Sunday, September 11, 2005

An Almost Perfect Weekend

J had a wonderful pre-birthday party that my friends organized for me. We are home tired and happy. Everything about today was perfect except one tiny detail. J's best friend R was not there. His absence was not so much the imperfection as what caused it.

R and J attended the same daycare until a week ago. He has since moved to a new place. His mother left me a note in J's cubby with her number and asked that I stay in touch so the kids could remain friends.

I called her a few days later and she asked us over. She asked "Will your husband be coming too ?" and I said "No. I am divorced" She said "I am sorry" in a tone of voice that did not bode well for the future of this relationship.

I took J to their place. The kids had a total blast. R's father avoided me all evening like a respectable man would a hooker. I figured he was making a strong statement to his wife, assuaging her feelings of insecurity. Back in the day, I would have felt insulted and outraged, today I am merely amused. I feel some pity for the couple as well.

R's mother and I had a conversation that made walking through quicksand appear easy. Both of R's parents come from very affluent backgrounds and attended a top tier business school in India. Professionally they are doing well in America too. A combination I had hoped would make them accepting of situations such as mine.


The visiting grandparents gave me withering looks of disapproval. By the time we were done, I knew they as a family had decided not to have anything to do with me and mine. I was offered a cup of tea and dinner as if on sudden after-thought. They shame the Indian tradition of hospitality.

R clung to J and would not let her go when we were ready to leave. "J's Mommy, can J come again tomorrow ?" he implored. I told him "You can come to J's home too. You are welcome any time" He looked longingly at me and J as we got into the car, refusing to go indoors until we were gone from view.

This morning, I called them and asked if R and his mom could swing by for a few minutes because Y was going to cut her Barbie doll cake that my friend D had baked for her. It would mean a lot to her if her best buddy was there to see it. R's father checked with his wife and declined. They live less than two miles away from me.

Today, J had a wonderful day with my friends - all different ages, different ethnicities and backgrounds. It was a group of ten adults one teen and two children besides J. What was striking about the crowd was there were no Indians besides me and J - almost like a token presence.

I have come to the sobering realization that my social circle will exclude my own kind. Reaching out to R's parents is probably the last overture of friendship I will make within my community.

Despite, the steep price I pay as a single parent, immigrant woman of color trying to gain a secure toe-hold in America, on days like this I count my blessings that I am in America and that I have multi-ethnic friend circle that care enough about me to make this a home away from home.


8 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

Crossings,
I have given up on making new friends in the Indian community. By nature, I'm friendly and in the initial naive years, things'd go like this: I would make overtures, people would talk nicely, and our kids would even play together. The conversation would flow nicely. Then my single status would be known, and an awkwardness would follow. From then on they'd avoid. When we run into each other again, they'd go "oh hi, how have you been?" and the fake smiles would be too obvious.

Nowadays I save my energy and make no overtures. I sometimes wish we were in the same town :).

Priya.

Heartcrossings said...

Priya,

I wish we were in the same town too :) J is growing totally bereft of Indian culture and that concerns me sometimes. Other than that I guess life is not too bad.

Anonymous said...

hi Crossings...and Priya (since both of you obviously know each other and also read my blog on the subject in Sulekha)

I see that your experience within the community hasn't been much different from mine. I have been fortunate that I do have a few Indian friends who are able to look past my 'single Dad' status and we remain friends as do our kids.

I share your concern (and sadness) that my son will grow up without much of a knowledge of his own culture other than what I am able to impart to him, but I guess those are the unknown choices that we make when we choose to come to a foreign land.

Ravi

P.S maybe we should create a 'Support group" ..or a rock band ;-) and call it the "Outcasts"

LaughingEyes said...

hi Crossings...and Priya (since both of you obviously know each other and also read my blog on the subject in Sulekha)

I see that your experience within the community hasn't been much different from mine. I have been fortunate that I do have a few Indian friends who are able to look past my 'single Dad' status and we remain friends as do our kids.

I share your concern (and sadness) that my son will grow up without much of a knowledge of his own culture other than what I am able to impart to him, but I guess those are the unknown choices that we make when we choose to come to a foreign land.

Ravi

P.S maybe we should create a 'Support group" ..or a rock band ;-) and call it the "Outcasts"

Heartcrossings said...

LaughingEyes - Welcome aboard ! I love the idea of a support group for desi single parents. It's a serious need.

SoBee said...

Crossings, Priya, and Laughingeyes (also read your blog on Sulekha),
Hi. (I guess I could introduce myself as a fellow "outcast" ;)). I can relate to your experiences in some ways. Although I do not have a child, I do wear the label of a "divorcee" and know how judgemental (& at times insensitive, if I may say so) fellow Indians can be.

Just recently, I was vehemently "rejected" by the family of my Indian beau, on grounds of being divorced (and thus, by him too). Mind you, they have never met me, seen me, or even spoken to me - but they had very strong and very negative opinions about me (or about my "label" I think!?). I'm still smarting from the implicit message that I'm a lesser person than any other...plus all the other hurt that goes along with an abruptly truncated relationship...However a brave part of me is telling me its for the better - you dont want a companion who lets their life be dictated by what "society" will say/think rather than by what they believe in !!!

The "log-kya-kahenge"-syndrome has plagued our society for too long. And thats why (unfortunately) people like you and me dont have much acceptance/support system in our own society. And thats why there are very few souls out there who brave the unknown and choose to end an unsuccessful relationship, while a vast majority just drag through life taking refuge in habit or maybe numbness, one long day after another.

A dear friend just said to me the other day - a divorce ia simply an unsuccessful relationship & NOT a crime. I wish more people (Indians) would see it like that.

Anyways, I do welcome the idea of a support-group. It would be nice to have a forum to share thoughts, and advise, or simply to air out sometimes...and to help one another keep our sense of self-worth robust!!

Heartcrossings said...

SoBee,

The support group idea seems to be a hit :) and it would not be a moment too soon. When I went through my divorce I thought of creating a group for women like me who were not "battered" and did not need the services of a women's shelter but were in serious need of help all the same. Now it seems like the club should not be gender exclusive.

Thanks for stopping by !

SoBee said...

Heartcrossings,
Let's do it...let's not let the idea slip away. & I agree - the support group should not be gender specific.
I will give it some more thought (to the how/what etc.) and write again. If you've already done some thinking on the subject, we can take that as a starting point.