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Business News/ Opinion / Blogs/  DANCING DIVORCEE: Kill the curiosity, not the cat
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DANCING DIVORCEE: Kill the curiosity, not the cat

Don’t ask a divorced person about what went wrong. If they want to tell you, they will.

Instead of asking about the divorce, you could ask the person about all the things that are going right in his or her life, right now. Photo: ThinkStock (ThinkStock)Premium
Instead of asking about the divorce, you could ask the person about all the things that are going right in his or her life, right now. Photo: ThinkStock
(ThinkStock)

I had gone to my four times removed third cousin’s uncle’s house and there, after a hearty meal came the post prandial question, “If you don’t mind, what exactly happened between the Ex and you?" He was a retired Colonel and I knew this wasn’t the curiosity of a gossip. He genuinely cared.

Taking courage in both my hands, I told him firmly but politely, “All that is history, let me tell you about what I am doing right now." People will always want to know what went wrong and as a personal choice I have decided never to tell them.

In the beginning, at the drop of a hat I could chant the ‘what went wrong’ mantra under five sentences. Now I prefer the dignified silence. I extend it further. I do not have discussions on divorce / family life / the collapse of moral structures / modern girls, et cetera, et cetera. These are tedious arguments spun by people who want to use my life as bait to prove points and keep their boredom at bay.

A few months ago, an old flatmate of mine called. Casually she enquired about the Ex as she knew him. When I informed her of his absence in my life she said, “But I always liked him." Ignoring the inappropriateness of this statement I tried to keep the conversation going by asking her about her life.

She, with all the diplomacy of a suicide bomber kept badgering me, pestering me about details - the whys, hows, whos, whens. Or to use her exact words, ‘Did you sleep with someone or did he?’. Creditably, I didn’t lose my temper neither did I reveal any details. Finally after a few more feeble attempts to worm the truth out of me she hung up.

If it was a year ago, I’d be furious at such insensitive curiosity. I’d rage about people respecting people’s privacy blah, blah. It was exhausting. Telling these curious mosquitoes what happened wasn’t any better either.

The tale would take on a zombie like repetition and I would feel removed from the narrative, not even registering that I’m talking about me. Afterwards, my body would be cold, a dead weight with a mind that had shutdown. A few hours later, through humongous personal effort I’d start repairing myself again. The toll it took just wasn’t worth it.

I figured I had an option when a school friend of mine came home. I told her I was divorced. Then, taking a deep breath, I almost began the sordid tale when she interrupted, “Don’t tell me if you’ve gotten over it." I hugged her with relief. We had a great evening and the Ex wasn’t a lurking shadow that I had to chase away with words.

So the next time someone you know gets a divorce don’t ask them what went wrong. If they want to tell you, they will. Instead, perhaps, you could ask them about all the things that are going right in their lives, right now.

Dancing Divorcee is a weekly happy, sad, funny, obnoxious blog on the misadventure called divorce. It will appear every Thursday. Arathi Menon is a dancing divorcee who also blogs, writes, tweets and repairs brands.

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Published: 18 Jul 2013, 12:50 PM IST
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