Sunday, March 05, 2006

The divorced woman as easy prey

(Originally wrote this for the Blank Noise Project blogathon – I’d been told the post didn’t necessarily have to be on street harassment. Oh well, it can sit here now.)

I was nine when my parents separated and my mother and I moved into a new flat. My relationship with my mom had always been very candid, and so it was that even at that early age I developed an understanding of the perceptions many men had about divorced women: that they were available, desperate for any form of companionship – and even fundamentally loose-charactered (it being a major step in our society for a woman to leave her husband’s home, and therefore indicative that she was unconventional in her thinking = not a sweet, submissive Bharatiya naari = Westernised = unprincipled).

One of the first friends my mother made in the new colony was this slightly sad-faced lady (I’m not sure if she was like that from the very beginning or if I’ve ascribed those qualities to her retrospectively) who I’ll call Ritika aunty. She would often visit, sometimes with her husband Rajiv, and mum and I would occasionally go across to their place as well. I can’t recall what I thought of him back then – my memory is so clouded by what happened later – but I probably thought he was an okay sort: the adult male figures in my life up to that point hadn’t exactly been paragons of normalcy, and compared to them most uncles would have seemed okay-sorts.

Ritika and Rajiv seemed the picture of a “normal” couple – well-settled, living in a decent-sized house with two small children and one large dog. Which is why it’s easy to imagine how shaken my mother was when one day – a year or so into our acquaintance with them – Rajiv called her up late one evening and, after initially asking if his wife was around, started making overtures. The kind of talk that begins with “What do you do all day, it must get very dull” and progresses with surprising swiftness to “Is the kid asleep? Should I come over?”

The first thing mum did was to tell me about it. The second thing (and this is something not many women would have had the courage to do) was to call Ritika aunty over and give her the whole story as calmly and straightforwardly as possible. I think it’s equally creditable (given how women in Indian society are conditioned to be fiercely loyal to their husbands just to maintain appearances, “family honour” etc) that Ritika accepted the story without fuss, admitting that she had long suspected Rajiv was up to all sorts of things behind her back, but had resigned herself to it. I imagine she confronted him about it later, and of course that was the end of any contact between him and us. They’re still very much together, though I don’t know what sort of a relationship it must be.

The incident had a major effect on my mother. She no longer felt as free or as comfortable talking with her friends’ husbands as she had before – even with the ones she had known for many years and genuinely believed to be decent men. This most relaxed, unselfconscious of women started feeling the need to measure everything she said at get-togethers. She told me once that she didn’t know anymore whether to laugh at a risqué joke told by a male friend, even if it was in his wife’s presence – because if another such incident ever occurred she might be accused of having brought it on herself by being over-familiar. As tactfully as possible, she made it clear to her closest friends that she was more comfortable when they visited alone rather than with their husbands. Inevitably, the strings of some of those friendships were loosened as a result. And all because of one stupid episode.

I’d like to think things have changed since those days in terms of how men look at a divorced/separated woman – or in terms of people being more accepting of independent women in general. But every once in a while I’m reminded they haven’t. A friend who recently got divorced told me about how she’d been getting strange, scarily persistent phone calls and SMSes from male acquaintances: come-ons based on the assumption that she must now be lonely or insecure. These included guys who were themselves married or in relationships, and who had never been anything more than pleasantly cordial to her when she was married. And I’m talking here about a woman with a thriving career, financial security and parents who were supportive of her all the way through. I can only imagine what it must be like for others who aren’t as lucky. It makes it easier to understand why thousands of women in this country persist in sticking on in bad marriages.

P.S. I still see Ritika aunty around the colony sometimes, looking tired and careworn, usually leading a big dog listlessly around. (It’s almost always a different dog – none of their pets lives very long because this isn’t a family of animal-lovers, they just keep getting dogs to fill the empty spaces in their lives.) She even drops in briefly once every few months but the friendship between her and my mum has never been the same since.

