Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Case Study: Does Violence Against Women Begin At Home

Madhavi is in the last year of School. Her board exams will start in March. She is under considerable pressure of studies at this moment. But she is almost at breaking point and cannot concentrate in her studies as there are unmentionable problems at home which are driving to the point of suicide. Her neighbour, a strong and dependable girl, Nisha, who is also a good friend and studies in the same school, has found that Madhavi is behaving very peculiarly. One day, at about 10.30 am, about an hour before they are about to leave for school, she goes to Madhavi’s house. Normally at that hour, Madhavi is at home alone with her father, who works with Bombay’s Local Train services. Her mother leaves for work by 9 am.

On arriving at Madhavi’s house, Nisha is about to ring the door bell, but has stopped short. She can hear a whimpering sound inside. It is Madhavi’s voice. Nisha puts her ear to the door and is surprised to hear Madhavi plead –

“Daddy, no! Daddy, no, please no…” between tears. Nisha is curious. She tries to catch the sound of a slap, or a beating. Was Madhavi’s being beaten by her father? But no, there is no such sound at all, except the whimpering and the same haunting Daddy, no! Daddy, no, please no. Nisha decides to leave but not before she has made up her mind to confront Madhavi about this. Inside the bus, on the way to School, Nisha tells Madhavi, she has some wonderful news to tell her but she can tell her this, only after School. They must meet after they have returned. Madhavi is excited.

After school, the two girls meet for a walk. It is not uncommon for the two girls to take a walk after they return from school. But today, is different.

“What was happening inside the house this morning when I came to meet you at 10.30 this morning?” Nisha asks directly coming to the point right away.

Madhavi becomes defensive. “You came? You should have rung the bell!”

“I would have but for the fact that I could hear you crying inside and pleading - Daddy, no! Daddy, no, please no!”
Madhavi suddenly became very scared. The colour left her face and she hurried to leave. Nisha grabbed her hand insisting that she tell the truth before she flees. Madhavi breaks down in tears. It is perhaps, the first time she has cried about herself in front of someone.

“Nisha,” she blurts out as if unable to hold the fact any longer, “Daddy is forcing me to have sex with him!”

The words out, Nisha and Madhavi are dumb struck. Nisha continues to look ahead as her fingers and heart freeze while Madhavi continues to cry.

“On and on, it has been more than a year……” Madhavi adds, wiping the tears off her eyes.

Once in change of the situation, Nisha, pleads with Madhavi to disclose this to her mother as soon as possible. Madhavi is scared. What if her mother does not believe her? What if her father accuses her of lying? What if he threatens to leave them? But, Nisha is insistent. Madhavi must end this by telling her mother about it. And if Madhavi finds it so hard to say it, then she threatens to tell Madhavi’s mother herself.

Madhavi is really scared now. Under no circumstance can that happen. The next day, between sobs, she tells her mother about what has been happening in the house for the last one and a half years. Madhavi’s mother is astonished and angry. Was it not what happened earlier too with Madhavi’s elder sister, Lata as well? In fact, that is why to take Lata away from her husband, she had sent Lata to Bangalore to pursue her studies. But that was two years ago. She could hardly believe that after the fight and the apology from her husband, that he should continue his evil acts on their younger daughter as well.

She confronted her husband. He flew into a fit of anger. He screamed at his wife and taking his wallet, he left the house threatening to never return again.

The last blow had been dealt out. Had not Madhavi feared this all along? What was she going to do? What would her mother do? Would she not blame her for indirectly chasing her father out of the house?

She dashed to Nisha – “See, what you have done? Why did you force me to tell my mother? Now, my father has left the house!”

“Let him! He will return shortly. Where will he go?” Nisha was cool.
And so it was, that after the hue and cry, Madhavi’s father returned home after two hours but continued to make everyone suffer the consequences of making public his evil deed, by stopping to talk to everyone in the house, stopping to eat in the house, etc, etc. But as all abusers will, he finally gave up all his psychological blackmailing to return to normal. Another example of violence against women, springing from within the safety of what we call a home, ended.

But this time, I have a few questions to ask, the first being –

Does violence against women begin at home?

Second, are women in household an accomplice to this violence?

