Four years ago if anyone had told me that I would be in a better space, I would never have believed it!
Four years ago for about three months we went through a period of total uncertainties . It was a time where we – my husband, our daughter and I sat up just talking into the wee hours, something we could not do during our 5 year old grand daughter’s waking hours. It was a time when day turned to dusk and both our daughter and I would experience panic attacks. One could sense it setting in. It was scary.
Then one day I meditated asking the universe to give us the strength to bear whatever it was that was coming our way and to accept it as It’s will because I did believe that if it was taking us to some untrodden path, It would also see us through it.
Those three months were also a period when our daughter was subjected to emotional and mental abuse when her husband stopped communicating with her, criticized her openly in front of his friends and completely ignored her. She lived in a joint family and he had built up a negative case against her to his parents. She was so battered with no sense of self.
Counseling: Yes, they went to a counsellor, she to introspect and bridge the gaps and he, to ensure that the break would be a smooth one. But she was not to know that, in spite of several joint counseling sessions.
Three months later she was to read love messages between her husband and his new lover on his mobile. She confronted him. She spoke to the in-laws and that day she walked out of her marital home with her 5 year old in her arms.
Return to marital home: she did go 3-4 times to collect her personal effects. The first time she went was also because her pet dog was being put to sleep and she wanted him on her lap as he took his last breath.
The experience of returning to what was her home for nearly 7 years coupled with the passing away of her pet and the fact that she was subjected to a a push and a shove and verbal abuse, is something that still sends a chill down my spine. How could l let my baby go there alone! The subsequent visits were with a bunch of her friends in their respective cars who helped her pack and move out.
Counseling: The marriage was over but they needed help. They met the counselor individually and in a joint session every week. They needed guidance in how to handle it with the child. Our daughter wanted answers to a hundred and one questions which the counselor said that the spouse was obliged to answer as a part of her healing process. Most of these answers came via email. These are printed and filed for no particular reason.
Legal: it always helps to know how one wants the legal aspect to pan out. But this clarity comes only when one has seen a couple of lawyers. The first was visited within seven days of our daughter walking out of her marital home. The first advice from the lawyer on hearing my daughter’s story of betrayal was, ‘let’s file a dowry harassment case and have him locked up!’ ‘No, said our daughter, ‘I want justice for myself and my daughter for betrayal of trust, adultery and breaking up of our home.’
A couple of visits to this lawyer, we knew we were not getting anywhere. The meter was ticking and they had withheld a huge chunk of the money we paid as advance for the two sessions we had had thus far. A second seemed promising but was not able to keep appointments. A third one then came into the picture, the kind who understands what you want and does not try to sway you with her opinions. Two joint sessions between our daughter with her lawyer on the one side and her husband with his lawyer on the other, was a sheer waste of time. You pay for your lawyer’s time but you are going nowhere with the divorce process.
Friends: Our daughter then took the initiative of requesting her husband to have a discussion across the table with a friend each, as witness. Two such meetings were very helpful indeed but it was still not going anywhere. So she called his business partner who came down from out of town and in the presence of the two friends and the couple, the business partner made a very balanced and sensible offer of child maintenance and not over the board alimony settlement. This was acceptable to our daughter.
Legal: The husband was then agreeable to going with one lawyer, my daughter’s lawyer. Just anything would do as the clock was ticking away with our daughter and grand daughter relocating to another continent in a fortnight. He was desperate to have the divorce petition filed before the courts closed for the holidays in the December of 2013. Our daughter had chalked out plan B but he was, as I said, very desperate. Plan A went through and the divorce petition was filed a year and four months after my daughter’s discovery of her husband’s infidelity!
This whole episode in our daughter’s life spanned over a period of 19 months, from the time she was subjected to the cold treatment up to the time that the divorce petition was filed in court.
To me as a mother, I am just amazed at the way so many positive forces came together during this bitterly painful phase in her life. Friends called and visited and planned a few girls night out. They were all just a phone call away. One even let her move into a vacant but furnished flat that she owned. This was the first time that my daughter got to live on her own along with her daughter.My whole family just rallied around her with their physical presence, regular communication and lending her all the support she needed. Her brother and sister in law just wanted her back in the US for that first Christmas away from her marital home. They wanted her to relocate. She also made a trip to South Africa, where my sister lives, in the summer of 2013 and fortunately both she and her daughter loved the place and visited the schools and the Rhodes university. My grand daughter got admission to a school of her choice and later my daughter received hers to Rhodes.
The reason why my daughter chose to move continents was because she wanted to start a new life, a life that would offer her daughter the stability and the security that she needed. In many countries no one is curious about your marital status. If you have a child, no one cares if the child was out of wedlock. No one wants to know.
In Bangalore our home and my daughter’s marital home were just 8 kilometers apart. The child was naturally traumatized at having shifted base from her paternal grandparents home to her maternal grandparents home. The former was where she was raised while the latter was where she visited and stayed over off and on. A child never understands the dynamics of the adult world and it was taking its toll in the grand daughter’s unpredictable and out of character behavior. The frequent visits to her paternal grandparents home without her mother just broke the child.
Thus far, the move abroad has had a very positive effect on the child as her mother is the one stable and dependable parent that she has. The school offers such a variety of extra curricular activities that she is blossoming as an individual in her own right.
But that does not mean that she does not ask questions or make statements far beyond her age. ‘Why did you and dada split?’, ‘how our lives have changed since the split!’ No matter what one’s tactful answer, the child somehow believes that she was the cause of the split, no matter how much you assure her that the parents had their own issues. The fact is one can never bad mouth the erring parent and the truth of what happened will never be conveyed to the child. She just might figure out for herself when she, the grandchild has her own infatuations and own share of heartbreaks as a natural part of her adolescence.
Seeing her grow as a world citizen where color and race do not divide people, we know that her awareness, her empathy for the less fortunate come from living the life she does now.
2012 was also the year that my daughter was seriously contemplating going back to college in India to do a Masters in Psychology. But it was not until Jan 2014 that she began an Honors program in the subject at the Rhodes University and began her Masters the following year. Her plans are well defined and she stays focused. She strikes a neat balance between her research work, her responsibilities as a single mom, her passion for voluntary work and running her home on well oiled wheels. She just slipped into all these roles as if she were born to it.
And I as a mother, see a very strong woman who has blossomed into a lively, independent and absolutely focused person and I stand in the sidelines and applaud and salute her.
Like the multi-hued, easy to grow plant, the Geranium, the author of this piece is multifaceted. Her greatest teacher has been life’s varied experiences. Always ready to lend a shoulder to those in distress, she believes that once you’ve reached nadir, there is only way out of it….Up !