My parents are divorced and my father never cared about what I was doing or whether if he still remembered me. His apathetic nature towards me affected me a lot until I discovered the fact of having two twin stepbrothers. Sixteen years without the presence of a father was really annoying but then I had my mother and my grandmother with me for adequate support. I shrank from discussing the past, and the dread of a lonely future. She, however, was ready at last to speak about her complicated and a failed marriage with my father.
Sitting down for dinner with her, just the two of us, night after night, I began to understand how well she had kept things away from me. Struck by the quiet acuteness of her observations, I winced at my own failure to defend her hurt. The easy option had always been to take my father's side as he mocked and criticized her for his life. My father, an unusually dominant personality, had always been doing what his sister and his mother did. His mother called the tunes to which my father and my father's sister danced.
My mother, from the earliest years of her married life, adopted the silence and retreat tactic after she lost hope that they would improve and the strategies she chose for the survival of her married life was just shattered by then. When voices rose, she looked away. When pressure built, she wandered out into the garden. "I was weak," my mother had confessed during one of our late night chats. I disagreed. Finally, aware of how much unhappiness she had endured, how much it cost her to pretend that all was well, I admired her dignity.
There were moments of regret in our three years of retrospective discussions. Why had I always chosen to take my father's side against her? But there were also moments of sweet compensation. As we both recalled, my father just couldn't really accept the fact of a failed marriage and he was a father of one boy. Reading through my mom's divorce papers, I was surprised to learn that this man was never really interested in the welfare of his son. I helplessly observed how shameless he could be. The conversations were both engrossing and chastening. We spoke, for the first time, as equals. I rediscovered her as my friend.
Early after a failed marriage, my mother recovered from the zest of an earlier, more vibrant self. My mother has always been the admirable woman type. She follows the careers of Shahid Kapoor and John Abraham with eager interest and examines the pages of entertainment tabloids with a keen eye specially focussing on John Abraham's Dostana body. So when a mugger in Cochin tried to attack her, I pushed her sideways so that she could be rescued. She applauded me for that instant decision. My friends say she looks younger than me and happier too. Writing and talking about past experiences has brought my mother and me much closer.