Reading Time: 5 minutes
Smarter than my husband
Help me, na, Aunty! I have a question on which you could enlighten me. My husband and I were born in Fiji, but we have been here for quite a few years. My husband is 35 years old with only a high school education, and he does studio production work in an advertising agency. He has worked in this industry for 12 years. He doesn’t love his work, but every now and again, he likes it. Unfortunately, the advertising industry is not very family-friendly, but the worst past is that each time the agency loses a big client, the agency downsizes. Last week, the agency lost a big client and my husband is nervous about his job. This happens every six months, it seems. In contrast, I am a middle manager in a large organisation with a Masters in Management. I am fairly ambitious and want to do well, and all signs point towards me going places in my organisation. My problem, Aunty, is that my husband never feels he has job security. He does not love what he does and at 35, he still has no idea about what he would like to do with the rest of his life. I am concerned that one day he will wake up at 45 with lots of experience, but no education that could move him into a better, client-facing role. He feels that education will not get him anywhere and he has a lot of experience to compensate. Consequently, he feels that there is no need for him to do anything different, but every time we have this discussion, he says that it’s difficult to find jobs in his industry and he can’t really change roles. Auntyji, can you please tell me what I should be thinking in this situation – as I really don’t want a middle-aged husband who hates his job and his life because he feels that he was somehow cheated – when the reality is that he could have taken control of his life and made a difference. What should I be thinking, Auntyji?
Oh dear, this is indeed a perplexing question and I can totally understand why you are bothered. I certainly hope you love your husband for who he is, rather than because you’re hoping that one day he will become as ambitious and as driven as you. The solution for your husband is quite simple. Unfortunately for him as much as he tries to deny it or ignore it, the truth is that he is competing for jobs where the base level is at least a university degree. Even though his experience is important, the truth is, if he was to apply for a job and the manager in charge had an option from two candidates with the same experience but one had a qualification, the qualified candidate would be chosen, even if the degree might be in Religious Studies from the University of Ballarat. This is the sad truth of the situation. Further, your husband, God bless his soul, seems to be the kind of person who lets things happen to him, rather than controlling part of his destiny. And by this I simply mean that instead of being nervous about his job, your husband should be taking charge and ensuring he either up skills himself to have more options, or move to an industry where there are more job opportunities. But unfortunately it seems to me that you can’t make him understand the situation from your point of view. So, in this sad situation, my dear Anarkali, my discontented phoolon ki rani, there is only one solution. You need to change your mind. Accept the fact that you are driven and ambitious, and you will be the one in the family potentially earning the moolah. And that your chota-mota chand ka tudka husband is neither ambitious nor driven. Let your husband be, and give him advice when he asks for it; but other than that, leave him alone. Why else did you fall in love with him than because of his easy-going nature?! This is your only solution and the salvation of your marriage. Be an understanding wife as much as you can be, but don’t judge him or try to control what he does with his career. A good supportive wife will do the right thing. Of course, if you can see a future where your unhappy, middle-aged husband sits at home all day and no-one wants to hire him because of his lack of education or dull nature because he does not have the drive, and you begin to develop a revulsion to your husband as result, then you need to do something. Leave him now. It’s obvious you two are mismatched. Why waste your time with a bekaroo? Go find yourself a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. These professions will always be in demand – unless of course they do something unethical, in which case the consequences will be much worse. Let me know how you go. I am most interested to hear of your plans.
Mata pita ki kahani
Oh my goodness, Aunty, I am a right mess! I have found out some information and I am dying slowly, slowly on the inside! I am really, really hoping ke aap madat karengi mujhko. Oh, Aunty! Mai bilkul pareshaan hoon, ye sharmindagi, yeh bekhudi, what to do? Anyway, here is my sad, sad, pagaal si kahani, my bemisal story. I am 50 years old. My 75-year-old mother lives with me. All my saari zindagi, I have felt that I did not belong to my family. I look completely alag from them – my aankhein, my baatein, my samaj – everything is too different! Then two weeks ago, my maaji was going through all her old suitcases and we came across old chitthis and photos. And in the photos of my nani, maasi, kaki, kaka, uncle, aunty and pets, etc., there was a photo of Robert, or Raabart, as my mother called him, same way that yesteryear actor Ajit used to call his best buddy while he was stroking Mona’s hair. In any case, saawal yeh hai, ki yeh Raabart kaun tha, and most important, mai kyu is Raabart ki thara lagthi hoon? The same neeli-neeli aankhen, the same skin colour, the same features. In fact, I seem to be a female version of Raabart the mysterious, na? When my mother saw me gazing with confusion, then apprehension, then sudden realisation at Raabart’s chhaapa, she grabbed it from my haath and quickly put it inside her blouse. Her safed choli. But her choli only was safed, her chalan was kaala. My own mataji! The besharam! The behaiya! How could she do this to me! I have refused to speak to my mother from that day when I insisted that she tell me who Raabart was, and why I look like him. Thank God my dad is dead, otherwise he would be absolutely gobsmacked, even though I am sure he is spinning in his grave now (we’re Anglo-Indians so he is buried). What shall I do, Aunty? How do I find out who Raabart was? And shall I tell my badchalan maa exactly what I think of her?
Oh, you shaitaan! Arre akl ke dushman! Oh you kulachchini – have you no sharam saying such gandi baatein about your own mataji? How do you know what happened in your mother’s life that you stand there judging her? The possibilities for what might have happened 51 years before your birth are immense, and your fertile imagination should be running wild, but why bring your mother into all this tamasha? What do you hope to achieve by bringing up the past, which you can’t change anyway. Chances are that this Raabart is too old to care, and so are you. At your age, what difference does it make whether it was Raabart or Raman who sired you? You have your neeli-neeli aankhein, your fair complexion and your chhoti si samajh and that’s all you should care about. I could provide you with three good reasons for why you look like Raabart, but what difference does it make? Nothing changes, except what you know. Let these bhooli bisri baatein be. And what will you do with this information anyway? Let your mother enjoy her twilight years without you causing her grief. Do not judge her, for you are not Bhagwan. And be grateful for your life. Your mother could have strangled you or fed you salt at the moment of your birth, but she raised you, no doubt through much hardship because you seem like hard work anyway. So be grateful for your life, keep calm and carry on. If Raabart was around, that’s what he would be saying too.