I hadn't meant to post until I was in a happier frame of mind, and I'm actually a little upset right now but I want to know what you make of these two stories:
My mother organised a dinner party last night at her mamarbari (her mother's brothers' home) and we met some relatives there who I'm not close to but with whom I have shared a fairly pleasant relationship all these years. Aunt, her husband and son. My father was in a bad mood, for various reasons and finally lost his temper good and hard when we discovered that the briefcase containing his insulin shots had been left behind in the hired car parked outside, and that the driver had disappeared (despite being told not to). He yelled at us all and stormed off home.
This is a fairly common occurrence. It's distressing, and quite embarrassing but we have learnt to deal with it by treating it in a somewhat off-hand manner. Mostly, that helps people relax once more.
This time, when I sat down to eat, this uncle I mentioned suddenly attacked me for my father's upset and said he held me responsible. I had hardly any dealings with him all day so I had no idea why my uncle chose to target me, and I said as much. He said that I should have known where my father keeps his medication, that's actually my duty, my responsibility and that it was due to such callous children as me that fine men like my father lost their health.
I left home seven years ago. Since Jan last year I have been married and caught up in another family. Since Rahul was born I don't think I spare much thought for anybody else, except V, who happens to live in the same house. The way I see it, I'm already entirely responsible for one more human being's every need. If I do one thing wrong, anything at all, a little baby pays the price. So that keeps me on my toes mostly. I honestly cannot think of another person when I have such a big responsibility already. V I notice when he falls ill or needs me. I know this is lop-sided, but I also know this is temporary. Soon Rahul will not need me so much. The day is not so very far off when he can verbalise his problems and I will not need to watch him every second of every day to know what he is trying to say. And then I will go back to the rest of the world.
This uncle has his own problems, very bad ones. I can understand his lack of cheer, his change from his earlier genial self into this morose person. But still, why attack me for something I knew nothing about and was not supposed to handle?
My father is 55. That's not too old to remember his own medication. He is reminded but he often puts it off and then forgets. My son is 11 months old. Who needs my constant attention more?
We were invited to dinner tonight by some close family friends (my side). This aunty is really fond of me and I return that fondness in full. When we were in our teens it was she who constantly told us to fly, to search for opportunities, to make our own futures, to not get bogged down by the thought of marriage and families. She was as upset as my own mother when the relationship with V's parents ran into rough waters. She told me of job opportunities earlier this year, when I first began to look.
When I settled down to feed R his dinner tonight at her place it was quite late and he was sleepy and over-excited by all the people around him. So he squirmed and struggled and protested. She suddenly began saying that V always feeds him so well, why don't I let him handle R, he always handles him so much better -- you know the kind of stuff I mean. I know V handles R very well. But it was I who made sure he was involved at every stage of child-rearing. I could have told him to back off at many points and he would have let me go it solo, but I thought he would be a bigger man (and be a more involved father) if he were in step with me all the way. And I don't think either of us handles R any 'better' than the other. The proof I would say lies in the fact that at any given time (except when he is ill) R lets either of us handle any need of his.
But I'm sick of having people go on and on about what a great son-in-law and father V is. Yes, he is, but he has his faults, and such constant pokes only serve to highlight these faults to me. So I'm contrary that way... My own family keep telling me how lucky I am, his family keeps delighting over what a good father he is, how come nobody ever notices what I do except to criticise it in a negative light? My mother does notice, ok, but there's a whole world out there and she's only one person in it. And why criticise me all the time either? If he cries they all go, "Aww, did your mother not feed you? Did your mother scold you?" I know it's more tradition than a personal attack (mostly), but I'm sick of it.
Why take your angst out on me? Do I have a sign on me saying "Scapegoat Here"?