulfilling anecdotes of living which changed her perspective towards life. She thought that she had got a companion who was mentally her equal, and who understood her need for intellectual stimulation and psychological growth – because he himself valued it so much. Together, she felt, they were on some sort of an intellectual flight which would never land on the ground.
She was of course trudging on a dangerous path. Soon enough, Akshay, Ganga’s husband came to know about the “close” friendship of Ganga and Shree when he accidently read Ganga’s Gmail chat. As expected he was very hurt and furious. The chat that Ganga had with Shree if not romantic, but was very personal. And as it often happens, was completely misinterpreted by Akshay.
Ganga explained to him that what she shared with Shree was not anything romantic but more platonic. She told Akshay multiple times that it’s him that she loved and was very happy to be his wife. But she also loved Shree in a very friendly way and wanted to continue their friendship. She tried to convince him that she liked the mental stimulation, the sharing and the discussions with Shree which helped her grow as a person and also added quality to her life. But Akshay was adamant and asked Ganga to immediately end her “friendship” with Shree and remove him from their life. However hard she tried to assure Akshay that she will not betray him and have an affair with Shree, he was not convinced. He was firm on his stand.
Ganga understood the intensity of Akshay’s hurt yet she felt what he was expecting was too much. But because her marriage was her first priority, she did what Akshay asked her.
It was really painful for her to tell this to Shree, after all Shree was also so fond of Ganga. But respecting Akshay’s feeling and considering that Ganga’s entire marriage was at stake, they decided to end it there. No phone calls, no messages and emails. Ganga also removed Shree from her social network.
The first year of not talking to Shree was extremely difficult – Ganga missed the regular conversations badly. But she got herself engaged in maintaining her home and taking care of Akshay. Of course, Akshay loved her and was very supportive and appreciative of whatever she did for their relationship. Together they were happy leading their life and progressing in their own way.
Yet there were moments when Ganga terribly missed Shree. She longed to have those scintillating conversations with him and know his thoughts when she faced some unique situations in her life. However she tried, she couldn’t just take him out of her mind. She secretly checked Shree’s social media profile just to know if he was doing fine. But she also felt guilty of her feelings because as a wife, she needed to have her husband as her first priority. At such times, faced with confusion and dilemma, she chose to go into a shell and ruminate for a couple of days to come back with her energy.
Eventually, she had her first baby and she got engrossed in the new and beautiful journey of motherhood. She was temporarily able to keep her feelings about Shree in a closed corner of her heart as the baby kept her engaged. Akshay also was proving to be a hands on and doting father as Ganga could see him maturing so beautifully. Together, she felt, they were growing towards a happy future full of quality and stability.
It was in the middle of busy day when Ganga accidently stumbled upon Shree’s Facebook profile when in the “people you may know” list she saw his picture. She had forgotten that both of them had a couple of common friends which had led his profile to show on her newsfeed.
He was now settled in a different city. And she felt immensely happy to find out that he was married. Finally Shree found a soulmate for himself, she thought with a big relief. She thought of immediately picking up the phone and calling him. It had been five long years since Ganga had talked with Shree. But then, courage deceived her. She immediately thought of Akshay and her promise. A promise she had kept all these years as a measure of her love and commitment to her marriage. But even at moments like these – when her (one time) best friend has entered the new phase of his life – will it be counted as breaking of the promise? She was confused. She wanted to desperately talk to Shree yet not hurt Akshay. She was in the dilemma no one had the answer to.
Ganga spent next two days thinking and vying her options. What if I call Shree and Akshay doesn’t like it? Will he again get upset? But what if he accepts it? After all, we all have moved on, whatever happened was almost ten years ago. Of course Akshay would not have that much of a problem now and I will convince him. She became a little confident, decided to take her chance and called Shree.
They talked for one hour and it was as if they had never stopped talking. It was one of the most enriching conversations she had ever had in her life and after the call she instantly realized what she had been missing for so many years. It was an icing on the cake when she realized that even Shree had missed their friendship equally and thought of her on many occasions. She was ecstatic and her happiness was palpable. She really felt bad about missing out on such a pure friendship for so many years and decided to continue talking to Shree now. But before that she had that one important task of telling Akshay everything. She was confident that she would be able to convince her husband this time.