59 comments:

  1. was a little surprised to see this "personal" post on your otherwise very impersonal blog! thanks for sharing this!

    and I don't think it is irrelevant to the blank noise thing at all because at the heart of most of the cases of harassment is the belief that it is women who themselves somehow invite lecherous advances, by not just trying to be attractive but also if they give an impression of being "modern", "forward", "indepependent" (whatever these terms mean) as you say in this post! and even more sadly it appears that this mentality has nothing to do with class, social status, age or education. you can find it everywhere.

    btw, offtopic: when is your Munich post coming up? Has it released in Delhi yet? ;)

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  2. Thanks Jai for sharing. It is extremely difficult to talk about such things--especially when it involves the harassment of a parent.

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  3. Jai,
    Thanks for sharing: Amar

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  4. Jai, much moved by this post. sad how people believe a woman is ready for anything because has walked out of her marriage, or just because she has worn a sleeveless top... it is worse when the woman goes through the guilt of did I invite this in some way.... something I said, maybe I smiled too much...? that is awful...
    - agree with what alok has said here - I don't think it is irrelevant - this *is* harrassment...

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  5. I think that took guts. And the story needed to be told. I know, because my life went on similar lines. Good show.

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  6. it's even harder to be a single woman telling a risque joke. or sometimes, using florid language. even before an audience of so called young, educated, progressive males. the censure is immediate, if not obvious.
    it's a pity our society is this constipated; what's life without the occasional grossness and four letter word?

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  7. Never recorded a comment on Jai's pieces even though I have been a frequent visitor to his site. Am prompted by the various comments (most of them inane) to this piece on the divorced woman. I think the beauty of this piece lies not in the fairly accurate depiction of a divorced woman in Indian society. We all know that. Don't we? I think what makes this piece "a great short story" is the characer of "Ritika Aunty". This piece is not about a divorced woman. But thousands and millions of Indian women, who remain married to their disloyal and insensitive husbands, but don't have the courage to act. The only action they can contemplate is perhaps to change the dogs, as Ritika Aunty does. Wasn't that a great piece? And for this reason?

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  8. Jai: Thanks for sharing.

    It always strikes me as wrong-headed when people point proudly to the low divorce rate in India, as though this were somehow proof that Indian marriages are happier than Western ones. personally, I've always thought of a low divorce rate as being a bad thing, because it suggests, to me, a market inefficiency driven by a set of factors (lack of economic independence, social pressure, sexual harassment) that make exit barriers for women in unhappy marriages unreasonably high. IF anything, a low divorce rate is therefore probably an indicator of more, not less, unhappy marriages, because the high cost of divorce means that women have lower bargaining power in marriages. Which is why I'm always heartened when someone actually has the nerve to strike out on her own (or well, with nine year old in tow!) despite the odds. Kudos to your mom for having the courage to make the break.

    The other reason I think the post might actually be relevant to the harassment dynamic in general (I agree entirely with Alok's comment) is that it highlights so beautifully what I call the once burned ten times shy problem. Your mom sacrificed a number of her old friendships, including those with men who almost certainly were decent guys, just because of one incident. That made perfect sense from her perspective - the costs of one such incident may certainly outweigh the benefit from a dozen casual friendships. But the lesson is, I think, that it doesn't take more than a small % age of men who would actually do something like this to make a woman feel victimised. The thing that a lot of men miss, when they react by saying "only a small fraction of men are like that" (which may, for all i know be true) is that a small fraction of men, who are unidentifiable in any way until they reveal themselves, is all it takes to create victimisation. You don't need to be harassed by every man you meet, you only need to be harassed by one and not know who might be next to feel victimised. Just as you don't need to get mugged every time you walk home at night to feel scared doing it- it only needs to happen to you once, or even to a friend of yours, for it to make you feel unsafe.

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  9. a very moving post.

    Also enlightening, because at least to my sheltered mind, the (upper) middle class in India seemed so Victorian and genteel; but such anecdotes show the superficiality of it all.

    Falstaff: I'd partially disagree with you. The negative externalities upon the child, and even upon the long-term emotional makeup of the husband and wife should entail a high societal barrier; only it shouldn't be so high as to leave women with no choice but to suffer under horrible marriages.

    two questions that I'd like to find out more about are: did the Indian society a couple of decades back actually have a Victorian value system? Were such cracks also prevalent in the actual Victorian period?

