Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Quirks of Relationships

Parvathi is a now a 35 year old woman. She hails from a small town in South India and has a diploma and a certificate in bedside nursing. Her parents are moderately incomed people who got her married to Kumar about ten years ago. Kumar came from a middle class family and was a chronic diabetic from his teens. Parvathi's parents thought that given their economic status and the difficulties they faced in finding a suitable match for their daughter, that this was something they and their daughter could accept and live with. Parvathi moved to Chennai to start her married life with Kumar. Kumar lived and worked in a government job in Chennai. His family comprised of 3 sisters who were all married and settled in various places, a widowed mother and his younger brother Raja. Parvathi settled into a routine in her new life. She even started to work in a doctor's clinic and time passed. Kumar and Parvathi had their first baby boy Shakthi 3 years later after their third anniversary.

Soon after, Kumar's brother Raja got married to a girl named Vani who was also a working woman. Kumar and Raja's mother was quite happy that she had settled off all her children and spent time staying with her daughters and sons. The two brothers and their wives lived together in the same household. After a couple of years, Kumar's health started acting up. His diabetes medicines were not helping much and he slowly developed kidney disorders. Parvathi quit her job in the doctor's clinic and spent her time accompanying her husband to his doctor and hospital visits. Eventually, Kumar underwent a kidney transplant and started post-operative treatment. Meanwhile, Vani was pregnant and she and Raja had their first baby. Soon after her maternity leave, Vani had to go back to work and Parvathi and her mother-in-law ended up taking care of the kids and Kumar. Kumar was on a extended leave of absence from his job. After his surgery, he seemed to respond to the treatment for a while and then there was a setback. Due to his diabetes condition, he was not responding positively to the transplants and was surviving with one kidney. His ailments continued for about a year, while Parvathi struggled to care for her husband and Raja spent all his earnings in getting the best treatment possible for his elder brother. The doctor's had given up hope of Kumar's survival by then and his days were numbered.

Knowing that his end was nearing, Kumar gave his wife lots of advice on keeping up her mental strength and spent time with his son who was now enrolled in kinder garden. He transferred all his savings to his wife's name and also spoke to the higher ups in his office to get her his job after his demise. Kumar passed away at the beginning of his ninth year of marriage when his son was 5 years old.

Parvathi and the rest of his family were heart broken and with time slowly recovered. Meanwhile, Kumar's mother who was living with one of her daughters in US was shuttling back and forth in her old age to hold the family together. Vani and Raja had their second baby in the following year and moved to a house in the next street where Vani's parents came and stayed to help out with the kids. By then, Parvathi had started working in her husband's office and another couple of years rolled by. She also got some money from the insurance from her husband's death and was able to manage for herself and her son. Raja and Vani often looked upon Parvathi and her son, since they lived in the next street and life went on, until the next lightning struck this family.

Vani was diagnosed of breast cancer a year later and she was deteriorating rapidly. Her parents were getting old to fend for themselves and tried their best to help out. Raja was now doing his best to try all kinds of survival treatments to save his wife. Parvathi pitched in to help take care of the kids after school etc. Within six months of her diagnosis, Vani passed away too.

Raja's mother was grief stricken at the second blow of fate to her family and stayed back in India to help her son with the kids. Time passed, very slowly and Raja developed leucoderma, a condition that leaves white patches on the skin. Another year passed and Raja's mother had to return to her daughter in US to keep her green card status.

Parvathi was now doing all the cooking for Raja and his children and continued to care for them as she and her son lived in the next street.

This is a true story from a family in our neighbourhood back in India. Recently, I heard that Parvathi and Raja had got married, per the wishes of Raja's mother. I was truly shocked for an instant hearing this, but soon came to terms with this. There has been a lot of gossip about this- The brother-in-law marrying his older brother's wife who in Hindu culture is reffered to as "Manni" and is considered to be like a second mother. But, apparently Raja's mother made the decision from a practical modern perspective, given the nature of the calamities that has happened and that her 3 grand children are pretty much raised together and that it would be extremely hard for an outsider to come into this and marry either of them without having an ulterior motive of either cheating Parvathi out of her money or Raja by being a cruel mother to his children. It must have taken the old lady a lot of courage to come up with this solution and even harder to convince the two people Parvathi and Raja to agree to this, since both of them had strongly refused to abide by their mother's thought. After a long struggle, looks like she made this happen.

Even so, my heart goes out to Parvathi who even in her second marriage is destined to marry someone with a skin disease. Hope that the society they live in lets them and their children have a smooth life.

* The names of these people from true life have been changed for this post."


Cham said...

