(Names changed to protect identities)
It was love at sixth sight. Though I liked her looks, what made me fall in love with Josephine was her lightheartedness, arising out of a flirtatious nature. Her cheerful persona and my strong-n-silent self gelled so well that we earned the best couple award in a romantic quiz in college.
The obvious thing after a courtship of five years was to get married. There were no glitches. However, God does not like simple love stories with happy endings, and so he sent her childhood friend Kishan into our lives.
“Oh my God, is this hot hunk the same scrawny lad who had a running nose in school??” said she as Kishan walked into our drawing room one day. I welcomed him and listened to their endless banter about school days in good spirit. I did not mind it then. But today, two years down the line, I wish he had never shown up.
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The US-returned single friend of my wife had few friends and so decided to hang out with us. As a modern thinking man, I saw no harm. But over time it became detrimental to my emotional health.
I don’t know why and how I became the victim of jealousy. Both of them behaved normally and there were no overtones of sexual or emotional intimacy. But it looked to me like a potential bomb that could blast any time. Did I feel the palpable chemistry between the two? Or was it Josephine’s flirtatious nature that made me insecure? Or deep down, was I an insecure person?
I don’t know. But as days turned into a year the symptoms started manifesting.
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Whenever I saw Josephine’s face brighten on Kishan’s arrival, I would feel the churning of emotions, leading me to excuse myself after greeting him coldly. Even after he left I would not talk to my wife for a day or two. “What is bothering you? Talk to me, Ronny,” she would plead, but I would isolate myself and seethe with anger, thinking, “Why can’t she understand?” After the turmoil settled I would chide myself, “Ron, what is wrong with you? You trust your wife and know she would not sleep around, then why are you feeling like this?” But there were no answers.
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Then started the cat and mouse game when I would look for an opportunity to check her mobile and Facebook page to find some sort of an interaction between the two. But there was nothing there except for ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Night’. That would leave me more frustrated. My mind went on a roller coaster ride asking umpteen questions. “How much is she sharing with him?” “Is she emotionally closer to him than to me?” And not finding the answers, I started getting anxiety attacks when she neglected me or showed less care and affection. I got into a rut, lost interest in my work, lost my confidence due to low self-esteem and became a nervous wreck. Our relationship too was getting affected by it all.
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It has been two years and I feel depressed thinking about Kishan. However, I am not able to do anything, as I am afraid to share it with Josephine. She might lose respect for me, as one of the things she liked about me was my liberal and modern outlook. Since there is no evidence of an affair, I can neither confront her nor hate her. I feel helpless. However, I am mustering the courage to address it, even at the cost of losing her, as I cannot take it anymore.
Today I realise that however modern or liberal we may become in our approach, it is very difficult to overcome the basic human emotions like jealousy that can create havoc in one’s life.
Sometimes physical or mental chemistry can get two people close to each other in a way that crosses the fine line of friendship into intimacy.
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So I redefine my belief and at the cost of sounding old-fashioned, state that it is always better for a man and a woman to keep their boundaries clear and well defined and not come too close in the name of friendship.
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(As told to Darshana Doshi)