I was perched on the edge of a hillock. In the distance, a mirage flashed and I absently wondered if it was just my imagination. The pain came in spurts, like shards of glass relentlessly stabbing a startled heart. My mind swung from numbness to delirium and back again. The incoherence and frustration of the past few days threatened to push me off the cliff. How could my wife be having an affair? It was like being told that you have a life-threatening disease when all along you thought it only happened to someone else. The past ten years played liked a movie in my head, some parts flashing by, some in slow motion. Where had I gone wrong? Like a kitten with a ball of yarn, the more I tried to unravel my thoughts, the more tangled they got.
Ours was an ordinary love marriage. We were young and dreamy-eyed about the future. Maya had always wanted to study further and I unreservedly encouraged her to pursue her dream. It took her two years to complete her course, after which a wonderful opportunity came along and she resumed her career. Looking back, it was about then that the scales had started looking lopsided. Her new position, snooty colleagues and flashy social circle changed her. The real problem, however, started when she brought that attitude home. It crept into our lives like slow poison, unbeknownst and unfamiliar.
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Around this time, our daughter was born. I hoped fervently that our little daughter would bring us closer. But to my chagrin, the opposite happened. Maya became even more distant. Initially I put it down to post-partum abstinence, but the distance only seemed to grow. I turned my attention to my daughter, Asavari, who, true to her name, signified the spirit of the heavens to me. Maybe some day she would bring Maya closer to me. Meanwhile, Maya’s apathy continued and having exhausted my attempts, I resignedly accepted it.
The worst though, was yet to come. Fast-forward to eight years later, I started sensing a different kind of change in Maya. There was something about her demeanour that alerted me. Her covert texting at odd hours, the furtive glances to ensure she wasn’t noticed, the cloak-and-dagger stance. It baffled me at first until I found out that she was involved with someone at work. It threw me into a kind of despair that I didn’t know was possible. Questions reverberated and threatened to explode in my head for want of answers. That was what drove me to that hillock, to the brink of suicide. In hindsight, it was also the turning point in my personal journey.
If I stayed sane through it all, it was only because I never let Asavari’s image leave my subconscious, and a couple of friends who kept me afloat. I threw myself into meditation and Pranic healing. As I healed my brokenness, it became easier to face the trials life had so brutally thrown at me. There’s a Khaled Hosseini quote from The Kite Runner that deeply resonated with me. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night,” he writes. I decided to forgive my wife, because that was the only way to move forward. Maya was remorseful too and tried to make amends. Like two insomniacs willing the night away, we looked forward to the impending dawn.
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Two years later, I am grateful for whatever stopped me from inching forward on the cliff that day. I’ve made major leaps in my personal as well as my professional life and am riveted by my own journey. My relationship with Maya might not be perfect yet, but we have slowly built up cordiality in our daily life. We are raising Asavari with all the love we can provide her. Life could have been a withered mess but my spiritual journey gave me the courage to find acceptance and peace. To anyone who is troubled by life’s unsolicited dramas (which is everyone of us at some point or the other), I highly recommend a daily dose of meditation.
A couple of weeks ago, we went on a road trip. When we came back, our relationship felt like a freshly budded rose on a thus far barren plant. In the end, everything has a point.
When you look back at life, every experience, every emotion, every hurdle seems justified. And even if it doesn’t, we can do nothing but accept it.
“You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride,” writes Jodi Picoult in her novel, Mercy. It’s true. No couple meets each other exactly half way. At every hurdle, someone has to stretch out a hand and pull the other one over.
(As told to Renica Rego)