Bhabhi Made It Better….

Swinging Sisters

Swinging Sisters

When I first started researching the issues that Bear and I would face as an Intercultural couple, I learned many things.  Most of all the resistance that his family would have to such a union.  The resistance could range from all out war, to something more of a simple disapproval.  So many blogs advised that the best thing we could do was seek the assistance of an elder in the family who approved or at the very least understood and wanted to help get approval from his parents.

And for the most part this is still very good advice.  The only problem with this is that the elder generation in India is not always going to be so approving.

At the time, when we were trying to decide who best to enlist to help us, we were thinking about who Bear felt the most comfortable with talking about his feelings or issues.  And this is still valid.  But we kind of stopped there.  We did take into consideration that this person should also be open to it, but we didn’t delve into that chosen person’s personality to make a more informed decision as to whether they would be able to accept our rather odd union (or odd by Indian standards being that I’m older than Bear).

So we went to Bear’s Grandfather on his Father’s side.  Mainly because Bear felt the closest to him, he felt that he could tell his Grandfather anything and his Grandfather would listen and try to help.  And for the most part he was right…until Grandfather learned of our age difference.  And that is where everything fell apart.

You see, the younger generation of India is a bit more receptive and open to these things than the older generation.  I had thought that it wasn’t necessarily about the generation but more about experience of seeing the world and living in it.  I thought that Grandfather would see that age doesn’t matter, it’s a person’s values and the strength of the relationship that do.  And to some extent he does, but he couldn’t get past that tradition of the man being younger and this was our downfall.

After that, relations with the entire family became strained to the point that no one was willing to listen to Bear.  Even his brother, whom he was once close to as children, was opposed and sided with the family.

And then one day, Bhabhi (this means brother’s wife in Urdu – a dialect of Hindi – in this case it is Bear’s brother’s wife) called me on behalf of the family and tried to talk me out of marrying Bear.  I took it in stride, expressed my sorrow at the family’s pain and my role in it, but reaffirmed that I had made a promise to Bear and to God to stand by him and that I never break my promises.  Every question she asked me, I answered with respect.  We debated for two hours.  And every time, my answer was the same.  After the call, I was emotionally drained and not sure how to take the call.  I had only Bear’s perceptions of Bhabhi to go on.

I had always tried to explain to him that perhaps he didn’t know the whole story, but he is his parent’s son and we are all protective of our own family.  So while he cared for and liked Bhabhi, there were some small hard feelings for her too.  I wasn’t sure what the good was by talking to her, but my feeling always has been that talking is the best thing to do in any situation.

And then Bhabhi called me again two days later when her husband was at work and Bear was gone.  And we talked some more.  And two days later we talked again.  And then I called her the day after that.  Bhabhi and I slowly started getting to know each other and realizing that we had similar thoughts on certain topics.  Our feelings were the same.  Our values.  Our love of laughing.  I found myself liking Bhabhi very much and for the first time in my life, I started to become excited about having a sister of my very own (after having 5 overprotective and stinky brother’s who would pester and pick on me unmercifully…the brats).

And then Aai (this means Mother in Marathi – in this case it is Bear’s mother) became unwell.  This happened the day before yesterday, urgent calls were made by Bear’s brother telling him that Aai’s failing health was Bear’s fault.  Bhau’s (Bhau means brother – in this case it is Bear’s brother) reaction was understandable.  He was feeling torn between the parents who he wanted to respect and the brother that he wanted to help and couldn’t.  He’s also stuck here in the US on a contract with a new child and could not go home to help his mother or father the way he wanted to.  His frustration and fear for his mother’s health reached a breaking point and he and Bear argued terribly yesterday morning.  Bear then asked me to call Bhabhi and check on Aai’s health.  So I did and Bhabhi and I talked and talked and both of us were frustrated and feeling sad and fore lone.

