Oh! Wasn’t that more about Mr Tharoor than Mrs Tharoor?

19 January 2013 | Shruti Kohli | NEW DELHI

shruti-kohliEarlier today, I met a middle-aged, supposedly educated gentleman. He asked, “What do you think about the whole Sunanda Tharoor episode.” I replied, “It’s unfortunate.” He continued, “That Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar…is it all that women journalists are all about? Earlier we’ve had Shivani Bhatnagar…” I reverted, “What do you think about Shashi Tharoor…?”


Ever since Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor’s sudden death, media is abuzz with debates, analysis and bulletins focused on the incident. Amazingly, all bulletins are talking about Sunanda’s state of mind, her tweets exposing her minister husband, Shashi Tharoor’s extramarital affair, her life, Tarar’s tweets, her professional and personal background, and Pushkar and Tarar’s Twitter spat. It looks more like a Pushkar-Tarar case while Shashi Tharoor is conspicuous by his absence.


Nobody is discussing Shashi Tharoor! It was his infidelity that led to all this mess. Why aren’t people asking questions about him? Why are they not discussing his state of mind that should have led him to have an extramarital affair, his background, personal background to stress on, his affairs, his marriages etc etc.?


The timing and suddenness of Pushkar’s death has raised eye brows. It comes within 48 hours of her openly accusing her husband of being unfaithful. She found in his Blackberry, romantic messages from Tarar and tweeted the messages verbatim.


After the autopsy, AIIMS doctors confirmed unnatural death and injury marks on her body. This suggests foul play. Many are now linking her death to her tweet (deleted later) about the IPL. She had tweeted: “I took upon myself the crimes of this man during IPL (Indian Premier League). I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can’t tolerate this. I have nothing more to say.”


However, it is her emotional outburst after discovering her husband’s affair that led to her strongly worded tweets and TV interviews, Twitter catfight with Tarar, the IPL tweet, and delete, and finally her death. Had it not been for her reaction to Shashi Tharoor’s love affair, nothing of this would have happened and Pushkar would, probably, still be alive.


In my book, The Petticoat Journal, I write about emotional vulnerability of women. A woman would never walk out on her husband upon knowing about his affair or even when she is getting beaten up. She will refrain from taking the “drastic step” no matter how distraught she is. There’s some honour she is trying to save there by clinging on to the mess.


She will not walk out. But she will pray for his “return”. I have even heard women say “men will be men” defending their unfaithful and violent husbands. In some cases, when the extramarital affair does end, the husbands are welcomed back with open arms. It’s as if a soldier has returned after winning a war and the family lives happily ever after. Well, women will also be women.


However, some women have ended their marriages. But they are a very small percentage and they are mostly employed. They earn and have a financial support system. But even among working women, there are very few who would walk out on their husbands under such circumstances. Why?


It’s because women are so finely cut in the dependent mould that assuming any other shape (read becoming independent or living without a man), will render them shapeless in the society’s scheme of things. They will be complete misfits and we all know the kind of pressures misfits live under in our world. Women in their bid to fit in the dye cast by this world, stay put in bad marriages, waiting for their husbands to “return” or become “human.”


Those who come out in the open have to brave taunts and unwelcome questions or would end up as Sunanda did. Senior journalist Nalini Singh, with whom Sunanda spoke a night before she was found dead, says, “She was distraught …because of her husband’s affair.” In fact, whichever friend she spoke to around that time, said so.

Had she decided to keep shut about the whole affair, there would have been no turbulence, no one would have blamed her, no catfight, peace, and she would be alive right now. But she chose to speak out. In her state of mind, she decided to go public about it. She went to Twitter and poured her anger out. Being a public figure, the wife of a public figure, a minister for that matter, and having a scam (IPL) attached with her name, her story became messier and louder. Celebrities are under constant scrutiny. Ordinary people see them as idols and the slightest slip from ‘perfection’ attracts intense resentment and ridicule.


So while we expected Pushkar to have avoided the outburst, I’m assuming people also expected Tharoor to be a perfect husband. But actually, it’s only Pushkar, and also Tarar, who have taken all the public attention and, subsequently, scorn, for the murky episode.


We will have to wait for investigations (hopefully unbiased) to know the immediate cause of Pushkar’s death but even if there’s foul play, the basic cause of her death is well known already, the emotional anguish due to her husband’s infidelity. Can Mr Tharoor take centre stage now?

shruti kohli








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  • Shubhi Lall

    10 on 10

  • Sarthak Mishra

    really liked!

  • Jane Cummings

    very well-written Shruti. i don’t know the story of Mrs & Mr Tharoor, but your piece is very well put. love, Jane

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