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A Generation Of ‘Forgive & Forget’

I went to lunch with a beloved aunt, last week. She is one of my role models, having blazed the corporate path in the 70s and faced racial and gender prejudices. She has also had a ‘love marriage’ to a wonderful but non-Tamilian man. We spoke of work (hers and mine) and relationships (mine). She asked me about someone from my past that she knew. I shrugged and said,

“He’s well, I hear. Doing some great work. We don’t talk often but I get the news.”

She looked out of the window for a long minute. I waited for the nugget of wisdom or keen observation I knew was about to come (from so many other such insightful conversations with her). She said,

“I think it’s a generation thing. I can’t imagine any of my peers being able to do that.”

She was referring of course, to how ‘okay’ we are with our ex-es. She told me about a friend who studiously avoided a certain couple, because once, years ago, the man had been discussed as an arranged matrimonial prospect for her.

Forgive and Forget

I didn’t need time to respond because it’s something I’ve pondered and experienced, especially this last year too. It is a generational thing, sort of. I don’t think that we are any more ‘mature’ or ‘strong’ or any of those adjectives that people use to make themselves feel superior. It is true that we don’t cut our failed/thwarted relationships off as much as the previous generation might have. Sometimes, we even seem to achieve that miraculous state of being friends with our exes. But I think it is necessity rather than virtue that drives us.

We live in an even more populous but much more connected world than the generation before us. The matrix of human experience is comprised of multiple and multi-layered connections. While there are more of us, we are also segmented a lot more rigidly and closely. Everybody knows everybody within our segments.

Take my case, for instance. All my associations are with people who are in cities, digitally savvy, in professions like management, communication, marketing, publishing. These are people whose lives overlap with mine because of the place we are in, the professions we follow, the hobbies we enjoy and the activities we pursue. There are bound to be several people who know us – colleagues, friends, acquaintances, partners, clients – people who are one thing to one of us and another to the other (my friend is his classmate, his neighbor is my colleague etc).

In order to truly cut a person out of this, I would have to snip off all the other connections. And for each of those connections, there would be numerous others to be severed. I’m not even counting all the possibilities that I’d be saying no to. (“I can’t work in that company because his best friend works there”, “I can’t go to that party because his current girlfriend is an event sponsor.”) Completely severing one relationship means tearing the entire social fabric around me and limiting my own existence. Is any one person worth that effort?

I think most of us don’t actually feel the same trusting, affectionate friendship for our exes that we feel for people that we don’t share a romantic history with. But we manage to tolerate them, put aside strong emotions in favour of dignity/political correctness/peace. And over time it gets easier and almost real. I’m not great friends with anybody who has hurt me in a relationship before. But I don’t wish them harm. And mostly I’m enough at peace with it to not put our common associations through inconvenience. And as weeks, months, years pass, other people and associations take priority.

Which brings me to, the fact that we have more choices. Even in tradition-bound, family-values-strangled urban India. Widow remarriage, divorce, break-ups – these are realities that we don’t like but find ways to accept anyway. Having options for the future is the surest, easiest way to keep from clinging to the past. Who has the time and energy to stay upset over a five-year-old association when the demands of the current are so pressing? Not my generation.

*Image courtesy nuttakit on FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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Endings Are New Beginnings

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...

This is over. I am single again. I don’t wish to say anymore about this right now.

I believe I’ve spent as much of my life on this as is humanly possible and fair. I want to get on with the business of the rest of my life. So don’t hold me back with conversations about my past, please.

If you want to be polite, don’t contact me. If you want to be sensitive, contact me if you like but don’t talk about this. I’m witholding comments on this post because I don’t want to hear any condolences, pep talks or ex-bashing. XX Factor will resume its usual democratic policy with the next post.

How To Break Up

I read an article which touched a raw nerve. The article had tips on how to break-up while avoiding the discomfort of the whole process. Now, having gone through this so very many times, I can attest to the fact that practice does not make perfect. There is no easy way to dump someone or get dumped for that matter. In either case you look bad. It is uncomfortable for both parties.

That should perhaps be one’s solace, that no one is the ‘winner’ in this. It’s a relationship that needs termination, not a race or a war – at least I hope it hasn’t reached that stage. Even in the worst, most unpleasant situations, try and remember that there must have been some nice moments with the person. That’s probably preachy and I can’t live up to that always, myself, so I’ll try another tack.

