Article Published in THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

End of an affair

Navtej Sarna

It’s ecstasy while it lasts. It’s agony when it’s over. And there is no magic formula, no infallible ‘ten steps to recovery.’ But despite the anger and the accusations, the moods of maudlin sentimentality, says NAVTEJ SARNA, there are ways to dull the pain of a broken heart.

It was all such a long time ago.

I am standing on the road, face expressionless and mind vacant. The full impact of all that has happened is yet to be felt. Only one thought is drumming violently like the night rain on a tin roof. It’s all over. The end. All those thoughts and words have been mercilessly strangled. But my mind which hates to leave any loose ends has it all packaged. Wrapping paper, ribbons and all. The questions have been asked; the meaningless, contorted, fumbling answers given. Tears have been shed, regrets voiced, hands solemnly shaken. It was good while it lasted. I hope you will be happy. Neat, very neat.

Suddenly a car turns in to the road. My friend of such grave and recent parting is sitting in it. The car is being driven by a proud new companion. My pained face breaks into their laughter. Consternation wipes away the familiar and beloved smile. The car speeds up. Involuntarily, I run after the car. My kolhapuri chappal bites into my feet. It breaks and I stumble. Sweat breaks out and my head swims in the afternoon sun. Anger, hurt and disgust well up in my throat inch by painful inch and reach my burning eyes…the car vanishes and I turn back. Turn back to face a thousand questions. With one fierce, tearing movement, the ribbon and wrapping paper have been torn aside. The torrent will not be stilled. An affair has ended.

At this stage, one can be facetious and say that the person having suffered the above trauma can become the classic rejected lover. He can turn to drink, sing sad songs, grow a beard, tear a kurta and wear it. But facetiousness fails to bring forth the depth of the intensely human experience of coming out of a broken love affair. There is no magic formula, no infallible “tensteps to recovery”

What is fundamental is a-usually unconscious- decision to recover. This calls for a certain necessary ruthlessness. Things, times and places hallowed by sentiment have to be seen for what they are. A book even with her inscription is after all a book; a poem even if you read it together in the leafy glade, is just another piece of literature. . It might hurt to sit in the same restaurant where you sat and stared in your lady love’s eyes while the shadows lengthened but in there half a dozen times and the pain will dull.

Anaesthesia is usually necessary. One of the best known is work. Hard, engrossing, time-consuming work. Enough to tire the mind and body to unthinking sleep, enough to exercise from the consiousness the haunting question of why a question, believe me, which never has a fully satisfying answer.
Another cure is provided by a long journey, preferably an arduous trek. Physical distance has amazing curative effects. And when your hand is groping for a finger hold in the slippery rock as you scale the mountains, your mind will not easily turn to the eternal question of “ How could she?”

Truths will begin to dawn. One by one, each gradually crystallizing in an awakening mind. It’s not the end of the world. Nothing ever is. Nobody is indispensable though things may never be the same again. Change, inevitable change must be accepted. Life must go on. And who knows, in another week you’ll probably meet someone new. “It you refuse me, I’ll die,” he said. She refused. Sixty years later, he died.