The Upside Down of May 31

May 31st, a date that changed my world upside down. I thought for the better. But now I am rethinking if it was good or not so good. If you ask me if I would go through it all again, I will.

On a superficial level, my mom and dad were the perfect couple! A couple that were extremely social, very successful in their business, who looked like they respected each other’s space. I have very vague memories of my parents holding parties at home for their friends. One party was in fact of all of them dressed up as someone. Dad was Swami Vivekananda and I don’t remember what mom dressed up as. But as party hosts that day, they were ideal #CoupleGoals material. But boy, how we were wrong.

My father was extremely superstitious. My mother was way ahead of her time. While dad’s beliefs took over our way of life, mom’s modern ways were boiling on the background to only burst out later. But wait… When I say modern, I do not in any way mean close to ideals and principle that couples share today. Let me give you an example… My father was one of those men who believed that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, unless she was on her period. Then she had to be confined to a room and not come out until she was done, not even touch anyone. If she did, or if my brother and I came in contact with her, we had to have a bath again. And this was in the 90s. Mom, although comes from a strongly patriarchal house, believed a woman could rule the world. She believed she was destined for greater things. She worked, worked hard. She was a teacher, she worked with a publishing house where she trained teachers to teach and then started her own business and dad joined her. Dad was jobless all along. So now you get an idea.

But inspite of being on the fore and being the sole earning member, mom never wore the pants in the house. It was always dad. It was a tough house to live in. Tensions were always running high, fights always happening, dad always threatening to send mom and me out.

There is another thing that I should probably tell you now. My father hated my mother. And I don’t use the word “hated” lightly, no! He would bring his “special” friends home and spend hours on end with them in the bedroom. My mother, brother and I were very aware of all the affairs he had. Come to think of it now, I don’t think my dad was suited for marriage. May be it was his way of fighting against the institution, against monogamy. But as young as I was, I would always think, why would you stay in a love-less marriage? Why not walk out?

I am smiling as I write this now because I know now how difficult it is! But at the age of 11, when your parents made marriage look easy, I thought it was directly proportional to be able to easily walk out (Yeah! I was bad at Math!). One fine day mom had had it with dad and his “friends”. One of them was pregnant and dad wanted mom to take care of her and had decided that the “friend” would stay with us. All hell broke lose at home. We did not know what to do. I saw how unhappy my mom had become. One night before we went to sleep, I remember telling her that if she wasn’t happy, we should just leave home. I never thought she’d take a 11 year old seriously. And she did just that.

On 31st May, 1999 my mother told my father she was leaving him! He did not stop her. He insisted on my brother staying back. He never liked me, he never wanted a girl child. He always wanted a boy. We never had a relationship and I obviously chose my mom. My father also insisted that mom leave every last penny she earned, all her jewellery her parents gave her for marriage and leave the house that she bought with her money, to him. And my mother did just that. She chose freedom over everything. FREEDOM!

Today I understand the meaning and the worth of Freedom (in a relationship). I am talking about the freedom to live life with your person in a way that is conducive to the people involved in the relationship. I am talking about the freedom to live life on your terms and not be bothered by what others had to say.

Imagine living in a closed room with no air and light and to top it all you suffer from claustrophobia! That was how I saw mom being trapped in her marriage. And one fine day she chose herself and she walked out. I think this was the only time she confidently chose herself. I wish she had put her priorities in front and enjoyed her life a bit more. I fear she did not do that because of what our family and society would say and most importantly she was burdened by her children. I wish she had moved on, found herself a partner, travelled the world not worrying about what people would say. People always have opinions. Families always come around when they see you happy no matter the decision. I wish she had chosen herself and put herself first. It is much easier said than done. Hell, I struggle with that decision everyday in 2022. Imagine being in the 90s and having to make this decision.

Today a lot of people tell me I have not witnessed what a marriage is supposed to be, what a marriage should be, what a loving relationship looks like. They attribute my failure in relationships and marriage to this. And I would be lying if I said I did not believe in it a little.

I see the whole institution of marriage failing around me. I see friends putting up with spouses because of the comfort of companionship. The fear of starting all over is far worse than the plight of staying in an unhappy marriage. I see a lot of divorces too. In a survey in 2016 (in India), apparently 13 out of 1000 marriages end in Divorce. I am 2 down already! Sometimes I feel it is my idea of what the institution of marriage is, that needs an adjustment. Meaning, I need to redefine what marriage means to me and find a partner who believes in it the way I do. May be it would work then? Hard to say. May be 3rd time’s the charm or I’ll be 3 down and 10 more to go, to complete a sample size. HAHA!

Today, 31st May 2022, 23 years later, I know nothing has changed. It is the same problem in a different package. How do you know if the person you are with is the one? Would a live-in be enough to tell you if the person is actually compatible? At what point do you bank it all on faith, trust and fate and wait for things to work and time to do its job? Being married for a decade or more — would that be a good benchmark for a successful marriage? Why is the success of any relationship measured by time?

I hope I find the answers to the many questions I have and I hope I am successful with finding the partner I am looking for. I hope I find a partner at least for the sake of my friends, for if not, they are stuck with this third wheel for the rest of their lives. Today will be heavy on reflecting the years that have gone by, on how we struggled to survive and how well we are doing for ourselves now.. To those of you reading this, I just want to say, if you are going through a hard time, please know it always gets better. And I hope today is kinder to you than yesterday was!





Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Always in a Soup!

Always in a Soup!

HI! I’m Soup, searching for answers to my mid-day and mid-night musings. My mind’s on think mode 24/7 and here I am wondering if it’s just me or…