I woke up to the ringing of my phone. Phone calls, early in the morning, scare me as they usually convey bad news. This time was no exception. Sanjana animatedly said from the other end “Do you know Bhushan is divorcing Geetha?” There was lack of empathy and more of excitement in her voice to have found a scandalous story.
However, I was shocked. Geetha was my first friend in Mumbai. We had shared many good moments together and I knew she was an excellent woman who certainly doesn’t deserve this. Sanjana guessed my sadness and changed the tone of her voice. She now said in a fake melancholic tone “Even I am shocked, they were such a perfect couple.” She paused for a moment to assume my mood and then continued with renewed vigour “I heard Geetha is having an extra-marital affair.”
Even in my remotest imagination I could not think of Geetha having an extra-marital affair. I interrupted Sanjana and said sternly “This is impossible. There is something wrong.” Geetha was a conservative religious Tamil girl, who was like an ideal Sanskari Bharatiya Nari with strong traditional values. I often admired the rangoli in front of her house every morning. Her home always smelt of good food and she spent her entire day in the kitchen. Her husband Bhushan didn’t like eating food from the fridge thus she used to cook meals four times in a day. Her house was always clean and I had taken many household tips from her during my initial years of marriage. I always felt she was happy with her husband as I had never heard her complaining even once. In one word a girl like Geetha having an extra-marital was unthinkable.
I had no intention to carry on my conversation with Sanjana so I hung up and with trepidation dialed Geetha. I was not expecting her to pick up the phone but thankfully she did after couple of rings. Her voice sounded tired yet she greeted me with a smile.
I was framing questions in my mind but before I could ask, she said calmly “We are getting divorced. Bhushan found out about my relationship with Samuel.” The judgemental part within me felt scandalized with this confession. That means Sanjana was right and Geetha was indeed having an affair. A part of me was still not ready to believe this. How could a girl like Geetha whom I almost epitomised could do this. A part of me felt cheated. But the rational part of me knew that there must be a reason behind this. A matured and sensible woman like Geetha wouldn’t let lust rule her. Before I could ask her anything she started speaking, it seemed as if she wanted to get rid of her guilt “I was feeling caged and claustrophobic in this marriage. Samuel was like a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t resist him.”I was expecting a better story from Geetha but this was the cliché story we have heard through ages about extra-marital relationships. Yet, I wanted to know more not out of curiosity but to clear my own confusion.
Geetha wanted to meet me, so the next day we were sitting in a coffee shop and discussing her life as well as lives of many women. From my discussion with her I came up with ten important reasons that often compel even the traditional woman to cross the threshold of marriage.
- Lack of appreciation: A woman works throughout the day to keep her family happy. She makes numerous sacrifices however her efforts are often never appreciated. Geetha was a Tamil Brahmin girl while Bhushan belonged to a lower caste; her family didn’t approve of this union so she severed ties with her own family and married Bhushan. She was a beautiful, highly educated woman who also left her career to take care of Bhushan and his family. However her efforts were never appreciated by them.
- Constant Criticism: Nobody is perfect but constant criticism can really take a toll on someone. Like all human beings Geetha also had her flaws which Bhushan always exaggerated. He constantly criticised her for everything starting from her looks, to her choice of clothing, her cooking, and her parenting. Geetha was not allowed to make a single mistake, the moment she made a mistake Bhushan used to start criticising her. Bhushan never yelled or screamed at Geetha yet always made her feel that she was the worst wife a person could possibly have. Bhushan never appreciated her uniqueness.
- Comparing: Bhushan used to compare Geetha with everyone. He always felt that his brother’s wife or his friend’s wife or his neighbour’s wife or his boss’s wife were better than his own. He always highlighted the good qualities in other women and juxtaposed it with some negative quality in Geetha. She was tired of all these comparisons and often suffered from low self esteem.