And at one point, out of sheer frustration and fear and exhaustion and stress, I broke down and cried to her.  “Bhabhi, I don’t know what to do!  I made him a promise I cannot break but I don’t want Aai this sick either!!  What am I going to do?”  And I cried and cried as if it had been welling in me for months and finally had a release.  And Bhabhi kept saying “Relax Aurora sweety, please do not cry, I am here, please do not cry”.

Eventually it stopped and I apologized to her for my outburst and told her that I hated that she was stuck in this position with every one coming to her bursting with their emotions when she should be the one being taken care of and loved (she just had her youngest daughter less than two weeks ago).  She told me that she is here for all of us and never feel like I cannot cry to her; she is here for me for whatever may happen.  And that was the end of the call.  I spent the rest of the day feeling lost.

What to do?

So Bear and I decided that no matter what, we were staying together.  We discussed the problems that were arising and the things that were being said and the possible outcome of our continuing to marry.  We decided that we were stronger together and happier.  We really can’t live without one another now…he breathes and I exhale…we are so close.  And then we prayed for Aai’s health.

We both spent the day a little depressed and worried.

And then, late last night, Bear received another phone call from his brother.  His brother asked him if he would be willing to speak with Bhabhi (brother’s wife remember?) and Bear agreed.

And this is where things began to change.

Bhabhi listened to Bear.  She discussed things with him.  They had an honest to goodness real conversation.  Bhabhi talked TO him instead of AT him.  And Bear realized that Bhabhi was the one person (and perhaps by extension – his brother as well) that understood best what it was he was going through.  And he learned that she felt that his relationship with me was not the horror that everyone was making it out to be.  Bhabhi had experienced American culture, had American friends, and had worked with Americans.  She saw us for what we are…diverse and sometimes crazy but also very loving with our own set of traditions just as worthy – if different – from India.  Bear’s perception of Bhabhi began to change; he began to see her in a way he hadn’t seen before.  He began to understand that she may have faced similar issues when marrying into his family, that only being in our situation now he could understand better where she had been coming from.  Bhabhi became our Soldier of Good Fortune in this war and Bhabhi essentially saved us all.

Yes, you read that right.  After talking to Bear and finally understanding what the whole family was hearing from Bear for 8 months but not LISTENING too, Bhabhi then explained it to her husband in a way HE could understand and accept.  And then HE called and talked to Bear’s father in a way that Baba (this means Father in Marathi) could understand.

And so it was that this morning, we got a call separately.  Bear from his brother and I from Bhabhi, telling us that Baba accepts our marriage.  He will talk to and get the acceptance from Aai.  Everyone now feels who cares what others say as long as we are happy?  And to them Bear’s happiness is THEIR happiness.

Bhabhi and I agreed we are both the best things that could ever happen to this family.  We will make them stronger, healthier and happier in their lives.  We will show them the love that they need and the happiness that comes from laughter and being together.  We promised each other to always work together and never give up; in helping this family become more open to one another.  In learning how to talk to one another.

But ultimately, it was Bhabhi all along who was the saving grace.  And even though she doesn’t know about this blog, I wanted the world to know what a wonderful sister I am going to have.

I’ve already told her myself.

Love to you all!!!!!  I am so HAPPY!!!!!!!!!

More to come….till then….remain happy, healthy and wise!

Best,

Aurora

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17 thoughts on “Bhabhi Made It Better….

  1. Pingback: Last night I had an Epiphany! « Gori Rajkumari

  2. I came across your blog today and casually scanned a post or two before finding this one.

    Before I knew it I was crying, something about the story of your father, your name, how much he loves you – made me so sad, touched such a part of me.

    My husband is Canadian, he moved to the states to be with me almost 13 years ago and while I have always acknowledged the sacrifice he made- I am afraid now that it was somewhat superficial. I simply can’t imagine how his parents must have felt, probably still feel.

    Thank you, for shining some light on my life through yours.

