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Post-Diwali Reflections

I did not enjoy Diwali. The crackers, the food, the visitors, the celebrations. None of it. I hope the children did.

But me? Nah. Sorry. Went right over my head. Why? Yash got depressed, that's why. Therefore, I was also affected. His father has become quite weak in the last few months. For man of eighty years, he was quite wiry and robust. He is now a shadow of his former self. A mere wisp. Hardly a whisper of breath left in him.

But while he is around, he will have his say. On Diwali morning, after celebrating the Diwali prayers (Puja!) with the family, he hit on Yash, and wouldn't stop talking. I wondered what he was talking about and moved a bit closer. To my horror, I heard him telling my husband "your wife has never adjusted to our ways in fifteen years. She must learn to do so!"

Do what? Adjust? Isn't that what I've been doing all these years? I've adjusted to the language, which I speak passably. The food. I gave up meat and turned vegetarian. Lived in a joint family, which I had never done in my life. I did not want to but ended up doing it for Yash's happiness. So what's his problem? His problem seems to be that I have a point of view, a mind of my own, I choose my own friends and don't ask permission from him to go somewhere, or to send my kids somewhere. I inform my whereabouts when necessary, otherwise not. Oh, yes. And I continue to practise my own religion. I have not adopted theirs. I do respect it though. So what I have done is not enough? Methinks the old guy's expectations are rather high. I don't even think that Indian girls can adjust so much in today's scenario.

Yash was feeling depressed to begin with. The old man's 'guidance' didn't help. For the rest of the weekend, Yash was in a foul temper and was extremely difficult to be around. He criticised everything about me, in full view of the family members. Everything from my cooking to my management of the children came under fire.

He didn't go back to work until this morning. Only yesterday evening he began to speak in a reasonable manner. It seems that in his heart he feels great regret for marrying a foreigner. We all long for our parents' approval deep down. We've all heard of Catholic guilt. He seems to be suffering from guilt of a different type, being of a different religion.

It's not that I'm blaming the old man. Yash was already down. But the 'words of wisdom' certainly did not help. They were the spark that lit the fire.

I'm keeping my distance right now. I need to recover my bruised ego and shattered confidence. I need to cry for a while. I need to feel good about myself again. Hope that doesn't sound too selfish.

I'm also keeping my distance from the old man, because believe me, there are things I'd like to say and do, but I won't waste my energy.

I just made myself laugh by remembering the words of my old friend Valerie, with whom I worked for several years. She used to say "always be nice to the person who makes your tea. You never know the day when they may spit in it!"


  1. What a terrible experience for you. I am so sorry that you have had to be confronted with Yash's energy and more importantly the wedge your FIL is still trying to shove in between you two after 15 years.

    I feel for you...I really do.

  2. Take it from a wise old owl.
    1. Your being a foreigner and of a different faith has got nothing to do with the problem. Had you been from the same caste and community as Yash, the same would have happened.
    2. You are not the problem. You are everything that the old man wants to be, but cannot be.
    3. Having been head honcho of a joint family, and a control freak having been brought up in our traditional patriarchal system, he is unable to reconcile himself to his current physical state and takes it out on whatever is convenient. You are the nearest available and in his opinion, not being able to go away to your Maike, why not have a bit of letting off steam?
    4. You are doing the right things. Keep a low profile till your husband finds his equilibrium, which he will sooner than later, from what little I have been able to gather about his personality.
    If on the other hand, you want to play power games, let me know and I shall let you have some tips. I have now become an expert with my 92 year father playing power games with me!

  3. Sometimes you show strength by staying quiet. You are doing the right thing. Take heed of what Ramana say, he is a wise old owl!

  4. I agree with Rummuser. I had a similar experience with my FIL when they stayed recently, and for a short time my husband took it out on me, but he saw sense once he had time to think about I'm sure Yash will. But I know how you feel..I too shed some tears and my self-esteem took a nose-dive. But pick yourself I did..see where the problem lies...which is most definitely not with you.

    Much love xxx

  5. Don't forget that New York Times article by Laura Munson. She went through the same thing and didn't take it personally. It was hard, but she knew it was the husband's problem and didn't buy into what he was saying. It's harder for you because you don't exactly have the life you love, but don't forget you have plenty of support from your internet friends.

