(Names changed to protect identities)
I told him that I too needed a chance to explore myself and my talents. At first, it sounded quite absurd to him that I might have any. So I stuck to my guns.
My daughter’s friends saw me as the cool mother, the one who actually spoke to you and offered an opinion, the one you came to when mom could not be approached, the one who had a friends’ circle when all the other mothers just focused on home and kids. Raj, on the other hand, was always somewhere in the background, appearing to be stuck to the living room sofa and needing to be waited on hand and foot.
Related reading: Divorce is about letting go, not holding on
Minakshi was happily married, as was Chirag, my son. They had children of their own. Then why this step so late in life? (I was over 50 when I got my divorce.) It was not some deep, dark secret that Raj kept hidden from me or even an extramarital affair. Raj appears very passive but is extremely possessive and aggressive in a quiet sort of way. My going out of the house except to buy vegetables met with such aggressive reactions that I wondered why I should put up with it any longer. Raj had once pressed my bangles into my wrist so hard that they had broken and left me bleeding. That’s why I never visited anyone in all these years.
When Minakshi and Chirag were young, it made sense to put up with all this. Not that he hit me or anything, it was just that he thought he owned me. Besides, we had no common interests.
He loves brinjals, I am allergic to them. I love to travel and meet people, he doesn’t. He loves slow music, I follow trends. There seemed to be no reason to continue torturing myself. Even if I never found anyone else to share these things with, at least I could enjoy them without his constant glowering and interference.
You don’t have to fall in love with someone else to know that you are not in love with someone.
When I got married, I thought I would learn to love him. I hoped that he and I would create a common ground of interests away from our differences. But boys are not brought up to compromise, you know.
Anyway, I am at peace now. I redecorated the house to suit my tastes, I have started painting and have even sold a few of them! Not that it supports me. Raj has to pay me alimony. He does so without protest or argument, I will give him that. Don’t get me wrong. He is not a bad man. It’s just that we did not seem to be good for each other. We argued about everything and disagreed. We kept our differences away from the kids but they knew. There were no great fights or arguments in their presence, just cold compromise.
My children seem to be quite all right with the divorce. Minakshi said that she often wondered why I hadn’t taken the step earlier!
Raj is living with Chirag and seems to be pretty happy there. Surprisingly, he always loved helping with household chores. So Manali finds him a dear.
True, I do sometimes feel a little scared, especially when I have a bout of ill health. But then those days are few and far between. I have a new circle of friends now, around my age, and we do keep tabs on each other. The kids and grandkids all call and come around regularly. But time truly flies when I am painting. I have never known such happiness. I wouldn’t trade it for all the security in the world.
(As told to Tulika Mukerjee Saha)