Happy weekend, Everyone. Stay home, Stay safe! Here’s wishing everyone healthy and happiness always…
Currently, the whole world is facing the health-scare due to COVID-19 virus. Different people are reacting to the situation differently. The least we can do is pray, radiate positive vibes, help the needy in whatever way we can, be kind and be human. If we follow the basic rule of being oneself and not letting external situations affect the inner core strengths, we can emerge victorious. God will definitely help those who help themselves.
This is the situation that everybody is battling with. We all come across various challenging / difficult situations in our own life that test our strength. If taken the right way, we become stronger and better version of ourself.
This blog talks about the life of my close friend who endured a challenging phase in her life. Let us see this through Maitri, my Blog-site’s female protagonist.
Maitri was this young girl whose world revolved around her family, a few friends, college, and study. She had been a topper throughout her academics and she liked studying. So, ‘exploring’ the world on her own / with her friends, ‘grooming’ (read visit to beauty parlours / styling herself to look attractive), wearing anything other than traditional Indian clothes, or any such fun things didn’t really cross her mind. Even if these did, her conservative family wouldn’t have liked it. They were modern enough to let her study, but very protective who frowned upon her very rare outings with her girl friends!! Her family provided her with a strong value system of kindness, compassion, caring attitude, and above all, faith in the Almighty. Many a time, she had witnessed her parents put themselves through difficult situation to help others.
Maitri got married soon after she graduated. It was an arranged marriage. The main reason for her parents to go ahead with the alliance was the bridegroom’s family’s lineage; he came from a very pious family and his ancestors strongly believed and practised spirituality. Post engagement, there were a few incidents that kind of revealed a few things that didn’t really seem to match the two families’ value system. But, it was meant to be, they got married. She had to move to the US as her husband was working there.
Initial few days were okay. It was freezing cold in the US as it was winter. Maitri’s husband wanted her to come out and explore the city with him. She obliged initially, but found it too hard to walk along the streets amidst bone-chilling wind. When he went to work, she found herself alone at home; there was nothing familiar to her. All other apartments in the building they lived in had no one she could interact with; most of them were working. Since she was on Dependant Visa, she couldn’t look for a job. When she went grocery shopping, she would get drawn to any Indian face to strike a conversation and make friends with them so that she has someone to talk to. Her husband, since he was living in the US for more than 5 years, found her behavior strange. He had come to the US as a student and was working there; so he was well-versed with that country’s lifestyle.
Her English accent and appearance had to undergo a major change now. When they visited the coffee shops / local eateries, he asked her to order so that she gets used to the accent. Granted, the intention was good! But, it was too much too fast for her. She tried; if the person taking her order asked her to repeat it, she would feel hurt. She kept trying.
As she wore only traditional Indian clothes, she didn’t have any western wear with her. She would go with him wearing those clothes. Her husband would tease by calling her ‘FOB’ (Fresh-off-the-Boat). Except for two or three T-shirts, she didn’t have Jeans / pants to wear. They went cloth shopping and she was asked to look for clothes that are on Sale. She bought a few that she could wear. She tried to fit in every possible way!
Amidst all these, she was feeling homesick. She got to speak to her parents once a weak; back in those days, there was no WhatsApp or Internet. Every minute of international call costed big bucks. They would buy Calling Cards from Indian Grocery Store to call home. When she got letters from home, she would remember her parents and cry.
She tried to get a job there hoping some Company would sponsor her H1 Visa. She got one at a Company run by Indians; but since she was on Dependant Visa and needed Visa work, they didn’t proceed with the offer.
Feeling of inadequacy, homesickness, biting winter season, inability to work due to Visa issue pushed her to beg her husband to send her home so that she can see her parents and return. He found her request to be absurd as it was only been a few months she got there and she wanted to go back. He tried to drill some sense to her saying it costs money to buy air ticket for her! Her loneliness and the challenges she was facing in the foreign country got the better of her; she insisted on visiting her parents. Finally, her husband bought her one-way ticket. She went home assuming that she would spend some quality time with her family and return to the US.
Maitri’s Father took her home from the Airport. She explained her situation to her parents; they were broken inside; they were feeling so sad and hurt, but they tried their best to console her. On top of it, they had to listen to advice from her husband and in-laws on how to change her and they even questioned their parenting skills!! Those remarks hurt her so much; she felt they have to hear so much from others due to her behavior. She started cursing herself thinking that she could have tried harder to get over the challenges she faced in the US and shouldn’t have come back. It felt as though she jumped from a frying pan into fire!!
Her visit to her parents was viewed as a blunder and was guarded as a secret given the nature of rumour-mongering society we live in. She was treated like a mental-patient and her parents were asked to her to a psychiatrist. She was given some medications and had to undergo a few counselling sessions. Much to her dismay and disgust, the psychiatrist remarked “This is the problem with high-achievers! They don’t know how to deal with disappointments with life” during one of the visits. Instead of understanding the patients’ mindset and treating, he was passing such callous remarks; he being a psychiatrist felt his job was done by giving some anti-depressants to calm the nerves and made the patients sleep.
Maitri’s husband and in-laws made hurtful remarks that there were other alliances for him, but they chose her! In fact, her parents had never approached them with a marriage proposal either; it was them who had come through a common relative. She and her parents might have felt the same, but didn’t say anything back. This just showed the value system they grew up with. It doesn’t matter who your forefathers are or what they have done until you inculcate those values in your own life.
After a month or so, her husband asked her to go stay with his parents. They were dead against her coming to their place and his Siblings had even asked him to divorce her. She went to her in-laws place as she really wanted to make the relationship she got into work for the sake of her Parents. She didn’t want to let them down; they had done everything they can to give her good education. She knew if her marriage broke, they wouldn’t be able to bear it. Obviously, her in-laws weren’t happy to see her, but to their credit, they tried to understand her situation. Between censures, they taught her a few things that she needs to do / change in order to live with their Son. She agreed, accepted their advice, and continued to change herself. In between, there were phone calls from her husband ordering her to do certain things to prove that she has changed so that she can come back!
Finally, after 2 to 3 months, her parents prayers paid off. Maitri got the OK certificate from her doctor and from her parents-in-law. Her husband bought her the return ticket. She flew back to the US with a resolve never to travel to India alone no matter what! This experience had taught her a lot.
After she returned to her husband in the US, there were many situations that almost broke her again, she kept giving her best, she learned driving, got her license by giving the test on a snowy day, and travelled around the city on her own by taking the subway / local bus / just walking in the cold (she had learned to bear the winter). The work permit came through by then. She got a job at a local Software Company by acing the interview in one shot; the Hiring Manager made a job offer on the very day of the interview!
Maitri felt so thankful to the Almighty and her parents for helping her during her struggling phase and her first job was a return gift to them! It was also a present to her husband & parents-in-law for giving her an opportunity to continue to be a part of their family / life despite their immediate family members encouraging the divorce option.
Things became normal over the course of time. Maitri and her husband made things work for them and started leading a happy life.
If we look at this entire story as an unbiased outsider, everyone involved was right in his / her own way. Their lifestyle and mindset didn’t match. They tried to change each other instead of trying to understand the situation and seek a solution. Anyway, all is well that ends well, right?
As the adage goes, ‘Time is a great Healer.’ But…
To Be Continued…