Heartbreak

My heart was broken. I had promised myself I would feel nothing in this whole situation, but I could feel my intestines clenching around my stomach and my lungs trashing against my heart. My father was refusing to let me go through with my wedding. The marriage that he had arranged. And even though I felt nothing for the man who had been my would-be husband for as long as a week, my heart was in pieces.

After being in an abusive relationship for six long years, better sense finally prevailed and I left him. He was my best friend, the only person who could control me when I was angry and direct me when I was lost. But he was also the only person who never valued me, the only person who hit me. The only person who forced me to believe that I could never be anything without him and his abuse. I had defied my parents to be with this man, and he had let me down every time. The whole process of breaking up with him left me unsettled and disillusioned in a lot of ways. I was no longer able to trust anyone. Worst of all, I was no longer able to trust my own thoughts, actions or decisions.

After a couple of years, I agreed to go ahead with the so-called ‘Modern Arranged Marriage’. I was set up to meet people who were pre-approved by my parents. I didn’t trust my own judgement any more. But I trusted theirs. I really just wanted them to tell me whom to marry. But that doesn’t happen. So, I kept meeting people waiting for something somewhere to ‘click’. Finally, I ended up liking someone who also liked me back.

Why did I go ahead with this when I was so indifferent? I guess my reasons for wanting a marriage had changed from when I was younger. I suppose I wanted some form of companionship, and someone to have some children with; and it didn’t really matter to me any more whether I loved the man I married. Slowly and steadily, I had become the person I had tried to consciously avoid my whole life to become.

Anyway, so today, a week after the wedding was fixed, my father found out that the family had misrepresented something. I was upset too but not to the extent of calling off the wedding. My father, however, was livid. He wanted to stop the whole thing as soon as possible. Deep down, I thought it must be the right thing to do, because I did trust my father more than I did myself. But, on the surface, it felt like a hasty decision of a scorned old man. I decided to keep quiet and hold my peace. I decided to lock my emotions and feel nothing. But I had made the mistake of being happy in the past week. I had made the mistake of planning my outfits and checking out venues. But the greatest mistake I had made was to open up a little to the man I was about to marry. I had let my walls down and become his friend. Even though there was no love, it felt sad that I would no longer be marrying this man because my father, who apparently knows better than me how this world works, got pissed off.

I felt angry that even though I had let my father decide my fate, I had absolutely no say in my future any more. I wanted to call someone and share my thoughts.And the first person who came to my mind was my ex. I knew he was the only person who would know exactly how to console me in this situation. I cursed myself for thinking about him. That’s when I realised that my wedding getting called off had nothing to do with my broken heart and its thousand pieces.

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Would you marry a rape victim?

I recently watched a video with a similar title. It was a survey where a girl went around asking people whether they would marry a rape victim or let their sons do so. While the idea behind that survey was not bad at all, I did feel that it was incomplete and bordering on almost sexist, from both male and female perspectives. That inspired me to write the following post.

 

Today was the day I failed my partner, my best friend, the love of my life.

I was vaguely aware of the presence of something lurking in the shadows of our relationship. Kiran had told me before we got married that there was something in the past which might change my decision. But being the open-minded, educated, and insightful person I claimed to be, I never thought anything could possibly cause me to stop loving my partner in crime of eight years. I didn’t want to hear it. I knew Kiran wasn’t ready to tell me then either. I knew that when it was time, I would be told of this matter. Not that I was particularly fussed. Whatever it was, it had built the person I truly loved today. The past was the past, and I was happy to leave it at that.

But today I was told of the Uncle who had touched Kiran at the age of six. Up until the age of thirteen.

‘Stop me when you feel uncomfortable listening to this. I feel like telling you everything today. I might get too graphic because I am going to let it all out today, so stop me when you want’

But I didn’t. I heard every bit of detail. I thought it would help both of us to come to terms with this. Both of us. Or only me?

I now knew that this Uncle, who was trusted to look after the only child of the family at times, was only 14 years old when he first touched my Kiran. He could have just as well been an elder brother. What’s in a title anyway? He was only 14, when he stripped my Kiran for a bath, and said, ‘Close your eyes and open your mouth. I’ll give you a surprise.’

