A cell-phone rings at 9 o’clock in the morning in an apartment in Pune.
The husband picks up, pauses for a moment as if hearing something, and says, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there on time,” and then he switches off the mobile phone and keeps it in his pocket.
He then shouts to his wife, who is in the kitchen: “I’m going out for some work. I’ll be back around one thirty or two for lunch.”
“Where are you going…? You’ve taken leave today. Let’s go shopping…and then we’ll go for lunch and a movie.”
“Please. Not today. I’ve taken leave just for this important thing.”
“Important thing…? What important thing…? Where are you going…?” the wife persists.
The husband does not want to tell her but he knows now that he has no choice but to tell her. He knows his wife’s nature so well – she is not going to rest till she finds out. She will nag him to death until he tells her.
So he decides to tell her the bare minimum.
“I am going to the Family Court,” he says.
“Family Court…? Why…?” his wife shrieks in amazement.
“A divorce case,” the husband says nonchalantly.
“Divorce case…? You are filing a divorce case…? You are trying to divorce me behind my back…?” the wife yells hysterically.
“Will you please be quiet and listen…? It’s not us. Pooja has asked me to come for the hearing.”
“Pooja…? Who is this Pooja…?”
“ You’ve met her. She’s my colleague at work.”
“Oh…so it is That Pooja…! I knew you always had a soft corner for her.”
“It’s her final divorce hearing today and she’s called me.”
“Divorce case…? Pooja…? She called you…? How are you involved…? I hope the divorce is not because of you…? I knew you’d do something stupid. You are so gullible you know – you must have got trapped by her, fell victim to her charms and now you are in trouble being summoned by courts. Respectable persons never see the insides of a court in their entire lives…!”
“Will you please keep quiet…? You just go on and on…! Pooja has called me just to give her emotional support…”
“Emotional support…? From you…? So this Pooja needs emotional support from you…? Why you…? Tell me…why you…? I knew there was some hanky-panky going on. I’m coming with you. Can’t you see what she’s up to…?”
“Please…please calm down and don’t jump to conclusions. Pooja is just a colleague going through a rough patch. As a friend, I have to help her out, show her a bit of compassion and kindness…that’s all…”
“Compassion…? Compassion, my foot…! This compassion may soon turn into passion…!” the wife says sarcastically, “I tell you…Drying a divorcee’s tears is one of the most dangerous pastimes for a man, especially a married man…!”
“Pastime…? I’m not going there for amusement. I’m going just to help out a colleague…”
“Oh, yes. An attractive colleague in distress, isn’t it…? And our Knight in shining armour is rushing to her rescue…!”
“Okay. Why don’t you come along and see for yourself…” the husband says exasperated.
The moment he utters those words he instantly regrets it, but it is too late.
His wife has already picked up her purse and is heading towards the door.
“Why are they divorcing…?” the wife asks, as they are driving in their car from their house towards the Family Court in city.
“It’s divorce by mutual consent.”
“Mutual consent…? What nonsense…! There must be some other reason.”
“No. They have just agreed to separate.”
“Agreed to separate…? If they can agree to separate, why can’t they agree to stay together…?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Pooja that…!” the husband says irritated.
“Of course I will. And I’ll give a piece of my mind to her husband too and tell him to stop harassing his wife.”
“Please…I beg you…for heaven’s sake don’t say anything stupid and embarrassing to them over there. He is not harassing her. They are parting amicably, as friends. I told you, it is an amicable divorce by mutual consent…”
“What nonsense…? Amicable divorce by mutual consent…! There is no such thing as amicable divorce…!”
“What do you mean…? So many people have amicable divorces now-a-days and part as friends.”
“Nonsense…! It’s all nonsense, a cover up… Amicable Divorce is a big lie – an oxymoron.”
“Yes. Tell me, how can divorce be amicable…? If a marriage is really so amicable, why divorce in the first place…? If they can divorce and remain friends, I am sure they can remain married and be friends, isn’t it…?”
“I don’t know. Please let’s talk something else.”
“I am sure there is something fishy…”
“Will you please keep quiet and let me drive the car in peace…?”
“What’s her husband’s name…?”
“See… Pooja and Abhishek… even their names are compatible,” the wife says, I am certain that there must be some adultery involved. This Abhishek must be having an affair. Or it must be Pooja. Yes it’s her. I’m sure she is having an affair…!”
“Don’t be stupid. She’s not like that.”
“How do you know…?”
“I know her for so many years now. She’s quite close to me. She’s told me everything…”
“Close to you…? She is close to you…? Oh, My God…! I hope it’s not you…?”
“Me…? Will you please shut up…? I told you it is mutual incompatibility…!”
“Mutual Incompatibility my foot…! Let me tell you there is no one in this world who is more mutually incompatible than you and me…! But are we divorcing…?”
“Why don’t we…? At least I’ll have some peace and respite from your constant nagging…”
“Ah…you want to divorce me so you can marry her, is it…? You’ve got a hope in heaven…! I’ll cling on to you till my dying day… And then I will follow you as a ghost and even to heaven after that…”
They drive in silence for a while and then the wife asks, “Has she got any children…?”
“Yes. Two. A boy and a girl. In school…”
“Poor kids. What will happen to them…?”
“They’ll go off to a boarding school for a while till Pooja settles down…”
“It’s funny. They’ve got children and are divorcing. We don’t have any children, but we are carrying on together…!”
“Yes,” the husband says, “I really wonder…! We constantly fight but we stay together… and they have such a cordial relationship but they want to separate…”
“Marriage is not supposed to be cordial and cold,” the wife says lovingly, snuggling up affectionately to her long-married husband.
“ I’ve realized one thing,” says the husband dotingly hugging his much-married wife.
“The opposite of love is not hate – the opposite of love is indifference.”