I open the newspaper. My hands veer away, as if by magic, to the sensational news section (read the “glamour page”). The coffee turns bitter in my mouth as the news spreads and my eyes take it in. A fortnight ago, the pages were splashed with glittering pictures of her with the golden lady. And today, she shies away from the paparazzi, holed up in her pad, perhaps coveting anonymity as news of her husband’s inappropriate dalliances with biker chicks makes headlines. The husband she could not help but praise profusely in her Oscar acceptance speech! But then, Sandra Bullock is not alone. The Golden Lady has a reputation of working like a bad charm, intimidating and eventually snaring away the better half gentlemen. Reese Witherspoon was soon seen spooning herself out of marital mess, Oscar safe in her cupboard. Kate Winslet announced her decision to split from her hubby, barely a year after her titanic academy award win. The recent past has seen a lot of golden couples, even in their silver years fade to infidelity. The gold band with a diamond with its promise of permanence seems to have a penchant for taking on a grim platinum tone. Couples we thought were together for eternity found in their better (bitter) halves the worst court battle enemy. A lifetime of cheating, lying, hackneyed excuses, shoddy cover-ups which ultimately fall apart…
Gossip columns began to go full on ballsy juice just about the time cold vibes set into motion in the northern hemisphere in the month of November. As news broke out about dependable Tiger’s escapades with “illustrious” colourful women, we found that even a beautiful Scandinavian blonde model can have a hard time keeping a hubby faithful. (This, despite being arguable the most appealing of the women in his life.) It was as if the twin towers came crashing on Toni Poole when the lid was blown off her husband John Terry’s affair with her former best friend. She abandoned her glittering wedding ring for the golden sands of Dubai, recovering from the twin tragedy finding solace in her twin boys. The Facebook group echoes quite blatantly, the thoughts in the minds of millions worldwide when it screams something along the lines of, “Ashley Cole, are you stupid?! Have you noticed how hot your wife is??!” the Girls Aloud star of his wife went quiet on her husband’s numerous accounts of philandering, arriving at what seems to be the last straw for the beauty.
My blank eyes get reflected in the black of his coffee.
“What?” he prods, smiling that assuring stretch of the lips sealed from corner to corner in a promise of safekeeping.
Shush…these things happen only in the fickle bubble of a world of rockstars, filmstars and sports stars.
And my lips pick up from their droop into a smile of self-assurance. Wide-eyed surprise, caught off guard, lights up his face as my hand squeezes his. But the very next instant, my blissful bubble comes deflated, enjoying more transience than the other bubble mentioned. The best of smokescreens cannot keep out instances of infidelity in the world of lesser mortals. A distant cousin who found in her husband distrust personified; having been forced to watch him engage in extra-marital sex in their own bedroom as punishment for not admitting to fictional affairs in the past. A next door neighbor tortured in the eighth month of pregnancy to quiet down her opposition to her man’s sexual peccadilloes to keep his hormones engaged for another month or so. A friend who turns a reluctant blind eye to the indiscretions of the man that her legal papers name as her husband, for the sake of the kids that adore the father in him. Making excuses to them (and to herself) for those nights of no return, idle acid eating away her stomach all the while, food languishing on the dining table. Those hollow justifications in the garb of solid reasoning —
“It’s not one. He has multiple affairs. Clearly there is no emotional attachment to any. It’s just sex. He is going to come running back to me. Mark my words.” …While he goes home to a new one every night, the missus lapses away into delusion with every tick of the midnight clock.
The millions of women who hold on fearing that the violence outside will be worse than the one inside. Nowhere to go with too much shored up against them – parental opposition to her bold decision to drop the cheating yokel, fear of being hurled with the societal swear word “divorcee” and lack of finances.
A younger version of me pops up in my head, “It is so against their self-esteem. A woman should never take that lying down.”
The eyes lose their softness, the lucid boundaries turn sharp, enclosing within, two balls of uncertainty, snowballing by the minute.
The mind screams, “Oh cut him some flak.” An old friend’s voice sounds from the distant past, “Women cheat more often than men. I heard it on Good Morning America.”
It’s all bullshit. My worries are unfounded. The choice I made will not turn out sour.
My mirror image flashes in my mind. If sharper features can get cheated on in the face, under the nose then…..
“Hey Baby,” his fingers touch down my cheeks, caressing them with loving warmth. My eyes linger at the round figure on his left fourth finger, squinting as the morning sun bounces off it, equally playful.
“I should be back by 7. Darned merger meeting with H&H! They wouldn’t reschedule it for the world,” he shrugged.
I smile. “Go to your love.”
The shrugging shoulders stiffen.
“Oh pardon me. Not love. Lust isn’t it?” I correct myself. “Work…for you…has sex appeal right?”
He stares, “Somebody has a cocky sense of humour.” He smiles, that wholesome I-will-never-let-you-down smile. “Bye. Will call you.”
I get up as the door is opened and move towards the answering machine. The button is pushed as the door gently, faithfully, reverts back to the doorframe. The brief humming of the breeze is trapped outside.
“Hello Sir, this is Maria. As per your instructions, the meeting with H&H has been rescheduled for Wednesday.” …and so squeaked the last message on the machine. Time: 12:13 of the previous night.
Well before he called it a night.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.