After the surprise, the Uncle threatened dire consequences if anything about that incident ever went out of the bathroom. He said he would tell his sister, my Kiran’s mother, that Kiran was a bad child who did bad things. And so, this went on and on, in different ways, until Kiran was old enough, and broken enough, and seemingly unattractive to the Uncle. Then they both pretended it had never happened. They met in family gatherings. Everyone knew Kiran hated and avoided that Uncle. But no one gave it too much value. ‘Teenagers have their dramas’, they all said. And so as time passed, they even forgot about this ‘phase of hatred’.

Then Kiran went to college, and met me there. I felt drawn to this smart and exceptionally intelligent introvert after a few study group sessions. It took us a while to officially get into a relationship because Kiran just wanted to be friends at the start. For two years, we were just friends, and then finally at my 20th birthday party, we kissed. There was no looking back after that. We were perfect for each other. We completed each other. Everyone was jealous of our perfect relationship. I now realized that it was I who had initiated the kiss, although at the time, it felt like it was mutual. Suddenly, I felt the remains of my dinner rise up in my throat and I had this overwhelming urge to puke. But I didn’t. I controlled it.

Kiran’s uncle had partially contributed to our honeymoon trip to Europe. He had made our dream honeymoon possible and with his help, we were able to include all the frills we had previously cut off. Now I understood why Kiran had tried so hard to refuse it, but my mother-in-law had insisted that we take this as a wedding gift from him. And now I felt like my honeymoon was dirty. I felt happy that we hadn’t come back pregnant from the honeymoon because there was a good chance I would have been disgusted to look at my child. But I didn’t say anything. All I now knew was that this gracious man was never welcome in my house. I would make sure of that.

At the end, we hugged as we both cried. We cuddled and I pretended to be asleep so that Kiran could fall asleep. I lay awake the whole night. When the birds started chirping, I got up and went to the bathroom. Retched. Felt wretched. Took a shower. Came back to bed.

He was awake now. I told him I loved him. He started crying again. I told him he was still the same person to me that he was the night before and that I would always love him no matter what. He said he was sorry for not telling me everything before. I told him it didn’t matter to me. I held him for few more minutes and then he went to get ready for work.

It was true that it didn’t matter to me what had happened. I did still love him. I was always going to be his wife. But I was ashamed to admit to myself that he wasn’t the same person to me as he was the night before. And I was ashamed to admit that I was not the same person I thought I was. I knew it wasn’t his fault. I had repeatedly told him that and I truly believed it myself too. But I couldn’t help but feel that had I known this before, our lives might have been different. When I started to think that I possibly never would have married him, I had failed myself by being exactly the kind of person I had always consciously tried to not become. And I had failed my husband who had trusted me, and only me, with the secret of the darkest time of his life.

THE NEGLECTED CHILDREN

Amrita was overjoyed. The hot pink metallic-looking thread she was trying to get her hands on for the last few weeks was finally hers. The wait had not been easy. The journey had been even harder. Being a 9-year-old girl, she could not expand her search to the highest mountains and lowest craters. So, she had resorted to scavenging here and there around her house. The waste thread from her mother’s attempts at sewing buttons and hemming skirts was silently collected in her little box of treasures. That box now held small pieces of torn cloth, some unused single buttons, some wool; everything but her hot pink thread.  The image was so clear in her head that she could not settle for anything less. And until such time she found it, she could not proceed with her dream project. She could, of course, ask her father for it. But, it was her own special secret assignment and she wanted to do it on her own and surprise everyone with it. But today, her wait was over. Her grandmother, on seeing her trying to cut off frayed threads from all the pink house curtains, opened her sewing kit and took out from it the exact object of her desire. An old thinning spool, but bright and shiny nonetheless.

‘Do you want this, Ammu?’

She could not believe her ears.

“But don’t you need it for your work, Dadi?’

‘Look how old it has become. I don’t need it now and if I don’t use it soon it will become even more old. But, I have nowhere to use it, so better you use it now. I can get a new one later if I need.’

