Together We Bond

You are not alone We are there and therefore Together we Bond

Missing The Look December 7, 2006

Filed under: Reflections — togetherwebond @ 7:51 am

My current consulting gig involves a shared workspace because the client is big on the benefits of collocation. It has been a fun experience for the most part because the team has at least one stand-up comedian and several wannabes. The decision makers are within earshot and all it takes is a holler to get their attention and answers. As with all good things, there are some downsides as well. The guy who sits closest to me has been curious about my marital status for the past several months that we’ve worked together .

He is the sophisticated desi who went to IIT but is not obsessed over his alma mater like a lot his ilk are, has informed opinions about things technical and otherwise but is not abrasive or arrogant. V is a competent, courteous professional who has lived and worked around the world and has seemingly benefited from his exposure to different cultures.

A couple of days ago he took me by complete surprise by asking “Does your husband follow cricket ?”. This was the first time that he asked me any kind of personal question – he has never so much as enquired about J. I did a double take before managing to say “I don’t know, I am divorced”. Having known V as long as I have, I expected him to say “I’m sorry” or some such and move on to the next thing. Instead he exclaimed “Divorced ! I would have never thought. You don’t look like it. How do you manage by yourself and raise a child alone ?”

I asked “Why is being divorced a big deal in this day and age ? Lot of people are and they get along just fine – specially in this country. Raising a child alone can be very satisfying and fulfilling. I don’t think of J as a chore or burden at all.” V had apparently still not recovered from what he had heard and repeated “I can’t imagine someone being divorced and raising a child alone”. I had to repeat myself slowly this time so he got it “Like I said, its getting to be very common and raising a child alone is not as difficult as you think it is”. It took him a while to shift gears and find something else to say.

The tension between us is palpable now that the state of my matrimony (or the lack of it) has been fully disclosed leaving nothing to conjecture. The one thing I look away from that conversation was “You don’t look like it”. I am not sure what he had expected to see in a divorced woman that he had apparently not found in me – obviously that had contributed to his shock and incredulity at the news. When I look in the mirror, I sometimes notice tiredness from constantly being overworked and under-rested but other than that I don’t see myself any different from when I was single years ago.

Marriage had drained my vital energy, transformed me into a person that I was not – I no longer looked or felt like myself. My confidence in my abilities was at its all time low and declining. In my pictures from back then, I have this sad expression of someone who has been trapped and yearns for freedom. I recognize that look in many married women around me. It is the look that exuberant new brides unstoppable, unshakable and unwavering in their hopes from marriage sometimes acquire in five or six years.

I think V would have felt vindicated if I looked miserable, frustrated and despondent in a way even trapped wives do not. Maybe he does not get how not having a husband could make so little difference to me – atleast going by external appearances. It must have bothered him greatly that I was getting along just fine without one. I have to wonder if that made him think about his worth to his wife who fortunately stays at home to raise their six year old.

By Heartcrossings – http://heartcrossings.blogspot.com/

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5 Responses to “Missing The Look”

  1. PurpleA Says:

    In my pictures from back then, I have this sad expression of someone who has been trapped and yearns for freedom. I recognize that look in many married women around me.

    I have been a real camera person all my life. Wherever I went my camera tagged along with me and captured memories. To put it across simply, I loved taking pictures not only of others but of myself too and thus treasure the memories forever. Camera friendly I was to the core; was famous in taking pictures creatively and passing along copies to my friends. And I also loved to see my pictures, have them framed or simply stick some copies on my bedroom walls, wherever. When I was newly separated, I happened to go through some albums of my married life, I look starved with dark hollows on my face (called dark circles in other words) and fear and expression of insecurity flashing all over my face.

    And when I saw pictures of myself prior to marriage there was always this gleam in my eyes, very contented, in high spirits and cheerful (obviously happy moments thus happy reflections).

    Little did I realize that few years down the years the gleam would be replaced by terror, insecurity and dark circles.

    Last month I attended a friends wedding. Everyone was taking pictures either by their cameras or cell phones etc. When my friends asked me to get in from of the camera, it gave me cold feet. I was reluctant coz I still did not think I was ready for it (especially the last 3 years of my pictures I had, I hated to look at myself) . Eventually I obliged my close friends who were persistent that I pose for the group pictures. So I posed, smiled and cheesed. Later when I saw the snaps, I think I looked fine; the glow seemed to be back and so also the confidence (sans fear).
    So there….. that was one more step taken further, away from the past, towards a happy, free, independent future.

  2. Neha Says:

    PurpleA,
    Amen to that!!

  3. Kiran Says:

    Missing the look huh?? You sure did rake up his insecurities, now he will look at his wife differently. Hmmmm. Wonder where that will lead too!!!

  4. Surekha Says:

    Marriage had drained my vital energy, transformed me into a person that I was not

    I can so relate to that statement. I recently returned to a project where I used to work before my divorce. My co-workers say I look so much more confident and relaxed and I seem to be able to laugh more. Not only my personal life, even my professional life improved after I got myself out of the mess that my marriage has become.
    The VP of HR of my consulting company, a 60 year old lady, told me that I will do fine – that I will be better off from now on.

    Only my Indian Boss keeps worrying about how I will manage with 2 kids and is concerned about how my ex will manage without us!

  5. SriPriya Says:

    Purple A and Surekha,
    Its the perception we have for ourselves. We seldom see that self praise in women after divorce. But when you take that special care yourself you will certainly see the difference.
    It happened a similar experince with me. My pics now are more beautiful than before. Infact it is my youth coming back again. Hard to believe your own eyes but that is truth. You can see my pics to belive what I say.
    And regarding those Indian boss or the people who seem to show some sympathy for we divorced look like they almost go blaming and judging us or self pity their ownself.
    Single parenting is not easy but kids who have a single parent are more loved, well-mannered and understanding than the opposite.
    Single parenting is possible in India too with extra help from family or by hiring maid and cooks so the parent is able to give quality time for children.
    I am a single parent and this is a bliss for me. I fill in both Dad and Mom’s role for my kid and feel happy that I(a little lazy person)can do so good than anyone can. Its not easy but its possible and I know HC you are very wonderful and proud Mom too. J is very lucky to have you. I love all your posts. Do write more.
    Take care.
    SriPriya.


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