‘I wonder if as you grow older you start seeking out more for your family. I mean, look at our dad and mom’. My sister commented one evening seeing how happy our parents seemed together at dinner. For better or for worse they did decide to stay together and we are and were indeed always grateful for that. Over a long run, I feel, they found their ways to let go, work through or found ways to compromise in their problems.
Hot blood. Young parents. Endless possibilities. New worlds. Looking at them even at my age now, I don’t dare imagine facing those obstacles and coming out the other way as a whole person. I empathise with their feelings, concerns and frustration much better now than I did as a child or a teenager. And although I had always been a protective sibling, I kind of felt guilty hearing my sister’s comment, realising I had never thought the effect of relationship dynamic our family had on them as well.
We have our tales that we laugh about. Tales where our parents can appear a little villainous. Don’t know how much of dramatic scenes are torched into their memories but I hope it only appears funnier as time goes by. As it does to me now. As a child you are susceptible to being easily triggered with emotions and are more impressionable. Only looking at the scene from your perspective, a child’s perspective, the problem naturally appears magnified. Not having ability to judge the situation also worsens the scenario. ‘Why is dad always with his friends when he is only back for holidays?’. ‘Why does Mom make a scene when Dad comes home late?’.
‘I was post partum 2 weeks. We had house under construction. Everyday work was costing us expensive labor charge. Finally husband is home, he will be helping me I thought. Ran out of cement to mix while laying down the pillars, so I asked him to go and buy. He wasted the whole evening sitting down with his boys and playing cards while I was at home with the workers waiting for him’. Mom still can’t forgive what happened about 30 odd years ago. Brings it out every time they have a major fight. Dad cannot let go of how Mom wouldn’t often let him enjoy finally some free time off duty back in the country.
Standing in position, asked to choose one, honestly I never really felt they belonged together. Mom was too good to be my dad’s wife. She was loyal to him and very devoted to us. Young. Could have found herself a family man. But chose to be with my dad, who was still very boyish in his heart and mind, with no sense of responsibility. Dad, quite charming at his age, still young as well could have left home and gone off on his search for finding himself, instead grounded himself with us showing up often in front of our door. Unfortunately for the pair, Mom had quick temper and sadly with his complex personality ‘Dad’ was her main trigger.
Standing today, I don’t blame either of them. They were both right in their own ways. Mom felt trapped and Dad felt overwhelmed. They were naive and the world around them was changing ever so much and moving so fast. But despite how worse it got we did see them try very hard individually to keep us ‘their children’ in their lives. And ‘trying your best’ is all you can do sometimes.’Would it have been nice if we had a normal family too?’. Well we were not even sure what we were asking for back then. Everything is forgotten and forgiven now. From our end.
I don’t judge. At least I try not to judge when my patient’s children refuse to make amends with them even in their death beds, do not make time to come to hospital when they are critically unwell, refuse to participate in any decision making for them and leave them in hospital beds for christmas holidays. In same ways, I try, try not to judge my patient’s decisions to be emotionally distant from their family members. It would be nice though for everyone to have someone to support them in their difficult times. But, when relationships are broken and are left broken at the time when both parties are rationally able to think from both perspectives, chances are they will never be reformed again and, by choice.
‘I cannot leave, watching faces of you and your brothers and sister’, Mom would say tearful. She couldn’t. She was dependent on my dad financially at the time, ‘and children need their father’. ‘I cannot leave’, Dad would say, knowing if he didn’t provide financially we were in trouble. In very knitted close society where they both grew up in, ‘divorce’ wasn’t an option.
‘It is important for women to be financially independent,’ I will always emphasise that statement over and over again to every generation of girls out there. Would you rather not be in a relationship where you had many choices but you chose to be with your partner than being strapped to one because you had no options? By nature, we as humans appreciate things more when we know our pick was the best in the slot. Individually my parents were great people, were they right pick for each other though? Married in their early teens, what did they know, how various influences in their maturing brains was going to impact their view of their partners 5 or 10 years down the line?
