The Deal Breaker

Finally I was going home! After having worked tirelessly for days at end away from home, to be at the airport to catch my flight home seemed like the happiest moment in my life. I had missed my family and was eager to get back as soon as possible.

But destiny had other plans for me. As I went to the check-in counter, I was informed that my flight had been delayed. Dismayed, I strolled across to the nearby lounge, and grumpily sat on one of the couches there. As I was looking around sullenly at the other passengers who had suffered the same fate as mine, I caught a glimpse of a pretty face. On second glance, I realized that we had gone to the same college years ago and she had been very close to a classmate of mine (though I failed to recollect her name). With nothing better to do, I walked over to where she was seated and started a conversation with “Hi”.

As we got into talking, she revealed that, like me, she was returning home to Kolkata after a business trip and was irritated that the flight had got delayed. One thing led to another and soon we found ourselves discussing about marriage. She asked me “have you got married? Or are you still searching for the right person?” I answered with a smile, “I found the right person”. Presuming that she was still with my classmate, I asked her “Have you settled with my friend?” She gave a weak smile and answered negative. How silly of me to think that she would still be with him; after all, it was only college romance! When I asked her again about her marriage status, she seemed to be saddened for a moment, but it passed.

She revealed that she was a divorcee. With a few hours to idle away at the airport, she told me her story.

As I have mentioned earlier, she was a pretty looker, and this got her a lot of attention from the boys. Her string of affairs started in High School where she had an affair with her classmate. But the affair did not bloom the way, perhaps, she had hoped for as they both took different paths to follow for their careers. Thankfully, the heartbreak also wasn’t that bad, and she had got over it in a short span of time.

The next affair happened while she was in college. This where my classmate comes into the story – he was a handsome hunk and the two were very close to each other throughout college. But it ended as soon as college ended, and she has no qualms about it. According to her, college affairs were just about being good friends, partying and enjoyment, getting drunk, the thrill of losing one’s virginity and so on. For me, I had always thought that the affair would culminate into marriage – it looked pretty serious. But who am I to judge?

After college, she opted for higher studies and went abroad to pursue the same. She met up with a foreign guy there and moved in with him; she had what we call a ‘live-in’ relationship. Her justification was simple – she kind of liked the guy, and live-in relation was a way of saving money there. That relation ended as soon as she got on the plane to India.

Back in India, she took up a job and was soon having an affair with her dashing young boss. Since both of them lived on their own, they decided to move in to a single apartment. That relation continued for 2-3 years; then they noticed huge differences between them and wisely called off the relation without any hard feelings.

By now she had reached the ripe age of getting married, and her parents married her off to a rich and well-settled guy. She was ecstatic and excited as she was now about to start a new venture in her life. She knew that she would be spending the rest of her life with this one man, and as a token of love she wanted to tell him everything about her past relationships so that she has nothing to hide from him. That night, after all the ceremonies were over, she sat with him and told him everything. She had thought that he would appreciate her honesty and accept her and be happy. But the result was something that she had never expected in her wildest dreams. As soon as he heard everything, he decided to part with her. So the next morning, instead of going for their honeymoon, she returned to her parents’ home and her husband filed for divorce.

So now she was divorced and had moved on with her life. Later she came to know that her husband (ex) had also had a string of affairs before he got married, her only fault was that she was honest enough to let him know about her affairs without thinking of the consequences.

I was deeply saddened by the way she was held responsible for being true and honest. I cannot judge the way she has led her life, and the number of affairs that she has had; but despite all that it seems unfair to me that she was punished in the way that she was, and that too by a person who himself had had numerous affairs but was not courageous enough to admit it.

Days have passed since my chat with that pretty girl (I still don’t know her name); and as I think back the question that comes to my head is that are we no better than the age of the Mahabharata? In the epic, Draupadi was married to Arjuna but was later shared by all the five brothers. If Arjuna was willing to share his wife with his brothers, then why do the men of today have so much problem accepting a woman who has been previously touched by someone else? And its not even that she is being shared by everyone at the same time – it is her past which is gone and will never come back. Why couldn’t the husband of that girl just accept her and start life anew? Why did he have to destroy her life because of her past? Was it because her other boyfriends were not her husband’s brothers? Or is it that today’s Arjuna is unable to share his wife with others?

On the other hand we see that even though the husband too had past affairs, neither did he mention them nor did he accept his wife having so. If having past affairs is a crime, isn’t it equally sinful for both of them? I guess no. Polygamy (one husband with many wives) still exists in today’s society, while polyandry (one wife many husbands) is almost non-existent.

The age of Mahabharata seems to be better in this regard. We know of Satyabati (step mother of Viswa), Kunti, Draupadi and many others who had conjugal relationships and physical intimacies with more than one man, and were accepted by their partners. All the Pandavas accepted the polyandry of Draupadi. Then why can’t we accept it today? I am not advocating that women should have more than one husband at the same time; but what I am trying to say is that do not punish them for having affairs in the past – accept them as they accept you in spite of the fact that you may have had other women in your life before her. Treat you woman well; but, most importantly, treat her as an equal.

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