Woman's Era - - Contents -

M Y HUS­BAND AND I HAVE TWO CHIL­DREN, A SON AGED 24 and a daugh­ter aged 23. My hus­band runs a flour­ish­ing busi­ness and I am part of a group which helps home­less chil­dren make some­thing of their lives.

My hus­band and I had al­ways thought that our son would join my hus­band in his busi­ness and take it over when he re­tired and that my daugh­ter would fol­low me into so­cial work. But a few days ago, when my hus­band asked my son if he was ready to be­gin learn­ing about the fam­ily busi­ness, brother and sis­ter ex­changed glances and then my son said rather de­fen­sively that they both had some­thing to tell us.

We were rather mys­ti­fied but what our chil­dren told us shat­tered us. They told us that my son was not in­ter­ested in his fa­ther’s busi­ness and that my daugh­ter was. So they wanted us to agree to my daugh­ter first learn­ing about the fam­ily busi­ness and then tak­ing it over, while my son fol­lowed his heart and joined an in­ter­na­tional body that worked for the preser­va­tion of ma­rine life.

Then, as my hus­band and I stared at both of them, un­able to speak, my daugh­ter, told us, with a ca­sual wave of her hand, that their fa­ther’s prop­erty would be equally shared by brother and sis­ter.

My son and daugh­ter have told us to think mat­ters over be­fore we re­act. They are be­hav­ing as if they are the adults and we are the chil­dren. My hus­band and my­self do not know what to say. Please ad­vise.

What prob­lem do you have with what your chil­dren are propos­ing? You will have one child hap­pily tak­ing over your fam­ily busi­ness and the other do­ing some­thing which will give him great joy and which could well make him fa­mous be­cause the world is to­day re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of the preser­va­tion of ma­rine life.

And you will have two happy chil­dren in­stead of two grumpy ones do­ing what they do not en­joy do­ing! And re­mem­ber not to say any­thing about male and fe­male roles – this is a taboo these days! O UR BABY HAS BEEN BORN FOUR MONTHS PRE­MA­TURE AND both my hus­band and I are in a state of shock. Doc­tors have told us that she will have to spend the first months of her life in the hos­pi­tal with me ei­ther com­ing in to feed her or send­ing in my milk in a ster­ile con­tainer with some­one. Even later, once we have brought her home, she will con­tinue to need spe­cial care. On the whole, I will have to take nearly a year off from work and as I am only en­ti­tled to four months of leave, the rest of it will have to be leave-with­out-pay.

All this is go­ing to cost us a lot and this is money that we do not have, but which we must find if our child is to live.

Nei­ther my hus­band nor I have any very close rel­a­tives who will rush to our aid. In fact our fam­ily only con­sists of the two of us and my mother- in- law who lives with us. Af­ter giv­ing the mat­ter a lot of thought, I sug­gested to my hus­band that we should talk to some notso-close rel­a­tives, tell them about our plight and ask them for help, promis­ing to re­turn their money to them as soon as we can.

My hus­band agreed to this, but when we told my mother-in-law about our idea, she said that she could not bear the dis­grace of our ask­ing all and sundry for money. She in fact says that she would rather com­mit sui­cide than beg from rel­a­tives and that we should leave our daugh­ter fate’s hands!

My mother- in- law is very stub­born and will never change her mind. I am ready to ig­nore her and do what is needed to save my daugh­ter, but my hus­band is torn in two. His had fa­ther died soon af­ter he was born and my mother-in-law brought him up with great dif­fi­culty. He is also her only child. This does not mean that he will put our daugh­ter’s life in dan­ger or not do what he must to save her, but it does mean that he is still des­per­ately try­ing to raise the money we need by sell­ing ev­ery­thing we have and by tak­ing loans.

We have some­how man­aged to pay for our daugh­ter’s treat­ment for six months, but the clock is tick­ing and I am pan­ick­ing. Please ad­vise. You should not waste time even as your hus­band tries to raise money, be­cause you must fol­low the rou­tine the doc­tors ask you to. If your hus­band is able to raise money, well and good, but even if he is not able to, you must of course still go ahead with your daugh­ter’s treat­ment.

So speak po­litely but firmly to your mother-in-law and tell her that you as a mother will do ev­ery­thing you pos­si­bly can to save your daugh­ter. Tell her that your hus­band is try­ing to raise money in a way that she would ap­prove of but that if he is not able to, he will do what­ever he has to save her daugh­ter.

There is ab­so­lutely no harm in bor­row­ing money from rel­a­tives or in­deed any­one able to help you. But this means that you must be ready for some un­pleas­ant­ness when some peo­ple want their money back and you are not able to oblige.

I AM SURE THAT WHAT I WRITE WILL SHOCK EV­ERY­ONE WHO reads this, but the fact of the mat­ter is that I hate ev­ery­thing about In­dia and liv­ing here in In­dia. I also hate the fact that I am In­dian and that I look In­dian. My dream is to go to some Eu­ro­pean coun­try, be­come a ci­ti­zen there, marry a lo­cal, and for­get all about this poor and back­ward coun­try.

I am the se­cond of the three chil­dren my par­ents have and no one else in my fam­ily feels as I do. In fact ev­ery­one at home laughs at me for my dreams, but I do not care. As

it is, I dis­like all the mem­bers of my fam­ily and do not plan to see any of them once I will leave In­dia.

The prob­lem I want to con­sult you about is how I can go to a Eu­ro­pean coun­try and meet a man to marry. I am not very beau­ti­ful but I am ready to ad­just in or­der to ful­fil my dream.

