Good Mother – Bad Wife : Children Come First – Husbands Afterwards

PROLOGUE

In the colony where I live in Pune – almost all children have migrated to the USA to realize the American Dream.

This includes both boys and girls.

That is the reason why Computer Science, Software Engineering and IT are so popular.

It is the easiest way to go abroad.

But one thing is very funny about this Indian (Puneri) diaspora.

In their professional lives and careers they quickly adopt “modern” western American values – but in their personal lives – they still cling on to traditional Indian values.

They are not confused desis.

Far from it.

They want the “Best of both Worlds”. 

So most of the time they keep summoning their parents (especially the mothers and mothers-in-law) to America to look after them and their households.

On the other hand – they in turn care two hoots for their old parents left back in India to fend for themselves.

It is high time they followed the proverb:

WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO

The fiction short story below BEST OF BOTH WORLDS explores this dichotomy.

I had written this story around 10 years ago –  in 2007 (when Aundh was still developing into a concrete jungle –  with a number of high-rise buildings – as can be seen from the first sentence of the story)

This is fiction – but let me tell you that I have seen many instances of this happening in real life.

In fact – it is happening right now to a friend – whose wife has abandoned him and gone to America for more than 6 months to look after her daughter’s one year old son.

She had gone last year too for about 6 months for her daughter’s delivery too – and the mother and mother-in-law take turns going abroad – to do their “duty” supporting their children’s families – leaving their hapless husbands back home to fend for themselves.

Do American parents do the same…?

Do American children exploit their parents in the same way and make them do “surrogate parenting”…?

I don’t know.

Dear Reader: Please read the story and tell me what you think.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

A middle aged woman watches the sun set from the balcony of her tenth floor flat of one of those ubiquitous residential “townships” – rapidly sprawling and proliferating around the once remote suburb of Aundh – on the outskirts of the once beautiful and picturesque city of Pune in western India.

The doorbell rings.

It’s her husband back home from work.

He’s tired and aching all over after the long bone-rattling, back-breaking and lung-choking commute on the terrible roads and in the polluted atmosphere.

“Good news,..” his wife says exuberantly, giving him his customary cup of tea.

“What…?” the husband asks nonchalantly – carefully pouring the precise amount of tea from the cup into the saucer – and lifting the saucer to his lips to enjoy his tea in his usual habitual manner.

“Our daughter Nalini is pregnant…” the wife exults.

“At long last – I thought she didn’t have time for mundane things like procreation –  I am so glad she found time from her busy schedule…” the husband comments acerbically – and noisily sips his tea in his customary acerbic style.

“Don’t be sarcastic. She’s a career woman. Aren’t you happy…?”

“Of course I’m happy. I’m 56 now – it’s high time I became a grandfather.”

“I’ll have to go…”

“Where…?”

“For her delivery.”

“To Seattle…?”

“Yes. Her due date is sometime in December. I better go as early as possible – maybe in October. Poor thing – it’s her first child. You better get the visas and documentation ready well in time. Nalini wants me to stay for at least three-four months after her delivery.”

“Three-four months after her delivery…? So you’ll be away for more than six months…?”

“Yes. I’m her mother and I have to be there to help her. Poor thing. It’s her first delivery. And that too in America – poor thing…”

“Poor thing…? Who asked her to go there…? And what about me…?”

“You also come and help out….”

“I won’t get 6 months’ leave.”

“You can come for a month or two. To see the baby. In December or January…”

“I’ll see. But I don’t like it there. It’s too boring. And in December – it will be freezing cold.”

“Then stay here.”

“I wish we hadn’t shifted from Sadashiv Peth.”

“Why…? Isn’t this lovely apartment better than those two horrible rented rooms we had…? And – it’s all thanks to Nalini.”

“I know – I know – don’t rub it in. But sometimes – I wish we hadn’t pushed her into studying Computers and IT. We should have let Nalini study arts, history, literature – whatever she wanted to.”

“And – it would have been difficult to find a decent boy for her – and she would be languishing like an ordinary housewife with no future – slogging away over here throughout her life like me.”

“And – we would be still staying in the heart of the city and not in the wilderness out here – and you wouldn’t have to go all the way to America for her delivery…!!!”

“Don’t change the topic….” the wife says.

“I am not changing the topic…” says the husband firmly, “You are not going for Nalini’s delivery to America. Let them manage on her own – she and her husband…”

“But why shouldn’t I go…? She is sending me the ticket.”

“It’s not a question of money. The fact is I don’t want to stay all alone at this age. It is difficult. And out here – in this godforsaken township full of snobs – I don’t even have any friends.”

“Try to understand. I have to be there. It’s her first delivery.”

“Tell me one thing.”

“What…?”

“Don’t American women out there have babies…?”

“Yes – of course they have babies – so…?”

“And do American women always have their mothers around – pampering them during their pregnancies and deliveries…? And then – mollycoddling their babies for the next few months, maybe even a year…?”

“I don’t know…” the wife says, evading an answer, “for them it’s different.”

“Different…?”

“Our girls are “najuk”…

Najuk…?”

“Delicate – fragile.”

“Nonsense. They are as tough as everyone else. It’s all in the mind. It’s only our mindset that’s different.”

“What do you mean…?”

“Thousands of women who have migrated from all over the world are delivering babies out there in America every day – but it’s only our girls who can’t do without their mothers – is it…?”

