This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.
28th December 2019
I’m sitting in Gideon’s good friend’s tattoo shop in Peace centre, somewhere in Dhoby Ghaut. She’s doing her thang, being super cool and creative, and I look at the people around in the shop.
This is not my scene. I’ve never considered getting a tattoo. My father always told me that if I got a tattoo, he would pay for me to remove it.
Before D-day, I belonged in a world without trauma or pain. Before my husband abruptly left, I had never suffered any other real difficulty in my life. Now that I have this immense pain in my life, getting a tattoo seemed like a reasonable desire. I’m sure my dad would understand.
J looked at me watching her client get a tattoo and said, “Nope, you’re not getting a tattoo today hon.”
I was sitting in a tattoo shop talking to Gideon’s one good friend that I really like. I’ve always liked the way she would call things as they are. I needed that today.
“Jane, can I ask – why DID you suggest you guys date other people? Did you secretly also want to date someone else?”
“Yes. I did. I wanted to give up on the marriage but I was too cowardly to call things off. I was desperate J. I didn’t know what else to do. For 1.5 years he has been avoiding our problems. I know that in a marriage, we have to stick by each others’ sides through thick and thin. I know. But what if I made a mistake? What if I made a mistake by marrying him? What if this is the rest of my life and it never changes?”
“You have to forgive yourself hon. I know that it’s hard and I agree that he handled things in the worst way possible. But as his friend, I know that he loved you very much. And maybe this is his way of getting revenge on you. This is his way of hurting you back for giving up on him.”
“You’re right. I shouldn’t have suggested it. It was so stupid. I read about this in a novel – this couple who had problems and who decided to take a one year break to find themselves. At the end of the book, they realized they loved each other and they decided to work on their marriage again. That’s how I feel about us. I feel like when we met, we were two lost souls. And along the way, I started realizing that who I want to be, is not possible if he stays in the Airforce. What I want my life to look like, is not possible if we remain the same, if we……”
I can’t tell her. No, I can’t. It’s too embarrassing.
I walk away from Peace Centre that day, carrying a lot of guilt in me. J was right. Maybe I was the coward who wanted to leave and maybe I had made him feel unloved, so much so that he has now done the unthinkable to me.
Maybe it really is….all my fault.