Okay, given the fact this is a Case Study of a magnitude that we think rarely happens in all families in India, the UNIFEM report quotes - “Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence — yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned. — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 8 March 2007 (See http://www.unifem.org/campaigns/vaw/facts_figures.php)

My second question is more pertinent. Given the fact that violence is there, and in many cases it begins are home, is it not the woman’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their children? In the above case, what is wrong with Madhavi’s mother? Why was she so naïve? Her elder daughter had had to face the same plight vis-à-vis her husband’s pathological behaviour as well. Why did she not take precautions to see that it did not recur again? Why did she not warn Madhavi about it and cautioned her in advance? Did she want to maintain a stoic silence on this subject even knowing that she has a teenage daughter who might meet with the same plight? Or did she fear her husband and the consequences? Why did she not ask him to see a psychiatrist about his disorder? Is she finally also to blame for perpetrating violence in her house?

According to RAHI Foundation, an NGO that is working in the area of Child Sexual Abuse and Incest, speaking of mothers a few important myths and fact according to them are cited hereunder –

Myth: Men are forced to have sex with their daughters or other children because their wives won’t have sex with them or cannot satisfy them sexually.
Fact: Men who sexually abuse children do so in addition to, rather than instead of, having sex with their wives. This myth shifts responsibility from the offender to his wife or the child’s mother.

Myth: Mothers always know, either consciously or unconsciously, that sexual abuse is happening to their child.
Fact: Few men are careless enough to have a witness around when they abuse. Many mothers react with shock when they learn about the abuse. Often mothers who do know about the abuse, are in no position to prevent it because of their own powerlessness.

Myth: It is the mother’s job to protect her children. Therefore she is equally responsible for the abuse.
Fact: A mother’s failure to protect her children does not mean she is responsible for the abuser’s actions. Child protection is the responsibility of every adult and does not rest solely on the mother. **

Excuse me, I tend to disagree with the last point. If one of the adults is deranged and addicted to violence against children, all adults in a household cannot be trusted! Especially in the present case, it stands invalid. Madhavi’s mother knew of the potential damage her husband could do to her girls since he has already done it before, so why was she playing, Mrs Innocent?

I say this here and now, in most cases of violence, whether it be sexual abuse or any other form of deprivation or abuse, women are equally responsible because, they are unable to face consequences of what might happen, if they confront the male perpetrator. They exhibit weakness of character and will, fear to fight back or to take to task the perpetrator, which in fact is used as weapons against women themselves, by the male perpetrator of violence.

Hence, in cases of violence against women inside the home, women are accomplice. Is this what everybody feels and thinks as well? Or am I the only woman basher on Blogspot?

** Myths and facts by Rahi Foundation : http://www.rahifoundation.org/incestchild/incestchild/document.2004-07-15.0476800028

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Case Study: Money For Love; Life Carefree

Sachin is the only son of Kamala, 72. He has one elder sister, who is married and has a daughter. But she has not been able to live in her marital house, being more often than not, forced to live with her mother. Reason? Her mother is aging and all alone in her house. In the absence of a husband, Kamala is being looked after by her daughter. But, is this not what is supposed to be done by and son in a middle class Bengali family? Yes, of course! And Sachin is doing it. After all, he is earning a big six figure salary all of which is tax free from his job in Kuwait as a Design Head of a Company. His remunerations come into his ICICI Bank account and he has instructed his mother and sister that they can withdraw money without being at all stingy about it. His mother must have every need fulfilled. A beautiful white marble house, three floors, with modern, western amenities and restrooms, although she can live on the ground floor. The house is fully air conditioned. A battery of servants serve the elderly lady. His elder sister, lives close by with her family but is usually living with her mother in Sachin’s house. The mother is ailing and asthmatic and has a heart condition. She is a frequent patient at Kolkata’s plush Belle Vue Hospital with heart or lung problems.

And although, she longs to be and see her son, Sachin, who comes every six months or so for a week, is rarely at home when he is in Kolkata. After all, Kolkata is his city. He has friends to meet up with and girlfriends he must take out for dinner. So Kamala must bottle up her feeling.

Sachin does make pretentious statements that he will return to India. But, by now her maternal heart knows he will not. The primary reason being finances. What she does not know is Sachin has a free life in Kuwait. He call daily, wraps her in abundance of goods and finances and makes six-monthly visits. This should suffice, he thinks.

