Words By Writers: Infidelity – Yay or Nay by Monica David

Infidelity- Yay or nay?

Ok, ok calm down, it’s nay!

There’s a ‘however’ after that though. Bear with me.

As much as I do trust him, I admit I’ve wondered what I would do if I found out my husband was having an affair. I hope I would be able to keep my dignity and waltz right out of the marriage in a classy outfit and a great hairdo without a demeaning scene, although most likely I’d hit him on the head with a frying pan, do an over the top bit of shouting and then resort to tactics to exert my revenge by stripping him off a fair amount of whatever money he might have, before doing the waltzing (possibly stomping) out of the marriage.

Who knows?

My illusions about fidelity were shattered by two separate episodes:

1- When Richard Gere cheated on Cindy Crawford back in the 90s – I mean, really? At the time Cindy was so popular that it caused a colourful hullabaloo and everyone spoke about it as if it pertained to the lives of friends they knew intimately and never saw it coming.

2- When I found out that my father – who’d always seemed completely uninterested in anything that wasn’t related to football or literature, and was in my eyes rather boring to anyone with a pulse – had in fact been unfaithful to my mother numerous times over the years. That of course came as a shock to my mother too. We would have both bet that a frog would have had a better chance of successfully seducing someone than Dad, but alas we were wrong. Furthermore, after their divorce I got to see a whole new side to my dad and he turned out to be incredibly interesting and even fun – who’d have thought? Till the day he died, he repeated that he’d only ever loved my mother and still did, and that he couldn’t see what the big deal was because he’d only been unfaithful with women he’d never had any feelings for. She never took him back. Good for her.

I don’t doubt that there are many men and women who remain faithful, thank goodness, but my point is that you never really know. Some people seem to be more likely to fall into temptation but oftentimes it comes from where you least expect it.

Now, please note that I’m not trying to throw doubt into any relationship, there are many happy, faithful ones out there and it is what we all strive and hope for. If you have one, well done you and keep it up. I’ve certainly never been unfaithful to my husband. Having said that, I put my high-and-mighty hat on and also say that I never would, but in truth I don’t really know. We’ve had bad patches, which is normal, and I’ve had possibilities, which is also normal, luckily though those possibilities never coincided with the bad patches so in all honesty I can’t say that I unequivocally beat temptation because I was never truly tempted. I still find my husband incredibly attractive notwithstanding the fact that he pisses me off on a regular basis, mainly because it amuses him to get a reaction out of me – not much of a challenge for him there, I am Latin, after all.

But this brings me to books. Books are the ultimate escape from reality, the original gateway to other lives, other experiences, most of which we will never personally go through, but that we are able to savour through fictional characters. When a book is so well written that its words effortlessly insinuate themselves into our veins until we are so immersed in the story that we end up experiencing the characters’ feelings and wondering what we would do in those situations, is when I consider the book a success. A good book is able to temporarily undress us of our morals, our beliefs, and we accept it because there’s a cosy, safe corner in our minds that reminds us it is merely make believe. Sometimes we stop reading just to look up and utter ‘Wow!’ or ‘Fuuuuuck!’ or shout at a character, a bit like my mother does while watching films, much to my annoyance – ‘No, no! Don’t go in there alone!’ or ‘Are you crazy? Don’t call him!’ she cries out every few seconds, as if the film hasn’t been shot ages before and she can somehow prevent the sequence of events.

This is why I thoroughly enjoyed writing Braid of Tongues, it was sort of like being unfaithful by proxy, without the consequences or the stress.

Leo Tolstoy once said that the best stories don’t come from good vs bad but good vs good, and I have to agree. If Ariane had had a bad husband, there wouldn’t have been much of a moral dilemma there, and most of us would be rooting for her to be rescued by a good man. That’s easy. But hang on a minute, what if there’s nothing really wrong with your relationship and still the right person comes along at the right time? What if a very specific string of circumstances leads powerful stirrings to awaken within you in ways you never knew they could? What if you discover that you’ve been living as a fragment of yourself? High-and-mighty hat aside, can we all honestly say that we wouldn’t go for it? I don’t know. And that was what I wanted to share with the reader – an uncomfortable possibility.

Two unlikely people meet and against all odds end up being overwhelmingly attracted to each other. Are all mistakes straightforwardly wrong? Is everything as simple as black and white?

This doesn’t mean that I am condoning Ariane’s decisions nor that I would personally make the same choices, but I can’t categorically swear that I wouldn’t.

I don’t doubt for a second that my husband has had plenty of opportunities and that if he really wanted to I’d be none the wiser, hell, my father got away with it for two decades! But relationships need a vital ingredient – trust and I choose to trust. There is also the little detail that once unfaithful – and even if the partner never finds out- the relationship is never the same. Something cracks, something inherently fundamental becomes untrue and so what was, ceases to be.

Braid of Tongues isn’t a story to be taken as an example to follow but a story to ponder upon.

Because it was my first book, I needed to be reassured that it was at its best and so I enlisted a large number of beta readers, most of which turned out to be both wonderful and talented. Out of 37, one hated the story. After swearing for half an hour while pacing around the garden, I calmed down. She wasn’t very nice at all and I still feel that she could have said the same thing in a more positive way, but when I read her email for the 5th time I realised that she never said the writing wasn’t good, nor that the characters weren’t well conceived nor that the story was boring, she was just vehemently opposed to infidelity, especially since the husband was a good man. I can live with that. In fact I am too, but a story is often just a story, I mean, let’s face it, it was never intended to be ‘a woman’s guide to married life’, God forbid, and if Braid of Tongues is a bit like Marmite – love it or hate it- then I can relax with my cup of coffee as I write what happens next. Wait for it – it will get your blood boiling!

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Bio: Monica David was born in Zimbabwe but she grew up in Portugal, by the sea.
She has been living in London for nearly two decades, initially on and off in between travels and now permanently with her family.

Monica loves to read, photograph and travel.

She values kindness, honesty and a good sense of humour.

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