Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Best Friend's Seperation

I've known Rohit since I was in ninth class, when I first landed here and attended my first day in school. For some reason, he liked me. I don't know why--I didn't like myself that much back then. But he always seemed to see something in me that I never did, and so we sort of kept in touch--him mostly. He would always call to check up on me, try and make it out to my place--even tried to help me out when I'd hit rock bottom with my depression and didn't want anything to do with anyone I'd known from my past. He was there, even though I never made it any easier for him.

Rohit's dream was to become an Army Officer--he was very into the whole An Officer and a Gentleman shebang. His other big dream was to get a girlfriend (something which united both of us inexplicably), even though, once again--I thought I had a much better shot at it than he did...

We would sometimes sit outside his house thinking of all the girls we could've married and settled down with. Sometimes he'd come over to my house and we'd go up to the terrace and look at the stars and try and justify our loneliness as an exercise in romantic aspirations--something which all true lovers have to go through. I was adamant that there was someone special waiting out there for me, but Rohit was much more realistic, and when he got his chance--he decided to take it.

The girl was introduced to him via one of his cousin sisters, they started talking, and decided they were compatible enough to get hitched. He called me up and told me about the wedding to be. I was flabbergasted--I never expected my one sole accomplice in all of the struggles I'd faced to ditch me like this, but I couldn't not be happy for him. After all--if this is what he'd wanted--I was glad that he could have it. The marriage took place in his native place of Dehradun, where incidentally the girl and her family also happened to to be from. It was a huge family affair, and both parties were satisfied with the match.

Yesterday night, after a year and a half, I got a call from Rohit... he'd called me up once or twice in-between but I was too depressed to talk to him then. I was ecstatic that he'd gotten in touch because there really is no way for me to do it since they keep moving him around from one corner of the country to another--wherever he is needed. I told him I'd been thinking a lot about him during the past few days and weeks, and was really ashamed about the way I'd behaved in the past. But Rohit being Rohit--didn't think there was anything to apologize for. And then--it came. Like a punch out of nowhere: he told me--want to hear some bad news... and it was the way he siad it that I immediately knew what the hell he was talking about. I told him--Oh no... don't tell me. And he said, "Well, it's not all bad, since I'm happy." I asked him what happened, knowing fully well the answer that was to come, but hoping against hope that it wasn't true. Rohit's wife had left him a few days ago.

We talked for about half an hour. He was calling me up from Indore where he's posted right now studying to get into the UN's Peace Keeping Forces. I asked him how it'd happened and he told me: there was trouble brewing right from the start. The problem with Rohit's wife was that even though she'd proclaimed to be a very down-to-earth person--the truth was far from it. There was the fight about not having the huge Plasma Screen TV that she wanted, which Rohit could not afford on his salary at the moment, and had asked her to put it off for a year or two. Then, there was the 400 litre refrigerator which she'd asked for because the neighbour's had just one like it, but Rohit's suggestion was that since they were only two people they really didn't need to own a fridge with that kind of capacity, especially since he could only afford a 180 litre one.

The Armed Forces don't get paid a lot. They aren't millionaires with loads of money to spend, and Rohit's wife was aware of this when she got married to him. But, according to what Rohit understood of how her mentality worked: he was under the impression that she wanted to be the centre of attention in his house. His dad's got a pretty respectable career going in a bank, which he's been working at for the past 20 years or more, then there's his brother--who's in the Navy, and is a Ship Navigator, who earns quite a nice sum himself. So, according to Rohit, what she was expecting was to be welcomed into the family by all three with the money they would obviously be lavishing on her since she was the only girl in the house, and so naturally would hold a very special place in their hearts.

Only problem is--Rohit's dad is about 5 or 6 years away from his retirement, and he's already told his sons that he doesn't want to depend on either of them for any financial assistance, so is trying to save as much as he can for himself and his wife. And Rohit's brother has his own life to think about--he's trying to save up as much as he can for his own family... but this was probably asking for too much in the eyes of Rohit's wife.

And so--it started--the torturous pricks about being married to someone who doesn't earn enough to support his wife, the constant criticism about his family (his mom especially), the rude behaviour with his folks, which he was not aware of since his mother had kept him in the dark about all of it so as not to interfere with their relationship. But, everyone has a limit, and Rohit reached that stage when she packed up her bags one day and said--no more! Rohit's mom begged her to stay, pleaded with her--got down on her knees and asked her not to bring shame to the family, but she threatened them with a false court case accusing them of dowry harassment if they didn't allow her to leave, and so Rohit, seeing no other way out--let her go.

She took everything. The clothes, the Bank Balance, the Mobile Phones (including two of his) and to add insult to injury, has been spreading all kinds of rumours about him and his family back home. Rohit--he's just glad that she's out of his life for the time being. She tried to get in touch with him recently to "patch things up" but Rohit had the sense to stay as far away from her as he could. He says he's just relieved that they didn't bring a child into this world, something that she was very keen on, but something which Rohit instinctively knew would be only adding to his miseries. He says this is the worst 15 months that he's ever had to spend in his life, but he's thankful that it's behind him now.

I asked him how much he'd spent on the wedding, and since--the total bill comes out to something like 7,00,000 Rupees, which would amount to about $ 20,000. (Shame!) But, Rohit again being Rohit--is just relieved that he doesn't have to deal with the drama anymore and he can move on with his life now. I asked him if he would ever think of getting married again--and pat came the answer "NO". I said not to give up, there are a lot of people who've been through the same thing and are still hopeful. He said that he was worried he wouldn't find anyone at his age (since most people over here get married in the age group of 21 to 24). I told him that he had no idea, and let him in on the activities that I'd been involved in for the past two weeks. There were plenty of women out there, 28 and older, who were searching for the one. But, this time--I told him that I would be there for him, and when he found someone who he thought of settling down with, I'd make sure that I'd at least take the responsibility of doing what a best friend should do, and check if he's not making the biggest mistake of his life.

We've decided to meet sometime next month, after his course work in Indore wraps up, and will hopefully get some time to talk then. Other than that--he was happy to hear about my exams and the job. I thanked him.

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