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  10. hi!
    I hope that I do not exagerate about the single mothers.I have observed that single mothers bring up children with more insight and qualities as compared to the PARENTS, who have the PERFECT FAMILY.However, it is the most difficult thing to do,as your blog makes us understand that.
    I am sure that you get my point.Thanks for the post.
    Bye

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  11. Great post, Jai. Something similar happened to an aunt, who'd chosen to stay unmarried. Somehow, her friend's husband assumed that this means she is available. This problem, I guess, is common for any woman who does not have a husband - single, widow or divorcee. In that case, though, after his death did the friendship get back to normal.

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  12. Very nice post, made me do a double take, since it is a very uncharacteristically personal post, but I am glad you did post on this subject, is certainly food for thought.

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  13. Great post Jai,

    As someone(Falstaff?) commented, the most interesting(for want of a better word) was Ritkia's Aunty character. Though she believed your mom (susrprising enough), she had resigned herself to his antics. That to a great extent sums up the status of women in our society.

    Great post dude. Appreciate your frankness.

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  14. Seven-times-six: Hmmm. I just had an instant flashback to a class discussion of Ibsen's Doll's House at WIMWI (yes, we did a whole class on Doll's House - apparently doing Ibsen would make us better managers! go figure) where the folks who were against Nora's decision argued that she was wrong because she abandoned her kids. My argument, then (and now) was that it's not clear to me why being in a unhappy and potentially abusive home environment is better for a child than being in a single parent setting.

    The way I see it, there are two view s you can take of parents. The Theory Y view says that parents are responsible, intelligent people who have their children's best interests at heart. In that case, it's certainly true that the presence of young children is likely to serve as a strong intrinsic exit barrier for a woman looking to leave an unhappy marriage. And that's okay, it is a real trade-off and one that hopefully she'll make the right call on (though that call may not always be to stay). The other, theory X view of parenting says that parents are basically irresponsible people who will put their own interest over their children's and therefore need to be constrained from committing selfish acts that will damage their child. That may be true for many parents, but if you happen to have parents like that, you're pretty much screwed anyway.

    One final flashback - have you seen Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage. What I'm reminded of most is that elderly woman who comes to consult Marianne, the one who has spent her whole life waiting for her childrent to grow up and leave so she can finally get her divorce. It's one of the saddest, most touching moments in the TV series (is it in the movie as well - I don't remember).

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  15. Thanks for this really moving post. It must have been difficult sharing all those very personal events.

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  16. Jai: great post. Read 'Nadi ke Dweep' by Agyay if you can catch hold of it...very realistic depiction of similar social bubble around the protagonist in that one.

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  17. I know it's really a daring step to talk of personal, so closed things...that are hushed up in the society and our homes too..I have had a similar traumatic experience and have not had the courage to talk about it...Not till date.

    PJ

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  18. Falstaff: I agree with most of your arguments; except that you missed out on an important middle-ground. The set of parents who have the interests of their kids at heart and are not selfish but in an emotional non-rational state end up making a decision that might not be optimal in the long-term (though it might make imminent sense in the short term)
    It is easy for us to speculate, but such decisions are not simple to make even when the mind is completely clear; the case when there is some emotional distress is moot.

    The caveat about intrinsic barriers, is that they are flexible in emotional non-rational states of mind.
    Which is why one needs an extrinsic barrier that is extrinsic to one's state of mind.
    Succumbing to simplistic metaphors; think of it as a seat-belt rule for marriage.

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  19. Hi Jai,
    First time here thru Indiauncut. My mom walked out when i was 7 and i can't thank her enough for it now but over the years what i have realized is that it is not just women who don't have a man in their lives but also women whose Men (fathers / husbands/ brothers) don't care/protect them who become prime-targets of sexual harassment. These predators sense that fear, vulnerability and "possibility" in these women. Am sure "Ritika Aunty" is also silently enduring the day-today harassment either from her husband or from her husband's friends/society.

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  20. Hi,
    Shit happens - perhaps more often and more overtly to single women.
    Ask yourself one thing though - who is happier - your mum or Ritika-aunty? Though the answers to this may be quite nuanced as well.