But his mother wants him to return to India. After all she is not sure how long she will live. But even the best offers in India, are less than a quarter of what he receives in Kuwait. No, it’s not what will satisfy Sachin. After all, by staying in Kuwait, he is giving his mother all the luxuries that money can buy. His sister is there to look after her on a daily basis, while he makes the money most needed for a luxurious life he wants for his mother and himself. He knows his mother hankers to see him, but there is this business of providing for a good life too. So, something has to be given up to get something else.

Only that something is a human need. The need to be close to her son and feel secure in the knowledge that he is around, when she breathes her last. He could have taken her to Kuwait to live with him, but that would mean giving up his freedom to a certain extent. Besides, India was a cost effective option, in all respect.

At the face of it, it seems that everything is in exactly the best place as it should be. But a closer look gives out some of the startling facts of this Case Study. Please note, we are making some interpretations, based on life in modern metropolitan India.

Sachin comes from a middle class family although today he is among the nauveau rich. He has been brought up with middle class values, which come as a package with the class. So we can assume that he is aware that he must be responsible for looking after his parents. And even if he has an elder sister, the onus of that responsibility will be his. Hence, in this case already there is a gap in what was taught and what is being practiced. But, Sachin has been involved with bread-earning and although there is enough, the taste of higher remunerations and career improvements has displaced the old learning for the new image he likes to see himself in. There is however, a cost to pay as well. Only his elder sister is paying that price. Normally, she aught to be more involved with her own marital home, but since her mother is widowed and aging and ailing, she must put her own home aside to take care of mother as Sachin is out of country. There is no dearth of money, but Sachin is not willing to return as he also will have to forego his carefree life for a life of responsibly. He feels by keeping the financial abundance in his family, he is doing his duty. But his mother is not happy. She longs to be with her son. But, that poses many discomforts for Sachin. It is better, if this responsibly is managed by his sister in Kolkata, even though she is paying the price by sacrificing her own need to be with her family.

Strength: Sachin has a great job in Kuwait with prospect of career and higher income. He is able to afford the best for his mother because of this. The quality of their lives as a middle class family has improved in leaps and bounds. They can in fact live a life of luxury now.

Weakness: Sachin cannot fulfill his mother’s wishes to have him close to her. He cannot keep her insecurities of breathing her last, without seeing him at bay. His sister is sacrificing her own home for her mother. Sachin is not sensitive to this because there is the business of finances to look after as well as his carefree life in Kuwait. Hence, the balance is tilting on his side.

Opportunity: He can put an end to his job in Kuwait, and take on one in India, albeit with a sizable drop of salary. His prospects in India, now that he will return from working abroad will get better. With India becoming a global major in many sectors, his prospect increases as he has worked with teams worldwide and hence, he becomes the Best Choice for any company. Hence, his salary and benefits will increase likewise. He also has the opportunity to go on his own and start his own company here, because he has money as well as global experience. He can start up a 100% EOU. He can even become a Consultant to many companies interested to venture into India. Most importantly, he will be with his mother and thereby fulfill the demand of middle class values he had imbibed but which he now has compromised for want of a carefree life and high financial returns from work.

Threat: He will have to adjust to lower remunerations. To start up a new company requires time and finances which he may not be willing to invest, although being in Bengal, he may be able to generate the finances from Banks. Last but certainly not the least, he will lose his freedom and carefree life to a certain extent.

Summary: Sachin is suffering from tunnel vision. He presumes that money can replace or completely take care of old age health problems. He cannot see the emotional needs that are crying out for fulfillment in his mother. Nor does he really mind that his sister has to compromise her family, to look after their mother on a day to day basis. His middle class values have been replaced by the lure of money. Besides, he prefers his life of freedom to the life of bondage and responsibilities. He is coving this guilt with abundant finances for his family in India. He has actually decided not to return under any circumstances, and subconsciously, he is aware that the time is limited for his mother’s life and hence, once that is over, which will at some time or the other, he can break free to another country altogether. It is only a matter of time and he can maintain status quo. It serves him best, whatever be the other cost he has to bear to achieve this end.

Really, it is a Win situation for him only.

As far as his mother’s wishes are concerned, he is speaking to her every day and he does come to India every six months and he hopes that in case of an Emergency, he will be there beside her, without having to make any shifts now. He has logically put away the middle class values and replaced them with needs of a different kind. These values are looking after his mother meaning being there in person rather than replacing his presence with his money. Which for the mother is unfulfilling.

