(As told to Riti Kaunteya)
(Names changed to protect identities)
Everybody’s looking at me!
“This is nothing. In college, I had four proposals from boys every year.”
I should have taken that as a warning sign of her narcissist tendencies. It ranged from battling apparent unwanted male attention, to feeling she was the target of all lascivious street Romeos singing bawdy songs and that she needed protection when she was out alone. She was one of those simpering females who gather a troupe to walk to the toilet or water cooler for fear of being eve-teased or approached by senior boys. Women hate their attitude, but with a guy like me who always ends up in the friend or bhai zone, such women get good bodyguards and helps.
Before I knew it, I was buying breakfast, finishing her presentation and being at her beck and call. In hindsight, I realised she possessed a sense of entitlement and imagined I owed it to her. When we started to date, Monisha’s expectations became more grandiose. On her birthday, she didn’t think a chocolate cake for two and a bunch of flowers was romantic. She pouted, threw a glorious tantrum and not so gently reminded me of the party that Namrata’s boyfriend Sumant had thrown her after office hours. Sumant needs to be smacked for setting the benchmark.
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I felt honoured that she was insecure about my love
If there was a narcissist pattern in her behaviour, I did not pick that up when we dated. I noticed that she never lavished attention on me with grand gestures; however, she showed her love through extreme possessiveness. Funnily enough, I felt good about it, as I felt honoured and important that she was insecure about my love for her. She hardly had girlfriends; her full focus was on me. She would shed copious tears to make me feel guilty when I made plans with friends, and slowly, I began to feel I was being unfair to her by spending time away from her.
Our wedding was a grand affair, because, according to her, she deserved it.
The first few months were blissful. Monisha swooped over and took charge of my life. She chose my clothes. She decided she deserved the bigger and more spacious wardrobes and I was relegated to using the guest room wardrobe. But I was happy, because she took care of my needs and maintained a perfect home. She expected perfection and took the moral high road when I faltered or sullied her perfect home. She chose the movies we would watch, the music that we heard and the places we would holiday in. Monisha genuinely believed that it was what both of us wanted, and not just what she wanted.
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She decided how we lived our lives
She was still unhappy. She’d met our boss’s wife, a socialite who lived the high life. Monisha imagined that was the pinnacle of self-indulgence and quit. She began to spend her days in kitty parties. Looking back, I realise she never was a hardworking person, but liked to be pampered, so she left her job.
She decided who among my friends were of suspicious character, who were a bad influence or selfish, whose wife was out of her league and therefore not worth socialising with and who was out to break our marriage. I would secretly meet my friends, because I was ashamed to admit that she had driven a wedge between us.
She hated my parents and my sister. It built slowly. It started with the little things. Like when I bought a sari for both her and my mother. She felt insulted that I had not spent more on her sari. She was enraged when I bought a watch for my sister. Monisha liked to be the centre of attention, so she hated that we celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom before Monisha became a mother.
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The literal breaking point
However, when she became a mother, she was a devoted one. So devoted that I felt they would be smothered with her love one day. Nevertheless, I overlooked every aspect of her narcissism, because she took excellent care of them. The children, in turn, worshipped her and I suppressed the feeling that they loved her more than me.
When she flew into her famous rages, she never hesitated in smashing objects. However, she always hurled the unbreakable or unimportant stuff; the children’s plastic toys or shoes when they littered, a steel plate or a full set of ugly cups that my friend had gifted us. I never worried, even though her anger bothered me sometimes.
One Friday night, I was working on a presentation. She began to complain about the impending arrival of my parents to our home for the month because their house was undergoing repairs. I ignored her, saying I needed to finish my work, but the truth was I didn’t want to waste time and energy having another argument. As it is, she had shed tears for nearly the whole of the previous week when I had agreed to the arrangement with my parents. My not responding to the tantrums did not go down well with her. Before I could fathom the mood shift, she picked up my laptop and hurled it out of our sixth floor window.
We cannot go on like this
That was the last straw. For the first time, I felt genuine fury. So much that I was afraid I would do something that I would regret later. So, I packed my bags, took the children and left, because I hated the thought of them being with her when she was at her worst behaviour. We checked into a hotel and stayed there to cool off. As it always happened with her, she came to her senses in a few hours. She called me several times and sent several messages apologising profusely. However, I refused to take the bait.
By Sunday night, we went back home, because the children had to get back to normal life. We had a long chat. Were we happy with each other? What will happen to the children if we part ways? This question bothered both of us. Therefore, I convinced her that we should go for counselling. She reluctantly agreed and here we are. I wonder if the sessions will help. Otherwise, I will not hesitate to end this marriage.