Thursday, November 05, 2009

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS ...


Marriage does strange things to you. It not only takes you out out of your familiar surroundings and circle of acquaintances, it also gives you a new home and if lucky, a whole new family. But it is not to talk of the happier side of marriage that I sit today, but of its sad, sombre, sobering aspects.

I’ve just come from my former home to my present one. This is the nth time I’ve done the same and yet, I don’t know why, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. There’s this overwhelming sense of wistfulness and aching sorrow welling up within me every time I cross the same threshold to head for another one, 20 mins’ away by road. I don’t have a brother. I only have my younger sister, Moitreyee (aka Mitu), who wanted me to stop till later in the day and go watch ‘Wake Up Sid’ with her. I turned her down and her expectant smile changed into one of confused hurt. She asked me why I couldn’t return to my shoshurbari (in-laws’ place) later in the day. I’m not employed right now after all. I channelised the conversation into a different direction. There really was no reason why I couldn’t have gone back much later in the day. I could. Except maybe, the more I stay, the more difficult it is to persuade myself to go away. The more I feel I have to go, the more I feel like putting it off for the morrow. The more I know this was once my only home, the more I cry inside, knowing that this is no longer my only home. That I am emotionally committed to going back home. To what I need to fashion into a home. To what shall some day, when I have my own children and no living parents, be my only home.


I comprehend Mitu’s perplexity. Maybe she was thinking of what fun we had had the night before when the three of us (K, herself, I) had sit in what was once my bedroom, playing ‘Calling Bray’ late into the night, me laughing my guts out each time Mitu lost a card and looked absurdly crestfallen or won a card and looked gleefully exultant. Or how we traced our collective way back through the memories of our childhood as we helped K through our old and dusty photo albums. Or how Mitu and I had sauntered through our neighbourhhod park as we returned from the confectionary shop with 500 gm of lal doi (sweet curd) which I had had the audacity to question the increased price of, quoting in the process an ancient rate of Rs 70 for a kg of the same, causing the shopkeeper to sarcastically ask me how long ago I’d made such a curious purchase. Or how we made our slow way through the park, checking every sandy corner for the newborn puppies we’d spotted a few days ago, which we finally distinguished in the darkness and Mitu meowed to, causing me much hilarity. And well, so much and so many more things that recalling would only cause more hurt, more sorrow, lay many more crosses on my already scarred soul.


And let me not even begin to enumerate how I feel when I leave my mother and father behind, lest I cannot sleep for many nights and days, relentlessly wondering why society is so obstinately patriarchal and why girls need at all leave their parents and siblings to adopt another family when there was no lack in the older one. Yes, in my case, there have been and are differences galore with my parents and sometimes, they almost seem ridiculous to me for their want of actual substance. There have been days before my marriage when I went to office hungry but unable to eat at home because of the grim hush that hovered over the household after a quarrel with my parents over the issue of my marriage which, as the day neared, became a foreboding reality to them, not because of any financial troubles but due to its emotional implications. That their gaining a son by marriage was more a cliché than an event since the son would not live with them but rather take their daughter away from them. My parents have become teenagers once again since then, behaving illogically when it comes to awkwardly trying to show that they are still my parents and that although they try, they really can’t help not feeling possessive about me, when it comes to their reaction to my divided loyalties to both households. Even this morning, Ma shoved 4 apples and a packet of biscuits into my bag at the last moment and unlike previous occasions, I didn’t resist, knowing she would be content thinking she'd contributed her bit to my evening snacks. I understand now, after a year of living alone in the USA and singlehandedly donning the mantle of mother, wife and daughter to K, the true implication of her gestures, the material manifestation of a self-effacing love that only a mother can bestow.

Dimma (my maternal grandmother) is a few days or maybe weeks from death, in her 80s, having suffered several consecutive falls, the last probably having led to a clot in her brain. She doesn’t open her eyes, cannot sleep on a proper bed any longer, has bed sores all over from the floor bed she lies in, cannot brush or sanitise herself any longer without total dependence on my mejomashi (middle aunt), whose residence she has been living in, for a long time now. Her own sons, my two mamas (maternal uncles), are a worthless duo, too occupied with their own petty regards and resentments to pay their maybe very last respects to Dimma. I went and managed the household at Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago while Ma went to visit her. Dimma couldn’t even recognize Ma and kept mixing up her grandchildren with her own children. Ma came back in tears. I kept telling Ma that she needed to strengthen herself mentally, prepare herself for the departure that was bound to take place, sooner or later. But this morning, as I was returning home, I wondered whether I myself could ever practice what I had been preaching. One’s family is a habit one may never get over, after all.

I never felt I’d say this, but now I must be true to myself and confess. I sometimes feel I’d have liked to have a brother to bring back his wife to my mother to take my place when I married and left the fold. But on second thoughts, if my brother was like any one of my mamas, I’d rather we sisters took over their roles. But would we be able to do as much as a son would ? I wonder. The phantom of patriarchy remains to haunt my dreams.

3 comments:

Haddock said...

If you have an understanding husband, you can strike a balance between both the houses w/o feeling guilty.

little boxes said...

i havent seen such honest expressions in a long time.it also made me very very sad...

Gyanban said...

It s all in the mind, often times these small denials, spiral into becoming a big binding, and then when the next fight occurs with your partner,these very simple things cloud your judgement on the future of a relationship.

mariaages are about simplicity...more simple you can keep it the lighter it will weigh on the mind,and easier will be the journey.

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