Divorce snub


Dirty word

I’m walking past the park to the subzi wallah to buy some okhra. I see my neighbour come down the street with her husband, they do this every evening. We are about the same age and we seem to believe in the same things, such as, walking to our destinations wherever possible. I smile at them. They look away. I guess smiling back at a divorced woman will taint their lives.

It’s really very interesting how the act of telling people in India that you are divorced evokes an imperceptible, uncomfortable reaction. In the metros. I’ll come to the small town reaction later. Just to give you a small idea though, my cousins still phone me to ask after my husband’s health (5 years after my divorce) !! I have given up trying to reform them and simply say he is fine, if I take their calls at all. I have no desire to communicate with people, members of my own family, who show themselves to be so insensitive to my situation.

In so-called educated circles the reaction is a little more ambivalent. Poor things. Despite being dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, they profess to have some degree of education and feel they must therefore also claim to be ‘liberal’. So they pretend to take this information in their stride but they don’t quite know how to react.

The kind thing to do would be to be extra sensitive about an event that is as traumatic as a death in the family. Instead of this humanistic compassion there is an underlying feeling that ‘you don’t believe in family values’, and ‘you are a mentally weak person who does not know how to adjust’. There is also downright nastiness. At one get together of people who I considered my friends one woman called out to me, clear across the lawn, “Where is R…” with a smirk. This was a month after we had had a conversation where I had briefed her about the entire situation. At the party I then said, “ Not here” and it’s clear to me that I don’t want her on my list of friends.

There is a world of a difference in the treatment of a 40 something woman who has lost her husband and a 40 something woman who has split from hers. The second one is seen as a tough demon out to grab everything in sight while the first is of course a saint going through hell on earth, a victim of circumstances.

How exactly is there a difference between two women, till now part of a partnership, suddenly alone, one because of divorce and the other because of death? Both have moved from togetherness to singleness, from eating with a family to eating alone, from caring and being cared for to being responsible only for themselves and having to handle everything single-handedly.

And in addition to all this they are scorned by society – one less, the other more.

And the divorced woman definitely takes the cake. The stigma of being ‘divorced’ is so great, that many people carry on in marriages that are pathetic simply to be able to have the ‘married’ tag.

Yeah…it IS that bad.


About Kalpana

Trying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.

Posted on July 23, 2010, in Divorce. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Well, I generally don’t have a problem with eating alone. I usually have the TV on while eating. In the morning I watch “MOrgenmagazin”, at midday “ARD Buffet” and in the evening news. The latter not regularly. I do find Saturday breakfasts lonely, though. Because there is no Morgenmagazin? Who knows. Sunday is o.k., because usually Tuki and Mintu are coming. I also have the problem of always cooking too much, also on Sundays when I am expecting those two. Three days in a row the same food is still o.k., if there is more left over, one should just throw it away. Sometimes I do. But not as often as I should. Treat yourself to some nice extras sometimes. Well, you and I are divorced because we wanted it. It must be really bad for those who were divorced against their wish. So after a period of moaning about being alone, one should just enjoy the freedom. Imagine, you even can sit at the table and eat out of the pot, noone to take offence. To enjoy the freedom is also your conclusion, so just let`s do it. comment fromDM Misra – on email

  2. World definitely is harder for a divorced woman, remember our lil chat!!

    But when I woman gets this tag added to her identity, she stands up ….. finalyy and decides to move on….. A big thing provided that I see a sizeable lot wining and still wallowing in self pity but unable to stand up.

    The idea is to become happy – with or without a relationship or a new relationship !!! n happiness comes from ones own self n not from anyone else.

  3. You are right, the divorced lot is a threat to our desi system as she has a mind of her own. She choses to be single unlike her widowed sister who is forced to be single. I stayed there few extra years just to avoid the lable divorcee. Oh, you have no idea how I was dropped like hot potatoes from desi gatherings. All those unhappily married women if they had a chance would have scratched my eyes out because I asked directiond from their not so handsome husbands.

    Some members of extended family still asks me after half a decade if the divorce was actually finalized. So you are not alone sista…

    Keep writing,


    Desi Girl

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