Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Through the window-Marriage and relations..

       How would a marriage be where a husband works and woman is dependent on her  husband? 
Perhaps a submissive wife and the husband deciding everything right? The reality was the inverse. 
      In most of the houses it was the women who had the say and husband were the meek ones. In any other part of the country it would look odd but in these societies it is the wife who makes the rules. You would wonder why. It has got to do with management. These women are tight budget managers and husbands have no other way but to hand over their entire salary to their wives because they too know that the wife would know best how to make the most out of it. How else could they survive in a city like Mumbai with a monthly salary less than 10K ?
      The women of these societies, like I soon realized, were made of a different soil. Marriages were meant to be kept no matter how bad the situation.  In the years that I lived there, I came across two such houses which made an impression about marriage and relations in the society. They follow the “till death do us apart” quite literally.

         First was the house right in front of mine. A family consisting of the husband,wife, a son, a daughter and a grandmother. The husband was an alcoholic and did work of small time dalal- or property dealer. It was hardly enough to live a hand-to-mouth existence and to top it he spent it all on alcohol. His wife had learnt sewing and she decided to work as a tailor. She stitched blouses and other such little jobs like doing the fall border of the saree etc. This role reversal was the first of its kind. The woman managing the house. Egos were bound to be hurt and then started the daily clashes. He coming home drunk, beating up the wife, asking for money, thrashing the children if they intervened. Sometimes the neighbors intervened when it got too violent but mostly they watched the silent tamasha as the husband hurled abuses at the wife.

        This  family had a lot of relatives who kept coming but one of the man was a regular and he wasn’t a relative. He used to spend for the crackers the kids burst, the new clothes they wore. They called him ‘kaka’. Years later someone told me he was the ‘keep’ of the wife. Shocking at first but now when I think of it I really can understand the situation of the wife. How else would she have managed the house? This man has married off her daughter and helped her son settle down.  If you happen to see the husband and wife on a New Year they would be happily going on  a scooter and visiting relatives with sweets. The bitter truth of the marriage is what the society alone knows..

        Second was the marriage of a man who was mentally disturbed. I wouldn’t call him mad because he was perfectly well most of the year except for a month or two when he became unstable. He would talk nonsense, roam about without a shirt and other disturbing things. His marriage was a second marriage (his first wife had separated). The second wife was a hardworking and clean lady. She converted his house overnight into a “home”. We saw him wear clean ironed clothes, go to work regularly and they looked happy for a few months. Soon his mental health deteriorated and he started his old tricks. His wife became the victim of his uncalled- for anger. He stopped going to office, threw around the vessels, hurt her. She had to work at others' house as maid to support her home. She once came running to our house as her husband was chasing to thrash her. She stayed overnight crying. Mom offered her work at our home which she did well for a few months. She too was getting weak and kept unwell so she later quit the job. By this time the man was slowly getting back to normal.

        I was coming back from school during the monsoons. This lady was going around the banyan tree with a thread in her hand that she was tying to the tree as she moved. It was vat savitri that day. Where women fast and pray for the long life of their husbands and tie that thread around the banyan tree..  Women! What art thou made of?
       A few months later the woman died due to some illness. Her husband wailed and grieved. He was shattered. He became more unstable. The last I heard about him was that his relatives were trying to steal away his home.. 

P.S : This post was supposed to contain Love affairs as well but the post is getting too long for its own good. So Love affair coming up next.. It is scheduled alread :)
P.P.S: Sorry for the long absences and delayed replies on comments. Sometimes I just get too lazy to comment after a long day :) But I do try to reply to all the comments :)
P.P.P.S : @ Atrocious Scribbler    your post on  Writer's Block inspired me to write. And yes I drafted this post in my head while I was studying Anatomy for my exams :D :D 


Atrocious Scribblings said...

Nice, glad I could be of some assistance.

Keirthana said...

Good one again, I have heard about such stories from my Grandma who used to live in north India in her early days.

maithili said...

@Atrocious Scribbler : Yes you were helpful :) Thank you :)

@Keirthana : It is very much the reality in many places but only it is not talked of..

Vinati said...

In one of my subjects of 1st year i.e., Sociology, I read that the matriarchal trend is prevalent among Dravidian societies which are mostly found in the suburbs of the Southern India while Aryans of the North India follow patriarchy.

You brought up a very different concept. Good work! :)

Mystical Skeptical Me said...

Wow Maithili, I am so glad you wrrote this....I am not surprised by the dedication of the woman in the second instance...I have found myself questioning the woman here...and yet being in awe with her...the first instance just shows the pain...of a broken marriage....I love the way you have brought this up... :D :D

Red Handed said...

I think the Nairs of the south used to follow a matriarcial approach too.
Now it doesnt work I guess
Great post Maithili! LOved reading it

maithili said...

@Vinati : IT is true.. My origins are dravidian too.. So we follow a matriarchal system.. But it is only nominal.. Like we carry on the surname of our mothers and not father.. But the man still remains the head of the family and wife meek.. :)

@MSM : I really don't understand the level of faith and dedication these women have.. The upper strata women would just walk out and live separate but the economically lower ones do not.. As for the broken marriages, I guess its more painful living with the person and faking all is well..

@Red : Like I said matriarchal family is just in the name.. The men still dominate.. Thank you Red :) Glad you liked it..