Friday, June 17, 2016

Dear former Mother-in-law

I wish I had said these things…

10 years back when she met the parents for her boyfriend, they tested her patience in real sense. So strong, and so blind was her love that she still managed to sail through without killing anyone. 10 years back, when she was all of 22, she was asked if she would come back from work and cook every day. She was asked if she would conform to the traditional ways of married women. She was also asked if she would take permission before going to meet her family. She was asked if she would quit her career if her holy husband asked her to.

10 years back, when she was too young to understand the ways of this world, when she was just out of her teen age, she said yes in answer to almost all the questions except one about her family and career, by then she had started to wonder where she had gotten herself. So scared, upset and confused was she that a mere recall throws her into an anxiety attack - 10 years later…

Two years after that absurd meeting, the girl foolishly in love with that guy married him and went on to live with the entire clan under one roof. While she was strong headed enough to not give in to insane expectations, she was still vulnerable enough to get impacted by the daily criticism of not cooking for in-laws, of not wearing the marital attire, of taking her work too seriously.

Reading through Vagabomb’s recent post  about the things every woman should demand before getting married, she can only look back, cringe and then smile.

She hadn’t articulated her demands as she always took these things for granted. For her life couldn’t exist without the basics. But then it came onto her survival and she fought. She fought for all these things and more, and when she realized that the fight was consuming too much energy, she walked out. The world called her foolish for seeking divorce but she was not one for drama. She walked away and happy.

The said post is really ironical, for things like Time alone with family, Equality and respect, no ideal bahu pressure, no sanskaari wardrobe revamp, financial independence, freedom of choice to keep maiden name, an equal say in the family matters, time alone with partner, freedom to make decisions about body - are all truly basics. In a utopian world there shouldn’t be any need to demand these things. Additionally, she demanded a complete series of medical tests for HIV and STD, she offered the same for herself as well- luckily, this was accepted without much ado. But ironically, she had to demand these things, she had to fight each day, and even today when she thinks of that time, the anger and anxiety overwhelm her completely. And still she decided to recollect every instance and write this piece...

Dear former mother-in-law, former husband and rest of the family,
I wish I had said these things when I first met you and got to know your insane expectations. I wish I had told you that if I intended to feed someone without him helping out, I would rather adopt a baby. I wish I had told you to get out of my bedroom, the first time you tried to interfere between the fight of husband and wife.

Dear mother-in-law, I wish I had told you to shut-up when you had asked me to wear certain kind of clothes. I wish I had informed you that there is no such thing as ideal daughter-in-law, as there are no ideal mothers-in-law either. We are all different individuals and living under one roof, we should try make life simpler for everyone - together.

Dear former husband, I wish I had smacked you in the face and told you to get lost when you first told me get things in my body changed. I wish I had told you to never see my face again, the first time you asked me to change my name. I wish I had told you that you do not deserve another man’s daughter if you cannot put in an equal effort to accept and appreciate her.

I wish I had told you that I would not bear a child unless you showed some traces of civilized human behavior. I wish I had told you that a daughter-in-law is a human being who makes a personal choice of motherhood instead of becoming a child-bearing machine.

Dear former so-many-people, instead of hoping that you'd evolve, I wish I had never married in your family, for everyday in that house was an exhausting fight.

Today she thinks that she did the right thing in walking away. Our society preaches loyalty and faithfulness to the extent that we forget that things might go wrong. We forget to prepare our sons and daughters to bail out if things get beyond their capacity to manage. We forget that having a partner, or kids before a certain age, or posting together pictures on social media is not a life goal. It’s good to have these things but not at the cost of one’s own peace of mind and happiness. Today that girl is on her own, and is loving every bit of it. She might not have a partner to post together pictures with, but she definitely has a lot to do in her space and time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dil, Dosti, etc - When money enters the equation

The last couple of days have been tormenting, overwhelming and really disturbing to say the least. These days of disturbance led me to introspect and reflect on the relations that I have made and maintained through my life thus far.

To give a brief background, I asked one of my friends (best friend at one point in life) to return the money she had loaned from me on different occasions as it had been over ten years since it began. While I had written off that loan about three years back, I still felt the need to remind that person that the debt was still unpaid and I was still upset. What began then was a match of mudslinging which ended with me blocking that person from all channels of communication.

The last time I’d asked for my money back, she’d told me to manage my finances properly instead of spreading my hands. I was patient because she was carrying her first child then and I didn’t want the wrath to spill over to the unborn child.

In her last message which led to her being blocked, she had accused me of not being such a nice person who would keep mum if someone behaved the way she did. In short, she denied all that she had said and called me liar. She went on to say that she had to go through a tough decision during her second pregnancy because I had cursed her.

In the past, I had loaned two more friends, one of whom returned my money after giving me the same gyaan to manage my finances well. And well, the other person returned a hefty sum in such small parts that it was as good as trash to me. The second friend even lied to me of his wife not having a job while she actually did, and started returning my money only after I found out the truth and confronted/threatened him.

What I learnt from my mistakes are these 9 rules:

Rule No. 1: Never lend anyone money without having a clear discussion of when that would be returned.

Rule No. 2: Never keep mum if somebody crosses the line thinking that you’d end up ruining the relation. Quite honestly, the relation was ruined the moment that person crossed the line.

Rule No. 3: Never keep other’s need above yours or your family. Help only if you can afford to.

Rule No. 4: Watch out for signs. People with the intent to return the favour are quite grounded. They won’t spend on luxuries without paying back the previous debts.

Rule No. 5: It’s okay to grow out of friends/boy-friends/relations, don’t cling only to find yourself stranded. My biggest mistake in the first case was to cling while I grew out of her. Quite honestly, I had never even grown into her. It was more about clinging onto a phase of my life. And I paid for it with an affordable sum and scarring heartburn.

Rule No. 6: Listen to your family/close ones. While you might be blinded in the moment, your well-wishers may notice the signs. In all of the above cases including my former partner, my father had warned me absolutely blatantly. I had to burn my finger to learn my lessons.

Rule No. 7: Don’t lend. Don't borrow. Write the details if the need arises to do either.

Rule No. 8: Never ever disclose your salary even to your closest of friends. This was my biggest mistake. Every time I asked for my money back, from either of these individuals, they quoted my salary and remarked about how poor my finance skills were. - Make this the thumb rule.

Rule No. 9: Walk away when the damage is less. They who didn’t realise once, would never realise later. Conscience either exists or does not exist. There’s nothing in between. I kept adding to the previous debt hoping that the bigger sum would motivate her to pay back. Even got her an expensive dress with an agreement that either she’d pay back or return the dress. I got the dress back after following up for a year and a half. (Yes, I care about the dress. I am a woman.)

Last but not the least, never trust people who watch and like Ekta Kapoor kind of soap operas. They watch that crap and it gets into their head big time. <Experienced for real>

I have had my share of bitter experiences and still have been lucky to have friends who stood by me during hard times. Friends whose debt I’d never be able to pay back in cash or kind. I can only count my blessings and thank god for sparing me with only as much as I could afford.

There is no reason why one should survive suffocating or toxic relations. Watch out for the signs and bail out! In life we make plenty friends, some last a long time and some are lost in time. Cherish the happy moments but remember that the contribution in any relation has to be equal - Physically, emotionally, spiritually. You know it’s time to walk out when the proportions are distorted.

#MeToo Campaign and I

The last week found all of social media flooding with the #MeToo campaign. The campaign that was sparked by the Harvey Weinstein allegatio...