A couple of weeks ago, an old buddy of mine (let’s call him ‘Kartik’ for convenience) rang me up, after having dropped off the radar for a couple of months. He sounded elated. “Yeah, baby, yeah!” he screamed. This was not the elation of a cricket fanatic after we whupped Pakistan’s ass — this was a guttural emotion, the sort that pervades you when you have had sex with a woman way above your league. I went to a boys school, so I can, by the intonation of a “Yeah, baby, yeah!” figure out what has happened in a guy’s life. Or, so I thought. “Was she good?” I asked Kartik. “No, dude, she was a bitch,” was his unexpected reply. Wait. What? “My divorce just came through, man. I’m free again.” Ah. “Let’s party, man.” Er, OK. “Make sure you bring your wife along. I’m having a few vintage Veuve Clicquots put on ice. Tomorrow evening. See you there.”
‘There’ turned out to be a nightclub, full of 20-somethings listening to modern-day EDM. There was Kartik, all five-foot-four of him, gyrating with some random young women. The grin on his face was not that of a man who has just done a lot of happy pills. Yes, the smile was bubbly-powered, but beneath it there was a sense of utter and sheer happiness. I had not attended his wedding (the man had eloped) but I would bet good money that he wasn’t this happy back then; maybe it was relief. Kartik had, as I said, run off with this girl and gotten hitched. Maybe he’d done it because he figured he would never find someone as tall as her again, or maybe, like most other 25-year-old men in love, he had been batshit stupid. The marriage did well for a few years, as Kartik simultaneously withdrew from meeting old friends — he even became a father.
Things then began to degenerate. Shit happens, and being the product of a broken home myself, I have experienced first-hand two people falling out of love with each other, but one day, at least by his description of events, he came home to find a few cops waiting for him. His wife had filed a dowry case under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (Section 498(A) to be precise), alleging that he and his mother had been cruel to her. Frankly, the other side of the story is a mystery to me, because Kartik had become a sort of ghost after running off. Weirdly, it was only after his wife left him that he began to use Facebook – “Tinder beta”, as he described it.
So, long story short. Karthik’s divorce took three years to come through and, according to him, a lot of money to finalise. He wanted to celebrate, and celebrate hard. “Let’s do shots off East European hookers,” was a WhatsApp message I got a day before the party, following which I politely reminded him that he had invited my wife, and other friends’ wives as well. “They can also do shots off a blonde, I’m not a sexist pig.” Quite. The wife was more worried about what we would gift Kartik; my suggestion of a ticket to Bangkok was summarily dismissed. She suggested a feather boa, and my comment was that this was a divorce party and not a coming-out party.
Thankfully, Kartik’s plans to pay East European women to attend did not materialise. However, he had seemed to have called every girl on his mobile phone, and we walked in to a rather wild celebration. Maybe the feather boa would not have been a bad idea, after all.
I’ve known Kartik for years, and although there was this phase in his life in which I had not met him, I had never seen the guy so genuinely happy. Yes, he had half a bottle of Patron tequila inside him, but it was not the alcohol — he was happy before getting drunk. This was a wild party, and short of public nudity and doing shots off hookers (even if we did, I shan’t say), there was everything.
“Will you be that happy if we get divorced?” the wife asked me on the drive back. I would describe my own marriage as happy, but I could not honestly answer the question. Who knows how things will turn out? I don’t believe they will go south. Possibly the best thing about this party was that it had turned a mirror on my relationship. A divorce, after all, is not the end of one’s life, just the start of a new chapter. It has now been three months since Kartik’s party. I do believe he met a girl there, and not someone he paid for. He doesn’t know how things are going as yet and is in no mood to rush things. I don’t think he will survive another party like that, that’s for sure — I know I won’t.