    Your mum has you and she also has whatever else she's chosen to fill her life with. Your neighbour has a black hole.
    I feel really, really sorry about the dogs. They got the thinnest end of the wedge
    DD

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  21. Been there, experienced it, many, many years ago. It's sad to see that despite the many strides we've made over the years, some things have stayed at status quo.

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  22. Great post and very insightful. That said, I am curious by the tone. A cad came on to a woman, as they often do. Part of the reason is statistical, women sometimes say Yes. Still, so what. I struggle with what makes a crude come on more than a sad comment on the man versus an attack on the women. I think its in the perception. Women perceive this as a slight (the virtuous) so it is. I think this is very different than the train gropers etc who should be criminally dealth with. Thanks for sharing...

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  23. Jai, I really applaud your mother's courage of conviction, both for deciding to strike out on her own, and for being able to tell her friend about her husband's sexual harassment.

    I've seen countless cases, where dealing with both divorce and sexual harassment has been incredibly difficult. The Indian middle-classes love to keep up appearances, even as relationships are fraught with conflict and unhappiness inside.

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  24. Interesting post. As a single woman in India I could empathise with this. I don't think one gets uptight about someone making a pass (though for many Indian women the notion of virtue is so drilled in that we don't take a sexual pass in our stride - though to be fair the men who make a pass at you are likely to have notions of it being dirty themselves) - its when men persist with it that it gets distressing and begins to affect other relationships. I am not sure if I could tell my friends as your mother did - I am sure women do sense these things and I worry that it may add to an already humiliating set up. I have also been in situations where a person is merely a colleague and you encounter suspicious wives sure you are having a good time with their spouse. As I always say, more sex happens in the minds of Indian married couples than the single/divorced person's life:-)

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  25. Great post, Jai. Can't agree more. Still a long way to go for our society to be liberated, at least for the masses to develop a human outlook (I am really tempted to say a scientific outlook) on many social issues. I feel very sorry to say that the root problem can be traced far back into the process of bringing up our kids when they are at an impressionable age, our failing to instill human values in young peoples' minds. It is a shame that, even in some educated families, divorced or separated wife is always looked down upon and faulted for the broken marriage without leaving any room for argumentation; myths, discriminations run for generations. It is just a small example of how people in India are brought up with many inhuman prejudices. There are many. You can well imagine how much darkness the relatively less educated class is in. Now tell me, a person who spends his formative years in a fetid atmosphere as this will ever be able to respect any woman, be it his mother or his wife, let alone an acquaintance as far away as his wife's friend?

    I find it extremely paradoxical that, while our tradition is in the line of showing deep respect for women by worshipping goddesses, by touching the feet of one’s mother, grandmother after waking up in the morning, the incidence of improper behavior against women is remarkably high in an Indian context as against the Western Society on which a general Indian perception is that of prurience. A huge disgrace and an unsightly contradiction. There must be something mammoth injustice going on somewhere.

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  26. Hello Jai,
    having seen a lot of single men and women around me,i beleive the pressure to stay in marriage is from every strata of the society.belelive me,even sensible people who wish to separate can't do the same and languish in darkness for the tremendous pressure put on them in the name of traditions.
    even today men don't like their wives to share a joke with their male colleagues or spend some time.and romantic sms forwards,shayris are taboo.
    other thing that appears non-sense to me is our attittude towards single parents and single people.i mean a single man isnt thought to be a freak,but a divorced woman,a spinster is eyed with suspicion and the first opinion raised is about her character or seen as a soft-target for one night stand.men can walk away scot-free from marriages,women can't.
    it's like the same thing,i experience in college, colony and some places i visit .a guy having intimacy with girls is perceived as cool and if it's is a girl it's a result of bad character.

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  27. hi,
    got to ur blog thru preetanjali.
    can u blv even widows are not spared? i know an aunty in my neighbourhood who has gone through some horrid experiences....

    i mean - why is it is to hard to be a single woman, leave alone, SURVIVE as one!

