Archive for divorce

No Glasses and a Full Head of Hair

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“Why do you want to get married?” asked Dimpy. She did a quick calculation from the birth date he’d given her; he was eighty-one years old. He looked in great shape for a man of that age – no glasses, a full head of hair, and he walked unaided, quite lightly still. Overall tip-top. She hoped that she would be in a similar condition at his age.

“Well, I’ve been single my whole life,” said Jack. “I thought I’d give it a go.”

Dimpy’s Indian culture taught her to respect elders. She didn’t want to give him a hard time unnecessarily, but Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings had decided that it was her duty to ensure people were getting married for the right reasons. She would grill him like everybody else. It should make no difference that he was a charming old man. Her duty was to witness couple’s consent to marry. But more important was her consent. Without it they wouldn’t be legally wed. No one escaped her validation.

She said, “What makes you think that marriage is for you? Why don’t you just carry on as always?”

Dimpy decided that she would ask the same question of the lady waiting outside, Judy, who was seventy-six. After all these years alone, why now? Wasn’t she set in her ways, inflexible? Wouldn’t she be annoyed at deviations from her decades-old preferred way of doing things?

If Dimpy could talk them out of marriage she would be doing them a favour. She saw it now – the divorce document sitting on her desk in a year’s time when he was eighty-two and she was seventy-seven. How sad.

He seemed at peace with himself. Why change that now?

“I’m getting frail,” said Jack. “I may not be active for too much longer. I have been fortunate in life. I have always enjoyed good health, but I’m starting to fade now…”

Aha! thought Dimpy. So that’s it. He’s not just lonely, he’s also worried that he won’t be able to get around. Rather than a nurse, he wants a wife. If they were Hindu, he would have to walk around the fire seven times, making the seven vows, with the sacred fire, Agni, bearing witness…

He continued. “In a way I’ve been selfish my whole life. I’ve only ever thought about myself. I’ve avoided attachments of every kind – rented rather than bought a house, performed consultancy rather than permanent work, had girlfriends rather than a wife, and nephews and nieces rather than children. Now I find myself alone with many fine memories but no real relationships. While I’m in good health I’d like to make the most of it. It’s my last chance to serve someone else. To make a real difference to someone’s life as…”

Dimpy closed her eyes. It was unprofessional to cry while working. Also, she was then able to imagine Jack in a white tuxedo and top hat, and Judy wearing a white dress and veil.


One Year Hitch

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy (Dimples) had three jobs now. She was Lucerne Valley Museum’s Director two days a week, taught Spatial Studies another two days per week, and was Registrar of Weddings on the remaining working day. She often thought that she worked too hard. Three different jobs meant three different offices, three kinds of skills, and three sets of colleagues every week. It was a lot to juggle. But she also found that it kept things fresh. Her life was always interesting.

She had come to Lucerne to take up the Museum job. When funding was cut, she began teaching at the college too. She thought that over time the latter would become full time, but when that was capped at two days per week she looked for other opportunities. A part time Registrar was required by the village; there was on average only one marriage and one divorce per week. The village took her on upon the condition that she attained the qualifications required within one month, and she did so.

She had been practising for a year now with no complaints, but she did often wonder what she was doing. Her own marriage had failed, leaving her with a child to raise alone, hence the three jobs.

What valuable insights did she have into marriage? That it was often entered into foolishly? That money was always an issue? That little niggles became huge arguments? That words always hurt?

In truth she had no guidance for others, but maybe she could learn something from them. Then next time – and she hoped that there would be one; she believed there would be; she affirmed it daily – things would work out better. But what if you had found the wrong person? If you weren’t right for each other could you ever make it work?

That was not her job to establish though. It was theirs. She was just interviewing people, engaging in a formality. They completed the forms and sealed the deal. Their love was – had to be – enough.

Dimpy realized though that this had been her failing with Shama. He wasn’t a bad person; he had brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues who adored him. Even she had adored him initially, but they just weren’t compatible. Her steady approach to things, which he called her “methodical madness”, and his seat-of-the-pants style, which even the devil wouldn’t care for. They disagreed on everything – holidays, cooking, cleaning, not to mention spending, and when – to be honest, with him it was if – to have babies.

Dimpy realized that her duty as a Registrar of Weddings was greater than she imagined. She should make people fight to get married. If they didn’t do that now, they would surely be fighting later. She decided that from now on she would give everybody a good grilling, like the one she had given her husband once too often. But if she hadn’t, maybe they would still be together – both unhappy forever.

Last Christmas

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy’s classes were less about education, she realized, and more about expression and entertainment. She’d invented the notion of Spatial Studies, a course designed to fill the gaps between student’s thoughts, without really knowing what it was. As a result, her students didn’t treat their studies seriously and never did their homework. Explaining why they hadn’t done their homework had in fact become a source of pride. It was entirely her fault.

“Steven, did you do homework?” she asked a boy who was looking even more vacant than usual.

He looked at her suddenly and said, “How do you know my name?”

It had taken a few weeks to get everyone’s names, but she knew them now. Why was he acting so surprised? “Because you come to my classes, and we’ve spoken many times.”

He looked angry. “No, I don’t. This is the first time I’ve come to your class.”

“Steven, this is the fifth class. We’re half way through the first term, and…”

Tom interrupted, saying, “Miss Kashi, can I…”

“Not now, Tom. Please wait a minute. I’m not finished yet with Steven.” She didn’t want to drop the conversation; she wanted to understand what he meant. “Don’t you remember your classmates’ excuses about not doing their homework – Tom’s fat cousin, Simone’s repo man, and Asma’s death? Surely you do?”

“No Miss Kashi, I don’t recall anything from before this class, just celebrating Christmas with my family. It was sooo nice. Mom cooked goose stuffed with walnuts and oranges, and dad let us have a sip of red wine; he said that’s what French people do. We played silly games like hide and seek and charades, and read out tongue-twisters, and… ”

Dimpy interrupted, “But it’s September now. That was nine months ago.”

“Was it? It seems like it was only a few days ago. It was soo nice, Miss Kashi. Are you sure this isn’t the first class of the course? Maybe you taught me in a different class last year, and you’re getting mixed up. That’s it! Didn’t you take one math class when Mr. Thompson was way?”

“No I didn’t, Steven. I think you’re…” A note appeared on the desk before her. How it had got there, she couldn’t say. Tom caught her eye and raised his eyebrows; he nodded towards the note. She opened and read it.

It said, “Miss Kashi, please leave Steven alone. His parents split up last week. He can’t handle it. I think he’s gone back to his family’s last happy memory, of Christmas last year, and blocked everything else out.”

Dimpy nodded and refolded the note. There was no point in asking Steven if he’d done Spatial Studies homework. He’d done practice.