Women. Are. Exhausting.
Call me an obnoxious sexist if you will. Accuse me of being a moron who generalizes about women, paints them all with the same damn brush. Because #NotAllWomen right?
But. Women are exhausting. And no one exemplifies exhausting women more than my ex, Sarah De Marco.
Before I start elaborating on the break-up itself, let me elaborate. I am a cop who, most days of the week, ends up working a 16 or 17 hour shift. By the time I come home I am so tired I can feel my bones rubbing together. I'm sapped of all energy after working a job that's as difficult as it's thankless.
Sarah and I were in a relationship for six long years. She was a local marketing executive for a pharmaceutical MNC's Mumbai chapter. Which meant that she also worked for nearly 14 hours a day, and came home as tired as I was. It was almost like we came home only to sleep, falling asleep in each other's arms. We were as sapped of libido as of energy so we never did get in the mood for romance most days.
Sundays were mostly meant to sleep in but we used this one day we had to ourselves to sleep in and catch up on some long-pending lovemaking. Otherwise, sex was only accidental, like if we ran into each other in the shower or, while we cooked together, I opened the fridge and found two bottles of chocolate sauce instead of one. Or when I came home with a backache and she gave me a back rub to ease the tension ( which led to a different sort of tension).
I thought we were doing okay. The sex was good, we had our own circle of friends we often hung out with, we liked a lot of the same things: Books, movies in languages we couldn't decipher, coffee, chocolate brownie with ice-cream.
Until one day, I found her cheating on me with a colleague of hers, Parvez. In my apartment which we shared. The colleague was also in a live-in relationship with another woman in his department. We'd gone out on double dates many times- movies, dinner, the occasional bar or discotheque.
I asked them both to get dressed and get out of the house. I was too conked out that night to launch into a full blown tirade. After they left I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep, crying.
She called me the next day on my phone- 48 times in all. I didn't pick up her calls and went to work, as usual. She called my partner and best friend Rohit- and he first convinced her he would speak to me. When he did, I asked him not to entertain her calls anymore. Then she called Nina, Rohit's fiancee, who was also Sarah's BFF, to convince me to pick up the phone. I refused. And all this happened in one day, let me tell you.
When I came home that night, I found her waiting in the living room, dressed in the same clothes as she had gone out in the previous night. I didn't say anything at all to her. I didn't know what to say. When something's wrong in a relationship you talk to your partner don't you? You talk to them about what you feel is wrong, rather than blaming them for the wrong by cheating on them. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why she cheated on me. I was numbed and it was like my mind automatically turned itself off as soon as I entered my house.
I took off my shoes in the living room, and went straight to the kitchen. Poured myself some wine, came back to the living room, sat at the dining table and quietly drank. She was still sitting on the couch. A pall of deathly silence hung around the house, as if someone had died and left a gaping hole in the universe. Well, something died, right? Something died, inside me. I can't tolerate people who cheat- in exams, in relationships or in anything.
Then she started to mumble something about 'working late', 'no love life', 'not socializing enough', 'too busy to care', 'cold and unresponsive', and a lot more I couldn't hear because the sound of gushing blood in my ears was drowning out all other sounds.
"I'm sorry, are you talking to me?" I finally asked.
"What? Of course I'm talking to you!" she replied.
"Are you done?"
"No. I want you to understand why."
"And what if I don't?"
"But you have to."
"Get out of my house."
"You heard it. Get the hell out of my house. I'll have your stuff packed and sent wherever you want- you don't even have to come to collect it. Now get the hell out, before I lose it."
"Out. I don't want to hurt you, and I won't ask again. Get the hell out. I don't want to see you or hear from you again."
"Where will I go this time of the night?"
"How do I know? Go wherever you please...you're free of me now. Off the top of my head, I'd suggest your new boyfriend's house. You can celebrate your break-up there, have fun."
She got up from the couch, and picked up her purse. She also started crying at the same time. Why do women start crying when called out on their mistakes?
She stormed out, banging the door shut in her wake. I cried myself to sleep again.
The madness that came after
For the next few days she would text me, instead of calling. She knew I wouldn't receive her calls. Nina kept trying to persuade me to let her explain. I kept refusing. Sarah kept on texting she was sorry.
Sorry? For what? For cheating on your partner of six years for no apparent reason? If she had told me what left her dissatisfied in the relationship, I would've tried to rectify it. I would have done it for her. But she chose to cheat instead.
And that wasn't all. Later on I came to know that the time I found her wasn't the first time. She'd done it with that colleague for weeks before I found out. And this was told to me by none other than that colleague's girlfriend, who found out around the same time I did. She asked to send her stuff to, ironically, Parvez's address.
What kind of a moron forgives a serial backstabbing girlfriend?
The texts continued for about two weeks, and then stopped. Perhaps she'd figured out that I wanted to be left alone, in my misery and grief, to cry myself to sleep every night.
Yes I do cry into my pillow. I'm a man who cries. Privately, but I'm not ashamed of it per se.
On the fifteenth day, she came to my workplace, and burst into my cabin. She looked sloshed, and was utterly unkempt- disheveled hair, mascara flowing down her cheeks, clothes stained and dirty looking, stinking of alcohol. On top of it she was screaming my name with 'bastard' attached to it.
Rohit was also with me at the time- we share the cabin as partners.
Before he could even arch his eyebrows in reaction, Sarah had a knife out and was bending over me, grabbing my collar with one hand and holding the knife high with another. It was a large steak knife, with serrated edges. Her bloodshot grey eyes were staring right at me.
" I will kill you Anthony Vaz."
Saliva from her open mouth dribbled onto my shirt, her face so close that her breath, also stinking of alcohol, was right in my face.
Sarah was good with knives. And the only thought in my mind when I saw the knife coming down on me was that I, a cop who had seen dozens of murder victims, would become one myself in a matter of minutes.
I could feel the cold blade of the knife against my neck before Rohit pulled Sarah away from me, and managed to wrench the knife away from her. She fought him off- Sarah was a tough pixie- before he tackled her to the ground and managed to subdue her.
I decided not to press charges against Sarah when my boss, ACP Rawat, asked me what I would like to do about her. I instead suggested she be sent to a shrink for treatment- obviously she had some anger issues she needed to straighten out. I thought perhaps I would also come to know why she attacked me after I broke it off with her because of something she did.
She did see a shrink for some weeks. I came to know, through Nina, when her treatment got over and she got back to her job and normal life- a life where she was now rooming with Parvez.
I asked Nina if Sarah confided, in her, the reason she cheated on me and then attacked me. Nina said yes, then suddenly became cagey and said she couldn't 'betray her friend's confidences'. Sarah and I never saw each other after her knife attack.
The madness that came after the madness
This happened AFTER Nina told me Sarah had stopped seeing the shrink.
On a few nights, as I returned home in my car, I felt a car following me right up to the gate to my apartment complex, parked a few feet behind.
On the fifth night this happened, I looked in the rear view mirror carefully. I couldn't see the license plate carefully, but the car was a blue Honda Civic.
Sarah drove a blue Honda Civic.
I decided to gun the engine and got out of my car to confront the driver of the Civic. But the car backed off and drove away before I'd taken a few steps away from my own car.
But Nina said Sarah is okay. She is okay, right?