    You write, "I'm keeping my distance right now. I need to recover my bruised ego and shattered confidence. I need to cry for a while. I need to feel good about myself again. Hope that doesn't sound too selfish."

    That's not selfish at all. You're being emotionally abused and are handling it well. It's also okay to be angry at the way you're being treated, but you're right in not buying into a sick situation.

    There's nothing you can do to change your FIL's opinion, and it sounds as if he is dying. This situation won't last forever. It would be nice if you could take that visit back to Ireland now, but that might make things worse in the long run? When the time is right I would try listening to Yash's feelings and sympathize, at the same time quietly expressing how his public criticism affects you... the idea being to have an honest learning conversation with no blame, just an exchange between two people who care about one another.

  6. Rummuser,
    You write, "If on the other hand, you want to play power games, let me know and I shall let you have some tips. I have now become an expert with my 92 year father playing power games with me!"

    Unfortunately the FIL has all of the power. It sounds as if your father still has plenty too? ;)

  7. You're smart to wait until you can speak without having your emotions interfer with what you will need to say.

    Your husband needs to realize what makes you different is part of why he married you. If you were like many of the women he knew in his community, then why hadn't he married one of them. You're unique and from what I've read a smart lady with a broad mind.

    I agree with Rummuser. He sees his death is not far and feels he must correct all that he believes is wrong around him. That does not make him right. Age doesn't always bring wisdom.

  8. I can't imagine how difficult this is for you. I really hope your husband remembers how special you are to him and the wonderful things you both bring to your marriage. Families can be a thorn in your side. I will be praying for you tonight.

  9. Have to agree with the previous commentators and with you too. The problem isn't you at all, you have adjusted far more than any Indian woman I know. This is unfortunately probably the only thing your father-in-law can find fault with in both you and your husband.

  10. Dear Gaelikaa,I'm saddened to hear all this.You've got some good advice here and your right in keeping your distance.....I feel your pain.
    I think you shouldn't stand and listen to all this crap....walk away next time.You have bent enough!Go,take a break you need it.

    Your welcome at my home.

  11. Thanks to everyone for your kindness. It means so much to me. I'll be back to all of you soon!

    Feeling much better now.

    Elizabeth, Ramanaji, Marie, Ayak, Jean, Carla, Lacey, Sphinx and Charmine and Vandana - you've been wonderful the whole lot of you. You've helped me get through!

  12. Cheerful Monk, there is a significant difference. In my father's case, he THINKS he has power and tries to manipulate me. It is a habit and he does this almost instinctively. From what I gather from Gaelikaa's post, her FIL believes that because he is failing physically, he is no longer respected as the power center. In either case, the trick is in not letting manipulation take place.

  13. Sounds as though Ramana is "the wise old owl". Missed seeing you the past couple of days. Know I'm thinkin about you. To reiterate what the othes said-it's not you with the problem, you're just having to deal with it. I think you're a wise old owl as well by recognizing your feelings and walking away. I don't know if I would be so wise.

  14. Rummuser,
    As far as I can tell from past posts the FIL has always thought gaelikaa hasn't been subservient enough. As he's failing physically his anger is increasing, but for me the real problem is her husband's reaction. If he were quietly supporting her in private (to avoid roiling the FIL even more) rather than criticizing her in public the situation would be easier to take. "Only yesterday evening he began to speak in a reasonable manner. It seems that in his heart he feels great regret for marrying a foreigner." If that attitude were to be permanent rather than passing there could be trouble. Only time will tell.

    Anyway, gaelikaa, you can count on us for support.

  15. My love and prayers for peace are with you all...

  16. There is plenty of nastiness in families I have seen where there is no differences of language, race, culture or religion. When people are upset, frequently any handy pretext will do. May God grant you patience, peace of mind and relief as you go through this.

  17. :(things will get better soon

  18. Jesus is my #1 hero, too!

    Thanks for visiting my farm blog, blahwg! Hope to see you again soon. Yes, farm life can be hectic, but nothing like the hectic city life I used to lead. Peace and tranquility abound out here. Even the cats and chickens get along!


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