While reading ur post, I had a thought where it is gonna end. Poor Parvathi can we say her faith? Manni becomes wife?

Spillay said...

Hi Mitr. A very touching story indeed. Everone's life is different, yet, most of the time we forget this. Your post has reminded me this morning to take time understanding where someone else may have come from or what their life has been like. Thanks for sharing :)

Divya said...

Who can better understand their situation except them, the people involved. I only hope that they don't bear the brunt of the society. They have already been through enough.
Would I come across as being opinionated if I say that I like it that you have not been judgemental writing this article?

Aparna said...

Well, honestly midway through the story, I did think Partvathy should marry Raja; raise the kids together.
Leucoderma is just a skin disease. May be if Vani had diagnosed her cancer earlier, she could have been treated as well. I do understand as you said life has different strokes for different people. It is just that others mostly end up judging your actions and you eventually; not understanding what goes into each. Not everyone reacts to these strokes the same way. Even the

Aparna said...

sorry hit the enter button. Multitasking!! Sorry!
kids in this case might end up with leucoderma having read up on the disease being genetic.
I don't feel sorry for Parvathy; I am just glad she can share the rest of her life with a person and they can help raise the kids as a family. To hell with the norms or rules of society. Seriously if you can't help; just keep away is what I feel off late. Can't help be reduce the pain with understanding and support, one might as well not get involved at all. :D

Sujatha said...

Hi Mitr,

I was looking for some golu items to buy in bay area and stumbled upon your blog. I was very moved with the true story. Thanks for sharing...


Jayashree said...

A very touching story. I just hope that Parvathi and Raja are happy together.

Uma said...

A truly touching story. It moved me a lot emotionally. Hope their family is doing good.

BTW, I updated my post of Bread Rolls with the recipe. Check it out;

Krishnan said...

Really heart rending and heartwarming too to know that both Raja and Parvathi have married. I welcome their decision. After all, we know the travails of single parent families.

DEESHA said...

that was a very touching story .. I feel really sad for the family .. hope they both r happily married now

SASA said...

came across your blog while searching for sth..
read your story! truly the family suffered a lot of twists, but I AM SO PROUD OF THAT MOTHER FOR HER DARING MOVE! Her courage, open-mindedness is commendable. May God Bless that family with all the happiness in the world!

mitr_bayarea said...

Cham- hmmm.

Spillay- You are welcome, I think its always good to count our blessings in life.

Divya- Thank you. I tried not to let my opinions cloud the happenings.

Aparna- spoken like urself, yes, they all come together as a family to raise the 3 kids which is the most important thing.

Sujatha- welcome here. You can find golu dolls in Komala Villas in Sunnyvale, but, they are a tad pricey.

Jayashree- I guess it will be a long haul for them to get used to their new union.

Uma- Thanks for ur concern, like everybody else. I will go and print the recipe right away.

Krishnan- yes, I am glad that a male perspective of this situation is also similar.

Deesha- hopefully, they should have a normal life.

sasa- You pointed out perfectly well that the mother was very daring and forward thinking in her approach to this.

Rajitha said...

glad that Parvati and Raja have someone to share their lives with and raise their children together,and have someone who is genuine in their emotions to grow old together with. Society seriously can go to hell...anyway..if we start to live according to the norms of society...all of us might as well sign-on to be miserable all our lives!

Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Yet another different story amidst diffrnt other stories that we see in life.. Everyting happens for a good reason..But sometimes it makes us wonder the reason is good for whom????

Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

By the way I liked the title...Its very apt!

Priya said...

More than saying they got married, I prefer saying they are good companions for the kids and as grownup adults I think its a good decision to stay together. If they were not married, the society wud have barked as always seeing together.

mitr_bayarea said...

Rajitha- Thanks for ur thoughts...

Ponnarasi- Thanks, yes, I did think about the title quite a bit before posting.

Priya- yes, you do have a point that if they hadn't gotten married society would have also looked at them otherwise.

na_an said...

very touching story

Reviewer said...

This is such a touching story,so much suffering and agony in one family..hope Parvathi and Raja manage to find happiness together

Mavin said...

Times have changed much in the last couple of decades.

Flexibility and adaptability have become important.

This is an example of cultural evolution where "need of the day" has triumphed over an age old belief.

Over the years society would accept this too and march on. The first change always requires immense courage.

A-kay said...

Kudos to Raja's mom for thinking out of the box; it makes complete sense for them to get married and as Aparna had said, leucoderma is just a skin disease. The kids have each other and can be raised to-gether as siblings.

Truth sometimes can be stranger than fiction :)