Speaking out of pure practical intent, if it’s over, the person and the relationship do not deserve any more time and attention invested in them. Make a clean break, it is really the simplest thing to do. Elaborate farces, heavy emotional drama all of them take their toll…or at very least require you to do SOMETHING…anything.

And finally I think anybody who has been close to you, even briefly deserves the dignity of the truth, at least. Leaving a person with empty questions is consigning a shitload of emotional baggage to their lot. Maybe that’s what you want after how they’ve made you feel…but really, how much do you gain over making a person think of you everyday, badly? I’d rather they don’t think of me at all than think of me maliciously.

Don’t bother with the blame-game (how does it matter who is responsible anyway? Believe me you’re going to feel just as shitty about it, whether you acknowledge it or not). And honestly, honestly it does not matter who actually verbalises it, partings are generally painful anyway.

As for how they are going to react, if you’re breaking up with them, why should it matter anymore? I tell myself that…and yes, I’m a person who can’t handle other people’s emotional scenes and tears. They are responsible for their behaviour but you are responsible for yours.

I’m all for a clean break, the simple truth, served up direct without frills.

Being at peace with yourself is often a function of how cleanly you’ve lived your choices. Think of all that, the next time you need to call a halt to a relationship.

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*An earlier version was posted here. One version appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

To Marry Or Not To Marry, That Is The Question

Recently a friend explained why he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage. He can’t stand the political dynamics that are natural to any family, the complication of multiple opinions and agendas and the excessive rituals. I can’t say I agree. I know there is a common notion (further popularized by pop culture) that women are programmed to love the idea of marriage, due to the paraphernalia of weddings. But those aren’t my reasons for believing in marriage.

First of all, I distinguish the wedding from the marriage. The wedding is the formalization, the ceremony that symbolizes that two people are henceforth bound together, socially and legally. Customs may vary but this is the fundamental purpose of every single wedding ceremony conducted over the world. It is a ritual and like all other rituals, it only has as much significance as the people carrying it out, attach to it. It is true that no paper or custom can ensure or create a fulfilling union between two people. That has to be built by the two people in question, bit by agonizing, confusing, wearying bit.

Let’s look at marriage itself, beyond the rituals, beyond the superficialities of sindoor and rings. It is the meeting and combining of two people’s lives. It is the merging of assets, of tangible ones like money & possessions and of intangibles like career, eating habits, lifestyle choices etc.

Take the most basic human action of eating. Everyone does it. It’s difficult enough to decide on one meal to be shared by two people (eating place, seating, cuisine, taste, spice, vegetarian/non-vegetarian etc). How much more complicated it would be to repeat this for the rest of the two people’s lives? Multiply that several thousandfold for every other aspect of life above food.

This alone tells me that the only sensible way to start is to do it in an organized manner. Marriage signifies just that, with several of the supposedly meaningless rituals providing a framework for two people to undertake this arduous venture. I’d say that’s a template at best and can (and should) be customized to the couple’s requirements.

Considering what a massive undertaking this is, it’s only prudent to account for issues and breakdowns. I think it’s a fool’s errand to go starry-eyed into something as big as a lifelong relationship and assume blithely that everything will work out in a ‘happily ever after’ way. Marriages are not always happy. Unions are not guaranteed to work. Compatibility may not last. While a relationship should only be undertaken with the hopes of it working, the possibility that it may not should also be borne in mind.

What then of two lives that were joint together (or at least attempted to)? The division of those aforementioned assets is yet another complicated exercise, one that often consumes the people involved, completely and leaves everyone dissatisfied. There’s no easy way to unite or to end emotional involvement; that bit is always going to be bloody. It seems wise to at least sort of the relatively easier things like possessions and even that’s not easy. A formal ritual strikes me as the process that can be closed most cleanly. If at this juncture, the law must be brought in as an impartial third party, it is only fair to have it be a party to the union right at the start, which is the legal wedding ritual.

