It’s been four years, since I ended an affair with my dangerous mistress, Ego.
I still remember that summer day in New Delhi, India, when I had just come back from meeting the Government officials of Indian State Television. Though we had bagged a few more projects for television productions, I was extremely unhappy because I did not want another year of writing and directing meaningless television shows that were too intellectual for both the channel and its viewers, and yet that’s all there was.
That is the day I first met Ego. Mind you, even though I was newly married, I have no shame in admitting that I instantly fell in love with her. There was something about her that made me feel like a true man who must step out of his comfort zone to conquer the world. She made me believe that I was the most talented filmmaker waiting to happen.
Thus, it came as no surprise to me when within a short time and without much thought, I decided to leave the well-settled life and well established business in New Delhi for tougher and alien pastures of Mumbai City, the Hollywood of India.
The first casualty of this extra-marital affair was my wife. No, we did not get divorced, but she went through hell. She hated the unsettling, and she hated the new city. Luckily, she did not know about my affair with the beautiful Ego as the shift was well-camouflaged as my dreams and aspirations. I was able to deal with her misery quite easily because I expected that. However, what I could not deal with was what came next … the unexpected.
Having got a boost that she managed to make me change my life so drastically, Ego was ready for the complete takeover of my life and she made her move the minute we landed in Mumbai.
Without much fuss, she first convinced me that I was too good to do a regular, boring nine-to-five job and definitely not a one that even remotely came close to my previous work experience. I was meant for bigger things, Ego said.
As a result, I was left sitting at home writing “unusual” and “different” scripts that my Ego termed as my masterpieces in the making. Now, she had me by my scrotum (read: balls). So much so that I did not even feel a pinch of a guilt pang while making my wife work tirelessly so that I could sit at home and flirt with my mistress, Ego. You see, she was quite different from the regular Egos that most Indian men encounter after marriage. She was pretty flexible and convenient. A regular Ego would never allow a man to let his wife work while he dabbles with his dreams.
However, Ego was not satisfied with just that. She wanted more control over my life and me. She wanted control over me not only as a filmmaker but also as a person. Somehow, she convinced me that I was being too much of Mr. Goodie two shoes sitting at home and writing my masterpieces, while waiting to greet my wifey when she got back home from her work. She suggested that I should be more outgoing and have a wild time on my own while waiting for the world to embrace me as a genius that I truly am.
Next thing I knew, I was partying away the nights with my single and footloose friends and sleeping away the hangover most of the next day. All this while my wife struggled and worked her ass (read: butt) off during the day and waited for me during the nights, often eating alone and dozing off with a single light on in a hope that I would come back home while it was still dark and the light would protect me from stumbling over something and breaking my bones. Ego hated these small touches of my wife because those gestures had the potential of stirring my Conscience, Ego’s most formidable enemy.
Now the Ego had control over me as a filmmaker and me as a person, but she was still not satisfied. She wanted more. The one thing that had been left untouched was my Conscience, or so I thought.
When my Conscience told me that perhaps I had been wasting my time and that I should actually be looking for real work instead of flirting with my mistress, Ego did not take it very kindly.
She now wanted control over my Conscience, too. Soon Ego made her move. She convinced me that the only work worth my capabilities lay outside this wretched country and how the whole world was my oyster and all I had to do was reach out and inform them that what a wonderful genius I am. To make things easier, now we have a really cheap way of communications, the “E-mail,” which in any case was being paid out of my wife’s salary.
Now, I was sending off resumes and writing samples to the likes of Warner brothers, Miramax, MGM, and other reputed production companies all over the world. It was a great high to receive a mail back from such big names, even if most of them were polite rejections. This was working wonderfully for Ego.
Now she had the Conscience in control because at a superficial level, I was doing real work of sending well-drafted, carefully worded emails to “relevant” people in the film industry asking them to give me a job even though I was nobody and did not possess a work permit. For the time being, Ego was satisfied with the amount of control that she had over my life.
Mind you, by now due to my blatant submission to Ego, my wife and probably a few well-wishers got a whiff of my extra-marital affair with this dangerous mistress. My wife tried her level best to get me out of the clutches of this Ego, but my mistress was not the one to give up so easily on her man. However, Ego realized that it was time to be more careful (read as misleading) if this affair was to survive.
So Ego allowed me few concessions, which meant that once in a while I could get out of the house and meet so called real people for real jobs here in Mumbai. She also allowed me to be a little sensitive to my wife’s plight and to be a little productive in the house. So, once a day, I started walking our dog and maybe once a week I would make the bed and even cook once a month.
However, to compensate for such “unmanly” and “noncreative” deeds, she would shower a little extra of herself on me. Thus, every productive action on my part was followed by my tantrums, cynicism, and outbursts ridiculing the society at large and the Indian film fraternity in particular, all of them obviously directed towards my poor wife for the lack of anyone else being there.
Basically, Ego wanted my wife to feel guilty every time I moved a muscle in my body. My wife hates confrontations, so she reluctantly caved in and agreed to respect me and accept me as someone who would not move a muscle. Ego was on top of the world. This was complete domination and a great victory for her.
However, with complacency back in my life, my Conscience again started acting up. I again started feeling those guilt pangs and Ego again started feeling insecure about our affair. I think this time around Ego realized that if anything or anyone would be her undoing, it would be my conscience. Thus started a fierce battle between my friend Conscience and my mistress Ego.
Ego was definitely stronger, but Conscience had an ace up his sleeve. One fine day, I stumbled upon an idea that captivated me stronger than any storm had captivated a boat lost in the wild sea.
The idea was to write a book, telling a fascinating story loosely based on my relationship with my spiritually evolved grandfather. Soon, I was back on the track, writing, being constructive, working, being sensitive, productive, and all those things that my mistress Ego could not stand. Ego realized that she had underestimated my Conscience but she would not go down without some fireworks.
Thus followed tense and intense weeks of screaming, fighting, tears, suspicions, and arguments between my wife and I. This was happening out of nowhere and without any provocation. It took me some time but I did realize that this was the doing of a desperate mistress trying to hold on to her man in what largely seemed like a losing battle for her.
Today, things are calmer. Our affair is indeed over and I am back as a committed husband and a passionate filmmaker, but I would be lying if I say that Ego does not visit me once in a while. Ego is beautiful and she does make me feel like a man, though just that, a man. A useless, unproductive, and insensitive man, but a man nevertheless. Moral of the story: stay away from Ego, guys. She is bad news.
A happy jilted lover.