Living a Curse: Adult Children of Desi Abusers
DG ran in to him on the way back home he was rushing to the bank. He told her he was glad to see her as he was leaving for India in two days. She asked when he was coming back. He said, he was leaving for good. She had a puzzled look on her face, “it is mid semester you are already half way through your master’s program.” I have to, it is important, urgent and needed he retorted. Tell me, what could be so important that you’ll forsake your education. It is family problem that needs my presence, he said while looking at his shoes. What kind of family problem that can’t wait another six months? Tell me in detail, we can figure out something, I can help you find resources back in your home town said DG. No, it is my mom who wants me back she is sick. What happened to her? She is just sick she needs me. Is it life threatening? “No, I just fear something will happen to her.” DG lectured him on his enmeshed sense of self and failure to see things for what they were and how he’ll be a nuisance to his future partner. He retorted, “you don’t know, it is not like that.” Then you tell me what it is?
He kept insisting he can’t tell and DG won’t give up. He insisted he would visit her before he left the country but DG wouldn’t trust him. Together they went to the bank and then he accompanied her home. She made some tea and they started talking. This six feet tall lanky 28 year old man lowered his eyes, the cup in his hands shook as words failed him. After lots of assurance of privacy, confidentiality and nature of DG’s work he began talking. For the purposes of the length of the post DG will omit her probes. He said:
I fear my mother will have a heart attack, she is living under too much stress, she is all by herself. I am here and my newly married brother is working in Canada. Though I speak to her every day but I live in constant fear that she’ll die of this persistent stress (ma ko kuchh ho jayega. Something will happen to her). She has no support till we were in India we made sure one of us was around now she is all by herself I don’t know how long can this continue. After a long silence, he wiped tears from his eyes and spoke in a trembling voice. I have never spoken to anyone about this. We had a very hard life, she raised us all by herself. You cannot even imagine the days I have seen as a child often we slept hungry, had no fee for school. We would go to my aunt (mother’s sister) or grandmother’s (mother’s mother) home to eat. My mother has not seen a day of peace, she struggled to keep a roof over our heads, she didn’t even have a decent saree. To attend family functions her sister would gave her clothes, she would be the plainest woman there. I remember my mom was young and beautiful very caring and kind always trying hard to make it better for us. I decided as a child when I grow up I’ll pamper her, I’ll buy her the best clothes and jewelry. When I got my first job in Australia I bought her latest suits, sarees and gold jewelry, I wanted her to look the best dressed woman in any gathering. For the first time we saw her smiling and beaming in pride all her hard work and struggles had paid off.
In all this talk not once DG heard him mention his father. She asked him about his father. He evaded the question and then gradually started talking by addressing the man as, “woh” (he), not once he said, dad or father as if he was trying to maintain an emotional distance between them. He is the reason I am going back, he was always abusive to our mother, physically, verbally, emotionally, mentally and economically. He was a leading contractor in the city rolled in money ten years older to my mother, she was a school teacher but he made her quit the job. He is a habitual drinker as far as I can remember he was always away when he came home he was drunk, he would throw fits beat us up to save us mother would come in between and take the blows. He didn’t come home for days, didn’t care if we had food and school fee. Our house looked little better than a shanty, I had no friends, how could I? We never went to anyone’s home because we could never invite them over. Even today I hesitate to mix with people.
Yelling, screaming and hitting is all I have to tell about my childhood. He robbed us of our childhood. I just wanted him to go away and leave us alone. Go away anywhere just don’t return. I dreamt taking my mother away three of us living in happily ever after sort of way. He would not let mother go back to work as teacher I think she also lost confidence in all this, she would sew to raise us. One time he did not pay the bills our power was cut off she would sew in the candle light. One time he saw her sewing he destroyed the blouse in anger saying how dare you do this in “my house.” She had to feed us so she would sew in hiding. While I was in high school mother somehow managed to start a boutique with the help of her family. Our living standard improved a bit, he started coming home, his business he said was suffering. I think it was a lie. I won’t be surprised if he has another family. Mother fell sick for a month and trusted him with orders, he was indeed acting differently. When she recovered the tailors and workers had left as they were not paid everything was destroyed we were back to where we started. I know he did it on purpose, he just couldn’t fathom our peace. What kind of father would do that? We both were good students both of us got admission in engineering college mother’s family made sure we went to college we have paid them back after we got jobs.
Both of us brothers made sure one of us was in the city living at home while the other took a job or project abroad. We built our dream house, used best tiles and fixtures, bought everything new, the furniture, pots and pans, curtains, everything. A fully stocked pantry for the first time she could cook anything. We didn’t take a thing from “that house” and we moved. We left him there in “his” house. He went around bad mouthing us, telling people that we have abandoned him now that we have started earning. Community members and relatives from his side started admonishing us. Where were these same people when he abandoned us and we slept hungry or had no school fee. It became a big spectacle, people at the community events, temple everywhere started sneering at us and telling us he is now an old man and has changed. We should care for him after all he is our father. Unwillingly we had to let him into our home. Our dream to be free of him was quashed by his evil designs and this society. All our lives we thought we’ll be free of him once we were grown up but here we were. He is seventy two and going strong hasn’t changed a bit.
One night my brother was in his room with door bolted. “He” in his drunken fit was knocking it and wanted him to open the door. Brother asked him to leave him alone but “he” just kept getting louder and louder. “He,” picked up the wooden pestle and started hitting the door it broke he also damaged the walls and windows. At this my brother lost it, I had never seen him so mad. Brother just wanted to kill “him.” Mother and I somehow pacified him. There is no way we can get rid of this plague. It is a curse on our lives. You might be wondering who talks like that about their parent. Tears rolled from his eyes, we made another cup of tea and started preparing for dinner while he continued talking.
I worked five years saved some money to go abroad and do a masters thus I came here. Instead of congratulating me “he” kept saying how I was wasting money. Every day he calls and asks me to come back and take care of him, “mera kamaoo beta, wapas aa meri pension lagaa de” (my earning son, come back and give me regular monthly stipend as a pension). Brother got married and got transferred to Canada. Mother wanted him to leave because she did not want his new wife to see how messed up our lives are. I live in constant fear that he is going to kill my mother or her heart will fail some day, how much can one person take. These days I can’t focus on studies, it is so hard I get flash backs and night sweats hence I decided to go back, I know he’ll make my life miserable even though it was my money. I am 28 and still not able to stand up to him or protect my mother or myself. We are so trapped I don’t see a way out.
He had seen the school doctor who diagnosed him with anxiety and depression. But DG suspected it was a full blown case of PTSD that manifested once he was away from constant dysfunction, it needed proper diagnosis and treatment. After dinner they did some soul healing work through meditations and deep breathing. She gave him few tools and referrals in his home town to follow up with. It was past 2am DG suggested he sleep on the futon in the living room. Next morning he attended his chores while DG went to work he came back in the evening to continue with meditations and healing work, he also read few posts on GGTS to understand what was going on in his life. Once back home he contacted DG to inform her of his progress he saw a clinical psychologist and practices what he learned from DG. He did not even complete five sessions he said it was too expensive (Rs 5000 per session). He has taken up a job after six months of hiatus. The situation at home did not improve but he is now better equipped to handle it. DG had asked him to write this post but it was too anxiety provoking for him thus he gave her permission to write this.
A person may divorce an abusive spouse but children cannot. Ours is a system that will not let you leave an abuser more so if you are his/her child you are doomed for ever…