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  28. Sub: "Beti Bachaao" (Save Daughter) - Saturday Evening Party at India Gate- New Delhi


    Sachit , 30 years old , a brilliant Software Consultant, BE, till date who is struggling to register an FIR or any Small Investigation by Local Police officials , how his wife and her Parents had killed his Daughter , send the below mail to me :-

    "This is regarding The 'Beti Bachaao' Programme, organised at India Gate NewDelhi, on 04-03-2006 evening.
    Mrs. Sheila Dixit was also present there includingaround 4000 women. Today (05-03-2006) I watched (a news) at a reputed TV news Channel regarding“Women’s Day” function at India Gate, New Delhi.
    According to the news : There were over 4000 (Over Four Thousand) womenpresent (including Mrs. Sheela Dixit - Hon’ble CM Delhi) at this occasion. Save daughter (Beti Bachaao – slogan of the programme).
    Initially, I was really thrilled to hear “Beti Bachaao – slogan” of theprogramme. I was delighted to expect something really relevant to save thedaughters (specially the unborn/newly born daughters).
    But to my surprise (even still I can’t believe what I saw on TV)… a couple ofyoung girls are playing the popular hindi film songs (Mera Yaar Mila De Mujhko-Remix - DJ) and dancing there….. I felt ashamed/pity to see the ‘way’ they are trying to save our daughters –By dancing on DJ at India Gate… I wonder how can they save my daughter by organizing ‘Kitty party’ typefunction at India gate in the evening (in addition to that Saturday Evening!!!!).
    They also lit some candles (as a mark of hope), organized dance party (as amark of enjoyment), eating samosas (feeling hungry after dance), havingtea/coffee etc…..

    Sorry to admit : They can do these activities at their own level every Saturday evening in a pub/club. I want to request them to STOP playing such tunes on the name of SaveDaughters (as I have already lost one)….
    I want to request them to please don’t harm the already striken parent (like me) by dancing at India gate on Saturday evening on the name of Save Daughter (Beti Bachaao).

    I suggest : Even if out of that 4000 women, every women tries to save onedaughter (Beti) by inspecting the ‘Abortion Centres’ records, they (alltogether) could have saved atleast 40000 (forty thousand) daughters (Betis). Also, I wish my daughter (Beti) were ONE out of that FORTY THOUSAND DAUGHTERS".

    This is not the feeling of only Sachit , Lakhs of Sachit all over the India are making round the police station and court room , as thier wives had allready aborted their Daughters , without their any consent , started to raising thier voice in Save Indian Child Yahoo Groups ( SIF Volenters ) .

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SaveIndianChild

    One hand our so called Women Orginasations are supported by our own hard earned Tax Payer money , are busy for the Dance Show at India Gate , SIF Volenters are busy at the Back Side of India gate ( Patilawal Court Room ) , arguing with Judges , why those Criminal should not be punished who had Killed thier Daughters , before their Born .

    We wonder , our NCW have really any concern for Murder of our Daughters !!!!

    Otherwise how so many 498A girls and thier family able to kill the child and move freely in our society ??

    Can we expect a Special LAW , by which those people Killing our Daughters along with those abortion centers , to be hang till the death under IPC314/315 ??

    Let Ban the Child Abortion in India and then prodly say ""Beti Bachaao" (Save Daughter) " instead of making fun /enjoyment at India Gate .


    With Regards
    Swarup Sarkar
    http://pariwariksuraksha.blogspot.com/2006/03/sub-beti-bachaao-save-daughter.html

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  29. I have had several such things when I was living alone and unmarried. I was equally hurt by women who looked at me as a man eater waiting to steal their husbands. my only question was, why do i have to go after a man who is attached and unloyal. do I not deserve someone better? in what way I am inferiour enough to go after somebodyelse husband? won't I get my own, according my *liking*?

    anyway, I did get one. :-)

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  30. That was really brave of you to share something so personal. But well, the fact is, some stereotypes are just deeply entrenched in the minds of the people. Also it has also got to do with the patriarchal nature of our society. many of them just can't digest that a single woman can lead a normal life without ANYONE'S HELP.

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  31. Hi Jai, that was an extremely sensitive piece!

    Is it human or are we transmorphing into some shit, conditioned by social and moral taboos, crass consumerism and disregard for values?

    Whatever it maybe, but the road only goes downhill and no-where!