Personally, I may have the temerity to go against society and the strength to survive a messy breakdown, outside the structure of marriage. However, I cannot guarantee the same for my children. It doesn’t feel fair for me to thrust my life’s choices and their consequences onto my children, even before they choose it for themselves. Society still isn’t easy on the children of a single parent, especially an unmarried one, never mind an unmarried mother. Whether I ever have children or not is immaterial. This is far too important for me to overlook what might be even a remote possibility.

I won’t (and haven’t) run around desperately in search of a partner to sucker him into the grand party of a wedding. I’ve lived a reasonably happy single life for many years. However, if I decide to build a lifelong relationship with a man, marriage is the only way I’d consider going about it.

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A version of this article is posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

XXFactored Jan2011: Dutch Dates, Blind Dates, Lipstick, Wingmen, Dumping, Sex & Style

The first month of 2011 opens bright and clear for me. I think I’ve gotten a grip on this Bookmarked feature but I’m still waiting for your inputs. Talk to me! Tell me if this works for you and why. Do you prefer getting the links as-and-when on the XX Factor Facebook Page? Or do you like seeing a ‘best of’ list at the end of the month? What else would you like to see? What would you like to dump?

Here are my picks for the first month of the year. We’re heading into the (not going to say it, not going to say it) pink, heart-shaped month of February and  that could mean a number of interesting things for XX Factor. Keep reading!

  • As a bonafide geek-girl, I guess these are the women, it would be a compliment to be compared to: Ten Classic Nerd Queens Over 40 (via Gunaxin)
  • To go dutch or not, that is the big question. Here’s some reasonably sound advice from a man: The New Take On Going Dutch (via ManOfTheHouse)
  • Pop psychology has its uses, especially in dating!: Judging A Guy’s Dating Potential By His Job (via YourTango)
  • There’s nothing quite like red lipstick. It really is the superhero cape for a girl! How To Do Red Lips For Indian Skin (via Republic of Chic)
  • If this were in a movie or a book, I’d deem it cheesy. But here, I’m all “Awww…”: “The customer is only enrolling so she can see you more often. The customer is in love with you.” (via PostSecret)
  • A Girl Who Set Up 15 Dates In The Same Bar…And Stood Them All Up! (via Nerve)
  • Find The Perfect Wingman! (via Foster’s)
  • Harsh but true: “You always post those “85% of people don’t have the courage to post this as their status” FB status updates.” (via ThatsWhyIDumpedYou)
  • On bad-boy-loving women and how to behave around them (via AskMen)
  • 12 Types Of Friends You Should Break Up With (via YourTango)
  • A matrilinear society in modern day India? (via TheGuardian, tipped off by Sveccha Kumar)
  • 10 Fun Facts About Kissing: See no.4 on this list! I’m tempted to say it’s worth living a short life if you live it rightly and kissfully! (via TheFrisky)
  • Tricky Tacky Trousers (via WTForever21)
  • Health is a privilege for Indian women: 70% can’t afford sanitary napkins, reveals study (via TimesOfIndia)
  • I’ll stick with ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’.:Passion Fades & The Phenomenon Has A LOLsy Name (via NakedCity)
  • What women really think of sex (via Twitter)

XXFactored! Dec2010 – Social Networking, Relationship Dilemmas, Fashion Follies & A Masulinist Edge

December has been full of drama and dazzle as always…a wonderful way to finish the year! I’ve been running ragged between parties, lunches, brunches, dinners, meeting out-of-town friends and family and celebrations. But I have managed to keep up with what’s hot and happening on the internet as well. And here’s what I was warming my fingertips with this month on XX Factor:

