He was a very dutiful father. And raised beautiful daughters and did all that he could to elevate his small family. There must have been a million hardships but the moment he came home from work, he was relieved and had nothing but relief and smiles. But when time came to get his daughters married, it had become a struggle because of all the conventional practices that he couldn’t plan for ahead of time.
His eldest daughter was smart, beautiful, witty and at that time it didn’t seem like she had a bad bone in her. She was a good human being. Destiny had its way and a boy from US came knocking on their door asking for her hand. The potential groom and his parents didn’t ask for dowry but just wanted a lavish wedding. The father of the soon to be bride was ecstatic and started all the preparations to fulfill the tiny demand that came from the groom’s side.
Even if the groom’s family didn’t ask for it, the father was going to do his best to make it memorable for the daughter, the groom and his family. Nearing the wedding, it was all festivities. The wedding was a huge success with bejeweled ladies with their zari sarees,’dhoti’ clad gentlemen, huge ‘mandap’, the scents from the flowers and the ‘attar’, scrumptious food, and the return favors that the guests couldn’t stop peeking at.
It was time for the ‘bidai’. The father and daughter held each other and cried. They were happy that they found a family that was going to accept and blend into theirs. And sad because they won’t be seeing each other every day. May be, if there is a chance they would hear each other’s voice once a week. The daughter was leaving for US the following month. Until then, she’d stay at her new in-laws’ place getting acquainted and serving her new family.
It was all great until she landed in the US. Her husband was staying with his brother’s family in a two bedroom apartment. Her dreams were shattered. She thought that she’d be able to make her own home with her husband but never did she imagine that she would have to feel like a maid at her brother-in-law’s home. The brother-in-law’s wife always took an upper hand and reminded them that they were dependent on them for every small thing. The money that her father gave her was all over, and she couldn’t ask her husband for more.
Time passed, and the newly weds slowly moved out and rented an apartment. In few years they got pregnant with their first child. And she really wanted her parents to help out. Everyone was excited to welcome this child. The parents came to the US and tried to do their best, first by getting used to the American ways of living and then by doing all the household chores. Only over the weekend, their son-in-law would take them to Costco. That was the only outing because they couldn’t go anywhere in their own. They couldn’t even talk on the phone unless their son-in-law gave them a calling card. Yet, they chugged along for the sake of their daughter and her unborn child.
In all of this commotion of expecting a child, having to stay with his in-laws, the son-in-law must’ve lost a couple of nuts here and there. He started acting weird. A year into his marriage with their daughter, he has moved them into an investment property as tenants. He felt invicible and felt like he had control over them. Who knows what demons came alive, he stopped talking to the wife’s parents. He would curl up and sleep at odd times. The father felt stuck and wasn’t sure what he could do or say. He would suggest that the son-in-law see a doctor but constantly got snubbed by his daughter to leave them alone. She was financially dependent on her husband and didn’t want to do anything to invoke his ire.
The father was never in such a dilemma where he felt unwanted. He always was self-reliant and self-sufficient person. To avoid the friction at his daughter’s place, he would go and sit at the corner bus stop for the entire day so he could sit in solitude. Sometimes passers by mistook him for homeless guy and give him a dollar or two. He wished that no one would experience such pathecy. For the first time ever, his irresponsible behavior towards his own parents came flashing before his eyes. He wished that he treated his parents, especially his mother better despite the stiff opposition from his wife and daughters.
There are many fathers like this one that are silently wailing psychological abuse. There is no manifestation of such exploit because there are no visible bruises. Neither there are tears in most cases. Some progeny don’t realize how their actions are agonizing thekr elders. Arti Honrao said, “Just because it is not physical, it does not mean it is not abuse. Verbal and Psychological abuses are real things; their effect is perhaps more damaging on the mind of the abused than the open wounds that can be seen in physical abuse.” I take it as my personal mission to SEA. Stop Elder Abuse. Hope you do too.