Ganga finally told Akshay about the call and he was extremely angry. Ganga had expected this a little – of course he was hurt. But what was shocking to her was that the intensity of his rage was exactly the same way it had been all those years ago. Not only that, but Akshay also accused her for betraying him and breaking his trust.
Akshay questioned her loyalty and commitment to their relationship and his words made her feel like she was a loose woman having an affair with Shree. It was unbearable for her to see her husband doubting her character. She could take his anger, but she was not prepared to take his accusations.
Finally Akshay again gave her an ultimatum and asked her to stop talking to Shree immediately. And if she still wanted to talk to him she was free to do so but then he was also free to behave as per his own will. Utterly shaken and confused with the turn of events, she told Akshay that she needed some time to think. Akshay asked her to not talk to him till she tells him her decision.
It had been five days since then. Ganga had lost her sleep completely and she could see the same happening with Akshay. Yet, she was not yet ready to make up with her husband. She was completely shattered and felt that so many years of love, affection and dedication was in vain if just one small act of hers could create such a huge trouble in her relationship. Was her marriage so shallow that after so many years of togetherness it could just crumble like a pack of cards? Was her husband always so doubtful of her and this one instance made his feelings tumble out? Was she really a loose woman and not loyal to her husband? Was her calling Shree really such a big mistake for Akshay to directly question her character and honesty? And what was the guarantee that in spite of promising Akshay, he would not doubt her again ? Will she keep on promising Akshay different things all her life and kill her feelings and emotions every time?
NO! A Big NO.
Ganga was shocked to realize that her heart gave her the answer to her last question so loudly and clearly. In spite of all the pain, confusion and hurt – there was the stark truth staring at her so openly. And she had to accept it.
She absolutely did not wish to succumb to her husband’s emotional bullying at any cost this time. She knew from the bottom of her heart that she hadn’t done anything wrong in calling and talking to Shree as her conscience was absolutely clean. She also knew that Akshay loved her and his possessiveness made him act like this, yet his accusations and his directly doubting her faithfulness was not at all acceptable to her.
It had now become a question of her identity and self-respect and at no cost was she ready to give it up. She had been a good wife all along and she had given her best to her family and her child. But today it was necessary to stand for herself and her true feelings.
Ganga decided that it was best to share her thoughts with Akshay in writing as she would be able to express herself properly. She was shivering when she typed the message on WhatsApp. But she could gradually feel the strength in her nerves. She curled her fist for that final strength and hit ‘send’.
Firstly, I want to tell you that I love you with my whole life. You are my husband, my soulmate, my first priority and together we have created the most beautiful aspect of our lives – our daughter for which I am indefinitely indebted to you. Yet there are other things like self-respect and dignity which are as important as love and loyalty.
For the last entire week, I have deeply and thoroughly thought about your demand that I should stop talking to Shree. But with all my honesty and modesty I am really sorry to tell you that I cannot agree to it. He is my best friend and has been so since the beginning, even when we were not talking for so many years. And I would like to continue my friendship because I know my feelings are true and my intentions are pure to the last cell of my body.
Please do not consider this as a rebellion to put you down. You are my life and if you lose, I lose as well. But my only intent for continuing this friendship is to bring quality to all of our lives and grow new facets to my personality.
Akshay, I also know that I am hurting you greatly by doing this. But, I just can’t tell you enough; how much I wish to eradicate your hurt and make you understand what a beautiful relationship I share with Shree. I can understand your insecurities which you feel and which make you behave in a peculiar way. But I just want to convince you that IT’S OK even if it’s this way. I am not missing anything in our life to try and find that with Shree.
You and Shree are two completely separate yet equally important parts of my life – you even more. And I assure you that it will never overlap – or rather I would never let it overlap. I just ask a little more acceptance and time from you. Please give a patient thought to my point of view. And one day will come when the three of us will sit together having our coffee and discussing the next movie to watch.
I love you so much and want to grow old with you – nothing can change it and hope you feel it as much as I do.
Image source: pexels
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