(As told to Dipannita Ghosh Biswas)
Names have been changed to protect identities
I had no second thoughts – I knew I wanted to marry Anika and went on to convince my family. She took a while with her folks though, as they had way too many reservations. I’d say the distance wasn’t helping either – we were on site in Sydney while the families were in Kolkata. They knew we were colleagues but they weren’t privy to the fact that we had been living together for more than a year now. Our consistent efforts paid off though and in a few months, we were legally and socially announced man and wife.
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The wedding was a grand affair but I had just about a month’s leave. Anika’s project in Sydney was long over – even before we got married – which meant she would have to stay on in Kolkata. Now, this was turning out to be one hard obstacle to tackle but then, did we have another option? Not yet. I remember the airport scene just before I took off for Sydney – as filmy as it could get, complete with tears and promises to soon find a way out of the current deadlock.
Little did I know what awaited us, or maybe, me, in particular.
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Back to real life
In a couple of days, we were back to the humdrum of our daily routines. The time zone difference affected the quality of communication but well, I always found a way out for that Skype call or a quick voice chat. I assumed it was the hectic schedules and tiredness that made her sound wary and aloof. Whenever I asked her about joining me in Sydney, she sounded distanced and non-committal. I didn’t press further and she never ever brought the topic up. Anika used to alternate between living at her place and my home initially. Soon she began to visit my folks once a fortnight probably. I thought it was more convenient for her to stay over at her place, just a few minutes to work.
When I asked her to come over to Sydney for my birthday, she sounded so passive, almost as if I was asking her for a favour which she wasn’t keen on. I made a mental note to have a freewheeling chat with her in person when we were together. She came and her short stay was uneventful but I could sense something amiss.
We went out for walks and drives, cooked together, ordered in and did all the little things I missed, rather we missed doing as a couple.
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There’s someone else
When I spoke to Anika about coming over for good, she dropped the bomb. “I don’t see a reason to move here – I want to stay in Kolkata,” she replied. What about us then I quizzed, to which she casually said, “There’s someone else.” I couldn’t believe what I heard. I needed to know more than just that. What happened in the last few months? I sat her down and she went on to tell me about a colleague of ours, the ‘someone else’. She changed her tickets to an earlier date and left for Kolkata.
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We spoke again, my parents and her parents spoke with her as well, but she was determined not to move in with me or not have anything to do with the ‘someone else’. He’s married, so is she – not to each other – and here we are in a situation that we didn’t know how to deal with. I thought it might help to lie low and let matters cool off. When I called her, there was no change. Do we move on? “What’s the hurry?” is all she left me with.
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I need answers
Really? No hurry at all? I have many questions to which there are few answers. What next, I ask myself. I have no clue what she meant when she asked me if I was in a hurry. I don’t know if there’s a hurry, but I do know there’s a lot of pain. Believe it or not, it is a myth that men are always the perpetrators while women are silent sufferers. Though the scale almost always tips heavily to women’s rights, one look around and you will find a sizeable number of men bearing the brunt of gender biased laws and a society in which women’s rights are a publicly discussed subject but men’s rights struggle to come out in the open. I’m a married singleton today. The stress and trauma that I’ve been going through hurts, but well, who’s listening! I wish I knew why she left me.