Wednesday, 1 February, 2023

With the Wind


Tulip Chowdhury

Tulip Chowdhury

Over the past years, family patterns have changed across the globe. Reflecting on how we share a roof in many different ways than our older generations, we realise that the wheel of eternity does not roll alone; it takes life in the package. Looking at the unsettling family scenario and if we compare that to other significant changes in our world, global warming, wars, natural calamities, and violence against women, the difference in the changing family pattern becomes more acceptable.

Changes are a part of life, and when relationships change, love turns to hatred, and people we could not live without become sworn enemies, making us sad. But there is not much we can do; humans are complex creatures with high and low emotional radars. When marriages fall apart, we look into the eternal rule of changes, and the broken pieces make a whole pattern, each bit with the value of the times they lived through. It is not easy to go through heartbreak and accept that the person you loved has found another love or fallen out of love. However, resisting the change would be of little help or bring things back to the previous peaceful place.

To the onlookers, the days of families holding together against upheavals have changed. In the present world, our lifestyles are more demanding on time and energy, adding to endless stress. It is challenging to balance home, work, and social pressure and do well with them. For people who have witnessed strong family solidarity in the past with their challenges, the rise of divorces and family breakups is not happy news. They wonder why and how peaceful homes are becoming fewer, with the world becoming dependent on the Internet and life hanging at our fingertips. As Maya, a retired school teacher says, “Have we become too fast and competitive for our own good?”

On the other other hand, we wonder how can family structures remain unchanged when the world is changing around us? Life is a metamorphosis and like the chrysalis, one must fight more for survival. With rising divorces and families falling apart, children face more significant challenges because of a broken home. The better half is that, as humans, we are resilient, and our children accept that their home is not as steady as before and learn to grow accordingly. That does not mean it is easy to take that one’s parents suddenly decide to go in separate ways and the kids have to adjust to weekly homes of the new homes. Children, big and small nurture well when they are sure of a solid family backing them. But they are not left with choices when they cannot fend for themselves and have to take help from parents and guardians. But are all the children strong? Family disintegration leaves a large part of our growing children bewildered and lost. Troubled at home, they take to drugs, alcoholism, juvenile delinquency, and more. For the parents and guardians, we would not hurt our children unless we have our backs against the wall. When the odds of keeping a marriage together is, at what cost and when to call it quit? Will there be better days if we part with the chaos and unhappiness that are beyond repair at home? The debate is an extremely difficult one when it involves children; the adults live through days of anguish and peril till the separation happens. In the aftermath of divorce, life partners feel like embers, and carry the burnt relationship that ignites bitterness repeatedly. The challenges are so daunting that people decide not to marry but rather live and raise kids with the mutual agreement of sharing a roof or not. In the relationship prospect, the truth is that people fall in and out of love, and commitments are not always possible to keep.

There are always two sides to a story, starting a family or breaking up. Listening to each side of the story without bias may be tricky, especially when one of the partners is a friend or family member. The family counselors may point out that we, as individuals, are different, and the value for each should be peaceful when making a decision that involves family members. Ultimately, the decision is up to what brings peace to the affected members of the breakaway.

A father and a great-grandfather, Razia say, “ My son and his wife went separate ways after seventeen years of raising kids and living what you call a ‘happy family. But I understand families can break up; even nations do. Times have changed, and our lives too. I support my growing grand-kids as much as possible; that is all I can do.”

On the other side of the family spectrum, Mania, having led a chaotic life in Bangladesh, getting through complex in-law situations, never gave up on her marriage. She says, “It just didn’t occur to me that I could break the family apart because of my unhappiness and have my three children rootless.” I had no plans to remarry or have a new relationship, which could happen if I ended my marriage. My children were my life, my fight. And I gave them my best.”

To people looking for relationships, getting married is a lesser challenge than sustaining it. Even Google can’t guarantee long and lasting speculation. Taking vows with “Till death do us apart…” takes place with the tremulous hearts praying for peace. However, love and relationships, despite hurdles, will have Cupid striking its arrows. People will fall in love and get married, and they will snap when the tension gets high. After all, as the saying goes in Hindi, "shaadi ka laddoo jo na khaaye woh pachtaye, jo khaaye woh bhi pachtaaye". The words could mean marriage is like a sweet from Delhi, one who often tastes regrets and does not also regret.


Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachustes, USA