We were relishing the remains of a sinful apple pie and dissecting our worlds. We ranted about the weather, the traffic and Bal T. “There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you,” I blurted abruptly. She didn’t object. “It’s a little awkward and probably misplaced question, but I wonder how and why you’re still single!” She paused for a minute and then said, “I was married to someone for 10 years but he was sleeping with a cousin of mine for eight of those 10 years.”
I felt rotten for having asked but I don’t think she judged me for the question. I hope she didn’t. She volunteered more details. But I was a little distracted. I happened to have more questions for her. “Whom did you feel more betrayed by? Him or the cousin?” She said the former, when I was expecting the latter. I asked again. She reaffirmed. “My cousin owed me nothing, when my own husband betrayed me.” I wanted to probe further but didn’t. We resumed our discussion to more delightful topics.
But that conversation left me thinking.
I’ve always believed that we, women, are each others’ worst enemies. We don’t need men to make our lives miserable. We do enough harm by ourselves when, instead we could be the best allies. But no, we thrive on being mean and bitchy to our own kind. Treating women like untouchables during their menstrual cycles, reserving the choicest foods for the sons and grandsons, and constantly reminding our daughters that their homes lie elsewhere.
Sometimes, we go out of our way to get even with women we don’t like or get along with. Sometimes, we don’t flinch before plunging into an affair with a married man, rarely sparing a thought for the wife.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” said Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State. It bugs me that not too many people are bothered by this thought.
So it was refreshing to know that my friend felt differently. And it was a nice disagreement to have. The husband was the object of her disappointment, while she seemed totally at ease talking about the cousin.
That night, I went home with a lighter heart. I realized that not everyone is as judgmental or critical as I am and some folks are willing to give the world a second chance. I had just spent an evening with one of them.