“Don’t argue with me. It’s our culture – our tradition. A daughter’s first delivery is her mother’s responsibility.”

“Culture…? Tradition…? What nonsense…? It’s not culture –  it’s attitude…!!! Our people may have physically migrated to the modern world – but their mental make-up hasn’t changed – that is the moot point…”

“Please stop your lecturing. I am fed up of hearing your cribs…” the wife pleads.

The husband continues as if he hasn’t heard her – and he says to his wife:

“What they require is attitudinal change and to stop their double standards. Nonsense…!!! Nobody forced them to go to America – they went there on their own begging for a visa – and it’s high time they adopt the American way of life – instead of clinging onto their roots out here – and obsolete values that they themselves have cast off…”

“Please. Please. Please. Enough… I beg of you. Don’t argue. Just let me go to America….”

“No. You can’t go. I can’t stay alone for 6 months. Why should I stay alone…?”

“Try to understand. I have told you a hundred times. It’s our only daughter’s first delivery. I have to be there.”

“Okay. You tell Nalini to come here.”

“Here…?”

“Yes – here – to Pune. We’ll do her delivery right here in Pune. We’ll go to the best maternity hospital – and then – you can keep her here as long as you want. She’ll be comfortable – in Pune – the weather in December is good – and you can pamper your darling daughter and her baby to your heart’s content.”

“No.”

“What do you mean ‘No’…? You went to your mother’s place for your deliveries isn’t it…? And – you came back after the babies were more than 3 months old.”

“That was different. I wasn’t working.”

“Oh. It’s about her job is it…? I am sure they have maternity leave out there. Nalini can take a break and come here to India for her delivery. Yes – she can have her baby here in Pune. And – if she wants to go back early to America – we’ll look after the kid for a couple of months – and then – I’ll take a month’s leave ’ and we’ll both go to America and drop the baby at her place over there.”

The wife says nothing.

The husband says to his wife:

“Give me the phone. I’ll call up Nalini and tell her to come here as early as possible. I’ll convince her she will be more comfortable here…”

“I have already spoken to Nalini and tried to convince her exactly what you suggested…” the wife says.

“And…?”

“She wants the baby to be born there. It’s something about citizenship.”

“So that’s the point…” the husband says, “She wants the best of both worlds – isn’t it…?”

 

EPILOGUE

Parenting Priority vs Conjugal Relationship

 

A friend said in disgust:

“I am fed up of my wife…”

“Why…?” I asked, “your wife is quite good.”

“Oh, Yes – she is quite good…” he answered, “She is a good mother but a bad wife.”

Then – he told me his sob story.

Both his kids – a daughter and a son – both had settled abroad – in the USA.

And since they had got married – they kept on calling his wife over there to do “Nanny” duty.

When his daughter got pregnant she summoned her mother to America to look after her during her pregnancy days – and after her delivery – she wanted her mother to stay on till the baby was a year and a half old.

My poor friend was left to fend for himself for nearly 2 years.

The same thing happened when his daughter-in-law delivered a baby.

Since the daughter-in-law’s mother could not stay for more than 6 months – my friend’s  son emotionally blackmailed his mother to come over for “Nanny” duties till his baby was old enough for day care – since the daughter-in-law wanted to get back to work.

Now – the same story was being repeated as his daughter was pregnant for the second time.

Once a man is married for a long time – it becomes difficult for him to stay without his wife for long durations.

Yes – it is very painful for a “much married” husband (or wife) to be forced to live the life of a “married bachelor”.

“Why can’t our Indian girls be tough like American women when they go over there to America…? Do American women ask for their mothers to come and live with them to look after their babies…?” he said in anger.

“Our girls are very shrewd.

They want the “best of both worlds”.

Indian youngsters want to go to America for the money and good life – but they want Indian style comforts and lifelong parenting.

Indian migrants to America want US Citizenship – but they are reluctant to adopt the American way of family life.

So – pregnant NRI women want their mothers to come to America and look after them and their small children.

They don’t realize that they are ruining their parents’ married life…”

I have seen many such women who are good mothers and bad wives.

Good Mother – Bad Wife

or to put it a bit mildly:

Most Women are Good Wives – but – they are Better Mothers

Now – as I look around me  I find that this is true in most cases  at least among the middle-class families of Pune.

For most married women  the priorities are quite clear:

Children come First – Husbands afterwards

“Parenting Priority” takes precedence over “Conjugal Relationship”

Marital Sacrifice is the order of the day.

Yes – most mothers are ready to sacrifice their marriages for the sake of their children.

Dear Reader:

Do you agree…?

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a abridged version of my stories THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS and PARENTING PRIORITY versus MARITAL SACRIFICE posted online by me earlier a number of times in my blogs including at urls: http://creative.sulekha.com/my-favourite-short-stories-part-48-best-of-both-worlds_543369_blog and http://karvediat.blogspot.ae/2011/09/my-favourite-short-stories-part-48-best.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2017/03/good-mother-bad-wife.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-najuk-nri-girls-from-pune.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/01/why-ruin-your-marriage-for-sake-of-your.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/04/good-mother-bad-wife.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/the-najuk-nri-girls-from-pune.html and http://vikramwamankarve.blogspot.in/2006/10/best-of-both-worlds-short-story-by.html and http://creative.sulekha.com/my-favourite-short-stories-part-48-best-of-both-worlds_543369_blog etc

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