I get distraught at the idea of so many women choosing to not have careers. Especially young women. Sold at idea of marrying rich and living comfortable lives at earning of their husband. Doesn’t matter if he is married with 2,3, 4 or 5 wives. As long as he spends on you and you don’t need to clock in your time working for anybody right? Being a housewife to fulfil parental responsibilities/ care duties I understand, it is a full time job on its own, better to save than paying a stranger for hours. But what about other times? When one is fully dependent on another person every day of ones life, you are giving them full control and power over you. And that is a dangerous thing, because power and control eventually follows violence and abuse. When you are choosing to be stay at home wife, there is money being spent on you, irrespective of what you choose to believe. Money that comes out of his bank account as a proof of how much it is costing to have you with him, in a condition that you provide absolute loyalty and undivided attention. When the relation dynamic changes for any reason, your loyalty that he perceives as bought which he has full transactions for, will be used to prove that you had no input, asset invested or loss incurred in this relationship. There is no ledger to display emotional support you have invested on him, hours you have waited on dinner table to serve home cooked food, doing household chores etc. So, with the dissolution of relationship, you have lost time , mental peace while he has walked out with no repercussions to another one. If you are lucky hopefully he left you a little alimony money to get you started again with education or career. Who is to blame? His feelings changed so he changed.
Just work. If you are not the one willing to share your husband either. Where he is providing for you and his singular control on your life is disseminated among his other partners so you are ascertained a degree of freedom for yourself. We didn’t fight for our rights for equality for women to be victims. If you made an active decision to have it easy, you must have thought about the consequences of it. You can’t have both ways.
‘Women will always be in advantage to men no matter how they want to subdue her.’ My mom says. ‘Look at animals & birds, its always the males seeking for attention, fighting amongst themselves for the winning the mating rights with females. Nature made us weak but important in our roles to give off springs. Only the toughest, healthiest and skilled male were to have the privilege to shire next generation. Given a choice you had to put down a rooster or a hen, a bull or a cow, a dog or a bitch; what would you choose? Men didn’t want those rules because that would mean many would not have that privilege. So it was essential they conquered us and reduced our status so we were forced to pair and reproduce with them. Women are now educated, have reached powerful positions, can speak up and are levelling their fields of mating games. You would see why patriarchal values would have problems with that, don’t you? That’s why women should always marry at or above their levels. A man who wants an upper hand and does not pose a challenge, should not be worth her time. She should keep her standards high. People say, a woman increases the value of a man. They forget, just as much the dress or jewellery she wears, a man needs to complement her status. For a woman, a man is her biggest prize. Naturally she is picky. If you are wealthy- you are a hard worker, a leader ‘quality attributes’, if you are smart- you are adaptive, survival traits ‘quality attributes’ , if you are good looking, well built, fit -good genetic attributes. In the end, no matter how it pans out, physically we may be disadvantaged but remember, men need us and they will be killing themselves and prize would still be us, the women. So rather than fearing us, men should accept us, to live and to let live, in peace and harmony.’
Greatest achievement we as women had in our history was development of contraceptives. Because this meant we were now in control of our fertility. Snatched from us again, no autonomy over our own wombs anymore, no abortion rights; I am thinking about my mom’s statements ‘women are levelling’, ‘they will always want upper hand’. I read some controversial articles a few days ago about brain dead women patients being able to deliver baby vaginally or via c-section, their body acting like a hatchery of some sort for the fetus till its complete development… What does ethical committee have to say about that? What about uterine transplants? The ethical implications of it from live donors? To avoid legal obstructions of surrogacy and third party related effects, would it be the favourable path in future for childless parents to conceive? What will be done to prevent human exploitation of our genders to benefit society in name of religion, politics and science?
I wonder if it is really true that society does start moving backwards when it has reached its maximum potential. While I see girls and women in east working hard to fight for their independence to gain personal, religious and financial freedom; I feel young women in west are willingly giving up on those rights oblivious to struggles and oppression faced in the east in absence of these rights. Young generation of girls and women there in east are now very motivated , pursuing education, jobs and careers. And they have done remarkably well. I suppose in a society, when you see your value as a commodity to be easily auctioned or replaced, the only way out for us as women was to outbid those buyers. So if we don’t want to be traded like cattle again, we have to work for our freedom, maintain our standards and teach next generation of our children to value and keep it as well.