I opened the Mumbai Mirror this morning to be greeted with a headline that reads "Wife sues Chintan for obscene drawings". I was so saddened to read this as front page gossip. Two young people whom we have known since their student days in Baroda, who fell in love and decided to be a couple; and who struggled to attain their dreams of life as artists in the big culture capitol of Mumbai. So what went so drastically wrong to make them become a warring couple in the glare of the public?! And more importantly, who is leaking these stories to the press?!!
Well unfortunately love stories often don't last forever and people once madly in love do grow apart. This happened everyday. However when this occurs one must dig deep within oneself and find the grace of wisdom as the anchor through such periods of personal upheaval. Because undoubtedly it will be the most difficult period in your life. However if one self-reflects and leaves personal ego, power and revenge out of the equation, then one can come up with that essential factor that will dignify the entire proceedings; which is the process of civility that must govern all interaction. It is a dangerous game to set out on attempt to "teach the other a lesson". People will stand by and watch the tamasha and the only people who will suffer will be the warring couple. Lawyers will profit and newspapers will have fodder for their gossip mills. And finally what will happen to the two individuals at the centre of it all. They will grow deeper into this trench of personal doom.
Of course there will be hurt and emotional issues very close to the surface at all times during a divorce proceedings. Immovable assets that have been invested in as part of the "together"phase" with the dreams of longevity that gave reason and purpose to these decisions have to be divided up, sold, or bought over by one of the divorcing parties. Collective financial savings, jewelry, books, cars, art, house-hold objects....and sometimes even pets (!) all have to be re-allocated to belong to two instead of to a "couple". Its a tough job but it can be made much easier if civility, decency and refinement are employed by both in question. What has to be asked is how much do people wish to destroy the other as a personal process of vindication in love stories that go wrong?
Perhaps the sensible thing is when both parties stay away from being influenced by "well wishers"who feed them "crap stories"of one another. A love affair is between two people so let the conclusion also be private and personal, with good will that underlies the initial trust between the two individuals. Better sense should always prevail with the attempt to hold on to a friendship as the goal between ex-lovers, so that the past can maintain a space of preciousness as a memory forever. This is crucial and so easily attainable really. It merely requires the two warring people to put aside their anger and talk respectfully about a solution that is mutually beneficial.
Male crudity is a cowards weapon to use in spaces of vulnerability and must be avoided at all cost. Two lives will waste valuable time in the process of acrimonious divorce proceedings that are rooted in possessions and money alone. Anyone who whispers in their ears to "fight it out"are more the enemy than a friend. Couples who are in this stalemate must rely on their former trust of one another to insist upon a decency towards each other, so that their private lives do not become sound-bites and fodder for rag journalism.
I took no alimony, property or possessions when I divorced. This was my choice. What I took was my self respect, personal dignity and self awareness of my feminist politics. I was 21 years old at the time of this decision. Life may not have been easy in those years for me, but it was completely without regret, hatred or revenge and I remain grateful for my instinctive wisdom that led me to this choice. It will always be challenges that are painful and full of complex nuances that make you find the truth of your own resolve. The world of art in fact taught me how to compile my philosophical space and to recognise that material worldly goods alone are trivial in comparison to the ideals of optimism, of holding a social conscience for empowerment of the less fortunate, of comprehending the lessons of non-violence and perhaps most importantly, the space of nurtured learning that believes in a progress and development for all.
I wish these two friends the strength to find their dignity within their relationship, and to mediate the civility necessary to proceed with their divorce in a manner that will teach them to be better people. As artists we are trained to perceive refinement. At this juncture it is these lessons that must find its true meaning within the practise of their lives.