You ap­pear to suf­fer from some prob­lem, not be­cause you want to leave your coun­try – many young peo­ple want to do this – but be­cause you are not at all at­tached to your fam­ily and say that you dis­like them all and plan to cut your­self com­pletely from them once you leave In­dia. This is not nor­mal at all and you should ask your­self why you feel like this.

As for go­ing to a Eu­ro­pean coun­try to meet a man and marry him is con­cerned, this is un­likely to hap­pen that quickly. Af­ter all you are likely to ini­tially go on a visit visa and that will hardly give you time to meet a man, let alone make him fall in love with you and want to marry you, es­pe­cially since you say that you are not pretty or at­trac­tive. Again, in the case of many Eu­ro­pean coun­tries, the peo­ple there are likely to talk in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage and this will make things more dif­fi­cult for you.

It would there­fore be much bet­ter if you got a job and went abroad, but of course you would have to first study for that. How­ever, that would make it eas­ier for you to meet peo­ple and get mar­ried.

● A S I AM AN ONLY CHILD, I HAVE AL­WAYS TAKEN RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY for my par­ents and af­ter they grew old, they have al­ways stayed with me. I was lucky that my hus­band had no re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and so my par­ents were not a li­a­bil­ity but a help. In fact, it was be­cause my par­ents stayed with us that I was able to work with­out feel­ing guilty for ne­glect­ing my home and fam­ily.

But things have changed over the last three years. My fa­ther has passed away, my mother is un­able to do any work and my only daugh­ter has gone down with a vir­u­lent form of can­cer.

My hus­band and I have been as­sured that she can be cured but we have also been warned that the cure would be long, ex­pen­sive and painful and that it would take a toll of not just my daugh­ter, but of the whole fam­ily.

Now, half­way through the cure, I am at the end of my tether. My daugh­ter has not yet turned the cor­ner and started on the road to re­cov­ery – in fact my hus­band and I won­der if she will, though the doc­tors are hope­ful. I have also given up my job so that I can look af­ter my daugh­ter and though we have been manag­ing some­how, our funds are run­ning very low. More im­por­tantly, our spir­its are run­ning even lower.

In these cir­cum­stances, tak­ing care of my mother is prov­ing to be very dif­fi­cult and I would like to put her into a home. This will be es­pe­cially help­ful just now be­cause I have found a home where she will be en­ti­tled to free care and this will re­lease money to help my daugh­ter.

But my mother has been cry­ing non­stop ever since I told her what I am plan­ning and I am at the end of my tether. What should I do?

When it is a mat­ter of your young child’s life, you re­ally have no choice. As­sure your mother that you are only send­ing her away tem­po­rar­ily and then do not de­lay mat­ters. Ig­nore your mother’s tears, take her to the home and leave her there. Then come back and give your daugh­ter all your at­ten­tion. And when your daugh­ter is cured, bring your mother home.

I AM AN 18- YEAR-OLD COL­LEGE STU­DENT. I HAVE AN IDEN­TI­CAL twin brother and both of us got ad­mis­sion this year to the most pres­ti­gious hon­ours course that the uni­ver­sity of­fers.

But there was a dif­fer­ence be­tween how I got ad­mis­sion and how my brother did. I got ad­mis­sion be­cause I worked hard and pre­pared well for the en­trance test and my twin brother got in by cheat­ing.

My brother and I are iden­ti­cal twins and thought we are iden­ti­cal in looks, height, brains, etc, we are not sim­i­lar in char­ac­ter. My brother is bold, im­pa­tient and ea­ger to try out new and even dan­ger­ous things. He is in­tel­li­gent but is at­tracted by many things be­sides stud­ies. On the other hand, I am gen­uinely at­tracted by learn­ing and ea­gerly learn about new facts and ideas.

This how­ever does not at all mean that we do not un­der­stand each other or do not get along – in fact we are in­cred­i­bly close and un­der­stand each other in­tu­itively. And this was why I went against my con­science when my brother begged me to help him get into the same course as I was aim­ing and was pretty sure of get­ting as this would make our par­ents happy. He promised at the same time to mend his ways.

It was not very dif­fi­cult for my brother and my­self to cheat our way into me get­ting both of us ad­mis­sion to the course we wanted. We ap­plied for ad­mis­sion on dif­fer­ent days but I went for the tests on both the days and eas­ily man­aged to pass on both days un­der a dif­fer­ent name each time.

But hav­ing helped him, I now have the un­canny feel­ing that my brother is tee­ter­ing at the edge of a precipice, and that un­less I save him now, he will fall over the edge and be lost for ever. I have tried to talk to him, but he is on a high af­ter get­ting into the top course and I just can­not get him to be se­ri­ous.

Col­lege is go­ing to start soon and I dread what is go­ing to hap­pen then. Please ad­vise.

You are right in that your brother will “fall over the edge” if some­thing isn’t done at once. But you can­not be the per­son to pull him back – you are just too young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced for that. It is best that you talk to your par­ents, tell them what your brother is up to and let them deal with the mat­ter. Your brother will be upset, but will even­tu­ally un­der­stand that you did the right thing.

Have you a per­sonal prob­lem of any na­ture, which you hes­i­tate to dis­cuss with your fam­ily or friends? Share it with us. WE will try to help you. Ad­dress your let­ters to: WOMAN’S ERA E-3, Jhan­de­wala Es­tate, New Delhi-110 055.

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