Every morning was a new day of hope for me. Can I get him to love me? What can I do to make him stay loyal to me and this marriage? How can I win the love and affection of his family? I was a born an optimist, I think my outlook has literally saved my life. I would fall asleep crying, sad and upset thinking about this life I was living. I had had high hopes for myself. I wanted to go to university but my dad hadn’t allowed me to go because, “girls didn’t need to go to school.” Raj’s parents had promised I could go to school but had taken their promise back. Growing up I was the kid that would become something. My cousins had big plans to come visit me in my mansion and I was going to pay for family reunions when the time came. The family thought I would one day become a lawyer, doctor or some professional. I was the kid that all the parents wanted and yelled at their kids to be like me. I was academically smart, was respectful of my family, domesticated, loved cooking and entertaining, spend time with my parents, worked at the age of 15, athletic (my dad hated that part of me) and made time for the gurdwara. I was a very well rounded child who had it all. My parents used to brag about me to others about how “good” their oldest daughter was. What happened to the life that I had envisioned for myself? I was supposed to make those who knew me proud to be a part of my life! When I received my scholarship from school, I had been hopeful that my dad would allow me to go to university.
I would daydream about becoming “someone”, it never happened. My dad dreamt about my marriage and passing off the burden (me) to someone else. After I turned into a full bodied 18 year old my existence made my dad nervous. I was on lockdown most of the time, people had bad intentions he would tell me. I would still rebel and leave the house, upon my return I was almost always was met with hostility. His biggest fear was I would get pregnant or run away with someone I wasn’t supposed to. He focused on the negative instead of encouraging me to be safe and teach me to make good decisions. It was a very strict household, and I couldn’t understand why all these restrictions were put on me and my sister. I wanted to hang out with my friends, go to movies, have sleepovers and just play outside. Most of these activities were a battle in our house. I felt like I did everything right and they still couldn’t let me be me. Straight “A” student her whole life, athletic, high family values, clean heart and loved people in general – what more did they want from me???
In the fetal position I would often think, what I did I do that was so wrong that my parents picked this life/family for me. I was such a sweet, loving kid who had it all and was full of life (maybe I had too much life for my parents to handle). Why did they abandon me like this? What could I have done better so they didn’t have to get rid of me? Raj would at times pay attention to me and at times would ignore me completely. Some days were good and some days were bad. I constantly tried to win his affection but nothing seemed to work. His mom was somewhat kind to me but that was ever changing depending on her mood. His Dad was really happy to have me, as was his brother. I got along with them really well. For them, at that time, I was the daughter/sister they always wanted and finally had.
His brother was kind towards me, I really felt like he was my biological brother. We would go out together, watch TV together and in general just hang out. He looked to me for advice, guidance and money until the day he got married. I loved that kid, he enlightened me about his family and told me things that I needed to know in regards to his brother. Dad was infatuated with me! He loved that I could hang out with him, I would joke with him, play with his hair, clip his nails, feed him and in general I cared for him in everyone I knew how. I treated him, like I treated my own Dad. My dad had told me this guy was super great and treat him as you treat me and you will be fine. Often he would give me and Sunny (Raj’s brother) money and tell us to go get ice cream or something to eat. Sunny and I are the same age; we had a lot in common which worked out for me. Sunny would tell me about his girlfriend and get clothing advice. I was the big sister. I would cook for him, did his laundry (I did all the laundry for the ENTIRE household), sing to him, help him with homework, fight with him and anything else that siblings did, we did. Dad would brag to his friends about me, the greatest daughter in law in the world. He would get many compliments about me and he accepted them with pride. My mother in law always made ugly faces when someone complimented me. She would get angry at me and the person saying the nice things. Her go to line became, “On the outside everyone seems like a good person, when you live with them, they are not so good. When you live with her you will know she is not that great, why is everyone always fussing over her. ” She was becoming very jealous of all the attention their family was giving me, day by day she become her true demon self.
His whole family, (mother excluded) was falling in love with me; I had won almost everyone over in a matter of months! I didn’t do anything except be myself. I was excited about life, I had so much love to offer with a good clean heart paired with hugs and kisses – what was not to be loved. When anyone came to the house, I served them chai and food with a smile on my face and true happiness in my heart. I knew I did all the right things for his family. How come he still didn’t want me? Why was he staying out all hours of the night? How come he only talked to me when he was bored? I was doing everything right but something was still so wrong! I was determined to make him want me and love me as his wife. I loved his family as I loved my own, every bit of me was true, not a malicious bone in my body to this day. I took over all the cooking and cleaning from his mom in hopes of proving myself to her. I would prep dinner for him in hopes of seeing him grateful for my existence. I gave and gave (still giving!) and got shit in return.
The day all the nastiness began was about 3 months into my marriage. I was dressed to attend a wedding reception with him and his family and was feeling pretty good. I was in the room with my mom and mother in law (mil) when my mil made a remark about a perfect daughter in law. She had said she knew this girl who would be the perfect daughter in law. This girl was respectful, domesticated and beautiful to bad Raj didn’t marry her. She went on to say how perfect she was in every way. I couldn’t believe my ears! Too bad Raj didn’t marry her?!?!? What was I?? How dare she say that too my mom and me! Needless to say I was in disbelief and hurt. When I ran into Raj he asked me what had happened, I said nothing and walked away. I few days later he asked me again what had happened that day, I hadn’t spoken to him in days. I told him what his mom had said to me and my mom, it erupted into an argument between us. I asked him: why did your parents beg for my hand in marriage if she was so perfect, why didn’t you marry your girlfriend, why was your mom so mean to me etc. He apologized and actually looked like he meant it.
A few weeks later his mom confronted me about why I had to go tell on her to Raj. She accused me trying to turn her son against her, tearing up the family, what I was hoping by getting them to fight, why I was such a malicious girl, is this what my parents had taught me? She went on and on about how I was destroying her family. Just for the record, the brothers don’t speak (been going on for years before my time), mom and dad fought all the time (slept in separate rooms way before I got there), dad wasn’t allowed to breathe without her permission, he was her property. She was against dad in whatever he said or did; she was rude and disrespectful towards him ALL THE TIME. Raj and her had an explosive relationship (this started waaay before my time.) Their family was already a mess and I was getting blamed for all of the wrong. From that day forward everything that was negative was my fault. When she confronted me all I did was cry and defend myself quietly, it was only 3 months into my marriage. Raj came around the corner unexpectedly and ripped into his mom defending me. It became a huge fight! Words were going back and forth and I was being blamed for every second of it by his mom. He stood his ground for me, this gave me hope and strength to move forward in my marriage. Was it really going to be alright? Maybe there was a place in his heart for me! That was the first day of many battles he fought for me against his mom.