    • Ms. Ninja…words cannot express how happy (and yet melancholy) I was to read your comment. I started this blog so that I could help other people in my situation and to learn that it reaches beyond that to help others…that is just a blessing to me. Thank you so much for your comment and I hope you keep coming back! Take care and all my wishes of happiness to you! ~Aurora

  3. hi aurora…( your name reminds me of aurora borealis..in our geography class )

    thanks for answering me so elaborately.

    it takes so much courage/will power/sanity to handle things in such a sensitive way to so as to not hurt anyone and still work things out…( not everyone can do it successfully…hmmm…many people posting here seems to have that quality… )

    …..there are still so many challenges ahead of you …and happiness…..
    (.i’ll be following your story )

    • YAY! Monti, I am so glad you are here and following along! Hopefully you continue to like it. As my life goes on, I will keep updating this blog so that everyone can see what life is like when you change some things and keep others the same!

      And I love the Aurora Borealis…even though I’ve never seen it in person! I got my name from my favorite comic book character…X-Men’s Storm. lol

      And thank you so much for the compliment, I try to remember to be strong and yet respectful to all people. But man…it CAN be exhausting sometimes! 🙂

  4. This is great, I’m so happy that your finally getting some inroads into your new family. Your patience and persistence and respect will no doubt earn you a place in the family – it is already working. I’m so happy for you!

    Also, is Rosetta Stone THAT good, really? It’s so expensive. I’ve thought of getting it to help with my Urdu. Conversational, of course, as the script is different. But there can be a lot of differences in the vocab too, so I’m just not sure…

    Also, I wish I’d gotten here earlier to see Bear’s real name. I’m an expert google-stalker and I’m sure I could have done something even with the tiniest bit of info!

    • Thank you so much! I was so happy to hear of it myself….it was like BOOM there’s a rainbow! Finally a little light at the end of the VERY long tunnel! 🙂 I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hope for things to continue getting better.

      I really am enjoying Rosetta Stone – Hindi. It’s helping me quite a lot really and even though it’s expensive (wooooah was it expensive) I don’t regret the purchase. I don’t know if it would help so much with Urdu as I have heard that the language is vastly different. I think it’s only good for Hindi and the sub languages that are similar to it, like Marathi. Even then, there are words in Marathi that are vastly different and I would have to learn separately.

      LOLOLOLOL Internet Stalkers UNITE! I’m also a magna cum laude in internet stalking, so I feel your pain there. 🙂 hehe

    • I really like Rosetta Stone – I think it’s worth the money, especially if you get the online version, and then work at it for the length of the subscription. You might try looking around the area to see if there’s a version you can borrow or if the public library has a copy – libraries in the Bay Area have copies, for instance.

      On the Hindi/Urdu issue: there are a fair number of Arabic-derived words in the Hindi taught by Rosetta Stone, but it IS Hindi, not Urdu.

    • From Gori Girl (GG)…
      “P.S. If your husband’s family is from Bangladesh, does the family speak Bangla as well as Urdu?”

  5. what do you do to remain sane amidst all this upheavals….?…one has to be really tough to handle all this over a prolonged period of time…..

    ….anyways…really happy for you

    • Hi Monti!

      Thank you so much for the comment and welcome to the blog!

      How do I stay sane? Hmmmmm that is a very good question. Theoretically speaking….who said I still was sane? Muahahahahahahaha. Mad Scientist extraordinaire laughing aside…..I sometimes do question how this is possible myself.

      Probably because I try to keep in touch with what’s really important. That is, that I finally found my soul mate. All other things are not so important any more. Well, that and because I’m a true believer in things happening for a reason. The longer I’m on this earth, the more I see that convinces me of it. And then I wonder what the heck I got so upset about in the first place? I survived whatever happened.

