Right outside our main door, a little wooden letter box hung from the wall. It was accompanied by two more of it’s kind. Our’s was beige colored with the family title on it and had a small glass window to it with an inch wide slit on the top. It was beginning to gather dust and the paint was wearing out. Sometimes the tiny little door remained ajar. It had gone into the background along with the pale apple white wall. It seldom had anything inside it and mostly lay empty.
When I was a child, letters were important! My mother assigned me the great task of checking for letters and I took it up with a sense of pride and dedication. The tiny little key that opened the letter box filled me up with a deep sense of significance and there was not a day that I failed or forgot. There were letters from banks, companies, friends and family but what fascinated me the most were the stamps with the curvy black mark over it. I would hand over the letters to Mother or Father and wait eagerly for them to dispose off with the envelope and then sit with it and stare at the stamps.
One day, my mother found me staring at one such stamp and then told me that we could collect the stamps that came on the envelopes. She took the envelope and dipped it into some water and after a short while the stamp came off neatly from the paper. I was captivated as if she had performed some magic! From then on, I would remove stamps from the envelopes myself and nothing could contain my excitement when I noticed stamps with pictures or values that I did not already have. Soon, I had quite a few stamps. I was diligently collecting every stamp that came into our letter box and around this time my mother gifted me with an album for my stamps. She helped me sort out the stamps according to the country they came from and then we carefully placed them into our stamp album.
I sometimes look at the stamps that I had collected over the years and cannot help but feel wistful. Letters, letter boxes, stamps, greeting cards, hand written letters …are a diminishing practice now. The letter box just outside our main door which once remained locked now stands unused with it’s door ajar.
“Many days from today, we’ll see each other again. You will be a successful man and your struggles of the present day will be far behind you. You will have blossomed into a complete man. You will have a beautiful lady on your arm and she’ll perhaps be your wife. You will look content but that spark will be missing. You might convince yourself that what you have is wonderful …but to me, it is only satisfactory. Not extraordinary. You will know it too, deep within your heart… that our passionate fire could not have been replaced by anyone in the world. We were meant to be but didn’t do what was meant to be done.
It will only be a thousand emotions weaved into a fleeting glance of recognition… and we will pass each other by as silently as we had let ourselves slip into oblivion…yesterday.”
This is a poem that was a result of a disturbed night…
Because i don’t know what love is, anymore;
It’s illusion diminishing further from the core,
A formal collaboration… an undertaken oath,
An objective of the enslaved souls.
I don’t know what love is, anymore;
The subtle loss of all once adored…
The comfort of the ordinary routine,
Promises breaking of what should have been.
I don’t know what love is anymore;
The residual waves fringe the shore,
In the depths of my heart, I swim against the tide…
Deciphering the million meanings implied.
She had realized that love doesn’t come easy. She knew that there was no perfect man. She was aware that relationships didn’t last and she had understood that at the end of the day, there was going to be no one man for whom she was the only one. And so she had decided to be what they all desired. She had it in her. Her education made her independent, in more ways than one. Her varied exposure to culture through travel made her a connoisseur of refinement and her strong sense of self encouraged her to be liberated. Those who knew her yearned to be with her and those who didn’t wanted to know her. She had that spark to light up their mundanity. Her voice had a lure and teased every word that she spoke. Her eyes scathed when she stared and her confidence made it easy for them to confide in her.
She broke away from her past, being mentally exhausted every day… experiencing the fear of losing him, waiting for what seemed like forever and then getting nothing…being weak…being made to feel that way. She was through it all.
She was a new woman now.
Those of you who have read 50 Shades of Grey will be familiar with the discomfort felt by the presence of Mrs Robinson. Irrespective of all that had transpired between Christian and Mrs Robinson in the character’s earlier years, her continuous existence in his life is undoubtedly something that is a little disturbing.
She had been in a relationship with a wonderful person for almost two years now. The relationship had it’s ups and downs… there were moments of magic and there were the swings of devastation until she realized, a year into her association with him that whether she liked it or not, she would have to deal with a Mrs Robinson of their own. They were both in their twenties and “she” was considerably older, probably in her thirties. She was married and had a daughter. She didn’t claim to know much about “her” life but from what she’d heard, “her” husband was a very busy man.
