He is the kind of guy you feel safe with in your drunken evening. He compliments easily. He will wait till you get off the car and lock your door in. He is the gentleman who never uses swear words. Everything is measured in goodness. Everyone finds him bright, successful and soft spoken. Except Nina his wife. She was a crushed woman under the weight of the lies.
She knew his alter ego when they were alone at home. He abused without saying anything and he spoke to her without acknowledging her hurt or her voice. She was made to feel lesser in her being. He was cold and unfeeling towards her.
She could never open up. She feared judgement as he was marvellous with people and complimented everyone. He had a big circle of friends but no real connections. Nina knew she could not open up about her grief to anyone. No one would trust her.
Her brother, sister and her parents thought the world of her husband. Not that he was particularly polite to them. But he was charming in his superficial way. Her mother was enamoured with his success and hushed up Nina any time she tried to say anything against him.
For her parents and friends it was the new car in which Nina came visiting year after year, that kept them in awe of her life. They refused to see the broken spirit in her sad eyes. The shine of the sedan blinded the vision of their conscience. It was an aspiration that they found fulfilled in Nina behind the vulgarity of the luxurious car windshield.
Nina was feeling sick since months. On investigation it was detected she had breast cancer. She was numb with fear as she held her breasts, Nina knew that this journey with her beautiful breasts would soon come to an end. The impending loss of her feminine spirit broke her further. She stopped looking after herself. She went alone and unkempt most times to the hospital for her unending ordeal of medicines, loss of weight , hair and above all her sanity and her semblance.
As her disease progressed, she was lost in a haze of medicines and delirium. She was coherent that he was getting more engrossed in his work. He had completely stopped looking up to the broken frame of her rib cage against her dying soul. He continued his life unapologetically as hers was beginning to come to an end.
I watched Nina from a distance.
As she succumbed to her disease with her frail spirit. I wished I could tell her how wonderful and real she was. I wished I had told her that it takes no great character for him to be polite and well mannered to his colleagues, his social circle and the parties they attended. I wish I had told her that it takes qualities like respect, accountability and responsibility to be an ideal partner.
Nina was crushed under the weight of her delusions about him and what people said. She could not see that he had none of the qualities that was needed to fill up her home. She yearned for his attention.
I could see that he would always be swimming the surface of the still stinking tank of social mores and Nina would forever be in the depth of the ocean, searching for the sea urchin and the oyster. Their world would never meet.
He was a narcissist and she was a merely his victim.
Nina died, that evening, I looked towards her home. I could see him against the light, lighting up his cigarette and adjusting the music shelf. He looked handsome against the evening sky and his shoulders looked relieved of responsibility. As the tears soaked my face, I could see Nina’s eyes peering into mine and her words rang in my heart “do you believe me”?