with the city. I spent my growing years visiting my grandparents in Bombay and loved every minute of it. That meant bus rides from Parel to Juhu to wander on the beach eating pao-bhaji. It meant tracking scuttling crabs at the sea pool in the US Club and animals of all kinds at the Bombay SPCA.
After a meandering twenties spent in TV news, and the early thirties in setting up a media consultancy business, I finally found myself falling in love and ready to marry. The details are romantic. I met him through a common friend in the early days of Facebook. He lived in my favourite city, a city where I always felt at home and missed terribly living in Delhi. He proposed marriage walking on Juhu beach. A fairly painless ‘meet the parents’ and ‘set the date’ happened.
But slowly like a photograph developing in reverse, recovering from a whirlwind engagement, I began to feel that perhaps I had mixed up my love for Bombay with this man, who was a nice man, a suitable man, but not for me. To coincide with all this, I suffered a serious relapse of the Meniere’s disease that causes constant dizziness while moving. It felt like a curse. Perhaps it was the stress. Perhaps it was me. Whatever the reasons, after weeks of silent arguments, an email I think I was expecting, arrived – it was over.
After months of being confined to the house and unwell, I began to hate Bombay. Bombay was the reason why my relationship ended, I told myself. It’s not me, it’s not him, it’s the Delhi and Bombay divide.
Then, the horrific 26/11 attack happened and it shook me out of my emotional lethargy. I steeled myself to ask him if he and his family were safe, as many exes probably did. Strangely, that single act forced me to accept that the relationship was over, I wouldn’t be getting married on January 13th and I would have to find a way to move on. I had not touched a laptop for months; I began to turn to the one thing that always rescued me: Work. I cut my hair, drank coffee and laughed as I remembered running away from my strictly vegetarian ex-fiancé to Lokhandwala to eat prawn biryani and lashings of chikoo ice cream. It’s the kind of story committed couples laugh about. I made this my funny break-up story.
I found the courage to talk again. I was lucky. No one asked me searching questions about what happened. These were questions that would have burnt strips of my skin and I had no real explanation. My family never freaked out about the supposed shame of a broken engagement; loving support was all I got. I found myself responding to flirting. My health got better. Clients poured in. I was earning more money than I ever had. I was happier, healthier and open.
The cracks were melding and I no longer had the space to think actively about the break-up. And I could think about Bombay again. I began calling it Mumbai; a new relationship deserved a new name. I dreamt once more of the Arabian Sea and it felt good.
All experiences must end with learnings. Don’t let all the parts of your life crack when going through a break-up. Keep healthy, buy stormy blue nail polish, earn money, talk to your family and friends, know that just one person has left your life – your life is still there. You will not be the same person, but you will be a happier person. Know that you will fall in love again. Know that you will survive this and thrive. As Mumbai did, as I did.
Know the Writer
Name: Paarul, 40
Occupation: Writer (whose calling is tarot card reading)
Favourite Brunch story: The Go Slow one
In Brunch, you look forward to: Seema Goswami. Love her!
Where do you read Brunch? In bed and by the bay window
Most embarrassing moment: This shoot! I was sweetly embarrassed
A rumour you’d like to start: I am directing Gangs Of Wasseypur 3
Complaint: None. Brunch is perfect"
From HT Brunch, February 3
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