Never miss real stories from India’s women. Register Now!

My Husband Is Ashamed Of Me In Front Of His NRI Friends…

All I did was keep jotting down my feelings in my green diary. They were my true inner sadness, stories after stories of my loneliness—unhinged, untarnished and unfabricated.

All I did was keep jotting down my feelings in my green diary. They were my true inner sadness, stories after stories of my loneliness—unhinged, untarnished and unfabricated. 

I put on my winter jacket and woollen gloves and walked to the auditorium. Outside, a little flurry of snow heightened my urge for coffee. 

Today is my biggest day. I need a rush of caffeine to get me through this jittery feeling before I climb the stairs of the stage.

I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and settled down in my seat waiting for my name to be called.

“A big hand for Arpita Patel,” the organizer announced my name. I walked toward the stage amidst the cheering people. Today I was not alone, not embarrassed but in joyful bliss.

***

It wasn’t an easy journey for me when I look back five years ago. Being a newly married young woman, leaving her parents’ house for the first time and landing in America with my husband Ravi, who was almost a stranger, was the reality I was grappling with.

But life kept moving.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

One day, I was at the grocery store, buying vegetables and other pantry stuff when I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind. “Hey, Arpita! We missed you at the party last week,” Nibha said with a weaved eyebrow and a voice filled with complaints, asking for an explanation.

“Oh, wow, I didn’t have a clue about the party,” I said with disappointment. “Looks like Ravi forgot to inform me.”

There had been a potluck party with a bunch of Ravi’s co-workers and close friends. It had been a family get together. I vaguely remember Ravi attending a party but he never mentioned it to be a family potluck party. 

I shrugged as if I didn’t care. However a big chunk of my heart was lost that day—amidst the crowd of people, I found myself standing alone.

Nibha and I talked for sometime, and then we parted. But the conversation about the party was still lingering in the back of my head. It wasn’t just this time; Ravi never wanted me to come to any party with his friends and co-workers. It was just that he never expressed it openly, but his actions did, and slowly I got used to it.

What is he scared of? Does he think of me as unworthy of attending big, modern peoples’ parties? Is he scared of people finding out the fact that his wife hails from a small rural village?

Five years ago when the plane landed at the airport at Los Angeles, USA, and I got out, I was mesmerized. Looking at the razmataz of the city bedazzled my eyes. 

Sitting in the cab and driving towards our apartment, looking at the breath-taking views of the immaculately clean streets, houses lined up in organized rows, tall pine trees touching the sky, no pedestrians, and the street light poles blazing the beautiful light all around, were things I had never encountered before. Not a single bulb was out. All this was new to me. If someone told me this was how heaven looked like, I would have believed them in the blink of an eye.

After settling down in our apartment, which was as beautiful as it could get, I was awestruck. The walls were a pristine ivory color, with a high ceiling. Kitchen cabinets were made of polished wood, the bathroom was squeaky clean with a white bathtub, there were clean toilet bowls, a flowery shower curtain, and a large mirror. The whole apartment was impeccably beautiful, just like I had seen in contemporary movies. 

However, none of this gave me happiness. I felt trapped in the beautiful apartment all day long.

“Let’s sleep early today,” Ravi almost ordered. “Tomorrow we will have to go to the Cox cable network store to get the cable and Wi-Fi.”

“What should I wear?” I asked with a puzzled expression.

“Please don’t wear your backward, disgusting clothes—that salwar-kurta of yours,” Ravi muttered under gritted teeth and anger, notwithstanding the fact I had never worn anything other than the salwar-kurta.

“Ravi, please give me some time,” I said, choking down my tears. “It takes time to adapt to a new lifestyle.”

“Never mind. I’ll go alone, you can stay at home,” Ravi pulled the comforter up over his head, turned to the other side and slept. Soon, soft snores started escaping him.

So the next morning he went alone. 

That was my first taste of being alone in a new city, a new country, and a new continent after marriage. 

I had no idea this was going to be my life moving forward. I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time. I took it as a relief, reasoning in my head that Ravi had saved me the embarrassment of standing out among other Americans wearing a dress, which was awkwardly stared at in those days. All I remember was I looked up at the ceiling and tears were flowing down my cheeks. I wanted them to stop but they wouldn’t listen. I felt dejected and lonely.

After that day it became a pattern. Ravi went alone everywhere. I was too small and backward for his modern taste. Ours was an arranged marriage, and soon I figured we definitely were not compatible in any regard. The only time he showed closeness to me was while having sex. All other relationships and emotions were meaningless to us.

I started developing a severe inferiority complex. I didn’t want to face people anymore. And if I ever came in contact with anyone and had to talk to them, I would panic. I caught myself stuttering. A feeling of lightheadedness and trembling while talking to people became more frequent. There was more anxiety and self-doubt inside me than you could have thought. Loneliness had developed a painful, complicated nature in my personality, since a lot of psychological disorders were interlinked with it. The guilt, the wastefulness, and feeling of being a burden haunted me day and night.

