Monday, January 29, 2007

The Whole Truth

A few months ago, my friend Poorvi wanted me to meet her boyfriend. Her family believes that the only way to marry is to have the parents arrange it. Needless to say, they knew nothing of the existence of Steve. I met them, we went out together and had a wonderful time.

Late that night when I was half asleep, Poorvi called to ask the inevitable question "So what did you think of him ?" I know of no other question that is quite as difficult to answer. My answer was truthful but incomplete. I told her I thought Steve was a decent guy, very easy to talk to and like.

The part that I did not tell her was that I saw no real spark between them and feared they would grow apart emotionally once the exhilaration of a new relationship faded. As hard as I tried, I could not visualize them as a couple. I told myself it was not my place to say any of that and besides I could be entirely wrong.

Since that meeting, whenever Poorvi calls me it is always about how Steve's interest in her seems to be waning and how he tells her nothing has changed and its all in her imagination. She is not convinced and asks me what she should do. She wonders if she should break up and move on but likes him too much to summon the courage to do so. The longer she waits the more she will hurt.

Though she lives with her family, she can't share any of this with them. Each time we talk about Steve, I feel guilty. Maybe I could have spared her the pain by telling her the whole truth but what if I had been wrong. Instead I dispense platitudes on the nature and purpose of relationships and how all will be well in the end.

A few years ago when I lived for a couple of weeks with Naina and her husband, she confessed that she always knew my ex and I would not work out and had wanted to warn me before we got married. I asked her "Why didn't you ?" Her answer was no different from my reasons for not wanting to tell Poorvi that she and Steve will not work. There is a fine line between honesty and presumption and like Naina I fear to cross it.

Naina's own marriage has been difficult but she has chosen to accept her fate and stay on. Poorvi trusts my judgement because I am the veteran of a few failed relationships. It is incredibly sad when we learn lessons the hard way and yet when our friends look to us for help, we let them slide down the same slippery slope of mistakes we made ourselves.

We want to believe that there are exceptions to the rule and for those that we care about the exception will apply. Both Naina and I are guilty of this.

Reading this poem by Nikki Giovanni made me think about Poorvi

Balances

in life
one is always
balancing

like we juggle our mothers
against our fathers

or one teacher
against another
(only to balance our grade average)

3 grains of salt
to one ounce truth

our sweet black essence
or the funky honkies down the street

and lately i've begun wondering
if you're trying to tell me something

we used to talk all night
and do things alone together

and i've begun

(as a reaction to a feeling)
to balance
the pleasure of loneliness
against the pain
of loving you

3 comments:

Prerona said...

its a hard situation. my childhood friend - she started seeing this guy i just knew was an asshole. i went all out to stop her. told her eventually running out of things to say that she wud have to choose between us. i mean i tried everything i cud think of. even talked to her mom. nothing worked. in a month he was beating her up and threatening to tell all her relatives that she had slept with him if she broke up. it was a nightmare.

i have often faced similar situations with my sister since then - she is 10 years my junior.

point is, we cant stop someone make a life choice - however much a stakeholder we feel we are in their lives and in their griefs and sorrows.

and the other thing i learnt is that whatever happens and however much it hurts and verything, its not the end of the world. its what life is about - u live & learn.

yet, if it werent that way, so much heartache could have been saved ...

dunno ...

Priyamvada_K said...

HC,
I think you should tell her - since she is soliciting your opinion. If she wasn't asking then you can stay quiet, but if she is your good friend and wants your opinion, tell it like it is. May spare her a lot of heartache.

Its one thing to like someone, but minus the chemistry, all you get is brotherly love. And that's not a foundation for longterm togetherness.

Priya.

Heartcrossings said...

Prerona - I agree. Its hard to play good cop in another person's relationship even when they are bestowing that role upon you. Sometimes it seems as if you have to make your own mistakes to learn important life lessons.

Priya - What's odd about this situation is that my friend thinks she and Steve have great chemistry.
Does my not seeing it render it non-existent ? I would like to assume that is true - finally it is her (and their) relationship and she ought to know better than an outsider.

I also wonder if I am not cynical because of a few bad experiences I have had myself. Maybe I am not seeing things in the positive light that I should. It just feels too onerous a responsibility to tell it like I "think" it is.