Her boyfriend and this lady, it seemed, had hit it off quite well. They breezed in and out of each other’s life, as per convenience and need. As for her, there were a million questions in her mind to which she knew, she would never get any honest answers. There were days when she would call her boyfriend innumerable times and he would be on a call with “her”. They would be in touch while he worked and after he had finished work while she was always left stranded in the waiting line. Then there was this night where everything that had been built over the last one year came crashing down…and unfortunately, “she” was involved. He was, as usual now, on a very important call with her nearing midnight while his very own girlfriend had tried calling nearly twenty times.
This is around the time when she came to understand the meaning of the term “emotional adultery” which can be defined as “a relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or lover) that affects the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage. The role of an affair is to create emotional distance in the marriage.” They were not married yet but the definition gives an essence of this actually is. Her boyfriend always claimed that there was nothing beyond the texts and the phone calls. He had told her that there were no clandestine meetings which gave their relationship a more comprehensible definition. A relationship of emotional adultery neither necessitates intercourse nor physical affection to affect the committed relationship of those involved in the affair. It is theorized that an emotional affair can injure a committed relationship. She had made desperate attempts at reasoning with him but having denied anything beyond a very pure friendship, she had felt that he would have chosen “her” over their relationship…and so she had rationalized and settled.
Upon reading further, she came to know the characteristics of emotional adultery –
- Inappropriate emotional intimacy: the partner being unfaithful may spend inappropriate or excessive time with someone of the opposite or same gender (time not shared with the other partner). He or she may confide more in their new “friend” than in their partner and may share more intimate emotional feelings and secrets with their new partner than with their existing spouse. Any time that an individual invests more emotionally into a relationship with someone besides their partner the existing partnership may suffer.
- Deception and Secrecy: Those involved may not tell their partners about the amount of time they spend with each other. An individual involved in this type of affair may, for example, tell his or her spouse that they are doing other activities when they are really meeting with someone else. Or the unfaithful spouse may exclude any mention of the other person while discussing the day’s activities to conceal the rendezvous.
- Increased fighting: When a person becomes emotionally involved with a third party, they may begin to discount their primary partner, or to view the new person as all good and their committed partner as all bad. This person may blame their interest in the third party on their committed partner, which will lead to increased fighting and strain on the relationship.
- Denial: Denial of the attraction and limerance felt may be exhibited by the cheating partner.
She had, unfortunately seen all these attributes building up over time and she felt violated. She had a very strong set of beliefs about a commitment and a partner. With “her” mere presence, it all came undone. She knew well that “they” would never leave each other’s side because their’s was a relationship of convenience. They didn’t require tangibility but somewhere in their picture, she didn’t fit in.
It was a lazy morning. Her thoughts drifted from one memory to another and she felt particularly nostalgic today. It had been four years and eight months now and there wasn’t a day when she didn’t miss Ma. Thoughts of the times they had spent together, how Ma brought her up, her words and her love came gushing back to her. Sometimes, she felt helpless, wanting to run to Ma and cling on to her just like when she was a child. But she couldn’t. She longed for her presence but in vain. The only tangible feeling to Ma were the piles of old photographs that were scattered around the corners and crevices of the house… dusty and disused. She brought a pile out and carrying them to the dining table, opened the albums, one by one. Pictures of her as a baby, pictures of her grand yet homely birthday celebrations, pictures of Ma and her together, pictures of other family members… it was all there. And each photograph served as a souvenir of the beautiful moments that she had experienced.
Though she still yearned for the impossible, she felt grateful. For a child, a mother is the world and as one grows up, the world expands and Ma becomes a part of the whole. But sitting with the old photographs and looking at Ma that morning, for a few moments Ma became her whole world again…
Their relationship had reached a stage where communication had hit a roadblock. The time was never right. The context was meek. Every conversation hid a frigid undertone. Crude words that had once been taken in a light spirited mood were off bounds as now even neutral conversation was perceived with a high aggregate of negativity. Love was lost and it seemed there was nothing to hold on to.
She had always wished for a perfect relationship with all the imperfections, knowing that sometimes they had to learn to agree to disagree. But it was all in the notion that whatever happened, their’s was an imperishable bond and this was what she fought for.
The thought of a blank slate to start over tempted her at times. She knew that this time she would make the right choice. Someone who was capable of being the reliance that she yearned for. She knew that she would not stumble again. On one side lay the certainty in the unknown while on the other lay the very last streak of diminishing hope.
And there were times when she let her unreal imagination loose. She ached for the fresh in the frayed. She knew the magic could be inspired but she didn’t know how for every step they took, they tripped and stumbled. Perhaps it was the mind’s illusion. Perhaps she just wasn’t ready to accept the reality.