In exactly an hour, I’ll be onboard a train to Kolkata with my mom and my little brother. (I have to give him a name one of these days!)
I’m unusually calm today. I thought I’d be excited, nervous, or some such, but my hand is steady and my voice unperturbed. Which works really well for me, because I have a whole lot of typing to do before I leave.
As my mom and I packed up the last of the things to take with us this morning, we talked about how much things had changed since I was a baby.
Dad didn’t go to office for a whole month after I was born just so he could be around me. He would stay up all night looking at me. Nobody was allowed to touch me. He used to rush home just to see my face. When I was old enough to stand up on my own, he’d hold my finger and try to make me walk. I started walking at a really early age, and he was a proud father.
When I started walking, I basically just followed him around and wouldn’t let him go to office. I’d scream and cry and clutch at him as he tried to leave. Mom had to distract me; she often sat me down in the loo. But as soon as I heard the scooter start, I’d get up and start to run, leaving my mom to clean up the poop still coming out of my ass.
In the evening, I would wait for him at the window. Mom would carefully perch me up on the ledge and stand behind me for support. My dad would see his little girl at the window, legs dangling from between the gaps in the bars, clapping my hands together and saying “Namaste Papa!”
And then it struck me, like a hard slap in the face. My father’s not going to be there for the wedding. More than anything else, it made me angry.
I always knew he wasn’t happy about my divorce. He always thought (and let go of no opportunity to mention) that I should never have left the man he gave me away to. He was always clear about that. And if you’re Indian, you’ll understand what I mean. After all, an Indian daughter is supposed to go to her in-laws’ house in a doli and come back on an arthi, no matter how sucky her marriage is.
Being married to the ex was great at first. It made me more confident and more self-reliant. I started doing things on my own. But soon I crossed over into that zone where my ability to trust people and depend on them sorta died. I was so used to being on my own, I didn’t need anyone else. Not even my husband.
It took me a long time to be able to trust Mister. To really need him in my life. But when it happened, my father took to sulking, much like Suresh Oberoi walking with his head bent low and a shawl on his shoulder and a grimace on his face.
While his discomfort with my living in with Mister was not exactly a secret, I expected him to stop scowling once we gave in to his demands and decided to marry. But I was wrong. Every time I brought Mister home, he was rude and cold. In fact, he could’ve won the nobel prize for frigidity if we’d known how to enter him in the contest.
Despite all of that, I didn’t think it would come to this. Even though he said, several times, that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to make it, I never believed him. In my head, he was only in denial and would want nothing more than to see me happy.
But I guess I was wrong. So much for all the memories.
8 thoughts on “of memories and bitterness”
Is it common for women in India to marry against the wishes of their father? Have a safe trip to Kolcotta – and a blessed wedding day.
Thanks Paul! Not really, but things are changing slowly. In the cities womwn have started to assert themselves a little. bot common by no means!
Best wishes on what I know will be a beautiful wedding. Sending you calm and peaceful vibes as I think about you and your dad. Relationships with our parents (no matter which culture or corner of the world) are so complicated and I hope old memories will carry you through until your dad becomes ready (and he will) to make new ones. Xo
thanks for this story. At my second wedding none of my family came because we didn’t want little kids at the ceremony and they were put out. It was hard on me at the time but I didn’t realize how much because I was a little shut down towards them. I think you being open to expressing your feelings is awesome. I wish for your farther that later he have no regrets and harsh judgments of himself or you and Mister. His thinking is understandable given the rules he uses to judge his world. However I can imagine he is in a lot of pain from his judgments. I am sad for the missed opportunity for him because of those judgments. If he can’t find forgiveness and understanding in his heart he is the one who truly suffers. I just can’t believe he is missing seeing those feet dance her wedding dance.
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I guess being anonymous has a lot to do with my being this expressive. Also, the similarities in our lives are sometimes quite surprising. We think we have peculiar equations with our families, but then others are facing the same issues and that somehow makes things easier to deal with 🙂
Mister and I, our reservations notwithstanding, are optimistic about being able to reach out to my dad where he can start seeing things our way. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later!
I hope your father comes around and that he will come to realize that you and his love for you is more important. This is what happens when following “cultural rules” comes before family. When are people, especially those that you love, going to be more important than what the “rules” are. Especially when it comes to women and their self-identity and self-determination. Have a wonderful wedding with your Mister. Blessings be upon you both.
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That is so true, Pavanneh! In fact, this is the very rationale that I have been presenting to my father, to make him understand that rules and sensibilities are relative to context and definitely less important than the people in our lives! I guess I just need to be patient and allow him to take his own time to process ideology in a fluid context rather than as something that is set in stone! While this is extremely tedious and often leaves me frustrated, I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end!
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I am sure that he loves you. Offer him respect and tolerance, which I am sure you do already, I think he will come around.