when I see couples in the waiting area holding hands, it’s
impossible to believe they are going through a divorce, ”
says Madhavi Desai, principal marriage counselor, Mumbai Family
Court. “I have had couples seeking a divorce come to me
together. The look like they are good friends,” adds family
lawyer Mrinalini Deshmukh. In India’s new divorce diary,
one of the unusual trends is of former spouses continuing as friends.
Difficult as it sounds, it is admirable that people can relate
to their spouses on different levels. Many of these are couples
who started out as good friends.
Like actor Deepti Naval and
ex-husband filmmaker Prakash Jha. They drifted apart two years
after their marriage. After a “period of silence”,
the two resumed communication. It has been 14 years since. Both
Naval and Jha had other relationships but have maintained a close
friendship. “There was a time when Prakash, our daughter
Disha, Vinod, who I was seeing then, and I went out to dinner
together. People thought it was very strange,” says Naval.
“But I have always felt if you can’t work out one
equation – the man-woman one - you don’t have to lose
out on the person altogether.” Prakash and Deepti keep in
touch, watch films together and Naval says she is “glad
to have Prakash in my life”.
Delhi-based Vibhisha and Nari,
both 31, share a similar story. As they walk into a coffee shop,
chatting animatedly, they appear more than cordial with each other.
Nari travels 15 days a month and Vibhisha was unable to sustain
the pressures of raising a six-year-old single-handedly. “I
was always suspicious about him and we were drifting apart,”
says Vibhisha, adding that divorce was the best way out of the
accusatory pattern they had fallen into. “For the sake of
our daughter we decided to put our differences behind and be friends.”
says Nari. Now they meet once in a fortnight, watch movies with
their daughter and eat out together.
Mumbai’s Sameera Parikh
agrees that civility is the best way to cope with a divorce. Parikh
and ex-husband Ravi lost each other to busy careers in film production.
After five years, keeping in mind the constraints of demanding
jobs, they parted ways after a holiday together. Though they felt
cut up during the divorce proceedings, they managed to regain
their friendship. “We can complete each other’s sentences.
After we stopped hurting, we did not want to lose out on the bond
we shared,” says Parikh. Another way to live happily ever