“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Manoj asked, beer mug in one hand and his other arm around his wife Jenny. The small group that was invited to their get-together that night was in no mood to hear the bad news. Looking at Manoj’s usual cheerful countenance and the big smile on Jenny’s face, they did not seriously believe that the bad news was really too ‘bad’. So there were cries of ?Bad news first? from several friends in the group.
Glancing down at his wife, and with an air of one making a proud announcement, Manoj said, ?We’re getting a divorce.? The small group, for the best part of the next few minutes, was stunned speechless.
Then Amar, Manoj’s colleague and friend, laughed weakly and said, “C’mon man, don’t joke about such things. What is all this about?” Beer mugs were set down and there were similar reactions from the others folks in the group.
Sandra, Jenny’s childhood friend, stared at her with a frown, she knew Jenny wouldn’t allow Manoj to jest about a thing like this but she also knew there was no reason for them to get a divorce. She felt like she was in the middle of a bad dream.
Manoj and Jenny were the ideal couple young, charming, successful and happy. They had known each other and had been good friends for many years before acknowledging that they were in love. After a brief courtship and a painful struggle with their families, Manoj was Hindu and Jenny was Mangalorean — they had gone ahead and gotten married at the registrar’s office in the presence of a few friends in Mumbai. Their families, after the inevitable had happened, had dropped all their apprehensions and accepted the match. All this had taken place about a 6 years ago.
They were wonderful together, everybody could see that, so why this decision and why announce it in such a manner. The couple was still smiling. Manoj asked, “Don’t you guys want to know the good news?” The group, still trying to digest the bad news, wondered what was coming next. Manoj pulled Jenny closer to him and said, “We are going to live together.”
Why do we need the cloak of marriage? This ring that I wear does not really mean anything to us — it is just a symbol of our being married….
Needless to say, this was greeted with another ‘stunned speechless’ silence. The group looked as if they had had enough surprises for the day. What did this mean? Were they really serious they certainly acted like it.
Jenny said, “I know this is shocking, inviting you for a party and hurling these surprises at you. And it’s not a joke. We decided this after a lot of discussion and thought. Since it was a major decision and a happy one, we wanted to share it with you all.”
Avita, Jenny’s cousin and advisor on many occasions, asked, “How do you plan to work this out? You really know what you’re doing? And what are you going to tell both your parents? Are you going to tell them at all?.”
Manoj said, “Oh yes! They are going to hear all this, no half-truths, no lies. After all, they are a main reason for this decision.” The whole group was listening with rapt attention. Manoj continued, “This one year we have been married, we realised whatever came between us was external. We were quite happy with each other except when marital obligations and social expectations were forced on us.”
“Our parents did not believe in our marriage, they didn’t turn up for our wedding. For them, religious considerations made us unsuitable for each other. But when we did get marry, they came running back to us and claimed to be proud of the way we had made our marriage a success. Now, Jenny’s parents expect us to become members of their church and go to church with them when we visit them. They want us to attend weddings, christenings and visit all their relatives here on their behalf. My parents make digs about Jenny’s non-vegetarianism and they think it’s high time we had a baby. Of course, the baby would take the father’s religion and that would prove something for them. Small things, but niggling and nagging when they are repeated over and over, whenever we talk to them or visit them.
“Jenny doesn’t, and I certainly don’t want to go to church on Sundays, nor do we want to attend every social event there is. I don’t have a problem if she cooks non-vegetarian food at home. And we both don’t want to have kids. But these are issues we will never be able to tell our parents. And I’m sure they wouldn’t want to face them either.”
Jenny took over, saying, “So we decided this was the best way of showing them how we wanted to live our lives. Just as the decision to marry was ours, they should realise that we will decide the way we want to lead our lives. You might ask, ‘Why did you get married at all? Was this one year of marriage a farce?’ No, we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together.”
“Why do we need the cloak of marriage? This ring that I wear does not really mean anything to us — it is just a symbol of our being married. Why should we be obliged to keep up social niceties and spend so much time proving to society that we are husband and wife? Who really cares about us anyway? You, our friends, have been with us and we know you will be with us regardless of whether we are married or not. Our parents, if they really care about us, have the choice of being with us too. It’s up to them. Only, they will not be able to interfere in our lives; we’ll not be married — so no ‘in-law’ obligations.”
Manoj added, “The decision may be radical, but for us, it’s only practical.”
Robin, Avita’s husband, was the first to recover. He said in his quiet voice, “Maybe to us this seems an imprudent move. But knowing Manoj and Jenny, I guess they have thought it through and that’s how they wish to live. I feel good that they told us about it and I think we should give them all the support they need.” Then he raised his beer mug and toasted, “To Manoj and Jenny, and a love that can never die.” All present slowly raised their mugs, joining him in the toast….
Author: Jeevan Pinto- USA