To my munne-ki-amma
To my munne-ki-amma
My wife and I were married in 1982 and remain legally married even today. So it is 33 years, more than half our lives. For whatever reason, we have not pushed matters into seeking a formal divorce. Maybe it could be that it suits us to have the camouflage of a marriage to prevent unnecessary complications from arising in our current lives. There are no boyfriends in my pipeline and she has none as well. Of course, if we find the right person, why not go for it?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I knew that I was a gay man even at the time of the wedding. I think nobody else knew at that time, including my very close friends. The popular theory then was that all boys did this and marriage with a woman would be a cure for all this. On that basis, we started our life together, with one person holding on to a deep, dark secret and the other person walking into the whole thing with the wide-eyed trust which any 22 year old would have, especially if the whole thing was approved by her family and friends.
The initial years were very happy for us and we successfully overcame many hurdles that came our way. The most significant event in that period was the death of my father-in-law, which affected me very deeply. Needless to say, my wife, who was the favourite youngest child of that family, was devastated by that event. She does not talk about that much but I feel that the loss of a steadying influence in all our lives was a great loss to all of us. If he had lived for maybe ten more years, all our lives would have been significantly better.
As far as I am concerned, the biggest gift which she bestowed on me was our two lovely children. Becoming a father was the single greatest achievement of my life. We were blissfully happy in those early years as we brought up the two children. In those days, my mother-in-law was living with us and the presence of a grandmother in our household enhanced all our lives to a great extent.
To my wife goes the credit for having sowed the seeds of ambition in me. She was the first to suggest that I should follow in the footsteps of younger and hungrier colleagues in State Bank, and pursue greener pastures in the private sector. It was due to her encouragement that I felt confident enough to give up the comfort of a bureaucratic government environment to a more market-driven one in a foreign bank. We continued a happy life for some more years and then we made our final career move to Bahrain.
The humourist Ogden Nash once quipped, “When a couple complains of incompatibility, it is either because he has lost his income or she has lost her pattability.” Ironically, the income was never a problem in tax-free Bahrain. As the designated estranged spouse, I shall desist from commenting on her pattability. In Bahrain, as my official profile kept getting better and better, the situation at home kept deteriorating. It is not fair, at this late stage, for anyone to pinpoint specific instances where things were going wrong and we could have done things differently. If things had not turned bad for both of us, we could still have made a go of it.
The final blessing she bestowed on the family was that she encouraged all of us to seek immigration to Canada. Because of her frequent pushing of this idea, we were able to arrive in Canada with two children and five cats in tow. Canada has been extremely good to all of us, I have been able to rediscover myself in many ways and I am currently trying to lead a more honest life. My children were able to complete their education in the best Canadian institutions, and my daughter was able to find her life partner in this country.
What I wish my children inherit from their mother:
The children belong to very successful and illustrious families on both sides and it is my fervent hope that the rest of the two families will embrace these children with open arms even though they may disapprove of their parents.
The other thing that I have admired in my wife is that she can do virtually anything if she has set her mind to it. The latest instance was when my kids said, “Chennai is too hot, don’t expect us to come and live there”. She single-handedly sold our Chennai house and reinvested the money in more temperate Bangalore. Buying and selling property in India is a “wonderful” experience and I doubt if anyone else could have done it better.
She has always felt that she never had a parent’s house to escape to, and she is now maintaining an open house for my children in Bangalore. Warning to my son-in-law: Fight with my daughter at your peril, she has a home in India!
When I made my recent revelations about my sexual orientation, most members of my family were completely taken aback. They had long assumed that my wife was at fault, blaming her for leaving an ailing husband right when things were getting pretty bad. Without checking with her, it was very easy to assume that she was the wicked one who deserved the disapproval of the entire family. Now that the tables are turned, and it is being recognized that if there are fingers to be pointed, it may be at me, they are now scrambling to make amends to their daughter-in-law, aunt, or whatever.
For me, it’s quite amusing to see how the opinions have swung all the way around. Right now, the entire family is completely confused as to whether to continue to brand her the witch, or embrace her as the wronged daughter-in-law. I must confess to feeling an insane delight as they struggle with their actions. When will people realize that their loved ones are not all good, or all bad? Real people are good most of the time, but have some vicious streaks in them.
I happen to believe that there is an old Hindi song to describe any emotional state that one is in. The song that comes to my mind is this: “Waqt ne kiya, kya haseen sitam, tum rahe na tum, hum rahe na hum” – “Time has passed, it tortures us – You are no longer you, I am no longer I”.