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To Be Or Not To Be

by Srijaya N Char
(Bangalore, India)

It may not be true if I say that most of the marriages that end in separation create repentance. Of course it is not true for all. I will narrate a story of one of my friends which may prove this right.

Preeti was a close friend of mine. We worked together in the same company. She was very intelligent and outgoing. Being good friends she would confine in me a number of personal things.

Most of her conversation would be about her unhappiness with her husband and family. I would listen to her only to cheer her up and never gave her any advice. Her husband Prabhakar was a successful lawyer. I had met him once or twice and knew nothing about him. One sunny afternoon Preeti came to me and told me that she would be filing for divorce.
'Divorce?’ – I was aghast! 'What happened?' I asked.

We both took casual leave on that day and went and sat in a park to talk.
“It is impossible to remain intact if a couple do not share a similar vision about lives?” – she said.
I was silent for a while. I did not know what to say.

"Rupa, he says he wants a child; but I really don’t," she said. I want to climb the ladder in my profession and I do not want to become pregnant, have a child and look after it. It is not possible. I do not have a mother and I am not very close to any of my other families.

‘What can I say? Ask him to wait for a few more years.' – I said.
“I am already 37. Should I have a child at 40?” – She said.
“How old is Prabhakar?” – I ventured to ask.
"He is also 37; he says he will not wait any longer.” – She said
"Preeti, tell me honestly, do you want a child at all, or would be continue without any children?” – I asked.
“Yes. Why should I have one?”

I could not understand her psychology. I had nothing to say.

We both got up and went back to our office and got busy with our work.

Two to three weeks passed and I had to go to Bombay for some office work. On the day I came back, I was eager to meet Preeti. Preeti was also out of town in Chennai and I waited for another two to three days for her arrival.
She came. As soon as she came, she called me and asked me to meet her at the canteen. I met her at noon.
‘Rupa, Prabhakar has applied for ‘divorce’ she said.” – All of a sudden.
I was taken aback. Divorce!!! My god, I could not believe my ears.
"What did you say?" I asked.
“I agreed. Yes. I want to be free. He keeps harping on the same thing. He wants a kid and a family. I don’t” – She said vehemently.
“Isn’t Prabhkar a nice person? You would always say nice things about him. Wasn’t yours a love marriage?” – I asked.
“Yes. He is a very nice person. I have no complaints about him. But, I don’t want a child.”
‘Can that be a
ground for divorce?’
“He is a lawyer, Rupa, and that too and very successful and known person.” – He knows what is right and what is wrong.
“What about you?” I became a bit inquisitive.
“I signed the papers that he put before me already. We are separating.”

I did not know what to say.

Months and years passed. I got married. My husband was Prakash. I had a two year old son. Both my husband and me were perfectly okay, made for each other. I did not know where Preeti was as I was away in USA since the time I got married. She never contacted me, nor did I. Her phone number had changed. She had shifted her residence.

We had an opportunity to visit India and we came on a holiday. My first impulse was to find Preeti. I went to our old company and found out that she had resigned her job. I got her phone number from one of her friends and called her. She gave me her home address and asked to come to her house if she wished to see me.

After telling Prakash that I would go to meet my friend, I left my child with him and went to her house one Sunday.

She opened the door and what I saw of her shocked me! She was not the same good looking Preeti I had seen. She seemed disoriented in her talk and asked me to take a seat.

"Preeeti, what happened? Why did you change your phone number? Why did you not contact me?" I said.
“Rupa. My life is a mess. What I did to Prabhakar was unpardonable. He was such a nice man. He is now married and has two kids and is very happy. He came to see me once. He has told his wife all that happened before his divorce. She seemed a very nice person. They are a happy family. What a fool I was. My career seemed so important to me that all else paled into insignificance. But now, I don’t feel very happy. I feel miserable. I am under depression and have been taking medication.

I repent what I did. Yes. I do repent whnt I did. This repentance will continue with me as long as I am, alive. The money I saved has been useful for buying an apartment. Now, I do not have a very high paying job. I am so obdurate. I refused any alimony from him. Even when he broached the subject, I just cut the phone. None of my relatives are prepared to come and meet me. I have become a villain in their minds. How can you divorce a nice man like Prabhakar? Yes, everyone asks me the same question.

Yes. Now I repent. The repentance is killing me. I could have had a family and lived happily with him. What can I do now? I have to just repent. This repentance will stay with me as long as I am alive. I am trying to get over my depression with medication. But how long?” – She cried on my shoulders and I did not know what to do.

Yes. REPENTANCE is something that one can never come out of.

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