In this blog I have talked a lot about my experience of being a gorri women married to a Punjabi Indian man. I have talked about how I feel, what I go through, the good and the bad. Today I am writing about the effect of our masala union on my husband.
My husband’s life plan before he met me was to come to the United States to do his masters degree. He thought that he may work a year and then go back to India with a leg up on the employment world. His parents did not want to see him go to the United States. They begged him not to go! He is their only son. They are a very close family.
He never planned to spend his life in the United States. He had planned to go back and take care of his aging parents. He wanted to make good money so that his family could be more comfortable and have the better things in life. His father and mother both worked for the Government, so they were very much middle class. My husband wanted more for them. He went to the United States to help him achieve that goal.
My husband is very Punjabi. He loves his culture and his country. He loves his food and traditions. He misses the music and the simple chance to speak Punjabi. He loves the United States but Punjab will always be his home.
When we met and started dating and than decided to marry it changed his entire plan. He was living in the United States with an American wife and an American born child. He started a career in the United States. Thoughts of going back to India suddenly seemed unlikely.
When his father became suddenly ill my husbands world fell apart. My husband had the make the choice of working to help pay for treatment or coming to India to say goodbye. The doctor had told him that his father would survive the cancer, but sadly he was sicker than we all thought. My husband left on a plane one day after hearing that his father was terminal. Sadly his father passed while my husband was still on the plane. He regrets this part of his life, and its hard for me not to feel guilty. If he had followed his plan and gone back to India after college he would have been there for his father. My husband has never really shaken off the guilt of not being there with his father when he needed him.
My husband lives in two countries. Physically here with my daughter and I in the United States. He is also mentally in India with his mom and sisters. On all of our computers we have both USA time and Indian time. He worries and stresses about their safety. India is not the best place in the world for two women living by themselves with no male in the home. His mom has chronic problems with her lungs from TB and asthma. Whenever she has an attack and my sister in law calls panicked at mamma ji not being able to breath we panic. We spend entire days and nights pacing and worrying not knowing what to do or how to help. It is a powerless feeling.
We are in the process of sponsoring his mother to come here , which will take over a year, but the process of bringing his sister here is alot harder, and would take many years. We have even talked about moving to India. We spent some time there in the past and my husband knows how hard it would be for me to live there and be independent. Being a gorri in India, I was not able to be anonymous and independent on the streets. I do not know enough Punjabi and it would be hard. Its not impossible many expats do it, but it is not the life he wants all of us to live.
I admire my husband for his strength. He is the head of household of his family both in the United States and in India. For the most part everything goes smoothly, but when things go bad then it is heart breaking. I look forward to the day that his mom can come here and we can be united as a family and my husband can finally live in one timezone.
I know that my husband made the choice to make his life in the United States. We discussed all of these issues when we were still dating. He is the one that decided to marry an American. I can not shake the feeling that by marrying me he went against all the dreams he had and his parents had for him. Maybe that is the reason that I work so hard to adapt to his culture, learn Punjabi, and cook the foods of his people.To make up for the guilt I have for separating him from his land and people. Everyday life is wonderful, it is just those days when I see that horrible lost helpless look on his face when something is going on at home, and all that guilt comes back.
To other Masala couples, Do you ever feel that their spouse is divided between their home with you and their home abroad?
If you are living away from where your family is, do you feel the guilt living away from your family?