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Some unsolicited advice to men in relationships!

I got a call from a childhood friend last evening. We are particularly close and talk often, especially when we need to share something that we hesitate to even tell our own selves.

She asked me a strange question; in fact, it was a strange conversation:

Her: “Is it ok for me to borrow money from my parents or my brother?”

Me: “What do you need the money for?”

Her: “Just like that, I want to keep it with me. I have no savings.”

My friend is married, with two children. Her younger one will start school soon. She is a trained nursery school teacher and immensely talent with children. She used to teach, but has given up her career for the last three years to bring up her children.

Me: “I would not borrow unless I needed the money for something specific. And how will you pay it back?”

Her: “I don’t know. I don’t have a job right now. When I start working, I will repay I suppose.”

Me: “Would your parents not get worried if you ask them for money just like that? Is everything well at home? Did you have a fight with <husband’s name>?”

Her: “No, no. Nothing like that. But yea, I need money for myself, for small expenses. I have been spending from my savings from when I was teaching and now I have run out of money. I am not used to not having anything in my bank account.”

By now, she is sounding really distraught and confused. We talk things through and then agree that it would be best to talk this out with her parents when she visits them next and just ask them for some money to tide her over instead of taking a loan.

I also ended up urging her to look more aggressively for work and not feel guilty about leaving her young ones at home or in daycare. I reminded her that the decision to have a second baby was a joint one and that her husband is also responsible for her decision to be a home maker till the children grow up a little.

I was upset that she hesitated to ask him for expense money. That she felt guilty about wanting little pleasures in life. That she was so conflicted between her duties as a mother to her children and her need to be financially independent.

So many of us women are in this boat. Why do we accept the taunts and jeers, seemingly harmless but actually potent, that our husbands and others dish out to us, about decisions that are perfectly rational- like not going to work for a few years OR choosing to remain working even when our children are small? An individual has her own reasons to take these decisions. There is no formula here. Everyone is entitled to do what makes her a happy and satisfied person. And it is binding on a woman’s partner to support her just as he would expect his wife to stand behind him through the trials of life.

Marriages, relationships are so complex and intertwined, and so so fragile. Communication (especially about aspirations) and financial transparency are key pillars that both partners need to work on together. This is what I would say to the men of this world: If your partner’s happiness is not important to you, if seeing her smiling and confident does not make you proud, if you find yourself unable to respect what she wants and expect her to always pay heed to your needs over hers, then you are not cut out to have a woman in your life! Let her go and let her lead her own life. Whatever that life may be, it will be better than wasting her talents and love and energy with you!

A bit radical, but that is what I really think! I know the black and white options do not work in reality. Many of us struggle desperately to make things work against many odds. And whether to hang in there or make a clean break is also, in the end, an individual decision that we must respect.

Related blog post, also interesting!

Bonded to music: An emotional tale- Aug 21, 2012

Music is emotional and all those who journey down the path of music, whether as a listeners or performers, are often helplessly carried along in its sometimes happy and sometimes turbulent currents.

Music has reflected deeply on my personality. It has been a form of release, a tool to inflict pain upon myself, a way to get popular and a symbol of my self-esteem, in good times and at times when I’ve felt low.

How could it not be? I started this relationship young. Both my parents were passionate listeners of music. My dad had been a Hindi move junkie (Bollywood, that despicable term had not really come into its own in his day!) since his college days. Mum was into sophisticated stuff like jazz and Hindustani classical music. As their daughter, I was white water rafting down this river starting the age of 6, learning Hindustani classical vocals while mum learned the sitar and dad the tabla. They did this to keep me company and lure me into their world of music, I later realized. I also spent many nights sleeping though all night concerts of the greatest performers in the country, on chairs joined together or durries, as may be the case. I guess, despite a measure of childhood rebellion, the message seeped through and music was coded into my life.

I went on to learn fairly seriously from class 6 until I graduated school. Post that, music morphed into something more experimental, less rigor-bound and more based on moods, and time available. FM radio hit my life in hostel during my five years at SPA, New Delhi where I studied architecture. Singing was about having fun and bonding with friends. Music was still in my life. The river had slowed down, but the waters were still aplenty.

It was when I pursued my masters degree at Texas A&M that the music began to fade away to the background of my life, for the very first time. The following years were traumatic and busy at the same time. I married, I lost my father to a fatal disease, I set up a home, I had a child, then another. A decade of tumult, sweet and sour, bitter in bits. I knew I was losing the thread from time to time. I tried some half-hearted desperate attempts to clutch at the music that was flowing away from me, but it didn’t work. I had lost the confidence in my voice, and as a result, I went into denial about this relationship.

I tried to fight my deep connection with music. I went into denial. For months on end, I divorced myself from musical sound. I didn’t sing or hum and worse still, I didn’t listen to music. The more I stayed away, the guiltier I felt. The life force began to seep out of me, in a vague remote kind of way. So much so, that I was unable to relate the emptiness in my life (yes, despite my hectic life being a working mother, something felt amiss) to the absence of music.

At some point, I realized I had hit rock bottom. The music had died and needed rebirth. There was nothing for it but to start from scratch again! I had to do this for me, no matter what. And I had to do it for my children, who deserved to begin a relationship of their own with music. I began to appreciate how much music had enriched my life. I started to listen to music again, rebuild the emotional ties. The life blood began to flow through me again. I started taking lessons again. Bits and scraps of memory were rekindled. The vocal chords slowly started to respond to codes so deeply embedded that I had no consciousness that they existed. Progress is slow, but I am not giving up hope.

I will find music, the soulmate I had abandoned. I will make up for the lost years. I will gift my children the opportunity to experience of the life force that music is, for that’s what it was for me once and promises to be so, once again.


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