Clandestine Meetings and Longing Stares

I’ve never been in a relationship. Probably that’s why I try to work out every possible book problem of being in a relationship. Or even more simply, I try to plan everything ahead of time. There’s nothing I don’t plan, even though I know it won’t exactly turn out the way I’ve planned it. Still, with some weird notion in my brain, I plan. I keep at it.

Part of my planning is a product of my own experiences and the rest, from others. I always ask myself, if I were in that position, what would I do? And I’m sure, most of you are like me, so you must also be asking yourself from time to time, what would I do had I been there?

Call it fate or the universe’s design, but I’ve been coming across one special case of ‘What if’ for quite some time- infidelity, an illicit affair, a liaison, taking on a lover….

I’ve been someone who hasn’t often fallen for the romanticizing and glorification of passionate lovers and clandestine meetings. I’ve rather been hurt, witnessing the pain and the cruelty of it all. Sometimes, when I’m immersed in the story, when I’m there with the characters, I wish they could undo it all. I wish for the wife to continue leading her boring life and never meet the man she’d come to love the most, the man who’d ruin her.

I’m almost done reading Anna Karenina and throughout the book, I was wary of one thing- Don’t get involved. But who was I fooling, Tolstoy had his designs set out for me and I gave in. Gladly, to be honest.

The amazing thing about Anna Karenina, for me, was that I could not make up my mind about whom do I support? Who’s me amongst all of them? How would have I acted had I been part of this narrative? Would I be like Anna and sacrifice everything for love? Would I be like the reputable men and women who scorn Anna? Would I be like Dolly and ignore my husband’s incessant lying about his infidelity? Would I be Vronsky (Anna’s lover), growing tired of Anna’s drama and trying to establish power over her? Or would I be like Alexei Alexandrovich (Anna’s husband), trying to save my reputation, trying to forgive my wife and move on, distancing myself from everybody lest they see that I’m shattered on the inside?

Honestly, I think I’m much more like Levin. Ah! Levin, thinks too much, is a bit strung up, doesn’t like social obligations, and loves his wife (Kitty) too much. All in all, he’s such a good guy that in reality, he would seem a bit of a crackhead. He’s also a self-portrait of Leo Tolstoy himself, maybe that’s why I’m a little biased. But then, he’s never faced this problem of being unfaithful.

I also just saw a movie, The Last Letter from your Lover. I know, they couldn’t have chosen a more cheesy title! But the movie was nice and maybe because I’m in this zone of contemplating romantic relationships, I found it somewhat moving too. I was amazed at my reaction to the heroine falling for her lover. In the middle of it all, I was rooting for them both to get together. Well, in this story, the husband was kind enough to help me move over to the lover’s side since he really was a horrible character.

Through all this drama and soul-searching for the right thing, I realized that I, who thinks herself so righteous, is at crossroads with my principles and my heart. I used to condemn people for cheating on their partners, no matter the reason. But now, I’m not so sure. Is it wrong to choose your happiness over duty? I don’t know. As for me, I know I would always choose duty, even though I doubt it now. But I also know that I won’t judge someone for their decisions regarding their happiness.

“There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.”- From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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