It has never occurred to him that there are advantages of becoming an Entrepreneur in India, as both timing and place right now are just right. No, after all, India is not Kuwait, Canada or Australia, Europe or America, where he is a frequent traveler and Project Head. Plus, he has his own life to lead, which cannot be compromised.

Conclusion: Is this the price to pay? Money, for love and a life carefree?

Note: The present Case Study is to be published in Dignity Dialogue, a magazine for Senior Citizens. The Case Study is based on real life situation, in exactly the way it is presented. Any resemblance to any other case of this nature is purely incidental.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Case Study I - Can One Failed Marriage Result In Another Failure?

Nilanjan is raving mad. At himself. Eight years ago he had married Sandhya in Bangalore. The first two years were like a life in paradise. They were in the seventh heaven, wrapped in the warmth and the magic of love. It was so magical that people were even jealous of them. That however did not diminish their love; in fact it got stronger.

However, in the last three years a side of Sandhya had begun to emerge which Nilanjan was not comfortable with.

Before Nilanjan negotiated his marriage with Sandhya, he was aware that Sandhya had had a very sad past. She had been married in her early twenties but the marriage had broken and she had been brought back to her own parental home. That was not the bad part though. The devastating reality was that the six month child she had begotten in that marriage had been snatched away from her and no matter how many times she tried to get her daughter, her in-laws had prevented it. Sandhya did not go to the Court for the custody of her child. She knew she would not win the case as she was not earning enough to look after herself and her child. Her paternal family had also indirectly refused to support her with her child. Hence time passed and Sandhya never returned to her marital home. Neither was her child ever brought to her. It had been more than twenty years since this had happened. Sandhya had not got a legal divorce as well as in their times, marriages were social events without registration. And she feared that if she did get one, then she would lose her chances of ever being with her daughter.

For Nilanjan, it did not matter. He was very empathetic towards her condition. He wished that Sandhya could have met her child.

Nilanjan too had a failed marriage. In fact two failed marriages. In the first, they had been together eight years. When he broke that marriage, he was lonely and placed an ad in the matrimonial column of a well-known newspaper. Proposals poured in. He selected one and performed a simple registered marriage. However, that marriage too failed as he soon found that his new wife was pregnant with someone else’s baby. Nilanjan decided that he was never going to marry again until he met Sandhya and he fell in love with her.

But that was ten years ago. Life was honky-dory until three years ago. After much persuasion and negotiations, Sandhya was able to meet her daughter for the first time. In fact, Nilanjan had helped her a great deal in this negotiation. However, after this episode, the relationship between Nilanjan and Sandhya began to show strains as Sandhya filled her heart with her long lost daughter. Nilanjan, did not feel part of Sandhya’s life as a mother of someone else’s child. Also, the episode had happened many years before he met Sandhya.

In her relationship with her daughter, Sandhya never included Nilanjan. She did not initiate any conversation between Nilanjan and her daughter. She did not make any move towards including, Nilanjan in this relation she had with her daughter. Nilanjan soon found he began to detest her ongoing conversations about her first marital house which Sandhya was now quite full of as her relationship with her daughter grew stronger. Nilanjan was unable to cope with the aftermath of the meeting. To him it seemed like, her whole past was showing up all over again and he was forced to accommodate it in their scheme of things. He was not up to it. He wanted to leave. But he could not. Before him, stood his own two failed marriages. He could not afford a third. He was now fifty five years old. He had to make this work. But how?


What Nilanjan is going through is insecurity due to shift of position in Sandhya’s life. From being the center of attraction in her life, he has now to vie with someone, who is an integral part of her life, her flesh and blood. Really this is not his real complaint, it is the fact that he has to bear the reports she gives him of different members of her ex-marital home. While Sandhya has not perceived that this is an irritation for him and that she need not discuss anything about her past with Nilanjan, Nilanjan feels threatened by a third failure of his marriage, should the old family come back to claim their rights over Sandhya. And although it is apparent that Sandhya is dedicated to Nilanjan, the past cannot really be written out especially that there is no legal divorce as well. Hence, complex feelings are bottled up in Nilanjan, which he has to deal with. He has not had the courage to speak to her about it and once when he did mention it, she was dismissive about it. It had not solved the matter. In fact, remaining unresolved, it ate into his relationship with her further. Hence, he wanted to move out. But he was caught in his own failures of the past and the fear of making one more failure was keeping him in this one. His mind though was gradually moving out of it. However, while she doubted Nilanjan’s indifference to her lately, Sandhya had never been able to put the finger where it hurts Nilanjan the most.

