Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar at their wedding reception in New Delhi (file photo) | PTI
A shared zest for life, apart from their ambitions, brought the otherwise worlds apart Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar together.
If Tharoor loved letters, Sunanda loved false eye-lashes and peroxide hair streaks. If he was sophisticated, she was flashy, and if he had already arrived, she was the wannabe. If it was his pedigree that took Tharoor to places, the only things that transformed Sunanda from a small-town girl from Kashmir to Mrs Tharoor were her spunk, drive and ambition.
When the two met in Dubai, both were at the crossroads of their life. It was in 2007 and Tharoor had just failed in his bid to become the UN Secretary General and shifted to Dubai, taking up a high-profile job in an investment firm. He was with his second wife and Canadian citizen Christa Giles.
Coincidentally, Sunanda too had returned to Dubai after a failed life in Canada and had begun a fresh lease. The two apparently met at a party and the rest as they say, is history. It was around the same time that Tharoor took the plunge into politics and got elected as the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Given his diplomatic background, he was an easy choice for the MEA. However, all hell broke loose with the IPL controversy. It was then the media heard about “sweat equity”. More interesting was the face of a pretty woman, with oozing charm, emerging along with it. She was called the “proxy” for the MoS. But Sunanda protested and proved that she was more than just a “proxy” when Tharoor divorced his second wife and married her.
Their wedding, in traditional Kerala Nair style, was a treat for the eyes. The two good looking people, who were entering into their third marriage, were madly in love. The look in their eyes said it all.
The fairy tale romance continued in the national capital too, as the charming couple threw parties at the drop of a hat and made a point to attend all parties. Maybe the couple, especially Sunanda, was trying to find a foothold here with her spunk and grit.
But unfortunately, if Page 3 gossips are to be believed, entry into the elitist Delhi circle was not that easy for them. “Sunanda had always been the most sought after guest in Dubai party circles. But Delhi was a different ball game. Despite her best efforts, she was still considered a wannabe,” said a source who has attended several gatherings with her.
Even her visits to book reading sessions and painting exhibitions did not turn her into an “intellectual beauty”, which she desperately wanted to be.
“Sunanda had become very insecure after shifting to Delhi. She had seen many ups and downs before, but she had always bounced back. But her desperate attempt to become an equal partner to Tharoor started having an effect on her,” a friend in Dubai said.
According to him, she had, of late, become “very insecure”, especially after rumours of Tharoor’s alleged linkups. Adding to her cup of woes was her ill health. “Madam had become very moody and was depressed. It had started showing on their relationship too,” a maid in the Tharoor household said.
The last nail in the coffin of this romance was the alleged love affair between Tharoor and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. It is learnt that Tharoor’s family had a “detached” relationship with Sunanda.
“When Tharoor told us about the marriage, none of us liked it as she was no match to his stature. But she was good natured whenever she came to our place. Still we had a feeling that it would not last long. But never thought it would end in this kind of a tragedy,” said one of his relatives in Palakkad. He hoped that this would be a “turning point” in Tharoor’s life.
Tharoor on Saturday looked like a lost man, as he carried his wife’s coffin to the crematorium. He was accompanied by Sunanda’s only son Shiv Menon.
Sunanda and Tharoor’s relation had all the elements of a 21st century romantic tale. It had whirlwind romance, deceit, opportunism, loneliness, extramarital linkups and huge chunk of mysteries. But like all good love stories, this one too has ended leaving too many mysteries unanswered. Might be that is the way it should be.