I am shocked. And sad. For I became truly the Bad Indian Wife.
It started out that it was a play on words, that my fierce, non stop loving and passion was what made me the unconventional Bad Wife. That I did not nag, cry, become desolate and manipulate with tears. That I was so aloof and uncompromising and unusual, that alone was going to keep my man.
But actually I became the terrible, terrible wife. Call off the visit to the lawyer. We will not make it to man and wife. Every single relationship threshold has been trashed, and mostly by me.
On the whim of everlasting romance, I said yes to moving to Jaipur for a three month work visit. We set up home and I was excited to visit the archeological wonders of this paradoxically ancient and modern city. I took photos of the mirrored halls of the Havelli’s, and the majestic doorways of the city that capture the most electrifying sunlight. I photographed every single bouquet of flowers adorned on the city walls, the city palaces, the rooftops and I wrote everyday inspired that one day I might have a story to share at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
I wore sari’s and placed rose petals at our guru’s image. I hung heavy curtains in the winter to keep out the drafts, and I cleaned the bathroom floors and walls with the dedication of a brahmin in the making. I went to male only parties and ate boiled egg for dinner and I choked back my tears when the men mocked me and laughed at me.
I tried to be firm and have boundaries with the boys that forgot to turn up to classes without a word of apology and I tried to keep my manners when groups of men came to the house to drink, make merry and speak in Hindi only. I was the Bad Indian Wife that smiled, made fat home-made fries, and trays of roast potatoes and NEVER, never showed my upset.
Most of this eighteen months has been an archive of photographed moments, that look mighty impressive. Each photo though was a patchwork of lies, covering up that yet again that morning, that evening there had been a fight. One way or another there was always a fight.
He blamed me for most of it. For raising my voice and being an embarrassment in a society that is always looking, peeking and poking their nose. He tried so many times to warn me, that socially it was unacceptable to make a noise about many things that should remain private. The more he asked me to not make a noise, I am afraid, the more damn noise I chose to make. Yes, I screamed at him. Yes, I threw some glasses at the door in my frustration. Yes, I threw the desk photographs of us at the wall.
He repeatedly told me that his friends said I was crazy. That they knew it, and they were right. So, I carried on writing on social media that I could handle it, that I could absolutely not give a flying fuck that his friends thought I was crazy. I removed them from having access to my personal musings, and found secret, private places to write. Then they called me crazy for removing them from social media. See she really is crazy.
We did a bit of travelling, the usual three day trek by train to Kerala, a few times. Many of the trips were marred by more fights, more inconvenient culture clashes, more disappointed expectations that I would mismanage. I could not be anything but the Bad Indian Wife. I liked to sometimes wear my hair loose and wild, and laugh wildly and reveal my bad teeth. I liked to wear Western clothes that did not hide my middle aged weight and I brazenly wore bare arms, which was not a culture mistake but an aesthetic one as my arms are not as toned as a taught twenty four year old.
We did not see much of Rajasthan. We kept talking about a trip to Udaipur, but all we actually managed was a few days in Pushkar where he found his Charas Wallah and I did not find my yoga school. I was always looking for the defining thing that would make it alright. Maybe I would join a jewelllery school in this holy lake town, and commute monthly back to Jaipur and we could be a grown-up couple both fulfilling our dreams. I visited those jewellery schools, and said, No, this is not real. What is real is facing the music, standing by my husband, and living our life day by day and getting through whatever it was that was happening.
My resolve was to stop running away every time it got difficult. I stopped packing my small overnight bag and booking tickets to Chennai. I stopped imagining I would just find a great teaching project, and I would lean-in to this life, and face the difficulties. I had no friends. And in a way that was part of being the Bad Indian Wife. I did not run out on the town with my girlfriends, giggling over new places to visit, and nor did I come home drunk on white wine and late-night taxi soirees with friends. I stopped playing the independent sassy woman role, and I just chilled.
I live with someone who smokes a lot of ganja so I thought I understood the rules of chill. But I got them wrong. Chill is a head-state. A mental landscape akin to Utopia. It is were the buzz of dreams and fantasies collide, those pretty girls, the great art conceptions, and all the universal questions are balanced with doped up sweet and tidy reconciliations. Real life is not really the same tidy peace-making entirely visual mental construct that we have in our chemically altered minds.
For one thing it is less attractive. Those flaws that get erased in magical marijuana moments are all glaring in our faces. The crooked smile, the slightly sad eyes, the slightly unattractive patch of dry skin by your cheek, and your frizzy, sun-bleached hair is annoying. It just does not look and feel like the airbrushed gloss of the artists’ perfect image of the world.
