Two years on, I yet meet people, I haven’t encountered from the time I went from being us to I. At Shiro, only recently, I felt a tap. Uncertain, and yet unduly familiar. “We are still waiting to come for deener,” he chuckles. Do I know you, I muse, even as my eyes narrow in that standard operating procedure that reads, get out of my face? And just then, that misplaced familiarity strikes a chord. The husband’s friend from back home — Ah! Misdirected sarcasm is met with a moment of mortification as I update him of our separation, and the finality of my tone dispels postmortem.
Today, I come armed. That practiced face and the perfect phrase that says it’s over. As is the discussion. But at one point I couldn’t talk about it without my eyes clouding over. I’d crumble at an unsuspecting, how are you… If you are there, it’s okay. It’s part of the journey. Meanwhile, how do you say it? Now, when you haven’t processed it. When you are numb with pain. Feel abandoned no matter that you might’ve initiated the parting. And if you were at the receiving end — you are distraught. But then hate or even self-pity doesn’t make you glib.
You don’t want to appear making an announcement. Shouting: Hey, look at me! I’m getting divorced. But you’d rather put it out there yourself lest there’s conjecture. And you hot gossip. I remember calling a friend at Bombay Gymkhana, our evening fix, and asking her to stand by me by saying nothing. Happenstance made her privy to ‘the end’ but I wasn’t going to allow it any further meanderings. She’d discuss me to garner votes. Sway opinion in my favour. But did it matter? I am proud, I said, and don’t need the sympathy. Nor am I teatime tattle.
Yes, there will be a few who know the story and your opinion, and who you need to hush. To the rest you’ll want (need) to appear objective. Unruffled? You need time, I know. And yet there is no time. You run into people at the grocer. Nature’s Basket is “Gossip Girls” ... Your yoga class where you seek a slot minus him. The tennis couples’ group that’s due home in two weeks? Neighbours… And you might have moved out so while new neighbours are a relief you yet need to explain the new address to all.
So, am afraid you have to do it now. Only, keep it crisp. This is bulletin board. Not essay. Also, don’t ruminate. Say it. Move it. Don’t start breaking it down. Of course, you wonder how they’ll react. If they’ll judge you and take sides. They will. Let them. Leave them be. Silence affords a certain dignity that words cannot commensurate.
I chose to share my separation on Facebook. Yes, for all my profundity perhaps a shallow escape. Was it appropriate? Yes. Did it work? Hell, yes. Till the time that I was ready to say it, as I’d have liked to, it allowed me to gently let friends and extended family know. The unsaid social media rule is that posts need to be happy, and that I chose to share pain was perhaps sin. I got away not being an FB junkie. That I have fewer than 50 friends. And that it wasn’t strategy but accident.
Online after months, Facebook, I realised, was a documentary on us. Spring-cleaning came that Fall. Also, pruning. I felt the need to reach out to his friends and reassure them that I’m good to be ‘unfriended’ — if only to spare them the angst of having to choose. Hmm. I had to say it loud. And say it clear. I posted... A picture from our early days — exuberant, innocent young love. And said: Fairytales do end, ours did.
It was painful but honest. And even as it broke me completely it made me feel brave. Yes, honesty helps. It empowers. The highpoint of my candour was that not one friend reacted on the public forum but each got in touch privately. Most had not been in my immediate life, and by opening up, I’d allowed them to reach out. It was therapeutic...
And soon enough I had it down to pat. My elevator pitch that said, yes, I’m single again. Delivered with no perceptible vulnerability. Nay, cloudy eyes. And the tone? Not pained, not exuberant, not apologetic.
You’ll get there. Trust me, I did.
Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio, event ownership and brand consulting. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org