  • Financial independence, earning capacity…What’s sex got to do with it? (via Yahoo! Real Beauty)
  • Does this mean I can claim my romcom DVDs under ‘Education Expenses’? Lessons from 90s romcoms (via YourTango)
  • Grrrlllll power! Or maybe men are just easier to pick up than women! (via RhealityRings)
  • We’ve seen ChickLit and then DickLit (or LadLit). Now here’s to GadLit (which is my truncation of Gay Lad Lit)! Tell what is thunk? (via Gaysi Family)
  • Other people’s mistakes almost always provide a laugh…especially when they’re bigtime celebrity types. So here’s appealing to the inner cat in all of us. Miaow to that! (via Yahoo!)
  • Maybe a lack of flexibility is the cause for most of our problems. That, and the fact that we expect people to love in exactly the same way we do. (via Twitter)
  • My post on Yahoo! Real Beauty and a version of it that appeared earlier right here on XX Factor. I’m still asking for your thoughts.
  • Five secret tests guys use to evaluate you while on a date (via Glamour).
  • You can outsource anything in today’s day and age!! (via idump4U)
  • Of course, this has a misogynistic air about it but it is funny. How to spot (and save your wallet from) a golddigger. (via The Bachelor Guy)
  • Earlier posted on The XX Factor and now also on Yahoo! Real Beauty – the world’s most popular social network adds another layer of complexity to the already-intricate labyrinth of relationships.
  • If our relationships are a reflection of the games we’re used to playing, maybe the people we date, are images of our favorite toys. Who then are we, by the toys we play with? (via Yahoo! Real Beauty).
  • I can’t vouch for the people but the idea sounds interesting. For all you single bibliophiles out there! Alikewise is a dating website that matches you with people of similar book tastes.
  • Really interesting how many of the roles depicted on this list tackled gender stereotypes. Ten ladies who’ve cross-dressed for roles. (via TheFrisky)
  • Revolutionary or ridiculous? You tell me. I’m going with funny. “French Women Who Like To Swim Topless Protest By Asking Men To Wear Bikini Tops” (via TheFrisky).
  • I tend to avoid risque on The XX Factor but this one was too good to pass up! TheFrisky‘s Sexy Rating Chart!
  • Eh heh heh. This site makes fun of the Forever 21 brand. But this post likened superheroes to hookers. Funny, that resemblance never occurred to me. (via WTForever21)
  • Earlier on The XX Factor and now on Yahoo! Real Beauty: Why do we trade in the attention of a hundred men for the indifference of one?
  • A rather looooong article but it brings up some salient points. Gender equality isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, is it?”A modest proposal for male reproductive rights” (via MensNewsDaily).

If you found yourself featured here, if you’d like to be or even if you just enjoyed anything on this list (or…umm, didn’t), hop over to the XX Factor Facebook Page and talk to me about it! A very happy new year, everyone! XX Factor will see you on the other side of 2011.

Non Sequitur*

The Non-relationship because…

  • I need time.
  • I’m afraid of committment (Honest but jackshit nevertheless)
  • I’m really busy building my career right now.
  • My family won’t approve of us.
  • We don’t know each other that well.

The Non-conversation because…

  • It’s too embarassing to talk about.
  • Why ruin a perfectly good mood?
  • There is never an answer.
  • If you start, I’ll leave!
  • Je ne comprehende pas…Parlez-vous Man-ese?
  • Oh, forget it.

The Non-boyfriend because…

  • Need I say (crib, wail, nag, complain, bitch) furthur?
  • Huh? ‘Boyfriend’ is spelt with four letters.
  • I’m really fond of you but I don’t love you.
  • I care, I don’t, I’m intense, I’m indifferent, I’m incomprehensible.
  • Ask him, I’m out of ideas

The Non-breakup because…

When did we ever say anything about getting together?

*Latin for “It does not follow”. Just like men and relationships. Hmph.

Real Women Don't Cry

They were in the same class. In my class.

She was the quintessential behenji in a hip crowd. Plaited hair, salwar-kameez and a sharp brain. In accordance to her curd-rice genes, she took copious notes, had a near-perfect attendance record and consistently high grades. She told me once that her ambition was to become like ‘one of those Matunga Tamilians’ meaning the kind that preened in a new kanjeevaram at every wedding, pattu-recital, arangaitram and poonal-ceremony. The ones that shopped in Matunga market and had kaapi at Madras Bhavan. The ones whose accent bespoke Tam-Bram-Americana. The ones who worked for multinational software companies in Silicon Valley. Or married someone who did. I didn’t like her. I never liked wannabes and the ruthlessly ambitious ones always scared me.

He was Mr.EasyGoing. One of the many small-town boys who made it big by getting a toe-hold in Mumbai, starting with a college admission. He hated mathematics but managed it better than several of his classmates, owing to his engineering background. Engineering in something quite unfashionable like…instrumentation? Textiles? I forget, it didn’t bear remembering anyway. He was dazzled by the glamour of Bollywood, the smartly dressed girls around, the flashy cars and cool clothes that his Mumbai peers owned. He had a rustic wide-eyed charm along with the sweet modesty of someone who knows he is just a moth in a crowd of butterflies. I liked him. Everyone did.

