The controlling husband

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The controlling husband

Post by Guest on Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:29 pm

This story is of the time when I was newly engaged. Well, not officially engaged, but it was a done deal that I was going to marry Kabir, my boyfriend of over 2 years.

Kabir had gone for studies in the USA, and during those times, I had sort of become his substitute there. Be it weddings, engagements, community events, any formal or informal gathering, I would be invited along if the host or guest family knew me. Even his extended family had begun calling me over for different functions.

I had also started becoming privy to all the family secrets. All older aunts and sometimes uncles or cousins would tell me things about what was going on with each other, and any past story was told if it benefited in me understanding the current situation. I can proudly say that even to this day, I know much more about Kabir's family then Kabir does himself. I have that sorta knack, what can I say.

So anyway, one such late afternoon that year, after having done a heavy lunch, we were sitting idly and talking. Through the doors burst in an aunt of Kabir's, Soumitri kaku, like we called her. She was the wife of Kabir's dad's cousin Sunil kaka, who was much younger than them. I think she was in her mid thirties at the time, and he was in his early forties, with two young kids. I had met her a few times before, but had not got a chance to talk to her personally. We had visited their place for dinner when Kabir was leaving for the US, and she had cooked everything that Kabir liked in her cooking repertoire. Even at that time it was well obvious to anyone who saw them that she was pretty well controlled by her autocratic mother-in-law. But until that time, I had not bothered to know much more about her.

After she walked in, she was crying and complaining bitterly, both about Sunil kaka's controlling nature, and his mother's as well. As I learned further, she had found a compassionate ear in Kabir's family, and would come often to vent there. (After having spent more time with her over the years, when she confided a lot more in me, I realized how much she was controlled, if not tormented, in that family. Her mother-in-law traveled with them even in their honeymoon, go figure.)

The bone of contention this time was over money. Sunil kaka's business at the time was bombing, and as a result there were tensions at home. Kabir's parents and uncle and aunt were trying to pacify her. She was also complaining over and over again how Sunil kaka never let her pursue her music career.

Music career? I got intrigued. She came from a musically inclined family, and loved to sing. But after marriage, Sunil kaka and his mom completely refused to let her make a career out of it. Forget about holding concerts or sing for the local radio, he didn't let her even become a music teacher in a school. Her sisters on the other hand made much more progress in singing. Over the years, and with kids, she forgot about it. But just recently, some other relative had become a music teacher, and also held private classes at home. This flared up poor Soumitri kaku all over again, and she rued how she could also have been successful the same way.

I was indignant when I heard this. While that drama was going on near the dining table, I began mini discussions with some of Kabir's family about this in the family room. How could Sunil kaka do this? How could he kill a talent? Looked liked it was not an easy battle too. She had tried and tried and tried, to convince him. But he had very very very determinedly put his foot down on this matter, thus leading to a lot of family disharmony. She blamed him about many things. She blamed him to be controlling, she blamed him to be jealous, she blamed him to be a mama's boy, oh she took out Sunil kaka's parade that afternoon.

With my angst that comes naturally with that youthfulness, I was defending Soumitri kaku, and wondering out loud why Sunil kaka would do that to her. I was leaning to believing her theory that maybe he felt jealous and insecure about the possibility of having a famous wife. That's when Kabir's uncle, who is extremely eccentric otherwise told me, "There can be one more reason for Sunil's behavior". One more reason, what could it be? "Maybe Sunil is trying to protect Soumitri".

Protect Soumitri? How could he be wanting to protect her by keeping her locked in the house? Did he mistrust her coz of her beauty and worried that she may have an affair if she steps out? Overall, that sounded like BS, and I told Kabir's uncle the same. I said the least he could do is support her as a husband. I gave all the examples I knew, in Kabir's family itself, where the husband had supported wife's talent and how she had blossomed. The uncle quipped, "Maybe Soumitri didn't have that kind of talent that these other women did".