As the case presents itself, it is apparent, that in some way, the relationship between Nilanjan and Sandhya is undergoing many shifts and many changes. There is a cost that is being paid for these changes. While Sandhya is reclaiming her lost life with her daughter, Nilanjan feels left out in the cold. No matter what he does, he can never be part of that history. On the other hand, living with Sandhya when her past has become alive is like living in a marriage with Sandhya having an affair with somebody else. Even though it is only her daughter, she is representative of an entire history behind her and the daughter is not far from the father. Besides, Sandhya too is making no effort to include him in her new found life with her daughter. But, if Nilanjan voices dismay, it may seem that Nilanjan is really jeolous, when really he is confused and does not know how to deal with the multiple issues that plague his relationship with Sandhya now. Nilanjan does not want to be misunderstood. On the other hand, if he did not voice his concerns, then, this would lead to a build up of unexpressed emotions inside him and then lead to further tensions between them. In fact, it already had become too much and the pressure was showing in bouts of temper, which Sandhya is bitter about but unable to understand the cause of it. Nilanjan feels that in some ways their relationship is already on the rocks. But he is holding on to it, as he loves Sandhya on the one hand and he does not want this marriage to break. Even he can’t take a third failure.

Time to look at the relationship now. For both of them. The first thing that Nilanjan needs to do is to make his point to Sandhya. The first thing Sandhya needs to do is to listen him out. The challenge of making this relationship work is not Nilanjan’s as much as it is Sandhya’s. She must understand that although, she is building on her lost relationship with her daughter, Nilanjan is not part of this story and hence, she need not discuss neither her daughter or her ex-marital home with him, if she is keen to keep this marriage going. While Nilanjan has been supportive enough to her, he need not go any further. And if she wishes to include Nilanjan in her past, which would be unfair on him, she needs him to develop a separate and distinct relation with her daughter, so that he feels included where it matters to her the most. She cannot expect unwavering support from Nilanjan, on this matter, without any personal involvement, because no matter how meaningful to Sandhya, it is this active past in their lives and its ghost that can kill the cupid in their love story. She has some solid work to do. And if she does not wish to include Nilanjan, then she must learn to compartmentalize things.

On his part, he has to address his anger and fury. He is responsible for it because he has not been able to pursue his need to be firm about being kept out from the goings-on in her life as a mother. On the other hand, he has not shown much interest in her daughter too. When, he married Sandhya, he was aware of a past, he had no idea that once this past came alive once again, he would develop anti-feelings towards it.

In the meantime, as he has already had two failed marriages, it is only human for him to go beyond his human capacity to keep this marriage going.

But, for how long? At what cost? And to what end? Will two failed marriages also lead to a third, as if it was a pattern? What is his contribution to this state of affairs? What can he do to rectify the situation?

And most importantly, what is there for him to learn from these experiences?

Case Study II - Can A Live-In Relationship Make Space For More Than One Lover?

Ramaya and Dev met at a common friend’s birthday party and fell in love instantly. Although Ramaya was traditional and reserved, within days she gave in to Dev's amorous advances. In less than a month they began to live in with each other. Many of their friends were surprised and doubtful about how long they would last together. The difference between them was the length and breath of a sea. Although Ramaya was a widely traveled person, she was a very traditional woman who loved her roots. Dev on the other hand was individualistic and rather western in his thinking. But the combination seemed to work. Dev was accommodating and could adjust to any circumstance. He blended his ways with Ramaya’s and in fact quite enjoyed her traditional ways. But as the years passed, the same Dev began to find Ramaya a bit stifling. He needed more space and freedom to be who he was. He felt he had made too many compromises to be with Ramaya, even adjusting his personality to fit hers. He was feeling suffocated. He needed to open up his relationship to many more friends, both from his side as well as hers.

In the meantime, as if hit by a sudden bolt of thunder, Dev met and fell in love with Rukmini, whom he met once every week at the dancing class he ran in a posh locality of their city. Rukhmini was somewhat different. She was independent and single. She lived alone. She preferred to remain so. She was aware of Dev’s live- in relationship and while she liked Dev a lot, she was not ready to go to bed with him. She preferred him as a friend rather than anything else, at least for now.