I have fallen for every single feel sorry for myself trick in the book. I have become desolate, scared, and insecure.
I have wanted validation, and become needy of love. I became jealous and spiteful. I resented those pretty boundary-less young nymphets taking his time. I complained when we went to festivals and he sat me down in a cafe and went to party for three days with his Kerala friends. I called him out when he would sit me by a door and then go and hang out with cool dj’s and divas and say I was just saying hello. I called him out that he was expecting me to live life in purdah and I could not do it.
I wrote of my unquiet heart. I felt my radar for untruth. I laughed at the deceipt that was so evident of those men telling me to my face All that was wrong with me. They told me I was in the wrong relationship because I wanted my husband to not put his joint butts out on the terrace floor. They lectured me that I was a petty woman and that I was not treated him right, or allowing him his masculine freedoms.
But actually, the Bad Indian wife was allowing it all. That is what made me so ‘bad’ was that I refused to stoop as low as the ancient bondage that really exists in Indian arranged marriages. I actually believed I was playing poker and even with an open hand I felt I was winning. I laughed because those critics had to go home to their deeply unhappy marriages, and mine was different. Mine was full of joy and we were living in some kind of superior truth.
But we are not. We have lost sight of everything. We are in stale and tired situation, where desire has not existed since the beginning. Where I have internalised every doubt and fear and no longer no who I am. I have lost any sense of inner pride, and I do not look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman looking back at me. We don’t actually have a mirror. Because I have allowed our home to become something where woman does not exist.
I have erased my own needs. I have certainly erased like-minded friends, and Western culture from our world. I have erased sexual desire. I have given up. When my husband smokes his last three joints to knock himself out into a deep sleep and avoid sex, I have stayed up on the internet till dawn, and hurled myself into writing, and exploring and trying to accept it all with some academic distance that keep me from my true feelings.
We went to the homeopath, and smiled and shared our difficulties, and we carefully took our dilutions daily, and if peace returned, we said Jai Dr Bhatia. But then would stop going.
I can NOT make another human being look at their stuff. And damn I have tried.
He blames me for my outbursts, and my emotionalism. And I blame myself for my stubborn and reckless ego driven fantasies that I was the woman that was so damn hot and amazing that I was, and would and should be enough for him.
I blame him for a lot of things. I blame him for being so damn intelligent that he must surely comprehend all that really is, and for avoiding addressing it. I blame him for his ability to look away, to not feel, to refuse, and to refute that Houston we really do have a problem. I blame him for his desires online, his search for fame, and his refusal to know me and avoid intimacy. I blame him for his quick temper, his stubborn moods, and his restless nature.
But obviously, I blame myself mostly. No matter how bad it has ever been, I blame myself for crying in silence. For not calling a girlfriend. How on earth did I think I could get through this alone? How did I think I could live for eighteen months in a city without work and without one single friend. Not a single person to share a coffee with, a walk or a smile with. How did I live for eighteen months alone. How did I allow such torture to happen? All I have done is sit and watch myself age. And become unhappy and afraid.
I doubt now, I will find love again. I doubt now I will be a fabulous sexy girlfriend, if only it was the right man. It is true what they say, all of this self-esteem, vitality, sexuality is, of course, an inside job.
I have searched and searched within myself, and I cannot find it. I can no longer find that woman who was happy and confident. I can no longer find that woman who feels that she is unstoppable and a giant of a Bad Indian Wife.
I became a terrible, terrible girlfriend, racked with doubt and fear. And blame. I no longer think we will kiss and make up. That we will make love all afternoon, and kiss, and whisper and feel like allowing saliva and sweat to soothe away our troubles. We have found other ways now. To keep cool and calm.
He will go to his studio. And I will write, or relax on the balcony. We will share some food and drink some rum and say Ah yes, Good wishes for next year.
But next year is just a few hours added on to this year. It has been goddamn awful. I want to go kickboxing and kick the shit out of a wall, and say what a fucking terrible terrible year this has been.
I put all the house bets on being this dazzling Bad Indian Wife. I held my high high at those parties and wore those curvy-licious dresses. I pouted and played with make-up and big hair. The boobs are already big, and the waist small. But I failed.
He is one beautiful, sexual, sensual, creature of love. That is for sure. And it is me that is not.
I truly in every sense, of being a woman, I failed.
May his year bring him work and personal success.
I am de-railed. I am out of alignment. I am wrong. I am tired. I became ugly, inside and out.
I am both sorry, and not sorry. I accept that far, far from being the glamorous, almost famous Bad Indian Wife, I became instead, a very, terrible, terrible pyjama wearing, unsexy, unhappy girlfriend.