      And the best piece of advice I can ever give anyone is this….when you start feeling intimidated by another human being is when you start acting out. Showing the worst side of yourself in an attempt to protect yourself, or maybe prove your own worth. Have you ever heard the expression “I think he doth protest too much”? To me, that usually means the person is feeling intimidated and feels the need to shout louder and longer to prove whatever he thinks is in question. I’ve found what works best for me is to remember that at one time we all had dooky diapers. It’s an old trick I learned in theater but I expanded it to life. We had a saying “Picture everyone with only their underwear and you won’t be so scared.” Well, some people I just don’t want to picture with their underwear on (except maybe Brad Pitt), so instead I try to remember that they were once kids too, that they are probably having the same scared feelings I am. Essentially, that they are human just like me. Nothing extra special about them. This helps me to not get angry or feel intimidated. It’s easier to see where they are coming from.

      And then there are times when I just go postal. 😉 LOL

      I hope you keep commenting and coming back!

  6. Hello Aurora.

    Now thats wicked…finally things turning out for the better, i am really really very happy for you and bear.after those flaring temperatures and all those tears, the resistance is finally melting…Kudos to Bhabhi…looks like Lord Ganesha is working in his mysterious ways through her….(jus for the record – i am more of a panthestic Hindu – if that makes sense).Anyways hats off to you and bear as well for being firm footed in what you believe in and being so committed to each other. i am glad you found a sister in Bhabhi, with you and Bhabhi in the family – i see HAPPY DAYS for Bear’s family.special appreciation of you being able to keep your sense of humour intact through this mad frenzy of an emotional rollercoaster – 5 overprotective and stinky brother’s who would pester and pick on me unmercifully…the brats – haha loved that one.
    Likewise appreciation of your patience.
    I have an overwhelming desire to say something about my instincts..but i guess i better not…like they say…. not till the fat lady sings…
    In the meanwhile – like you say – be happy, healthy and wise.
    And Jai Ho to Bhabhi.

    • Hi Saleel!

      I’m also so very happy!!! The resistance is melting somewhat but there are still an obstacle we have to overcome, which I’m going to write a blog on today. Essentially though, the family tradition is for the girl to change her first name upon marriage to one given by the family or husband. Bear and I had discussed this at length already.

      My feelings are that I am giving respect to MY father by keeping the name he gave to me since I am moving from his country and carrying on the traditions of Bear’s family instead of my own (like I’m giving up my family’s middle name for me which is a female tradition). His family is being obstinate about this subject….so the drama continues.

      Patience Patience Patience! 🙂

      Thank you so much for the well wishes!

      PS: I changed one thing in your comment….you accidentally put Bear’s real last name in there so I changed that. 😉

  7. Hi,

    I have been following your blog and struggle in getting Bear’s family’s acceptance for your marriage.

    I am happy to know that things are going in right direction.

    BTW, from your comments it seems that Bear’s mother tounge is marathi. If so, are you trying to learn it. Do you have any effective methods. My girlfriend might require it.

    Best of luck for your future.

    • Hi Ting!

      I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying the blog and that you have left a comment for me! 🙂

      You are correct, Bear’s mother tongue is Marathi. His mother speaks both Marathi and Hindi and while she did once understand English, her use for it in everyday life has been limited to her skills in it have decreased. So here is what I have been doing to learn Marathi.

      1) From Bear 🙂
      2) I bought the Talk Now for Marathi.
      3) I used online resources:

      http://www.marathimitra.com//showpage?pageid=mm.home
      http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/Learn/Marathi.asp
      http://www.languageshome.com/English-Marathi.htm

      Unfortunately there isn’t really too much out there right now that is concise with regards to the Marathi language. I bought the Rosetta Stone Hindi course and that is helping me greatly with the vowel sounds and words for Hindi….and since the sanskrit is the same for both languages, it’s helping to learn that from Rosetta.

      I hope these resources help you! I probably should put some of those links up on my blog! Thanks for the Idea Ting! 🙂 Have a great day and keep reading!

      Aurora

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