Hi! My name is Harrsha Punjabi & I've been a single parent for five years now. And this is the story of how I got here.
Separation after seven years of marriage was unquestionably tough. My partner and I had seen the best and the worst of each other when I decided to part ways in April 2016. The truth was, that I could no longer foresee a pleasant future for myself and my daughter in the marriage. It was probably my intuitive side that came alive which told me that ‘this is not going the way you had thought it would.’ It was a wake-up call of sorts. I felt that my partner and I were poles apart; just not meant to be together for life.
I traveled down to India from Dubai to file a divorce petition. All in all, it took me 4 years to get divorced, as it is still a daunting process here. Whatever progress we may have seen, divorce is still a taboo in India. And something that many women are judged for at every stage of their life.
We’re told that as long as you stick to the marriage, continue to compromise, and fulfill the expectations or demands of your spouse and his family, you are a good & cultured woman (‘sanskaari’ you see). The moment you decide to call the marriage off because of YOUR misery and discontent, (and for no fault of yours), you’ll be labeled headstrong, uncultured, unsteady, pompous, over-confident, characterless, and irresponsible.
Since I was aware of the age-old patriarchy that is deeply entrenched in our society, I agreed with a friend who told me to avoid talking about my marriage with toxic people. I was cautioned to minimize socializing, maintain composure, and focus on my job & my daughter’s well-being. I must say, it did save me from a lot of bullshit that could have otherwise gotten the best of me.
But being a single mother is not easy. I had to single-handedly manage everything — from home to work pressure to finances, bills, and school meetings, a broken-self & overwhelming emotions. Had it not been for my parents & my daughter, I probably wouldn’t have been alive today.
Basically, when people around you push you to save your marriage for the sake of your child or the reputation of the family, you tend to resist taking the right decision, even though you know it is an apt & wise one.
So here’s my big lesson, and what I would say comes after “happy ending”: I'd say the decision to get married to the right person is the starting point of it all. How can you be in the wrong if you are taking enough time to decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with?
Baaki, kuch toh log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna.