My boys were on the road. Two lovely people, one in his teens, the other in his twenties, fit to be princes. But now, demoralized, dejected, partially rejected, confused and groping for ground, struggling to stand.
All this because their father is not only an alcoholic, but a highly egoistic, complex, insecure man to whom money came as easily as it went by. His ego was with me or against me because I was a wife who multi-tasked, worked like a man, cooked like a docile woman and followed him like a nincompoop. Completely in awe of his business skills, unmindful of his squandering ways, raising his already inflated ego. All this I thought was love, or maybe doings of a dutiful wife, to stand by him when every two years his experimental enterprise came crashing down, to adjust and make the kids adjust in dark days, wait patiently for happy times, which did come and made us feel like prince and princess. The whole family, the kids and me, our lives revolved around this man who played the head of the family. No complaints, no misgivings, no raw deal was ever felt. It was all taken with a pinch of salt and we understood that this was all a part of the windmill called ‘Life’.
The real trouble began, when people noticed that whenever i jumped in to save my husband’s falling business, we miraculously came up and not only overcame the troubles but reached soaring heights once again. When his relatives and friends spelled this out either praising me or taking a jibe at him, he became mad and put me back at home. And once again in a few months we were back in a hand to mouth situation. I think this angered me a lot, not only because my ego took a beating but also because I was then left facing the crisis and the creditors he created in his far flung expenditure in over-trading. All this and his series of flings with girls (not women but girls half his age) was time and again forgiven by me unconditionally.
Four or five times in our 25 years of marriage I did walk out, only to come back at his slightest pestering. It was like a mother hiding in a cupboard only to let a stubborn child feel that she left him only to re appear thus making the child more stubborn and making a game of the whole thing. The maximum days that I could muster in staying away from him was four years back, when i went away to my brother’s house for eight days along with the kids. We Indian women are brought up like that, you know, we think husband’s house or father’s house(in my case, it was my brother staying in a house inherited from my parents who are no more). Keeping the women obedient and law-abiding is the easiest and a short cut for a peaceful and happy family for us Indians and many Asians. Do I sound bitter?
Actually there is nothing wrong if a woman is subdued and the man is the head of the family. Its anything in excess that’s wrong. Excess tyranny on his part and excess cowardice on mine was, what took our life story to the ugliest and the darkest of darkness. And to add a dark hole to all this was the fact that both of us were oblivion to our children’s hurt and insecurities. He displayed the worst of autocracies which included domestic violence, physical, mental and verbal abuse. All this topped by financial insecurity. We earned in millions but not a penny was saved or invested wisely. All extra money went in the advancement of his business, which always stood on a shaky foundation and crashed like a house of cards. And I played the coward, who took all this lying down, and had no say in how the money was invested because he made it clear and boldly underlined that everything was HIS. No matter how much I worked for the company I had no post or no earnings. My post is called “The unpaid servant”. You may refine that to the unpaid servant, secretary, typist, clerk etc.. that is the maximum profile he could confer on me. And according to me I was the Manager-operations, unpaid of course!
I got into a passive mode of defense, to maintain peace I did as he liked when he was around and as I liked when he was not. He was possessive jealous and suspicious and I was broad minded, communicative with an open- heart. I confused people, for one minute I was a jovial, flamboyant person and the very next I hesitated, retracted and refused to speak. Actually i felt guilty even without doing any thing wrong at all. I lost the plot of wrong and right, good and bad. It was all about what he liked and approved and what he disliked and disproved. What made me such a spineless pawn in his hands is still a mystery to me and all others who know me as an intelligent, talented implementer. All my talent, fighting spirit, wisdom, knowledge and spiritual preaching came to a naught where he was concerned. Maybe it was due to my early marriage that I lacked self-confidence and gave up even before I started to fight. All my half-battles (can it even be called half! ) made him stronger, proved him right and left all those who supported me in a limbo!
And then what about the children? My eyes opened only too late, when my daughter in her early twenties started raising her voice and not bending to my husband’s autocracies got married to the first guy who crossed her life. She wanted to get out of the “Mad house” as soon as possible. My older son, just on threshold of his twenties, took to heavy drinking and I didn’t realize that he was addicted, till he was twenty two. The youngest Son watching all this since he was 10, now in his teens stayed away from home as much as possible. He only came home for dinner and to sleep. The violence sprawled on to my children now. And then last year when my husband boxed my older son’s face so hard that he almost lost a tooth. I just took my sons and walked out. This time it was for good, or so I thought.
We were out staying at a relative’s place since we didn’t have anything, to take up our own house even on rent. I worked trying to meet both ends, my brother also helped me but for some peculiar reason luck eluded me and the boys were dis-oriented, uncomfortable at their uncle’s also that my older son took to more drinks, he found solace there instead of getting up and helping me. He was a boy who worked with his dad since the age of seventeen but all he did was following instructions, running errands, becoming a cook when our cook at the restaurant ran away(my husband owned a restaurant now). I noticed that he was aping me in terms of working without self-confidence and aping his father in terms of drinking and the late-night lifestyle. He worked but gained nothing, for his father was always too busy making and breaking his own career to think anything about his growing up son. The children and me were supposed to be his hands, that all.
So now with my new work not taking off well, children in a state of confusion and hurt, and my husband begging me and his and my relatives for a reconciliation and a last chance to rectify himself, I returned home with reluctant children in tow. I returned because I thought every person deserved a last chance. All those who met my husband said that he was going mad due to loneliness and that he missed us very much and wanted us back. He has this power of melting hearts and winning over people with his words in no time. That’s exactly how he managed to manipulate me for years and years together.
The children were getting all the freedom with dad not around, so they didn’t want to go back and also because they were quite fed up of the never ending one-sided fights. Now not so quite one sided as I learned to stand up for myself and raised my voice, but only too late. This late uprising didn’t do any good, it made my husband more angry and violent. The fights now were more abusive, loud and abrasive. However when I returned, I thought I had lost, so I became more mellowed down, I did all I could to maintain peace, whereas I had promised the kids and all my well wishers honor and bright, that I would fight back and not be afraid to call a spade…. well, a SPADE! The whole one year that we stayed on, after our return, I explained things to my husband and separately to my sons, especially the older one, who turned a rebel and refused to abide with peace. He took the smallest of opportunity to fight with his father. He felt like, he was the crusader against injustice and at times, he even used these fights to get his freedom, to over- drinking and returning late at nights.
In my hearts of hearts I knew this was not done!. As promised to my brother, my husband did not raise his hand on me but verbal and metal torture in form of insults was definitely on. He was not playing his part honestly at all, in bringing our family together. Same ego, same shouting, same abusing and towering over us, only not actually hitting me. But on losing control after drinks, my younger son was often made a target. In one such fight that took place in a relative’s house where my husband hit our now married daughter, abused her husband, fought with my son and abused and insulted me. Then back home, he did the same with my younger son. He was under the influence of alcohol is his excuse and says he doesn’t remember anything. So even I excused myself and now I don’t remember anything. 🙂
Now its been three months that we are staying away from him. My son who is 24 now, is my business partner, and we are plodding slowly but surely. The youngest son has joined a KPO (Customer service out sourcing company). He is only 18 and wishes to continue his graduation alongside. The business is slow, things seem dark, sometimes… very very dark. Uncertainty looming large. The boys are an unpredictable lot. I have to push my older son to work each day and I don’t know how the younger one is going to cope with his education and job. These boys are so used to luxury in their father’s house, I don’t know when they might give up this fight and resume the futile future there. I don’t know whether my business will pick up or not. I don’t know when someone will influence me to feel sorry and guilty for my husband who is alone and pleading once again. I don’t know how long will I sustain all this. But now as I look on with love, at both my sons sleeping in the evening at 6, a small refreshing nap after the day’s hard work, I feel peaceful. Amidst a pile of clothes which I was setting up to arrange in their wardrobe, my little (now not so little) princes were resting their hardworking but peaceful minds. Tired from the day’s work but no fights, no violence and no discouragement. The peaceful look on their faces is the silver lining piercing in my darkness. I pray that, their determination lasts and brings me the joy to see my boys turning into responsible men.