What’s worse? Cheating on hubby or spying on wife

Human, After All

Anubha George can keep a secret even while telling the story

We waved ‘hello’ to each other in a café on a hot and humid Kerala afternoon. She, a sort of acquaintance -- a friend’s friend. We each sat alone at our tables, presumably waiting for someone to join us. Then she decided to come over.

She and her husband were divorcing, she said. Sometimes, we find it easier to confide in relative strangers rather than in those known to us. Things weren’t easy -- he branded her a cheat; she called him a control freak.

A year ago, Deepa’s husband was sailing away for six months as a Merchant Navy captain. Prashobh suspected her of having an affair. How could he keep tabs on his wife? The answer came from a friend: hack into your wife’s messages. It could all be done with a touch of a finger using an app. Technology, eh? He did.

For the next six months at sea, Prashobh saw every single incoming and outgoing message on his wife’s phone. It confirmed what he thought. She was indeed flirting with a divorced, and available, colleague.

Prashobh came home. He gave his wife no hint of what he knew. Life continued as normal -- the children, visits to the in-laws, hanging out at the club. Deepa was a manager at a telecom company and went to work every day. He continued to read all her messages.

One day, Prashobh quietly dropped the bombshell during an argument. He knew what she’d been up to. Deepa was aghast, shocked. She was angry, then emotional. She confided in their friends. Loyalties were tested. Some took her side, others supported him.

The most important question on her mind was: I can’t believe he went this far to snoop on me, his life partner. How could he do this? Why didn’t he just ask me?

He said he did it to gather evidence. If it came to separation and ultimately divorce, it wouldn’t be a case of ‘he said, she said’. He had proof. She called it a violation of her privacy.

Yet, Deepa and Prashobh decided they wanted to stay together after all. There were conditions. She had to give up her well-paid job and the divorced colleague she had an affair with. She did. He promised never to hack into her messages again.

He sailed again. Wounds healed in his absence. But Prashobh didn’t stick to his side of the bargain. He continued reading her messages. This time, there were messages of her unhappiness with him, and of his control freakery.

Six months later, he was back. Once again, he dropped the bombshell during an argument. That he knew what she really thought of him. Deepa was livid. He was having none of it.

This time, they went to couples’ therapy. There was much at stake, the children for starters. He said he couldn’t trust her ever again. If she had cheated on him once, she could do it again. Once a cheat, always a cheat.

She pleaded. She had always been faithful. She had made a mistake only once. It wouldn’t happen again.

But human beings are way more complex than we can decipher. Emotions run deeper than the eye can see. Hurt remains more than we ever admit.

Prashobh was adamant that Deepa would cheat again. There was now a precedent, he said.

I sat there, listening to her. Whose side was I on, she asked. Before I could answer, thankfully, her friend arrived. Whose side am I on? Well, whose side are you on?

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