I would spend hours in the park right behind our apartment, alone, looking at my own reflection in the pond in the middle of the park. Watching colorful fish swimming around carefreely, birds chirping, a few people taking a walk and jogging, and children giggling, was cathartic, but for how long? 

I would sit there on a bench with a pen and a diary, trying to reflect on what was happening in my life. I never found a striking answer, rather suicidal thoughts were the first to creep in.

I can’t keep going on like this.

Social contact keeps us grounded and highly contributes to our happiness and psychological well-being. For me, there was nothing. My visa status wouldn’t allow me to work in America. The only person I saw was Ravi, that too for only a few hours each night.

I spent days writing in my green diary, sitting in the park by the pond. The same diary that my father gave me to write down my thoughts every time I missed home. I sat absorbed—hour upon hour—lost in the nebula of words, each one begging to be plucked and brought to earth. My diary had become a place of calm, a form of therapy, a way for me to release, process, rage, and a place to anchor myself. I worked in solitude for ten months. Unknowingly, but blissfully working on a manuscript every day, to bring it from an embryo to a full-bodied book.

Solitude is a powerful force, and it drew me in like quicksand. As Albert Einstein once said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” 

All I did was keep jotting down my feelings in my green diary. They were my true inner sadness, stories after stories of my loneliness—unhinged, untarnished and unfabricated. 

An emerging body of evidence suggests that spending time in solitude—when done appropriately—has its perks. That was true for me.

There was something very liberating for me about being on my own. I was able to establish some control over the way I spent my time. I was able to decompress and experience a feeling of freedom. Taking some time off for myself allowed me to clean my act intrinsically. 

A regular session of temporary solitude allowed me to think deeply. 

To heal. 

To breathe.

For me, being alone meant that I was being comfortable in my own skin, in my inherent reflections and thoughts. It helped me to get to the roots of who I was, and bond with my place in the world in a calm and unplugged kind of way. 

Everytime I felt constantly overwhelmed and stressed, then I knew I probably needed some time to connect with my inner self. I had only two companies in those days—my green diary and long distance face-time with my mother. Mom would often ask me every morning, “What will you do today?” 

And everyday my answer would be the same. “I’ll write my diary.” However I never told her the complete truth about my loneliness. Just the mundane boredom of a new place. I never told her how little time Ravi and I spent together. Never did I tell her that Ravi didn’t want me to socialize with his friends. I never told Mom how much I missed being with her.

“Writing a diary! Wow, that’s a good way to relieve yourself,” Mom said with a smile. 

“Perhaps there is an advantage in being alone,” she remarked. “One is spared the worry. Say out loud in your head everyday, ‘I need worry only about myself’,”  and she shook her head.

 “And I have learnt not to worry overly about myself,” I said in affirmation. “What is the worst that can happen, after all?”

Mom smiled and she looked up.

Everyday I would write my diary, and at night I would copy and type it on a word document with all the corrections. While looking up the meaning of a word, I stumbled upon a website for a book publishing company. I bookmarked it without giving a second thought, but the idea stayed at the back of my head. After ten months, my diary was full. It had no pages left. 

Before getting another diary, I thought I would send the pages of my diary document to the publishing company. They replied to me just the next day. I couldn’t believe it. They asked me to send them the remaining content, and I did just that.

The publishing company loved the content and set up a meeting for the next week itself. Time just flew by. I didn’t include Ravi anywhere in this solitary endeavour. I signed the contract and the book was printed and ready to be launched in two months.

*****

It had been a wild ride to reach there. Two days ago I had received a surprise e-mail, actually an invitation, a ceremony of my first book launch—“A Diary of a Journey in Solitude.” The book was about honouring the rawness of my feelings in all its glory, which was what made me human. Being able to pass this on was a gift I could offer the world.

“What are you packing this suitcase for?” Ravi had asked in a mocking tone, fumbling with the T.V remote. “Since when have you started traveling alone?”

“I’m flying to Seattle the day after tomorrow for my book launch. I have an early morning flight,” I had said, arranging my pillow on the bed. “I won’t be back until next week, because I have been invited to several book signing ceremonies.” Ravi had been completely shattered by my imperative tone of voice.

“Am I coming too?” Ravi had asked, sitting upright on the bed.

“No, you’re not, because I will be travelling everywhere in my salwar-kurta,” I had said with a polite shrug. “And I don’t want to embarrass you.”

This story was shortlisted for our August 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Madhulika Liddle says “A story of self-empowerment which also manages to poignantly portray the problems of an NRI who is a fish out of water.”

Image source: a still from Hindi short film Ghar Ki Murgi 

Comments

About the Author

Sharda Mishra

I am a photographer and an avid reader. I am not a writer but I like to give words to my emotions. I love to cook and hike. I believe in humor and its impact read more...

3 Posts | 6,467 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

The Magic Mindset : How to Find Your Happy Place

""
All Categories