Monday, February 15, 2010

Facebook Happy

About five years ago, I came to got acquainted with a man (let's call him S1) - a physician by profession. He had been single after a serious relationship that ended a while ago. Given the demands of his job, he had little time to date or try out a relationship to see if it had staying power. To that end, he found desi matrimonial sites very helpful. Both parties come into it knowing there was a specific end game. If there is a click you get hitched, if not you move on. Sounded pretty sensible to me but there were a few red flags. S1 was extremely secretive about his personal details, he acted like we were getting married before the week was out and finally there was all together too much talk of physical intimacy being inevitable in "our situation". 

He did share quite a bit about his ex. They had gone to med-school together and were very much in love but there were far too many obstacles on the way to getting married. She had since married another man. S1 was attractive, attentive, interesting and intelligent - any woman would have found him worth her time. And then one morning his wife called me and told me about their six month old twins, a piling credit card debt and  a completely dysfunctional marriage - he had been threatening to divorce her for a while but she can't imagine such a future specially with her new born babies. 

She knows all about his cheating but is desperate to save her marriage. She called him a sociopath and yet worried that he may leave her. The woman's name was the same that of the girlfriend he had supposedly not been able to marry many years ago. The cleverly constructed edifice of lies came tumbling down in a few minutes. I knew that day this marriage was for the long haul. There was no way S1 was going to change his ways when the woman he was married to was so anxious to do whatever it took keep the marriage going - business as usual. He had absolutely no incentive to change.

A few months ago, on the Facebook wall of my blog I saw a face that looked very familiar. It took me a while to realize that it belonged to S1.In the picture he is accompanied by a woman and two young girls ( I am guessing it is the wife and the twins). He happens to be connected to someone I am connected with - such is the confounding web of social links and chains. It was not so remarkable that I should run into S1 in this manner but I was struck by the irony in a couple of things. 

He and his wife are smiling ever so broadly in the picture. Had I not known what I do know about them, they could be a poster for a perfectly happy (and an attractive) couple. Back when he was talking to me, S1 had guarded his personal details like a Cerberus at the gates of Hades.Thanks to his social presence on Facebook everything anyone needs to know about him is just a few clicks away. In real life, the very private business of a broken marriage had become public knowledge and yet commonplace things like name, age and place of work were kept secret. S1 had also lied about his religion which I still find quite remarkable. 

The "happy couple" picture on Facebook is perhaps restoring the balance between private and public.The marriage is painted bright and happy for everyone to see - the sordidness can remain private as it rightfully should. And yes, I was right about the longevity of this marriage - more than five years since the event, they are still very much together.

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