Breaking the Taboo – Divorced and Smiling!

Let me make one thing clear before I elaborate on this topic – No! I do not encourage divorce. But I do encourage being single and enjoying yourself, self love, appreciating your space till you find the right partner.

Marriage is a sacred institution and divorce is taboo in Indian society. … The concept of “compromise in marriage” is gradually fading as women feel economically independent and liberated. Modern Indian men and women no more believe in marital compromise the way our past generations used to do. Divorce may still be a taboo, but sometimes letting go is the best option.

As per India Today, unsurprisingly, India has the lowest divorce rate, which goes as low as being less than one percent, this in a country which has the highest domestic violence and depression rate. In India, one out of every three married women, face domestic abuse, and, yet we have so many happy successful marriages. Are people really happy or have they forced themselves in wrong relationships just because of the stigma that comes attached with a divorce or the common norm “what will the society say!”

Is it really worth staying in a marriage which brings more of misery than peace and happiness, and the fear of society or break free and live the life you deserve?

I was married at the age of 23 to the love of my life. My family, friends and relatives were very happy and as per the traditional myth, everyone (including me) thought that the typical Indian marriage lasts forever, even when it’s irretrievably broken. For various reasons, things went downhill. We split up, which initially came as big shock to family and friends. People all around started giving me lectures and emotionally blackmailed me to “compromise” and get back to my ex-husband inspite of knowing the reason of separating which was beyond compromising.

I was mentally tortured by the society and even shamed by my own close relatives and friends. Some said, “I failed in marriage”, others said, “I broke my marriage” or “I will never get another man if I am divorced” or “divorced woman breaks others houses so keep your husband’s away from her”, etc. I never really bothered about all this because my parents supported my decision and stood by me through all this. Infact, even they were shamed because they stood by my decision. What did hurt was, only I was called out because I am a woman, and no one said a word to my ex-husband.

Eventually, I was legally divorced and now I have a title called “Divorcee” instead of “Single”. Not just this, even the legal system considers a divorced woman as an untouchable. The process of change of surname and from Mrs. to Miss is no less than a torture.

When I got legally divorced, I was relieved and felt like a huge burden off my shoulders. I was looking forward to start a new life and get back on my feet. Since I am a very mentally strong woman, the taunts of the society don’t affect me at all. But I am writing here to encourage other women.

I have never shied away from telling anyone (when asked) that I am divorced. But the look on their faces after hearing that, makes me wonder that we are still far behind in broad minded thinking, especially in India. Soon, the society started lecturing me to remarry as I am aging, I won’t be able bear kids later, I will not get a good guy, looked at me in pity, etc. As if, the only work for a woman here is to marry and have children. When I would tell them that I will not remarry until I get good partner, they would tell me that I have too much attitude which doesn’t suit me as I am a divorcee. Does that make sense?

But look at me; I am living my best life, independent, happy, fit, a smiling and a dynamic divorcee. I will remarry, but only with the person I connect on all levels – mentally, physically and spiritually. I don’t come under the pressure of the society, never have and never will. I respect the society, but I respect myself more. Getting divorced is not the end of the world, and getting remarried is not the only thing left in life to do. Enjoy the journey, rediscover yourself, make new friends, build a career, travel, donate, and just live in the present.

For me, I had a very strong support from parents and siblings. Besides them, I had Casper and I still have Junior who never let me slip into depression and always kept me healthy and happy. I do not regret my divorce, nor am I happy that it happened. But that was the only solution for both of us to be happy again. Sometimes things don’t work out as expected, and there are many reasons for a divorce. Do not judge anyone. Everyone has their own reasons and fighting their own battles which we do not see. Be patient and loving. Life is beautiful, and without the downs, we will never appreciate the ups. Live and let live!

My Maid – My New Inspiration

As we are in the middle of the second wave of Corona virus in India, which is much more intense, contagious, and dangerous than the first one, we are living in constant fear for our lives, as well as our livelihood. After a year of this virus, we have still not contained it, in fact it has got worse. Savings have been exhausted, no income because of imposed lockdown and the fear of falling sick.

In all this chaos, one thing I have seen constant is – my maid’s smile. I always wonder that I come from a relatively good financial background, yet I am so worried about surviving this pandemic, then how much trouble will the poor people be facing, especially laborer’s, maids and servants. So how does my maid manage to smile always?

One day, I sat her down and started taking about her history and present and in whatever way I could help her. I was shocked listening to her story. And more shocked when she denied any extra help from me besides not laying her off from work.

She narrated me her story, and it goes like this. When she was young, around 7-8 years old, she lost her mother. Her mother was murdered by some of their own community people for reasons not known to my maid. Her father was an alcoholic and she was the only child. She never shared a cordial relationship with her father. As she grew old, she finally found love in a man and wanted to marry him. Somehow, one of her relative got the information of her affair, and instead of knowing her background and helping her, that relative contacted her father with a marriage proposal of another man.

That relative convinced her father that the other man is very good and he should get my maid married to him right away. My maid was forced to marry the other man, and once again, she lost the love that she deserved. Later, her father passed away due to over drinking. Soon, she had a son and her happiness had no limits. But it didn’t last long. She had been noticing that all the money that she earned from working at others houses was vanishing. She had no idea at all where the money was going. As some more time passed, she made a dreadful discovery. Her husband had another family in another city, and all her money was going to that family through her husband without her knowledge.

She was devastated. Her child was young. She had no father figure or any elders that she could turn up to for advice. She took the matter in her hands and left her husband. She decided to live in dignity as a single mother rather than being with her cheating husband and sharing him. She worked hard and built a good foundation for her son. She saved so much money, that after some years, she finally bought her own house.

As her son grew older, she thought that finally he too will stand on his own feet and bring some income in the house. But one day, her son bought an expensive mobile from her card without her knowledge. My maid, being the dignified woman that she is, sold her jewellery to pay up the EMIs of the card and warned her son to never do it again. Somehow, seeing her selling her jewellery, it opened her son’s eyes. He apologized to her and found a job. And with his salary, he bought his mother some new jewellery.

Today, he is happily married, has a good job and also recently had a son. My maid is more than happy and content.

I asked her, how are you dealing with the pandemic then? And she said, “I work in two houses (me and my office) and the other source of income is my son’s, which is enough for the four of us to live happily and comfortably.” She also added that her wants are less, so she doesn’t require any other monetary benefits or help. As always, she wants to work and earn her money. Not to be looked upon in pity.

Wow! This hit home. Sometimes, you get inspiration from the most unexpected person. Also, the old saying of “Never judge a book by its cover” stands true here. She is always smiling and laughing. I would have never guessed what she has been through since childhood. I would have never guessed that only for once she found love, and that too was taken away from her because of some dirty family politics.

This is called true strength. She raised her child as a single mother. She brought him back to his senses when he went off track. She lost her mother at a very early age. Her father was good for nothing. She never got to marry the love of her life. And her husband cheated her and robbed her earnings for the other woman. But my maid, overcame all her problems, because she was determined. Because she was true to herself. Because she chose her self-respect and dignity.

Isn’t this such an inspiration! I was blown away after hearing all this. I know there are tough times going on. And my priority is to survive at the moment for myself and Junior. But after listening to my maid, I want to thrive and nothing less. If she could overcome so many problems, then even I can and you can too.