It was what the newspapers would refer to as a ‘high profile party’. The men were all in their partywear or their version of party wear. Look-at-me shirts with the name of a well-known fashion designer tailored to hide the burgeoning paunches that almost all of them seemed to the sport. Signs of success. Who has time for exercise anyway, careers are far more important. The selfies were being taken with the unflattering wobbly bits being cut out of the frame. “I can’t hold my tummy in, any longer, please click fast,” said one of the men to many guffaws. It made a great picture, almost on the same level as the Ellen Degeneres selfie.
The women in comparison were fitter. Perhaps they had more time as their husbands worked hard to provide them with a luxury lifestyle with access to the best gyms, enough hired help and hours of leisure. I know as I asked what they did, and mostly their answers were that they ‘helped out’ in the husband’s businesses. The women mostly over forty were in designer wear, high heels, off-shoulder dresses, perfectly manicured nails and sported dazzling smiles. Fake or genuine, I could not tell as there was more than ample Dom Perignon, Glenfiddich and Chivas that had done the rounds, ironing out the awkwardness, concealing the effort that it took to fit into those dresses to look glamorous.
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“Congratulations,” I said when we entered the party and greeted our hosts.
“Yeah, 18 years is quite something,” said my hostess. She was wearing a diamond necklace which outshone the spark in her eyes. They were lifeless and her smile did not quite reach her lips.
“So, now your marriage is an adult. It can do what it wants,” I said and everyone laughed. She laughed the loudest
Later I overheard her tell her friend that her husband had gifted her the necklace. Her friend made a face and remarked, “Well, you have put up with him for 18 years, now display it, babe, you have earned it.”
When I had a chance to converse with the women, I asked them what marriage meant to them. They looked at me a little strangely. “Arey yaar, tu itna soch mat,” said one of the women. (Please don’t think so much).
The words stuck in my head. Is that all what marriages are about? An expensive trinket or a corner villa with a garden and four bedrooms or a wardrobe stuffed with Jimmy Choo and Chanel,—all of it to be ‘shown off’, prizes for the ‘years of putting up with each other’. The couple was certainly not in love. I could tell by the body language and the clipped tones. Yet they were ‘celebrating’.
Perhaps they cared for each other, perhaps they had their moments, perhaps today was a bad day, perhaps they had just had a fight. Or perhaps not.
The thing about marriages, especially when you have been in them for many years, is that the same passion that you had when you first met slowly erodes. We would burn out if we tried to maintain that level of intensity, where we would sit up whole nights talking to each other over the phone, something that any couple who has been in love would be familiar with.
Over the years, and especially after the children arrive unless some real effort has been taken to connect at every level, the couples just grow in different directions.
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Sure, they care for each other. But its definitely not the kind of love that makes your heart sing, your eyes shine and makes you want to do catapults in the middle of the street, not caring what anyone would think.
Married love is mostly a resigned acceptance, quietly watching from the sides, as the years slip by. Marriages are strange things, which each couple making peace in their own way, with what it means to them, even going to the extent of not thinking about it, refusing to even talk about it.