For two small nations of the East, one February fourteen will go in memory as one of the most heartrending days of the calendar; an anniversary of the cruel ending of a pulsating relationship by anti-Cupid's arrow, lanced from within in one instance, and from without in the other.
Even for non relationship counselors like us, some underlying problems were plain for all to see. There was too much hope pinned on one man. True, he was difficult not to like or even to fall for, one with charming, dashing optimism, but the hopes on his ability to pull it all from the brink were just raised to mythical proportions. There was too much trust placed in one piece of engagement paper (a charter/an accord), all the while underestimating the role played by the immediate family and neighbours of the groom, and their entrenched interests/old habits. You could argue that in the former instance, the arrangements were too quick and hasty for solid mutual understanding to develop (mere 5 days from an initial yes to a family’s yes), or that a pledge undertaken in a romantic situation could easily be reversed in a later, more mindful stage. You could see that in the other instance, the neighbours, who introduced the groom to the family in the first place, had already set very strict conditions for the living arrangement itself. But it is all too easy to lay blame with hindsight now. Mothers and fathers of the neighborhood were after for the slightest prospect of safe streets, safe return, and safe future for their children.
But fate, and staunch counsel of powerful men, was of opposite heart. In both countries, a “tough love” operational team was set up and was already months into secret preparation. It is still a matter of speculations as to the exact timing of the initial decision to torpedo the relationship, or how high that decision and foreknowledge reached. With a militarily appreciative sense of a crucial element of surprise, the schemers were of unshakable confidence that their labour of love will meet complete success.
And so, when the ultimate moment arrived, a vehicle lurking in the background (thought to be a white Mitsubishi in one case, a white non-lying pledge in another) moved with devastating stealth and speed to claim its target. The impact was so powerful, its intended victims were ripped apart, much steel and trust melted, and a gaping crater was left in its destructive wake.
One is mindful of course that the disparities between the two situations far outweigh the similarities, none more so than the contrast of the two collective reactions to the event.
In one case, the reaction was so swift; it moved with the thrust of a gathering storm. And a storm it was. A sea of flags took to the streets demanding the “Truth”. The neighbours should be out of it. And out of it, they did. In the other case, the very first evening saw an edgy crowd of few thousands converging on one sport arena, only to be instructed by a leading young cleric to stay calm and indoors, as the leadership will take care of it. The streets following next day’s Friday prayers were indeed calm. Perhaps the leadership didn’t read much of it or in it by then. There was not a single reminder in the form of a sign bearing a photocopy of that newspaper’s front page with the famous “Pledge” to be seen. No outright rejections of the new matrimonial contract. A year later, the groom insists on consummating the marriage, even though the dowry and other conditions have been changed at will. Personal law experts, he insists, are on his side. Four saga years later, some family members of the bride are preparing to oblige. And that will be, in one's celebrated words, one of the most beautiful days yet to arrive.