Dev had not disclosed this to Ramaya. In fact, he did not think he needed to do that as he was after all not going to bed with Rukhmini. He wanted to include Rukhmini in his relationship with Ramaya. She could not damage his relationship with Ramaya, as his friendship with Rukhmini was a non-physical one. So after almost a year of their friendship outside, Dev finally called Rukhmini home.

It was the beginning of the end.

Ramaya was aware that for Dev, Rukhmini was a very important person. She was aware that he was especially concerned about her and that in his scheme of things, Rukhmini was not just a friend.

When Rukhmini left, Ramaya confronted Dev. He lied about his relationship with Rukhmini. He did not express the depth of his feelings for Rukhmini. Since, it was very clear to him, that Rukhmini did not want to have any physical relationship with him, he perceived that Rukhmini was not a threat at all. She was just a good friend, that’s all.

But Ramaya would not have it. She wanted Dev to break this friendship and Dev said that he was not going to do it. A friendship was more important to him than a partnership. And if she did not lay off this matter, it would end their relationship instead.


Dev is looking out of the relationship. He needs to fight his right to his individual choices of having a grounded relationship with Ramaya but at the same time, he wishes to have Rukhmini as a friend as well. Even if it has brought discord in his relationship with Ramaya, he is not ready to give Rukhmini up because, his emotions are involved here.

On the other hand, Ramaya will not have such an arrangement. By bringing Rukhmini home, Dev has opened the friendship which he has with Rukhmini for scrutiny and observation by Ramaya. She has caught on to the vibes between the two and she feels threatened. On the other hand, had Dev not brought Rukhmini home, Ramaya would never know that he has another interest. Dev would like to include Rukhmini in their relationship, as he loves both women.

But can he? Does Ramaya want this? What and why did he take this step of bringing Rukhmini home? Where would this lead him to? Is this a worthwhile struggle? Should he tell Ramaya the truth? Would she ever believe him, that even though he loves Rukhmini, they would never sleep together?

In my understanding, Dev must tell the truth to Ramaya no matter how it hurts her. Because by keeping it a secret he is hurting her more. Since, he has fallen in love with Rukhmini and it does not matter what his frienship with Rukhmini will evolve into in the future, he must give Ramaya the chance to decide on what she wants out of her relationship with Dev. His idea of opening up the relationship to others as well, does not mean that Ramaya may want to do so too. Hence in all fairness, the ball must be put in her court and Dev must accept whatever is the will of Ramaya because it is apparent that she is not up to having to share Dev with others. Least of all Rukhmini.

What is going to happen to this live-in relationship? Does live-in relationships not allow more than one lover? Does live-in relationships preempt that when ever one or the other wants, they can go scouting? Or include another? Is it worth it to release a long relationship for a new love, which does not promise a total relationship of mind and body? What should Dev do? Tell Ramaya? Or drop Rukhmini?

From another angle, was this whole psychodrama just a way for Dev to reclaim his lost independence? If he were all by himself again, independent to do as he pleased, would he drop both women in fact? And look for a new sunrise? Or would that be the perfect condition to keep his relationship with both women in tact?

Case Study III - Can A Married Woman Have A Fling Outside Marriage?

Kashmira is 55. She has been married to Rob for the last 30 years. They have two daughters and both are married and happy. Rob, her husband is heading the Marketing Department of a major Corporation, while Kash, as she is fondly called, is engaged with Social Service. They have what one might call a fairly successful marriage and by now they have both become good as old wine. Or have they?

Recently, with the blog-cult explosion on the net, Kash has opened a blog on Sulekha.com, the world’s second largest Dotcom. Kash prefers to write on issues around bringing up children in an age of Cyberspace. A frequent visitor to her blog, one Adam’s Apple has been frequently commenting on her posts. Of late he has even started to send her private notes. In what happened to be a non-serious exchange of notes, it has dawned to Kash, that Adam’s Apple and she have a lot in common and having exchanged notes now for a week, they have each disclosed their private email addresses and now are exchanging emails and chat at the frequency of light! Adam’s Apple, whose real name is John stays in a different state from hers and is a divorcee who has been living alone for some time. As it turns out to be, Kash and John find themselves, hopelessly in love with each other after this exchange. They are soul mates they think. But, although Kash, is burning and distracted in this love, she has neither opened this story up to her husband or her daughters. In fact, she is a bit reticent about this and in fact, this is exactly why she finds that this new love overwhelming. John flew down on one weekday and they met at a Restaurant and although they were happy to see each other, their meeting did not end in the bedroom. But now, Kash, is unable to make love to her husband. John is the man her body and mind wants and although the failure to make love to her husband has not become an issue yet, Kash is worried stiff. What should she do? In fact, she is speaking to her friends. Some say she must give this new love away and continue with her life with her husband and some say she needs to move on and give herself the permission to rejuvenate her love life once again with someone else. But Kash is not ready to do that, because she has got used to the luxury of this life with her husband. She is in a fix – what should she do? She can’t give up either.