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  32. Hi, Jai--this was a truly moving story. I'll tell you something interesting--I remember putting up my profile on the Rediff dating site many years ago, only to receive overtures from several married men! I was so shocked at this occurence that I would delete the posts they'd send. Anyway, one of these respondents to my profile wrote to say what a tough time he had because he and his wife had just had a baby and he got no attention from her. I got so annoyed that I finally wrote back and told him that I thought he should help his wife with the baby!

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  33. Your mother is an incredibly brave woman. And it's clearly in the genes -- it takes plenty of courage to talk about the harassment (or variants thereof) one's mother has faced, to admit she's human, rather than cling to the idealised figure of 'Indian' motherhood.

    Excellent post, Jai.

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  34. I think your Mom's manner was most dignified, however the cautious behaviour the incident triggered is so unfair, but i think whats worse is what women like Ritika Aunty have to live with. Imagine being with a husband who you know has done this.That must be living hell.You kill yourself every moment!

    I once lived with a similar family(my dad's friends) and somehow the fact that, that aunty never took the courage to leave or confront her hubby never went down well with me.

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  35. Jai - posted my thoughts on your extremely moving post and the posts on your post at my site here - http://blackmuddyriver.blogspot.com/2006/03/dvd-update-and-shared-stupidity.html. This might just get me some 'shared' visitors at any rate, eh?

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  36. Shamya: thanks dude! Needed something like that after all the group-hugging...

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  37. Completely unrelated. but there is a comment by some one nicknamed akb.. somebody from ur previous office? I cant quite imagine him reading blogs and commenting on them tho.

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  38. Greatbong, Quiller Couch, falstaff, Pareshaan, Confused... you are keeping great company, Jai. Not the best way to do your parents proud.:o)

    Sorry if it hurt anyone, was only trying to lighten up this serious discussion.

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  39. as a young working girl i really could identify with a lot of things u wrote in the post..its not only divorced women who face these things...in india any girl whos working successful andunattached is considered bold and "openminded" by guys...i have faced this things a lot............and i think its very commendable on your part to write this when it has happened to your own parent....

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  40. Jai,

    I happened on your blog by accident but am now addicted to it. Being a divorced women myself your post hit very close to home. Also this problem is not only in our society but everywhere. Also another thing I noticed is that when a girl moves closely with a guy everyone(including the guy) thinks she is hitting on him(even if the girl is married) so I came to the conclusion that guys and girls can never be friends and am scared of talking to guys now.

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  41. I came across this blog coloum quite accidently and I am struck by the volumes of people leading a single life. Our Indian society is not very kind to people leading a single life, they are very interfering by nature. Reading this article it gives an insight into the daily lives of single women struugling to lead a normal life.

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  42. Came across your blog..
    The post is plain, simple and forthright. And, the impression its made on you as a child speaks volumes as does the post. The behaviour, perceptions and apathy you've talked about is relevant even now..only its cloaked under the banner '21st century'.

    With a sense of pride (am another like minded mom) would like to say, children raised by single moms are children nonetheless only more responsible and mature.

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  43. Women need to break through the silence of not sharing their own experiences with emotional predators so they can learn from each other how to protect themselves from the ever present problem of being men's flavor of the month, or the moment.

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  44. People who choose to be single are cowards because they don't have the guts & patience to make a relation work. The easiest escape is to remain single be it after divorce or not getting married at all.

    We have formed society but we forget that we are still the part of animal kingdom. Male species by nature are aggressive, physically stronger and their role is to provide security to their family. A single female is psychologically not considered a part of a family who is not "protected" by a male.

    No body marry for a divorce but if al options to sort out the matter die, only then a couple should choose it. Majority of women have "dreamy" expectations out of a marriage and now that women are in jobs, they live under a notion of "self dependent" and men become a secondary option and so does the marriage. Being self dependent "financially" is good but making it an ego issue is un-called for.

    Why do women try to compare to men?? what for? Why don't women believe in their own identity rather than compare with men.

    A lioness kills her prey for her family while most of the time lion only relaxes but then lioness leaves a lion because she is the one who "earns" for the family?? why she sticks to a lion? Why she does all the hard work to chase and make a kill while lion enjoys the meal in the end?

