My daughter got married earlier this month. The wedding itself set off a train of thought for a writer of divorce stories, you will be hearing them all.
For now, what’s uppermost on my mind are the ex in-laws. They flew in from all over the world for the festivities. I was kind of isolated because none, except for my mother, of my closest family could come for the wedding thanks to my brother’s debilitating chemotherapy, which is alright if you look at the larger picture and at what is important. Sometimes though, I can’t help but look at the smaller picture, wishing they had been here to support me. My siblings don’t even see it like that, thinking mostly about all the merriment that they missed and very little about my situation or need for support.
The ex in-laws were actually very charming, warm and friendly which would be fine, if you look at the larger picture. Unfortunately for me I can’t help but pick up nuances, glances and slight humiliations, which I put aside for the wedding and the happiness of my daughter on her special day. Now that I’m free to chew the cud I’m thinking about them.
One particular ex in-law will be of great interest to readers about Indian divorce. This gentleman, let’s call him Brutus, married to my ex’s sister abhors divorce. He comes from the UP hinterland where women are mere chattels and whatever they do is ‘permitted’ by their man. This holds good even though he no longer lives in India, has lived out of the country for decades and been exposed to different attitudes to marriage and divorce.
Brutus, has a sister who was desperately unhappy in her marriage to an alcoholic. Many moons ago, she left the man, got herself a job and started a relationship. Her sister-in-law, my ex sister-in-law offered her a room in their house till she could find her feet. Within a month, her brother Brutus had bamboozled her into returning to her husband and her terrible marriage leaving behind a chance for a new life, giving up her job and her relationship.
Brutus, said nothing to me about my divorce. I was not invited to his son’s wedding, an event that had the family fly in from all over the world – nor did I expect to be. He made it his mission to forbid my ex mother-in-law from meeting me. She, a strong woman, listened quietly, then told her (divorced) daughter – “ Of course I will meet her. Why should I listen to him.”
When my daughter’s wedding was planned I braced myself for the meeting. On the first evening, happy to see the entire band of ex-in-laws I hugged and kissed all of them. He withdrew. His son’s lip lifted in what seemed like a sneer. His daughter-in-law, poor thing, didn’t know where to look when I tried to have a conversation with her. I would have loved to get to know her, but she has a life long relationship with her father-in-law which I wouldn’t want her to risk for a random aunt-in-law that was.
I’m a loving person, naturally happy to see people I’ve spent much of my life with and I don’t use weddings as an opportunity to flaunt my grudges. When I noticed people being petty and unforgiving, I moved away from them with a smile. Now that the wedding is over, I’m thinking about it. I refuse to let it hurt me but it’s good to know what people are like.
Blended families are all very well but they do take a lot of hard work. If my ex husband and I had an acrimonious relationship there would have been a lot of tension about parents at my daughter’s wedding. It isn’t easy to rub shoulders with people who are no longer family specially when some of them meet as a mere formality. want to continue my association with people I’ve known for most of my adult life and I’m happy I made the effort. Those who didn’t, or couldn’t behaved the way they did because they haven’t had the experience I’ve had and have forgotten the difficult times they’ve been through. I’m happy to have overcome a need for approval and love from everyone. Divorce does that for you. Shunned by those with a typical Indian mindset you learn to be strong and to rejoice in what you have. An ex-husband who remains unaffected by the poisonous barbs of some members of his family, his new wife who is inclusive and respectful of my situation (having been through it herself) and a host of wonderful children who bring a new meaning to the term ‘blended families’.