Divorce – a word as guarded and sworn into secrecy as my nani’s halwa recipes, the duo-syllabic existence of it often dissolved into hushed whispers at glittering dawats and all this fuss led me to ponder one eve over a cup of chai; Why? Why do we not engage in conversations about divorce? Is that dirty of a word to be heard slipping out of a married individual’s lips? Especially in the present era where divorce has become analogous to purchasing a tin of coconut biscuits and returning them after a few days because suddenly your palate dislikes the dry, sandy flavour.
This chatter prompts me to dip my finger into the crevasses of my mind and procure the memory of my street where a man shoved out his wife for no substantial reason apart from the fact that he disliked the way she kept her house. Logic seems to sprout wings and fly out of the window on such instances. The magazines I used to peruse in my youth were chock full of sizzling, scandalous stories where wives were divorced for wearing too much makeup and where women had lusted towards adultery as their husbands did not allure them anymore. Whatever the problem maybe I deduce that people have resorted to seeing divorce as an easy escape instead of persevering to keep the flames of matrimony burning longer.
But again, there are some bewakoofs that make it seem as if the devil had a free spin on the matchmaker however as prevalent as it is now divorce in my time was a vague concept as rare as hen’s teeth.
I married in Kenya and birthed five beautiful children. With a farm as our solitary source of income, my husband and I put in lots of spadework and whether it was the physical exertion or the stress that, with the passage of time led my husband to develop mental health issues. After a diagnosis, the hospital concluded that he must be sectioned however with the stigma around mental health and the lack of quality content educating the masses, this conclusion was swiftly dissolved under the word of my in-laws. My mother-in-law refused to allow his sectioning and was adamant that I must take better care of him because obviously ‘log kya kahengey?’
Maintaining the perfect, cereal packet family image was prioritised over the truth and by God did everybody suffer. With the elbow grease needed on the farm, bringing up five children, ensuring they get adequate love while providing my husband with the gentle care he needed fragmented my existence into pieces. Just as the songbirds pecked at the ripe orange and took with them sweet slices, I too carved off slivers of myself and hand-fed it to those I loved for even fathoming a separation from my husband was impossible. I strived and the past bears a testimony to a future where I would’ve strived more had it not been my in-laws who threw me and my children out on the streets.
Every day was a war on the streets, it was only sheer commitment and my iron will that sealed my survival who kehte hain na jo dar gaya samjho mar gaya, I never let my fate scare me because after all, the lines delineating it were etched on my palms, the palms I would use to shape a better future and so I did.
We camped at an area near a petrol station as that guaranteed 24-hour lighting and the metaphysical darkness in our lives would never turn into tangible shadows. I then scouted a job and worked countless hours to make ends meet and honestly I never minded the physical aches as much as the emotional jabs stung. As Manto once said “The barbs of society are always reserved for the women” and accusatory fingers always pointed to me instead of my in-laws and ex-husband.
All these shortcomings lay firmly on my shoulders however I rooted them deep somewhere in my subconscious and disallowed them to interfere with my life and soon I met my second husband.
I was fortunate enough to have found a soul as gentle as his; he loved me and my five children as his own and brought me with him to the UK where I have rebuilt my life for the past three decades. He is no longer alive, and I never remarried but I am deeply grateful for the blessed life I live.
Separation impacts couples devastatingly and more so if they have children that are forever lost wondering where they belong. The single parent is weighed down with dual duties that may have a significantly negative impact on the child’s development and despite everything I firmly believe divorce is never the answer. If there is even a sliver of love and compassion, you rekindle the spark that once ignited in your hearts, work on communication and solutions because frankly the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and divorce comes with its fair share of problems.
However, if it is the last resort then proceed with caution and mutual satisfaction. It is easy to suggest these solutions as you munch on samosas but at the end of the day only the couple knows what is ideal for them and their fate rests in their very own hands.