Nivedita, my childhood friend, called me in the midst of a hectic workday, sounding pretty excited.
“Guess who I found?” she gushed.
I wasn’t in the mood to play the guessing game. But not wanting to play spoilsport, I reeled off some names.
“It’s Parth,” she said, still excited, “Do you remember him?”
How could I forget? Parth was her ex-boyfriend who had broken her heart.
Nivi’s parents were eager to get her married, but Parth wasn’t ready to commit till he got a job. He had let her go without a fight.
She was now married for more than 8 years with a 7-year-old daughter.
“Don’t you want to know the juicy bits?” she asked, surprised by my silence.
“Of course,” I said, “Fill me in.” Whether I wanted to know or not, I knew she’d give me the details anyway!
“Parth found me on Facebook! He was so happy to be back in touch! And you know what he said? That I look hot! And,” she continued, “He was sorry he let me go. He’s been flirting with me since,” she giggled.
“How can you be excited about this?” I fumed. She had been a mess after the heartbreak.
“Thinking of it now, maybe I never got over him.” She sounded quite sad as she said that.
A stifling marriage
I knew Nivi and her husband Karthik were going through a rough patch in their marriage. Her mother-in-law had refused to let Nivi have a career. Karthik was a workaholic. While she craved time alone with Karthik, her daughter’s playground was her only outing.
To me, this involvement with Parth seemed like a rebound relationship.
“See, I know you and Karthik are having issues…”
She cut me off.
“C’mon, I’m not going to run away with Parth. It’s harmless.”
“As long you are friends, I guess, it’s fine,” I said.
“Parth’s so lonely, his wife is working onsite in Philadelphia,” she added as an afterthought.
The audacity of the man! How could Nivi be so naïve not to see through his intentions?
I put my thoughts into words this time but it only made her angrier.
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It’s not like that!
“You don’t understand,” she said, “I’m sure Parth still likes me. He listens to me when I speak and notices what I wear. He supports his wife’s career decisions. Has Karthik ever supported me? Does he ever notice how I look? He wouldn’t realise if I had a face transplant.”
Her ex-boyfriend was giving her the attention she craved. But he had also broken her heart once and I was afraid he would do it again.
I tried to assure her it wasn’t true, and that Karthik did care about her. I wanted to talk her out of this relationship she was building with Parth again. But she laughed away my concern.
I wondered if I was being judgmental.
A few weeks later, she called me again.
“I need your advice,” she said. “Parth says he loves me. He says we should give our relationship another chance.”
Exactly what I had been dreading!
“What do you want to do?” I asked her.
“If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking you.”
“Why don’t you ask him to get a divorce? That way you can be sure he’s committed this time.”
She seemed to agree. “So, should I get a divorce too?”
“Do you want to?” I asked. I hoped she’d say no.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I don’t hate Karthik, though I hate the way he treats me. But I can’t stop thinking if I would have been happier with Parth.”
After a longish conversation, I was happy she wasn’t contemplating divorce.
“Nivi, you have known Karthik for much longer than you have known Parth, haven’t you? Karthik may not say it the way Parth does, but doesn’t your heart know who loves you more?”
“But what if Parth does too?”
“Check it out, then.”
Related reading: What to do when you fall for a married man
The same old story
A day later, she called me again.
“I was such a fool!” she cried. “I asked Parth to get a divorce from his wife and do you know what he said?” she gasped. “He said, ‘Whoever said anything about getting married? Let’s stay this way. No strings attached.’ Can you believe it?”
“Yes, I do,” I said sympathising with her.
“All he wanted was an affair!”
I let her vent all she wanted.
But I was glad she had gotten over this initial hurdle, making the right decision at last. She still had to work it out with Karthik, but I was sure she’d tide over some day.