It seemed symbiotic. She was authoritative, demanding and bossy. He followed her around meekly, doing her bidding, snapping to her orders. And things always turned out well with high marks for everyone. We called him her P.A. Only because we liked him too much to call him the more realistic-but-demeaning ‘puppy-dog’. He bore it in good humour, as he did everything, smiling shyly. And all was well.

An entire year later, we had moved on to more serious things than other people’s admirers. Ardent admirers had metamorphosed into abusive boyfriends, cheating rogues and impossible cads. I looked across the canteen to her, a tinge of envy in my gaze. She had always had him right under her thumb and she wasn’t even that nice! And he was devoted to her.

Later that evening, I wandered back into the canteen for a quick bite and to pore over my books in solitude. The library was always too crowded and charged up with nervous adolescent tension during the exam fever. The canteen, emptied of its regular raucous crowd (now frequenting the library) was the peaceful haven I needed to concentrate.

As I sipped my tea, I looked across to the few occupied tables. They were sitting at a table in the corner. I would have moved on, except he spotted me and waved. So I waved back. And shouted a HI! across to both of them. Oddly enough, neither responded.

She had her head down on the table, turned away from me. I thought I could lip-read him telling her that he was speaking to me and that she might look up any minute. She didn’t. With a surge of annoyance at her impossible rudeness, I looked back into my book. Then he called out my name. I looked up to see him frantically gesturing for him to come over. What a bother.., I sighed and shut my books.

As I walked the few feet over I suddenly had a premonition that something was terribly wrong. He wasn’t smiling. And she sat stone-cold in her seat, head down like she was dead. Only when I neared their table close enough to sit down did I hear the soft anguished voice. I had to force her head up from the table. She looked awful. Hair awry and eyes swollen, alarmingly red. And a voice like I had never heard before. She was murmuring,

He says he is going to leave me. He says he is leaving. I asked him why did you say you loved me? He says he was just joking. And he is leaving.

I looked up at him, frank embarrassment at being privy to a private conversation. And I was startled by something I had never seen in his face before. It was cruelty. Sheer, cold cruelty. He was cutting her up with a knife and he knew it. It was deliberate. And then, before my eyes, Mr.Nice Guy cooly got up, dusted his palms and walked out of the canteen.

For an hour I sat with her, a girl I had never liked, while she poured her heart out to me about the crimes of a guy I thought of as jolly good fellow. The dreams, the hopes, the expectations…everything that had lain under the ruthless ambition. All her drive and zeal to do well and carry both of them out of their lower-middle class status, out of the gargantuan family expectations that they may both be able to stand up and do what they wanted one day. And just before the very end, just before the final exams, he had cut her out. He hadn’t meant a word of it. It had all been a sham. And she was devastated.

The first exam was the next morning. I kept a watch on the door, wondering if she would make it. She did. Face badly puffy, she drifted in unobstrusively. And across the room he sat, laughing and joking with his friends like nothing had happened. He didn’t bat an eyelid as she walked in, deeply wounded dignity intact and sat down in the seat in front of him. And then the test begun.

In the second week of the exams he was seen chatting up two girls from the other class. And by next month it was rumored that he was seeing one of them. The P.A. joke faded out and was never raked up again, even while other mortifying love-tales were dug up at every alumni meet.

But something shifted for all of us in that one month. All the boys from her “I’m a tomboy!” days seemed to be saying with their sneering glances, “It served her right.”

And what about the girls? She had never had any friends among us. We never discussed it across our cliques and no one ever said anything to her. But none of us ever spoke him again.

She graduated with top marks and found her footing in a job-tough market. Marriage happened a year back, to another man of her own choice. Of him I know nothing more and have no desire to, any furthur. It’s good to want something and wonderful to get what you want; just not at the cost of stepping on someone else’s toes – or heart.

She once introduced herself on stage with –

When it rains, I feel the rain.
The others just get wet.

Perhaps she never knew that there were people who would hold out an umbrella for her. But then again, she probably didn’t need it. Real women don’t cry – they just feel the rain on their faces.

