Thinking Aloud 10

first of all can I say thank you to all of you who got in touch with me and asked me to get on with the next instalment! Sorry for being tardy, I have been re organising my garden when the sun has been shining.

Anyway back to where I was.

The Matron of the hospital I was training in , was not happy with my un married status, especially when I was spending weekends away from the Nurses Home. So my then by friend ,later husband was summoned and was told in no uncertain terms that he will have to ‘ make an honest woman” of me. Though he was not too happy by being told to do so but he did apply for a marriage license and were married in a register office in Surrey.

Weddings are a huge affair in India, ours was a very quite and solemn affair. Our witnesses were an Irish girl from my training group and her boy friend, after that we went out for a meal.

I moved out of the nurses home, now I was a married woman. Though I still didn’t have the approval of my Indian in laws, in fact that approval never came, though I tried every which way through out our long married life.

It was a very busy life. We didn’t have a car, I had to walk to the train station to get to work, I had to be on duty from 7.30 in the morning, that meant leaving home at about 5.30. A 20 minute walk to the station, tenth train will get me to Kingston, and then there was another 15 or so minutes walk to the hospital where I have to get changed, we were not allowed to travel in our uniform and then be on duty , on dot at 7.30. if you were late you missed the report given by the night nurse and the ward Sister gave you murderous looks, and of course it will go on your conduct report.

My first winter was incredible. it snowed like it will never stop, I have never seen so much snow before, leave alone wade in it. At 5.30 it used to be pitch black and I walked to the station, when I think back to it I never ever felt in any way threatened of fearful. It was of course a different time.

When I did a late shift ,I would start work at 12, and work till 8PM. We worked 42 hours a week.I didn’t get home until 10 Pm , late shifts always were followed by an early one, so it meant going to bed at 11pm or so and then be up at around 4am to get ready to leave. it never worried me though, I was happy as I was doing what I wanted to do; nursing was my dream. We had little money,I was only paid stipend, and my husband didn’t get very much as a junior doctor. More than half of his salary has to be sent to his parents, he was the oldest son, and charged with supporting his parents and eight siblings. A burden Indian society puts on everyone. In my case though my in laws were very demanding. They also insisted that their son visit them every year, which he did ,until the year he died. It was not just the visit though, air travel was very expensive in the 1970s, there were no such thing as cheap flights. But a long list will arrive from my in laws of the things they their son to take for them. Those days India didn’t allow much foreign goods and we were the main supplier it seemed.

When I look back at it , those were the happiest days of my life. carefree and content. We didn’t have much but just each other and it was a bliss. My husband was a very typical product of an orthodox ,traditional Asian family, he could never disobey or refuse his parents anything. The biggest rebellion of his life was marrying me in the UK. His parents and siblings though never ever accepted me as one of their own, I expect I was tolerated. When the children were born ,they were considered more or less their “property”. I was a non entity. My husband though didn’t like it but could never contradict them. His solution was to expose us to less to his family. When we all travelled, i stayed with my parents , otherwise he travelled to India every year.So on the whole it was not a great experience for me either way.

All these years my parents have shunned me, but after my marriage my husband ,being the dutiful son that he was ,had decided to go and visit my parents. Who have by now known that I was in the UK, and was married to a “doctor”! Well I was now acceptable. So they met him , and he came back telling me how nice they were!

My parents have also by now fallen on hard times. Their usual extravagant life style and fickle business ventures have made them bankrupt. And then I received a letter from my mother and my sister. I have never forgotten it, as a matter of fact I still have it. My sister has quoted a poem about sisterly love and how wonderful a sister I was!!! And my mother has written that as they were facing hardship it was “duty” to provide for them. Duty! Obviously as parents they had none towards their child who could be abandoned and relied.

I was so deprived of parental love, I felt I had everything in life except a family! I was young and naive I think. Had to be , because from then on I supported them through out their life. I think back and think of myself as stupid, but then again not sure if I would have been proud of myself , had I had abandoned them or told them to get lost. And then I did go and visit them with my baby son. They were not overly warm, my mother would put on a show of being affectionate , but my father remained hyper critical. I was just glad to have a “family’. At that stage in life it felt as if that was the missing piece of the jigsaw which completed the puzzle of my life. I have never felt entitled for anything, that goes for affection too. It comes down to not having much self worth I suppose. I still dont consider myself worthy of anything including affection, so whatever the intentions of my family were I was just glad they were there.

I also feel my husband loved me more than I deserved or could love him. He was a quite man, found very hard to show his feelings but was capable for very deep feelings. He was kind and decent and cared for me a great deal. I on the other hand am quite vocal, demonstrative and affectionate. I believe in telling people ,appreciating what they do , I make friends easily and love socialising. Where as he was a loner. Polite and kind but very reserved and preferred his own company. It meant though he will tolerate ,when I invited people around, but was not the life and soul of the party. I loved going out, he liked staying in! Then again there are very few couples who are ideally suited. I have nothing to complain though, I lived a comfortable life.

Once the children were born, I was very content . I couldn’t believe there are these human beings who are dependent on me, am their whole world( at least when they were little!). They are amazing kids. Today though they are highly accomplished and successful in life, I think they still love me. Well it is me ,I sometimes find it hard to believe as to why would they, I know this is ir rational ,but am not sure of relationship a mother should have, just that I love them very very much.

Because my husband was a man of few words, I did most of the parenting, besides he believed that his mother coped with having nine children and bringing them up, everyone else should too, as his father was mostly away.

The upbringing of the children was left to me ,it was ‘woman’s work’. I think I did a good job, but I failed in the eyes of my in laws. They still blame me that I have alienated them. I gave my children freedom to choose their own path in life, from religion and life partners to the profession they wanted to follow. I think I did a good job, they are highly successful in their own fields , and happy with the choices they have made in their love life.

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