    We humans have forgot the very basic survival instinct that remains deep down in our genes. We may call ourselves civilized but the truth is that the animal within us will always be alive.

    Both men & women today have resorted to ego and it's clash is making the relation sour. Don't forget that when 2 individuals live together then differences are bound to come. We mistake to choose to be right rather than be happy.

    To sum this up, then the concept of "single" doesn't exist in nature. Humans live in a family and the moment it cease to exist, the person is looked down upon.

    No matter how many debates about social "enlightenment" happen, the concept of being single (both for men/women) will never be psychologically accepted.

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  45. excellent post on several levels ... but mainly because it is personal and honest.

    @nitin: "never" is a very big word and, sooner or later gets, proved wrong. more and more, however slowly, the views are changing. a few years ago this would not even have come up for public discussion. not many women would have added to the comments, either. and being 'single' is not as unnatural as you imagine ... nature does not produce people in pairs. Censurious comments like this make it difficult for those who chose to remain single (or have to remain single) for numerous reasons.

    It is an extension of this kind of thinking that made widows victims. And the fact that the whole ethos is created by 'males' is apparent in the fact that widowers carry no stigma ... otherwise single men carry it much less than women.

    The male superirity you subscribe to was in an era when brawns were worth more than brains.

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  46. Hi Jai,

    I came across your post. I am in a deli ma, I am in love with a girl who is divorced. I'll tell you the story in brief.

    I joined a company as an analyst, the same day another girl joined and she joined as an analyst too. It was like love at first sight, and to my surprise we both had to share same cubicle. I started chatting with her and this continued for some 8 months, I developed special feelings. she knew that I am after her and I am in love and she also had feelings for me. I formally proposed her one day when I asked her out for a date and she constantly said that there are certain things in life which is not possible. I could not understand it, I asked her and she refused. later one day I said I am going to tell my parents about you, she immediately said, look honey I know you love me but still I need to tell you something before and after that if you think you should talk then go ahead. next day I was busy with work and she too was busy, in the evening she went a bit early and after some time I got an sms from her which said I have sent you a mail. I read her mail and I cried the entire night. she wrote about her marriage some two years back which lasted for less than two months.
    Now its almost a month since she mailed me and we still work in the same cubicle and I still love her. I am ready to accept the rose with thorns, but I am not sure how much I'll have to bleed. I think you would be in a position to give me an answer to what I should do now.
    Please write to Teddy.ravi@gmail.com .
    For privacy purpose I am not disclosing my identity, please understand my situation and respond.
    Many Thanks

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  47. Hey, I was doing some random googling and ! came across ur post...!!!! And it really gave me something positive, so thought will leave a comment here.
    I am young woman with the thriving career, financial security and all that. I have been married for 9 months now and my marriage is almost on the rocks.
    I say ‘almost’ because we aren’t giving up just yet, but yeah it does seem like we may be walking down that road.
    Somewhere between the petty domestic fights, we seem to have lost most of what got us together in the first place. And sometimes divorce seems like a good idea, at least it will relieve us of the constant emotional stress this marriage seems to be laying on us.

    The scary part is that I don want a divorce mostly because of what everyone will say, think, and tell me!!!! I dread having to hearing my parents tell me that I ought to think of myself as lucky because my husband “lets” me work, or that my life is incomplete without a man and kids and who will marry me again!!!! I dread having to tell my coworkers (who have no concept of space) why my marriage failed and dread even more the instant judgement they are sure to make!!! I dread above all that my friends (some of whom are in difficult marriages themselves) will think of me as selfish!!!

    But hey, ur post gave me something positive , am not quite sure what…. Maybe it was a feeling that other women have been through this before, or maybe it was a feeling that not everyone out there will judge me … but something definitely positive…>!!!! Thanks for posting!!

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  48. Jai,

    Nice meeting you

    I walked into your blog while looking for some material on divorce experiences...something to do with a write up...i loved the way you wrote it and all my empathies on your experiences...

    i hope to read the rest of your blog posts some time...