Real Women Don’t Cry

They were in the same class. In my class.

She was the quintessential behenji in a hip crowd. Plaited hair, salwar-kameez and a sharp brain. In accordance to her curd-rice genes, she took copious notes, had a near-perfect attendance record and consistently high grades. She told me once that her ambition was to become like ‘one of those Matunga Tamilians’ meaning the kind that preened in a new kanjeevaram at every wedding, pattu-recital, arangaitram and poonal-ceremony. The ones that shopped in Matunga market and had kaapi at Madras Bhavan. The ones whose accent bespoke Tam-Bram-Americana. The ones who worked for multinational software companies in Silicon Valley. Or married someone who did. I didn’t like her. I never liked wannabes and the ruthlessly ambitious ones always scared me.

He was Mr.EasyGoing. One of the many small-town boys who made it big by getting a toe-hold in Mumbai, starting with a college admission. He hated mathematics but managed it better than several of his classmates, owing to his engineering background. Engineering in something quite unfashionable like…instrumentation? Textiles? I forget, it didn’t bear remembering anyway. He was dazzled by the glamour of Bollywood, the smartly dressed girls around, the flashy cars and cool clothes that his Mumbai peers owned. He had a rustic wide-eyed charm along with the sweet modesty of someone who knows he is just a moth in a crowd of butterflies. I liked him. Everyone did.

It seemed symbiotic. She was authoritative, demanding and bossy. He followed her around meekly, doing her bidding, snapping to her orders. And things always turned out well with high marks for everyone. We called him her P.A. Only because we liked him too much to call him the more realistic-but-demeaning ‘puppy-dog’. He bore it in good humour, as he did everything, smiling shyly. And all was well.

An entire year later, we had moved on to more serious things than other people’s admirers. Ardent admirers had metamorphosed into abusive boyfriends, cheating rogues and impossible cads. I looked across the canteen to her, a tinge of envy in my gaze. She had always had him right under her thumb and she wasn’t even that nice! And he was devoted to her.

Later that evening, I wandered back into the canteen for a quick bite and to pore over my books in solitude. The library was always too crowded and charged up with nervous adolescent tension during the exam fever. The canteen, emptied of its regular raucous crowd (now frequenting the library) was the peaceful haven I needed to concentrate.

As I sipped my tea, I looked across to the few occupied tables. They were sitting at a table in the corner. I would have moved on, except he spotted me and waved. So I waved back. And shouted a HI! across to both of them. Oddly enough, neither responded.

She had her head down on the table, turned away from me. I thought I could lip-read him telling her that he was speaking to me and that she might look up any minute. She didn’t. With a surge of annoyance at her impossible rudeness, I looked back into my book. Then he called out my name. I looked up to see him frantically gesturing for him to come over. What a bother.., I sighed and shut my books.

As I walked the few feet over I suddenly had a premonition that something was terribly wrong. He wasn’t smiling. And she sat stone-cold in her seat, head down like she was dead. Only when I neared their table close enough to sit down did I hear the soft anguished voice. I had to force her head up from the table. She looked awful. Hair awry and eyes swollen, alarmingly red. And a voice like I had never heard before. She was murmuring,

He says he is going to leave me. He says he is leaving. I asked him why did you say you loved me? He says he was just joking. And he is leaving.

I looked up at him, frank embarrassment at being privy to a private conversation. And I was startled by something I had never seen in his face before. It was cruelty. Sheer, cold cruelty. He was cutting her up with a knife and he knew it. It was deliberate. And then, before my eyes, Mr.Nice Guy cooly got up, dusted his palms and walked out of the canteen.

For an hour I sat with her, a girl I had never liked, while she poured her heart out to me about the crimes of a guy I thought of as jolly good fellow. The dreams, the hopes, the expectations…everything that had lain under the ruthless ambition. All her drive and zeal to do well and carry both of them out of their lower-middle class status, out of the gargantuan family expectations that they may both be able to stand up and do what they wanted one day. And just before the very end, just before the final exams, he had cut her out. He hadn’t meant a word of it. It had all been a sham. And she was devastated.