She took the thread and walked back to her room, as normally as she could, careful not to reveal her excitement in her footsteps when really her feet just wanted to break out into a little dance.

She laid out her dark blue bell-bottomed jeans flat on the bed. She would do the right leg first as it looked better ironed than the left. But first, she had to cut up small 2 inch squares from her old light blue jeans. She cut up a total of sixteen patches and carefully pulled out threads from the edges so that they were stressed just enough to make them look cool. In that old shop with the ‘Golden Designs’ board at the front, where Mother got her ready-made shirts and trousers altered, she had seen the boys use a blue block to mark the points of adjustment. The closest thing she could find was a blue detergent bar in the bathroom. She broke off a little piece and marked on her jeans the points where she wanted to put the patches. Then she took out her greatest acquisition and threaded a needle with it. The patches were then sewed on the ends of the jeans, eight on each leg, four on the front, four on the back. She went over the stitches a few times so that the hot pink thread became thicker and added to the statement that the patches were making on the jeans.

Finished with her work, she stood back to admire it. She was going to be the coolest girl in her class. And she had done it all on her own. She was mighty pleased with herself. This time, Daddy will like it too. This is not like the other times when I obviously did not put in my best efforts to paint or sing or sit a test. Mother will like it too. This is not like the last time I painted her that handkerchief for her birthday. That was so pathetic. It’s good she encouraged me to do better by pointing out my flaws that day. So what if she didn’t say anything explicitly positive.

She showed it to Daddy. He gave it a glance.

‘What did you do?’

‘Look Daddy, I sewed on the patches…with pink thread! I thought of it myself!’

‘You want to become a tailor when you grow up?’

He walked away.

She felt as if only her shell was left holding the pair of jeans, her insides had collapsed.

Her feet were not supporting her weight anymore. She sat down on her bed and looked at the pair of jeans again. But she had no more thoughts in her head.

Mother walked through her room. She saw her sitting quietly holding a pair of jeans in her hand.

‘Oo show us, did you make something?’

She thrust the jeans in Mother’s hands.

‘I sewed on patches’

Amrita was not expecting anything uplifting from Mother. She was not even thinking about it. She was working hard to get Daddy’s statement out of her head. ‘What is so wrong about becoming a tailor?’ she thought. Mother’s voice suddenly reached her ears.

‘Sweetie, how many times have I told you, if you want to get the thread thicker, when you thread the needle, tie the ends of the thread together to get a double thread. It would have made this so much neater. And see, how these two patches are not entirely in a straight line? Never mind, I am sure next time you’ll do much better.’

Then Mother walked away.

When Daddy had walked out of Amrita’s room, he had stopped and stood outside the door for a second. He wanted to go back and tell her that she had done a great job. But if he did that, she would think he was encouraging this hobby of hers too much. How will she ever make a living by becoming a tailor, or fashion designer, they call them these days. But she was only 9, and she had such great ideas…No, I must not encourage this. Anybody can make clothes. Anybody can paint. Anybody can sing. She needs to do better than that. And what would people say? She will become the laughing-stock of the family if she seriously considers any of these hobbies as a profession. She needs to learn she is capable of much more than just these small hobbies. She must apply her mind in the right direction. I am not doing anything wrong. If my father had not done the same with me, I would be sitting on a street begging for money while I wrote books. Thanks to him I am now feeding my own family and my sister’s family with just my own income. So what if I am not writing any books. I can always write when I am older and Amrita is settled in life. No, I am not doing anything wrong.

Mother went to her room with some tea for herself and a magazine. She could see Amrita through the door. She was still sitting on her bed, holding her jeans, staring into space. She thought she saw a tear or two trickle down. Should I go console her? But she doesn’t like it when I fuss over her. No, I should stay here. It will make her emotionally stronger. That’s what my mother did too. Why is she crying though? Could it be because of what I said? But I said nothing wrong! I didn’t tell her to stop doing this. I only told her how to get better. If I don’t tell her what she did wrong, who will? She will understand my true intention and learn from me. I learnt from my mother the same way.  No, I said nothing wrong.

 

 

 Copyright © 2014 Infrequent Ranter