    Suneetha

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  49. nice post

    agree with zakintosh totally. Rigid views like Nitin's are behind the persecution of single/divorced/widowed women, that is seen. As long as retort was by way of brawns women had no chance but with brains they have their options. ultimately it comes down to the person, and her likes. On the issue of everyone meant to be in pairs, why so? We come solo and we go solo. So what's the point? Yes relationships makes life fun but its not necessarily thru' marriage alone, bonding with others in society at levels other than sexually is much more satisfying- something called unconditional love which contemplative animals like humans are endowed with. Also , in consideration to the male species, overtures are possible but a strict rebuff is enought to stop it , as also mentioned in the post. That's all. How should others opinion about yourself affect you?

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  50. I really admire your honesty. I understand how difficult it is to talk about such matters.

    My Parents got divorced about a year ago. Instead of being supportive, people reacted horribly towards my mother in particular. Being Asian as well, it didn't help. My mother was shunned from her usual social circles and people treated her like she had some sort of contagious disease. I was shocked at how insecure and shallow other women were. Like you, men just began to prey on her and it was disgusting, she was disgusted.

    Having made such observations, i was wondering what your thoughts, do you feel divorced women are still stigmatised or are they in a more powerful position, able to stand on their feet without rushing back into a relationship?

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  51. I was almost too naive to think that this never happened. It was inspiring to hear that your mother was candid with you when this happened to her even though you were small and to see that you have brought the same courage to your life by writing about it here.

    Thanks for writing your post.

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  52. Got to this post through the BlogAdda i/v.

    Don't worry, I am not into the "group-hugging" thing, but I have one thing to say and one to ask.

    1) Reading the P.S., it struck me that you are being too judgmental/harsh on Ritika Aunty. Of course, it's your right/prerogative to be so, since it's your post but chances are you have no idea about the real situation.

    2) One doubt that re-surged after reading "Black Muddy River"'s comment (link given in his/her comment): what is middle class?

    I have posed this question to many people but have at best got only vague responses (even in a consumer behavior class!).

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  53. Nimit: very surprised you see any trace of judgementalism here - I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the lady. (The bit about her looking tired and careworn is a very straightforward recording of how she does look.)

    Also, I hope you noted what I said about her in the BlogAdda interview.

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  54. I am sure you have nothing but sympathy and respect for the lady. And, yes of course I did read what you had to say about her in the i/v. That is why it surprised me even more. What I am referring to is the actual part of the post. This:

    they just keep getting dogs to fill the empty spaces in their lives.

    And any thoughts/links/books (is the Pavan Varma book any good?) on the second question?

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  55. Nimit: if you're talking about that one sentence, okay, I admit to it being judgemental in a limited way. I don't like it when people who aren't serious animal lovers keep (and eventually neglect) pets just for personal entertainment. Have seen generations of dogs in that house looking very morose.

    Middle class - no real opinion. If I use the term I use it in an abstract way to denote a certain set of traits: conservatism about morality, for example. I know many people who are very wealthy or very poor but whom I'd describe as middle-class in this sense.

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  56. Yes, I struck me as soon as I pushed the "publish the comment" button, that it may have more to do your impatience/contempt with people who treat pets as accessories. And I was right then!

    On a related thought: how do you feel when a virtual stranger (like me) can read into/predict your thoughts based only only on having followed posts over time?

    Anyway, talking of pets, remember the post you had written about a stray cat who had walked in and walked out of your life. Well, that was some solid piece of writing. Did you try to get it published in some literary magazine/anthology because it surely deserves to be exposed to an audience larger than just a blogging community (however popular it may be)?

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  57. Hi

    I am a British Indian, divorced in 2007, I am moving to Australia to start a new life. Life after divorce has been very difficult experiencing many of the issues you described. Thank you for sharing...it's good to know that I am not alone in this journey..

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  58. Hey, I was googling for something and came across your post. Well, I was googling "divorced Indian women". I recently got divorced and I am still so young. My husband is gay and still the societal pressures and "waht-will-happen-in-future" is what kept me so long from making my decision. I am well-educated, beautiful, smart and intelligent but oh well!this is how our society is. Kudos to your mom for being brave and standing up for herself. I have been recently approached by men who were always nothing but good friends during the time I was married. It threw me berserk seeing their changed behavior towards me. I have now begun to accept it is different now.

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  59. Hello Every one out here!!
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    ReplyDelete