Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 11/14/21 9:25 AM

Opinion: The complexities of complicity

The complexities of complicity

 The most recent backstory in a woefully long line of back stories to this particular topic concerns the sometime Bollywood actress turned dance show jury member, married to a man of mysterious wealth. The man gets arrested for making porn videos, the actress immediately pleads ignorance.

Then there is the Hollywood mogul`s wife , a top-draw fashion designer herself, who pleads ignorance of the many acts of sexual aggressions committed by her husband.

And there`s the husband of a woman now lodged in jail for the murder of her daughter who she tried to pass off as her sister; the man would dearly like to be seen as the hapless spouse of a scheming woman, because that would help him in the case pending against him for complicity.

The moot point here is just how credible their pleas of ignorance sound. As the world knows, by themselves these are people of substance, people who have managed their finances admirably and not exactly been clinging vines vis-à-vis  their spouses. Given that the women definitely have lived off the fat of their husbands` lands, as it were, could it be true that they really didn’t know what was going on for a longish period of time? Or did they just choose to look away?

This complicity business really is a twin-edged sword. It brings to mind the line in the Christian marriage vows: through thicker and thin. You know fully well that your partner is walking the gray side of the law, maybe of life itself,  but you keep a prudent silence. Mainly because of those Caribbean island vacations, the regular La Mer facials, the private Learjet, the security of a velvet-cushioned lifestyle. And you try to lead your own life, trusting in human frailties which involve the acceptance of generous bribes, the cowing down to not so gentle threats, the deft manipulation of a sieve-like system. Along the way, if you feel you really must act on your suspicions, you contact your trusted legal advisors and ask them to slowly delink you from culpable causes which now have both your names on them.

But a low voice at the back of your mind keeps telling you that time will sooner or later be up for the devious deeds of your devious partner. And when that time comes, you quickly cry innocence. Loudly, plaintively. You plead complete ignorance, and learn to ignore the snorts of derision you hear around you. As in the case of the Hollywood filmmaker, you get influential people — fellow designers, editors of fashion bibles, to vouch that you really were in the dark about your partner`s dirty deeds. However improbable it sounds.

And then you sit it out, trusting in the transitory nature of scandals, the limited attention span of people who focus on that news, skilled lawyers who will get you out of this mess. And the fact that there is no better agent of image rehab than time. In the interim, you keep busy reinventing  yourself and your image.

Or you are distraught. Because you really didn’t know. And the world seems unjust to you, heaping calumny on your innocent head. While you try and pick up the pieces of your shattered life, you trust in the adage that this too shall pass.

This appeared in the Sunday edition of News Trail India on 14 November 2021.



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Sheila Kumar • November 14, 2021

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