When duty towards your parents, keeps you away from your wife.

Last evening, I bumped into an old college mate at Bandra Station. Initially, I wasn’t able to recognize him. The college heartthrob was now almost bald, with a paunch and stoop. If he wouldn’t have called me, this dude would have gone unrecognized in the crowd of thousands. Meeting after years, we didn’t just want to go without exchanging pleasantries and a promise of see you soon, so we headed to a nearby café.

Sitting opposite to him, I caught many other details of his changed personality. The funky boy who used to wear nothing but only branded stuff today sported a plain lemon yellow shirt and beige coloured pants. There was stubble growing on his fair complexion, giving him a rakish look. He was wearing different types of finger rings, the ones you get from visiting astrologers and godmen. As I was taking in his appearance, he, too, was observing me and to not get any further with this ankho hi ankho mein, I broke the ice.

‘So, Amit, how is life treating you?’

‘Good.’ He smiled and averted his gaze to observe the ambience of the café.

‘Hmmm…isn’t it wonderful to meet after all these years?’ I was not breaking the ice and instead chipping at its edges.

‘Yes, Aparna. It does, especially when you meet a part of your past that reminds you of your youth.’

‘C’mon, we aren’t that old yet. 37 years and young.’

‘You may say so. For me, it feels as if I’m seventy.’

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Well, he didn’t to tell me that. The colour of his shirt and his sandals spoke volumes.

‘Buddy, something is eating you up. I don’t know whether I should be asking you this, but is everything alright?’

However, great friends you must have been in college, meeting them after years doesn’t guarantee the same camaraderie. Yet, I tried to build one. He didn’t answer my question for a long time. I realized my folly of jumping into his life’s problems from no where. I began narrating about my life, my husband, career, children, and all the unnecessary details one likes to fill in to avoid an awkward silence.

After a lot of rumbling, I couldn’t stop but ask about his wife, another college mate.

‘And how’s Shilpa? Bache vache hai ya nahi? Okay, wait, given your college romance, char pach toh honge!’ I cracked up on my silly joke.

‘None. Shilpa and me, we don’t stay together.’

I bit my tongue for wagging its way into people’s messy lives.

‘Sorry. I thought you two were just made for each other.’

‘We are. We still love each other but…’

His voice trailed off. For a moment, he seemed to be contemplating on whether to get the cat out of the bag.

‘It’s okay, Amit, if you don’t wish to discuss. We can talk about cricket, politics, and Mumbai’s potholes. Leave it.’

‘No. I will tell you what happened.’ Suddenly, he was determined.

For the next hour, he narrated the abysmally sorry state of his marriage. Amit is the only son of his parents. They have toiled day and night to make Amit the person he is. Having given their night’s sleep and day’s earning, he making Amit an able man; they expect him to be with them till their last breath, but without his wife. Yes, they don’t approve of his wife.

‘Why?’ The shock just tumbled out of my hasty, impatient mouth.

‘Because she gets up late.’

‘What! Don’t fool around, boss. How can that be a reason for not liking your daughter-in-law?’

‘Precisely. That is the reason. My father, a strict disciplinarian, wants the house to be run in a fixed timetable. Rising early and getting the household chores done is a must for him.’

‘Weren’t you aware of Shilpa’s late rising and your father’s fastidious nature?’

‘I knew Shilpa has difficulty getting up early in the morning, as she reads late into the night. I also was aware of my father’s ways of disciplining us. But I never thought he would expect it so strongly from Shilpa as well.’

I took a deep breath and kicked the table in frustration.

‘Relax, girl. I’m used it now. I stay with my parents and visit Shilpa every day.’

‘How ridiculous is that, Amit? I can’t believe your family life is in bins because your wife can’t rise early.’

He kept mum. I, too, controlled my angst and went about talking about this and that, cricket and politics, again came to my rescue. After a few days, I called Amit and apologized for my aggressive reactions. The poor chap went on with how he felt stuck with parental responsibilities at one end and being a dutiful husband at the other. In the complete gamble, I was in awe of Shilpa’s patience and love for Amit, because of which their marriage was strong.

In such a scenario, I might have backed off from such a demeaning relationship. But that is just me. There are women like Shilpa who love unconditionally, who truly understand how their husbands feel helpless at their parent’s hands, and who choose to ignore the small speed breakers in the long run.

What deeply upset me is why parents who had sacrificed many things for the betterment of their son could not give up on such a trivial matter for his happily married life. How ethics and principles of one man throttle other’s joy is indecipherable to me, especially when involved parties are parent and child. I wonder whether such rules are greater than a person’s freedom and happiness.

When discipline turns into rigidity, it steals away the very essence that forms it. When parents unnecessarily try to discipline their adult children, it robs them of their right to breathe. Constricted under the so-called burden of parental responsibilities, these children drag on the collapsed chariot of what could have been a beautiful marriage.

For Amit and Shilpa, it must still be a beautiful marriage. But I could see guilt gnawing at Amit. Guilt at not being able to do complete justice to his wife, whom he loved. While he was half-heartedly doing justice to his father by being the hands-on son, Amit, as a husband, was suffering.

Someday, I wish I bump with Shilpa and get to hear her side of the story. Not to nibble at the juicy tidbits of gossip, but to understand where she gets her strength and resilience from. Then maybe I can write about the unconventional choices women make. Till then, I give myself time to get over Amit’s plight.

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About the Author

Dr. Aparna Salvi Nagda

Aparna, residing in Mumbai, is a consulting homoeopath and edupreneur by day and loves to find comfort in books by twilight. Writing has allowed her to express without wagging her tongue. She has contributed to read more...

7 Posts | 2,742 Views

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