The first exam was the next morning. I kept a watch on the door, wondering if she would make it. She did. Face badly puffy, she drifted in unobstrusively. And across the room he sat, laughing and joking with his friends like nothing had happened. He didn’t bat an eyelid as she walked in, deeply wounded dignity intact and sat down in the seat in front of him. And then the test begun.

In the second week of the exams he was seen chatting up two girls from the other class. And by next month it was rumored that he was seeing one of them. The P.A. joke faded out and was never raked up again, even while other mortifying love-tales were dug up at every alumni meet.

But something shifted for all of us in that one month. All the boys from her “I’m a tomboy!” days seemed to be saying with their sneering glances, “It served her right.”

And what about the girls? She had never had any friends among us. We never discussed it across our cliques and no one ever said anything to her. But none of us ever spoke him again.

She graduated with top marks and found her footing in a job-tough market. Marriage happened a year back, to another man of her own choice. Of him I know nothing more and have no desire to, any furthur. It’s good to want something and wonderful to get what you want; just not at the cost of stepping on someone else’s toes – or heart.

She once introduced herself on stage with –

When it rains, I feel the rain.
The others just get wet.

Perhaps she never knew that there were people who would hold out an umbrella for her. But then again, she probably didn’t need it. Real women don’t cry – they just feel the rain on their faces.

The past and his present

A friend asked me,

Have you ever felt bad on coming across photos of an ex (who you’re supposed to have wiped out from your memory etc and moved on) romancing another person? I know I don’t want him anymore, but it just sucks all the same.

In response I mailed her this. And this post is for her…and the women who’ve felt this (and umm..some men too).

There are many reasons to want a clean break from the past and I’ve enumerated them before. But the real reason I don’t recycle boyfriends as boyfriends again or even friends is because – plain and simple – they make me feel bad about myself. This is probably a feature unique to my sex but like a lot of women I know, ending a relationship makes me feel like I failed in something. Failed to be a good girlfriend, failed in making him love me, failed to make the right decision. Failed, failed, FAILED. Meeting the person again is like being reminded, that no matter how successful you might become otherwise, there is always that time that you failed. And badly, always.

I hate women who tell me what great pals they are with their ex-es and the whole ‘no hard feelings’ bit. (And the cat in me purrs…that’s because they weren’t hard in the first place, dahling. Miaow!). On the surface that occurs to me as being…just wrong. And deep down, I’m also envious, wondering just how they manage it. If you don’t feel bad about not having the person in your life in that way anymore, if you don’t miss the way things were…were they really that good? Odd it strikes me now, that I judge the depth of my love for a man on how much I can hate him later. How bad he makes me feel now is a direct indicator to how good he made me feel back then. How can you not miss the great times that once were and feel a very, very aching emptiness in knowing they never will be the same again?

What’s worse is the fact that the men never seem to have that issue. It makes me feel worse than ever, knowing that I just want to run and hide when I see them, I’m dying a thousand deaths with blood zinging into my brain suddenly instead of coursing down my veins normally, I’m worrying myself silly that I’ll say the wrong thing…..and he’s sitting just cool as ever in front of me, talking about the woman (or women) he’s had around lately.

And what of the person they’re with now? That’s a double-edged sword. True to my obsessive self, I once transitioned my deep resentment of an ex- to the other woman in his life. I never met her but I’d heard so much about her that in my mind she became this paragon of perfection – beautiful, intelligent, successful, dignified, popular. While inside my head I just shrunk furthur and furthur like Alice eating the wrong bit of the mushroom. It was crazy.

A woman has the capacity to make another woman feel much worse than any man ever can. On the other hand, by then it isn’t about the man anymore. Use the sword to get the thorn out. Years later, I know there’s very little chance I’ll ever bump into her. Higher the probability is though, that I’ll meet him and I’m prepared. The thorn is out of my system even if the sword-gashes remain. And if she and I have to cross paths, well, that’s another war altogether.

The real bitch is if they come together (as it happened in my Encounter). Just saw an episode of SATC….quite appropriately the one where Carrie Bradshaw is faced with the marriage announcement of Big to Natasha. She’s quiet, then she calls for fries and she tells her friends that she’s okay. Back home, she faces it and finally she puts her head down and cries. I know, I know. A lot of us do, dear friend of mine. Breathe, like I said…just remember to breathe.

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