Kash has reached a level of contentment in her life. She has everything. A “good” marriage, wealth and comfort. She also has two daughters who too are married happily. But, in fact, this is exactly what is making Kash restless. Her life seems to be too perfect, nothing to look forward to as all things are in place. Hence, an innocent blog with Sulekha has landed her life into a regular emotional mess as she struggles with her feelings, needs and desires which have all shown up with the coming in of this new man in her life – John. So now, she has something to “do” albeit it is almost driving her mind into a chamber of chaos.

On the other hand, is it possible her long marriage of 30 years has become too long and there is a sense of boredom which has set in? Is it possible that although she is happy with her wealth and position in life, there are areas in her marriage, which need to be addressed. Is it possible she and her husband need to take a year off perhaps and have a second honeymoon, do different things and just be with each other, outside their normal environment? What is ailing the marriage that has made her respond to new stimuli from outside?

But, is it not possible for a woman, wife and mother to have an affair outside her marriage? Does she not deserve it? Is she not human enough to give vent to her desires sometimes? Does it mean that if one has been with someone for a number of years, s/he must spend the rest of their lives with this person only? Can monogamy never be challenged? Are humans not intrinsically polygamous? Must women always be custodians of their family, keeping the institution going, even if her heart wants to move out?

My Interpretation
As the case presents itself, it is apparent that there is an emotional gap in Kash’s marriage, which has prompted her to respond to John in the way she has. It is also apparent that she probably is giving her “everything is alright and good” status a little bit of a shake up. By creating (read happening) a situation in her life which is making her use all her creative, analytical and emotional faculties at one and the same time, she is giving her brain a good infusion of the much needed adrenalin. Since, even when she met John after all this erotic communication on email, where both have confessed love for each other and yet, have not gone ahead to seal the deal so to say, it can be said that the relationship is still under observation by both. Both? Yes both! While Kash has a stable marriage and a good life to fall back on, John has been divorced for a long time and has not committed himself to another woman/man in the years that followed. Hence, is he a once-bitten-twice-shy kind of person who might be hot in words more than action? Is it possible that both of them are engaged in a game to test how deep is the water or how hot the fire? Whatever, is the case, in the meantime, Kash stands on soft sand as her “not tonight darling” may set the signal for the curtain to rise and expose her to her husband. Will it be worth it?

Kash needs to take a hard look at herself. Perhaps she needs to get away from her environment and both her lovers – her husband and John and take a break. Just be with herself without really having to compulsorily keep in touch with either. Perhaps all she wants is a good friend and someone who understands that she has human emotional needs as well. She has been the emotional anchor to her husband and her daughters for a long time, maybe she requires to feel the same sense of commitment coming from elsewhere.

Further, instead of looking at her relationship with John only erotically, she can begin to look at it more maturely by negotiating a friendship with him where each of them becomes a support and help to each other. Instead of making a choice for John up against her husband, she can make him inclusive in their relationship. That is not to say, go polygamous with a husband and a lover together, but introduce him to her husband, her daughters and other important people in her family, thereby expanding her relationship with John, and changing its position as private to public.

If this is not possible, then slowly she must release John from her emotional mind. Or else it will destroy her marriage. It will do so because, in trying to keep on with a secret engagement, she will destroy herself first, as she becomes a total nervous wreck. And if she loves herself dearly, this is not what she wants to do to herself or her marriage. In fact, she has put in too many years of hard work into this marriage to let it go for a fling.

I am not saying though that a woman cannot fall in love with someone outside her marriage. She can provided she knows how to negotiate her stand vis-à-vis all who are concerned. I believe in inclusion as against exclusion of one for the other.

What’s your take on this?