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He had lived all his life on the basis of a charismatic exterior, relying on the fascination of people weaker than him to prop him up. That is what he had hoped in our relationship.
A memory surfaced today and I am surprised.
When I was in the early ecstasies of being in love with my second husband, I wrote a short story about him.
And you know, it was not a romantic story, but a story about a young woman and an older man friend she looks up to. Because that is exactly how I saw him those days — as the wiser and older and more experienced person I could look up to and feel safe with. Romance was just a part of it.
Today, when I recalled the story, I just laughed aloud, because I can now see how much it reeks of girl-with-daddy-issues. It was well written no doubt, because I do write well, and given the context could have passed as good literature too. But right now, I am not looking at the story but the writer, and how un-self-aware I was then, in my early thirties, idolizing this older man.
He was ten years older than me.
Of course he turned out nothing like what I had imagined at all. As our relationship deepened, all his hidden insecurities and inadequacies started to spill out.
As I got closer and closer to him, and started seeing into the innermost parts of him and started to point out the wounds of psychological trauma I saw there, it drove him crazy because he did not know what to do with those wounds. He had lived all his life on the basis of a charismatic exterior, relying on the fascination of people weaker than him to prop him up.
That is what he had hoped in our relationship, and in all honesty, I was a willing participant in this plan. But as things started to surface and I began to lose the glory look in my eyes, he went totally berserk about the fact that he could no longer be my hero, that I was seeing him as he was — as a human being with flaws.
I guess the only true redeeming factor of that relationship had been the sex. It was deep and tender, and with time it rose to levels of sacredness and bliss and expansion I had never imagined myself capable of.
Long after the relationship ended, the experience still has a very stabilizing effect on my life. It has helped me stay sexually contained and peaceful through almost ten years of not having any sexual expression. I am truly grateful for that part of the experience.
But again it could not last. His maddening insecurity, his control and violence finally outweighed the positives and after spending three or four years in total cluelessness as to how to handle these two contradictory sides of him, I finally decided to quit, feeling terribly let down on a deep journey I had begun.
And then I had to watch as in his panic he fell further, accusing me of infidelity and threatening me like a common bully and clinging to me till the very last, because he had no clue how to live his life without a subservient woman bolstering him up.
And today for the first time it has finally fallen through for me why the sex was so good in a relationship that was so messed up on both sides. Because we had both felt safe to open up, but not in a healthy way.
He felt safe because he thought he had found the ideal adoring partner who would go on looking up to him and making him feel good about himself and never see his wounded side. And I was of course the lost young mother with desperate daddy issues bending over backwards to find a man she could lionize and be patted on the head in return.
It was not the healthy sense of safety that two equals, each comfortable with their own self, find in each other. Which is why despite the heights of beauty and divinity to which it rose, it also crashed and burned. Safety between two people is a beautiful thing but without safety in oneself it has no legs to stand on.
But coming back to that story with which I began. It was published, and much admired too. What is more, I had a plan to write a full fledged romantic novel with this story as the starting point. As I reminisce, I am laughing, and also thanking my stars I did not end up writing it. And for the first time in my life I am grateful I did not become the successful novelist that I dreamt of becoming at age 35. I would only have thrown my own bullshit at the world and felt good about myself.
Image source: a still from the film English Vinglish
Aparna Pallavi's current callings are as a therapist, contemplative writer and researcher of indigenous and forest foods. Gender and patriarchy are among her favorite subjects in her contemplative writing. Formerly she has had a 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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