Saturday, November 1, 2008

Not out of business

For a fortuitous reason I shan't discuss, I revisited this blog today for the first time in quite some time. I love hearing these stories; and we haven't had a submission for a while. So please--if you have a story to tell, by all means email it to me.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

anonymous post, Norman OK

"When I was going through a particularly difficult break-up recently my mother told me that sometimes, like it or not, we can fall in love with someone that is bad for us. After all of her experiences, all of the emotional and physical pain she went through with my father, I seriously doubt that anyone on this giant spinning ball of dirt and water could possibly know that more than her. Falling in love with someone that was bad for her was exactly what happened when my mother met my father, and as it stands there are no pictures of them on their wedding day.

My parents met at the same bar in Norman, Oklahoma where years later my twin first saw his wife. My mother was a college undergrad, my father a law student. Or so he said. He left everyday at the same time for class, books in hand, off to learn the law. He was a smooth talker and she an innocent farm girl who fell for him along with everything he told her hook, line and sinker. Soon, he was able to talk her into being his common law wife. My mother, ever the diligent student, researched the practice of common law marriage, filed the necessary paper work, and changed her last name. There was no wedding. There were no pictures. Soon however, there were twins. And there were lies, lots of them. Eventually, everything started to unravel.

Steve Edwards, 25-year-old law student, turned out to not be a law student, turned out to not be 25 years old, and turned out to not even be named Steve Edwards. Instead, he turned out to be a 35-year-old abusive alcoholic and habitual liar. My father began beating my mother black and blue and he did it often. Bumps, bruises, breaks, it wasn’t pretty. She suffered a broken back once. Another time, he tied her up and put her in the trunk of his car. She was missing for a week and no one had any idea where she was. Eventually, she had to drop out of school because of it. My mother filed for divorce but for some reason she still loved him. They got divorced and then got back together. Then they had another child. God love her, my dear sweet mother tried to make it work. My father would tell her he was sorry, that he would stop drinking, and of course because love can be as blinding as a hot poker to the eye, she believed him. As you might have guessed though, it didn’t stop. There were more lies. There was more drinking. There were more bruises, bumps, and broken bones. Finally the last straw came when he began hitting one of her children. She told him not to beat her child, so he stopped and began beating her.

The story does have a happy ending though. She left him after that day. Things were hard. A single mother of three on welfare at the age of 24, my mother went back to school full time and got her Master’s degree in a year. She remarried. And this time, there were pictures. Embarrassing pictures of a four-year-old me in a green plaid suit walking my mother down the isle, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that she had found love and that he became a wonderful father to her three children and a fourth would soon join them. They went through ups and downs but now, where my old father would show her the back of his hand, my new father would show her love.

Someone once told me that my mother had been a bad mother for staying with my father and subjecting her children to that. I could agree with nothing in the world any less. I think my mother is the strongest woman I know for leaving even when it was hard. I think she’s the strongest woman in the world for realizing that she loved someone that was bad for her and for leaving. And as her reward, she found a super hero. And she finally got those wedding pictures."

-submitted by a reader in Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Shrinivas S. and Jayanti S., Feb 1969

"It would be a disservice if I were to write about my parents’ wedding day and not mention the glorious twenty-eight years of matrimony that followed. I am shaped into the person that I am on the foundation of these twenty-eight years of companionship, mateship, support and love that my parents shared.

I am of Hindu heritage, and my parents grew up in post-independence, conservative India, sharing small stark quarters with a multitude of siblings, fathers barely eking out a living. They were cousins and my Pops had held my Mum as a baby, since she was twelve years younger than him. It may have turned out to be a marriage made in heaven for them but it was seriously opposed by my grandmum on the Pops side, since my Mum’s folks couldn’t afford any dowry. The courage of a man who dared defy his mother’s wish to be with a woman he loved, in that day and age in India, was not only unknown, but is also tremendously laudable. My grandmum’s superstitious fears about the unholy union were completely heightened when on the eve of the marriage, there happened drama aplenty. Rioting closed down Bombay, one of my Pops’ brothers thought it get him some attention if he attempted suicide, the priest was incommunicado and somesuch normal happenings. But amidst such events, my unruffled Pops placed the sacred necklace around Mum’s neck, put the vermillion on me Mum’s forehead in front of the ceremonial fire, walked seven times around it and took an oath of a lifetime for togetherness.

The early years were probably the most miserable for my Mum since my father had to return to his job in England and make annual visits that were always fleeting, but with enough time to sire two children, my older sister and me. But as Mum tells me, it was worse for Pops since he terribly missed his family and was always homesick. So finally, after four years of an interrupted marriage, Pops finally took a job in Bahrain and whisked us all away to il paradiso.

Over time I saw the love blossom between my parents. She was his Jai, he was her Shri (something she never called him when in front of the family elders or outsiders), and their love, though never displayed outwardly, was witnessed by me, growing up. I also learnt parity between partners and respect for women from the way my Pops treated my Mum. She learnt to appreciate an alcoholic drink because my Pops wanted her to infuse acceptable Western practices in her traditional Hindu lifestyle. It was their weekend routine, Pops pouring out two equal doses of rum in the glasses while Mum would lovingly prepare a dinner that he (and us all) loved. I remember watching photos of my Mum’s first visit to US in 1973. Mum in a satin top and checked bell-bottoms and looking like she’d topple any moment in the platform heels. But the braided hair and the vermillion dot on her forehead, signifying her beloved Shri, remained. And my Pops with a mop of curly black hair and a handlebar moustache and belt buckle that covered half his midriff! Oh yes, they knew how to have a good time.

On their 25th anniversary, we threw them a surprise party. My adman mate Tintin even made this huge poster “Marriages are made in heaven but executed on Earth, you two are a proof of that…” I remember my conservative parents dancing all night to romantic songs like newly-weds. Theirs was a magic special to them.

Like all good things coming to an end, this lovely union ended in 1997, three days before their 28th anniversary. Yes, one of the things cancer can take away from you. After suffering with him for four years, one morning she finally prayed to God to end his pain and he rested in peace. But the marriage did not. Of course not, Shri and Jai are married forever, as they promised on that day, February 9, 1969.

I only wonder if I’d truly be able to experience their kind of love…"

-submitted by Shayne S