What? Sounded exactly like another eccentric BS from the eccentric uncle. I finally concluded with, "Doesn't matter. She comes from a music family, and had interest in pursuing it. Not everyone becomes a Lata Mangeshkar. She could have broken very little grounds for herself, and could have been satisfied with it. He had no business in curtailing her interests like that". The eccentric uncle kept quiet. I had won my argument. I did not have a good opinion of Sunil kaka, and for the rest of my stay in India, I avoided talking to him. What a typical male chauvinistic pig. Keeping wife subdued like that. I hated him, and did not try to cover my hatred that subtly either. Later that year, he stumbled upon a new business and did handsomely well in it. But I was still not impressed. Sunil kaka was loser #1 in my book.

Almost a year later, we went back to India for my wedding. It was done with a lot of fan fare that involved quite a lot of dancing and music. I saw videos of Soumitri kaku going crazy at the time of baraat dance. I later saw her dancing wild when we reached Kabir's home after the wedding. She seemed to be having fun, but to me it looked like she was embarrassing herself with those moves. I peaked a look at Sunil kaka. He was standing there quietly not looking too happy but smiling, as he knew pretty much everyone is watching his wife. I gave myself a little chuckle at his embarrassment. "This is what happens what you control someone too much, they rebel like this, see?" I said to him in my own head.

The next day when most of the guests were gone, we sat down with family, and extempore music and dance program began, like it was pretty common in Kabir's family. It started with the cousins standing up and making me dance, which I did very little, and very coyly, but that set the mood for the evening. Then people began singing or dancing one after the other, with or without invitation. Now was the time for Soumtiri kaku to shine. Whatever she could not achieve in all her life, this was the time to get it out, and she began singing, with harmonium backing from Kabir. I could not help staring at her in disbelief. She sang so so bad. I could not believe she was so bad, even to someone like me who was so untrained in music (Kabir to this day insists that she knows her sur well, it's just her style of singing that's uncommon. But I will stick to my opinion).  I saw Sunil's kaka's face again. There was a little embarrassment on his face, but also a little feeling of helplessness and sadness. The eccentric uncle's words came back ringing in my head. "Maybe he does this to protect her." Now it made sense to me. He was protecting her so that she does not go out there and get ridiculed and crushed. He did not have the heart to crush her esteem himself.

I still didn't know if he was right or wrong, but after that night, I didn't hate Sunil kaka anymore.

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Re: The controlling husband

Post by Guest on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:44 am

It is not for him to decide whether she will be a failure and then restrict her from doing whatever she wanted to in the name of protecting her. if she so wanted to try, he should've allowed her to do so. if she's not good, she would've eventally figured that out and moved on instead of holding a grudge against her husband her entire life for holding her back and being under the feeling that had she been allowed a chance, she would've shone.

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Re: The controlling husband

Post by Guest on Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:51 am

kinnera wrote:It is not for him to decide whether she will be a failure and then restrict her from doing whatever she wanted to in the name of protecting her. if she so wanted to try, he should've allowed her to do so. if she's not good, she would've eventally figured that out and moved on instead of holding a grudge against her husband her entire life for holding her back and being under the feeling that had she been allowed a chance, she would've shone.
Agree with you. From what I understood from his pov over the years (and he was somewhat in this field of theatre where he picked new talents and invited them over for shows), when it comes to music, you either have it or you don't. It's definitely worth pursuing if you got it. She could have tried achieving all that but at what cost. Neglecting his parents, himself, and their kids. And then God knows how she would have dealt with all that failure. Would she have been depressed, or would she have understood this is not for her, or would she have doubled her effort to go on spinning cycles of failures, thereby neglecting the family even more. Yes, he was selfish and when it comes to her, brutal. He cared more for his family but at the same time, he was simply being practical.

Overall, did he make the right decision? When you see just her, maybe not. When you see how the family turned out overall, maybe yes. Guess will never know.

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Re: The controlling husband

Post by Guest on Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:09 pm


Overall, did he make the right decision? When you see just her, maybe not. When you see how the family turned out overall, maybe yes. Guess will never know.
i don't know, vids. He should've at least given her a chance to try: something like, 'do whatever you can to prove yourself in two years. if you can't, then forget abt it.'
 A happy and contented mom, wife, dil makes a happy family, not a disgruntled one.

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Re: The controlling husband

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