I'm A Divorcee Who Married Again: No Matter What You Do, I Won't Be Shamed For It

Anonymous Anonymous in Culture Shock on 9 June, 2020

Here, I will say it today: I'm not sorry for being a female!

Ever since I was a child, I have witnessed inequality because I belong to the "fairer" sex. As I grew up, I was expected to find it normal, but thanks to my parents, I grew up on human values rather than male/female values.

I am the first girl in the family to move out for a job to not just a different city in India but also move to a different continent, and life would never have been same if it was not for my parents. I cannot thank them enough after coming to know the society we live in. Life had various trials for me, but the worst was my marriage which ended in a bitter divorce because my ex-husband had a fragile male ego. He couldn't handle it and his family was too snobbish to hold their son or themselves righteous. It was tough, indeed. Being close to my roots of being an Indian woman, a failure in marriage was a big deal to me.

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I sank into depression and tried to commit suicide. All my degrees, certificates, talents and my American job meant nothing anymore to me, now that life was "worthless". I had no purpose or will. Again, it was my parents whose will, love and determination made me swim back to the surface. Their patience and unconditional belief in their strong daughter revived the lost strength and confidence in me. I was able to not just come out of my sorrows, but understood my divorce was a good riddance. I was able to not just forget my past and move ahead but also wear my scars as a badge of honour.

My depression brought me closer to my family and myself. I knew my strengths and weaknesses better and drew lines around me without letting anyone walk over me again. I went back to the States to get on with my career and it was here that I met my now-husband. He was not married and younger to me, and his Indian parents freaked out. Given the culture, I partly understood their societal fear but that was it. No culture or history was enough to allow me to hear self-abuse, harm my self-esteem and dignity. I was called names and whatnot, pretty much everything you would hear in an Ekta Kapoor serial with a similar plot. I was blamed and called un-sanskari because I voiced myself and refused to be treated any less. I just couldn't be shamed for being in a bad marriage.

It's like a bad investment, it's not the end of the world. I had fought depression and come out of it on my own two feet and nothing and no one can take that away from me! They loathed me and thought of me as scrupulous. Nevertheless, the marriage happened, though it wasn't the greatest experience. My in-laws tried all the sam-dand-bhed to make this look like an ehsaan on me and my family to have a divorced girl married to their golden son.

My mother-in-law tried to differentiate and treat me and my family indifferently many times during the ordeal but I made my way most of the time by refusing to cater to her whims and fancies. Nevertheless, it wasn't an affair that I would approve all of, but I let it happen as my husband wanted to keep it quiet so the wedding can happen and my Indian parents wanted me to behave like the Indian bride I'm supposed to be! My only respite in all this was that I and my husband would be going back to the States to get back to our jobs and lives and be spared of this drama.

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In the next 5 days that followed, I tried my best to put up the best of my behaviour and respect and mingle with everyone at my in-laws' house in India. I spoke to everyone and gave all their due respects. I was returned with attention and care from every one except, of course, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. While everyone kept praising the arrangements done by my family (which were way above the pay grade of my in-laws), they kept dumb and made faces which spoke for itself. They did not speak to me other than responding to pleasantries and made me feel like an outsider and totally unwanted.

Thankfully, the 5 days got over soon. I was given no stree dhan, no clothes or anything as a bride while they boldly took the so-called expensive gifts for the whole city by asking for it! I was in fact taunted about the jewellery that they expected and I hadn't brought with me. In the wish to not disrupt the peace just 4 days into my second marriage, I chose to keep quiet and respond with neither a yes nor no to anything that was said and done. I knew I could deal with these later, as I could see this was only the beginning with the kind of people they are.

I got back and the first 4 months of my marriage was only fights between me and my spouse. Apparently, I had underestimated the power of interference that my in-laws can shower living several continents away. No one was spared. Not me or my family and not even my husband. He was also painted as not a good enough son because he was trying to be a good husband by supporting his wife to be an equal (and not a second class) citizen in her own house. Needless to say, I was not and have not been still accepted as a family member, let alone a bahu or a daughter. My only fault is to not give in to the idea of being a lesser person because I'm a girl and a bahu.

I was okay to ignore and live my life, keeping it short and sweet with them over weekly phone calls until they did what is not negotiable for me. They humiliated and insulted my parents for their own wrong and expected me and my parents to apologize. This came as the last nail in the coffin for me. With this one incident, all the wrongs and injustice that has been done over me shouted out loud in my ears and everything seemed dark and ugly. My mother-in-law refused to call me ever because I'm the bahu, them not giving my any place in the family and demanding dowry aka "gifts"; my sister-in-law ill-treating me multiple times and ignoring my presence in her brother's life; me being blamed every now and then to take their son away; not giving due respect to my parents; all of it was so loud and clear to me that it was painful beyond measure.

It was then that I realized it's futile to expect them to change or even understand and behave like normal people because they don't have that normal cell in their body. I stopped talking to them from that moment on and advised the same to my parents. Since then, I have been blamed and abused to not speak to them. They never tried to speak to me even once. I have been made a reason for the bad relationship my husband shares with his sister, and her sister not getting her due respect as the nanad. They have not tried even once to speak to me or understand why am I not calling them, in fact, they are happily going about claiming I don't want to talk to them and I don't think of them as my family. Yes, right, when was I family for you?! You have me call you mummy, papa, didi but have you ever thought of me as a bahu if not even beti?!

I'm expecting and having some major complications in my pregnancy and they have still not spoken to me. But this only tells me my decision to keep my peace and sanity aside was the best decision I ever took for myself and my family.