- Controlling her: To the world Bhushan was a caring husband, he provided Geetha with all material comforts and also ample number of credit cards however all the statements of those cards went to him and he knew exactly how much was spent on each card and where. Geetha was scared to use those cards as she knew Bhushan would come to know about it. Bhushan always dictated her on what she should do, what she should wear, what she should eat, what is good for her etc. Maybe he was doing it with good intentions but Geetha was finding it difficult to tolerate.
- Treating her like a baby/idiot: Bhushan was apparently very compassionate who always treated Geetha as a small child and not an adult. He used to do everything for her just the way a father does for her child. Just like a small child Geetha had to take permission for everything. Even while making new friends Geetha had to seek his approval and he always had a strong opinion about her friends. So Geetha was not supposed to mingle with whoever Bhushan disapproved of. He never directly objected however he made sure that she didn’t mingle with that person.
- Mom is always right: Like many other Indian males Bhushan also felt that his Mom was always right and Geetha was always at fault. Whenever Geetha complained about even a small thing about his mom he reacted uncompromisingly. He never supported Geetha and always felt the other women in his family like his sisters, sister-in-law, nieces, and aunts were all innocent and Geetha was at fault.
- Treat her like a Maid: Bhushan never helped Geetha in any domestic chores, even when she would to be sick, she had to work. Irrespective of all the work she did he always complained that she was not doing enough for the family. He often said she was not cooking enough and starving him or she was not cleaning the house properly. Her status was like a maid.
- Sexual Incompatibility: The most shocking part for me was when Geetha started talking about her sexual life. Geetha to me was always the typical Bharatiya Nari. She talking about sex and desires was like Nirupa Roy dancing to an item song. Due to our social thought process we cannot relate to a Bharatiya Nari having sexual desires. Desires are meant for westernized women. Therefore, I somehow always related Geetha as a woman with minimum sexual needs. Coming from a conservative background she was never open about her sexual life however over a cup of filter coffee she poured her heart out. She said she never enjoyed sex with Bhushan since the first day. She felt he was too rough and passion less in bed. He always thought about his own satisfaction and never bothered about her pleasures. At times the way he had sex was no less than marital rape. He never indulged in foreplay or wanted to experiment in bed and sex had become extremely painful and boring for Geetha. She had started avoiding him. She always craved for intimacy and passion whereas Bhushan was nothing less than a monster in bed. Whenever he wanted sex she had to oblige but when she felt like it he never reciprocated.
- Not spending quality time: During their initial years of marriage they used to spend quality time with each other but over the years they became distant. Even though Bhushan never wanted Geetha to hang out with others he himself also never bothered to spend quality time with her. He never took her out for movies or dinners and whenever they were together he was either busy on his smartphone or calling his mom, siblings, friends or office colleagues. He never bothered to ask Geetha how her day went or what she did.
- Boredom: Geetha said that she was finding Bhushan extremely uncaring and boring. She had nothing to share with him. It was just like a daily chore to be with him.
Precisely then when she went to Chennai to meet her parents, whom she had recently reconciled with, she bumped into Samuel, her old crush. They exchanged phone numbers. Initially Geetha was not really interested in him. She was busy managing her home and owing to her conservative background a relationship with Samuel was beyond imagination. However she was also finding it difficult to avoid him. He was slowly seeping into the void in her life and filling it up. Gradually she found herself getting attracted towards him. She started feeling happy with him something that she had not felt with Bhushan in a very long time. Then during her second visit to Chennai she met him again and this time she decided to go for a movie with him. Inside the movie hall they kissed and then next day when she went to his house they made love. Initially Geetha felt guilty however her body thought otherwise. She had never experienced such a good feeling with Bhushan ever in her 15 years of marriage. She almost got addicted to the pleasures that Samuel gave her. However her happiness was short-lived as Bhushan found out about her relation. All hell broke loose. Eventually he decided to divorce her.
After listening to all this when I asked Geetha how she felt about all this, her reply was “relieved”. She said she was feeling happy to get rid of Bhushan and she was looking forward to go and stay with Samuel. The happiness in her eyes was evident and even I felt happy that she was finally getting her deserved freedom.