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Risk

I suppose you could say that I am a person who takes risks.

Most sensible people don't do that.

Years ago, in Dublin, I gave up a 'permanent' job for a temporary one.  I wasn't really taking risks.  Or rather I was but the job wasn't the risk.  I was about to give up my life in Ireland and come out to India and marry Yash.  I was giving up my job and trying out life in a very different environment.  I had a lot to lose if things went wrong.

I had about six months left to stay in Ireland.  I'd planned to come out here in October.  I was using the time to wind up my affairs, finish whatever courses I was doing and slowly disentangling myself from various commitments in my Irish life, like the social work organisation in which I worked several hours a week - that sort of thing.

Apart from that, I was in a job rut.  I'd been in the same job for eight and a half years.  The office had had several changes of staff and had changed beyond recognition.  The original work for which I'd been hired - stenography - had been given into the hands of a person who was senior to me and my position was that of a glorified photocopier.  And teamaker.  This was, I think, because of jealousy.  Certain senior members of the staff  didn't like 'the office girls' to be a party to confidential information. Is it necessary to say that I was bored senseless?

Just when I thought that work couldn't get any more pointless, I got a telephone call from an Irish government organisation for which I'd been interviewed a few months earler, having done their recruitment examination.  I had in the meantime received a letter saying that I was no. 17 on the panel.  The personnel officer who made the call explained that they were not in a position to offer me a permanent job at that moment in time.  They had, however, this wonderful, temporary job very near my home.  For six months.  Would I take it?  Well, they didn't have to ask me twice.  Six months was as much as I was planning to stay in Ireland. I never regretted that move.   Being temporary was an exciting challenge.  I was on top of the world.  Work was exciting and challenging again. There's nothing like insecurity to give you a buzz.  Everyone said I was taking a risk but I knew I was doing the right thing.

When I came out to India to marry Yash, I never thought I was taking a risk.  Didn't I love him?  Of course!  Didn't he love me?  Certainly!  What could go wrong?

Well a lot did go wrong but I'd like to think it's worked out in the end.  The first thing he informed me when I stepped off the plane was how great it was for the whole family to live together.  Such great support!  Such security and safety!  I wondered was I hallucinating when Yash started speaking like this.  Actually, he'd lived away from home for many years and was sentimental about his lovely parents and rightly so.  They were fantastic but - one man's mother is someone else's mother-in-law.  Mothers and mothers-in-law are not the same people at all no matter how we may try to wish it otherwise.  Yash, aged then forty, had had plenty of fun living away from home for many years.  He now wanted to remain with his parents until the end of their lives.  On more than one occasion I was tempted to ask him why he hadn't told me this before I'd cut loose from Ireland.  But I decided to refrain from whinging and just get on with things.

I was to learn a great deal.  Such as the fact that Yash wasn't 'my' man so much as he was 'the family's' man.  He was their son/brother/uncle.  I was some upstart who'd just married in.  When I gave birth to my son, it was the family's child, not 'mine'.  The in-laws were inclined at times to tick me off for not taking proper care of 'their' grandchild', to my horror.  I wouldn't mind, but most of the time they were just fussing, not being practical. I learnt to live with it.  Just let's say that I initially found it rather claustrophobic and I don't mean to lay the blame on anyone.

The claustrophobia wasn't the worst part though.  No.  The worst part was the 'customs'.  Many people are aware that in India, people have traditionally given dowry with their daughters at the time of marriage.  Well dowry, i.e. a gift of property, is now banned in India and many families claim they don't give or take it, which is very progressive.  There are, however, certain customs of gift giving.  In certain communities new brides bring in sets of clothes and jewellery as gifts for their new in-laws.  The in-laws also gift saris and jewellery to the bride.  It is an unwritten law that the gifts given by the bride are richer and more expensive than the ones she receives in return.  No one ever says so, but everyone knows.

This bride, i.e. me, however, didn't know anything about it and gave nothing to anyone.  I received some gifts of saris and jewellery and said thank you and accepted them quite unknowingly.    Imagine my shock when a relative  demanded  a return gift from my husband on the grounds of having given me a gift..  My husband handed  over twice the value of her gift in  rupees in return and she purchased an expensive sari, wore it in front of me and said proudly: "I fought with your husband to give me this."  When I asked her why, she said "it's my right."  She wasn't the only one who did that either, but it took me several years to figure out what was going on.  My mother-in-law purchased saris from the local market to give to all the aunts and female relatives so further scenes like this would be avoided.  It is to her credit that they never told me that I was supposed to pay for them, but seeing this going on made me very uncomfortable. I would probably have said  'tell them that the bride didn't bring any gifts and let them lump it.'  Apparently this would have made everyone hate me.

Well, there are some things which you are better off not knowing! Otherwise, you'd never take a risk!

This topic ('Risks') was chosen by Grannymar.  This is my weekly post for the Loose Blogger Consortium. We are a group of bloggers from different parts of the world with diverse views and styles of writing, and we post simultaneously (well, we try to) on a weekly basis on a given topic.  This week we are joined by two new members, Delirious and Padmini. Currently active members are, in alphabetical order AshokConrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, and Rummuser.

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