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Comfortable in an Uncomfortable Relationship

While growing up, I have been closer to my mother, more than I have been to my father. One of the reasons may be because Maa was mostly at home. While staying at home, by no means she allowed herself to stay the conventional housewife who did only cooking, laundry, cleaning and the one hundred miscellaneous household chores. She did more, much, much more. She tutored primary school kids, stitched all our school uniforms, knitted all the woollens that we wore, and for a short period of time even worked in a sauce making factory. Despite my father’s traditional approach to their marriage, my mother always strived to be enterprising. She always chipped in the household expenditures, paid our tuition fees, bought any reference book we needed for school. All that, while trying to please a husband who was far from understanding, or even knowing what it was to be a woman in the that era. I don’t blame my father either. He did what he saw around.

They have been married for thirty-one years. While both my parent’s outlook and behaviour have changed for me and my sister over the decades, they still remain in their old, outdated understanding of marriage. Famished with any kind of intimacy, they struggle to communicate even for the smallest things. One generation ago, my grandmother’s time, a similar situation was probably much more incomprehensible, and before that much, much more.

As me and my sister got older, my parents felt more comfortable in sharing individually, their dissatisfaction over their relationship with each other. They loathed each other. It pained me to see them going through so much misery. Initially in my mid-twenties I tried my hand in amateur counselling, and suggested them a stack of possible solutions. For example, to forgive each other for past mistakes, to ignore what can be ignored, to appreciate each other more often, to respect and trust each other more, and the most important, to communicate clearly and openly instead of merely assuming.

All that counselling was a failure, and I wiped my hands from trying that again. However, from my heart and soul, I did not want to give up on the two most important people of my life. I knew how rewarding the right efforts could be in making a relationship successful and I wanted that for them. To see two extremely good looking and beautiful souls fall apart from each other was heart breaking for me, not only as a daughter but also as an individual who believed that every problem, big or small, was solvable. Except that this was not.

They cared too much about the society to actually face their own problems, and so they never divorced each other either. While I still often think about how to make two people fall in love with each other after being married for that long (to each other), they weaved a life around their miseries. Even though living under the same roof, they stopped sharing the same bed for years. They don’t talk to each other anymore. They don’t laugh anymore, together or alone. But they refuse to live in any other way either.

Every time I go home on a break, I see how the love of my life, both my parents, have become so comfortable in an uncomfortable relationship.

Pic Courtsey, Internet/ Ehime Ora

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