It’s June 20, Father’s Day 2021! Over the years, the forgotten parent who never received his due, has been seeing some appreciation through social media posts of several netizens.
This year has been different and tough, where many of us lost our precious angels during Second Wave Covid in India. The sudden parting of our loved one, father, makes many of us realise how we need to seize every moment that we can share with him physically and emotionally. While it is consoling to feel him around or talking to him reminiscing some memories, the void can never ever be filled.
While many children are posing with their papas, social media has also been buzzing with a different segment, where Fathers too have been sharing pictures of them with their children. Strange? Who are these fathers? Why are they demanding a Father’s Day wish for them? I also came across several women posting their own pictures with children and wishing themselves “Happy Father’s Day to all Single Moms”!
Parental Alienation is one of the most ignored discussions in a country like India. We still live in an era where we immediately label a separated husband as a criminal father. The echo chambers of our honourable courts too, have failed to bring about any change in the equation between children and separated fathers. Some judges have been kind, but not tough enough in ensuring a shared and cared parenting for children of separated parents.
On Father’s Day, I take this opportunity to speak with one such separated father, who wants to urge, his now adult son, to understand the Other Side.
Abhishek Kumar (name changed) hailed from a Tier III town in India. Coming from a lower middle class family, Abhishek wanted to strive and achieve the best for his family. After toiling his years, struggling with English not being his first language, he managed to clear his entrance exam and get through one of the most prestigious IITs.
Life started a new journey, when Abhishek ventured out of his small town after almost 20-years of his life. After passing out with flying colours and getting a decent job, the usual parental pressure of marriage started. At the age of 27-28, Abhishek was naive, wanted to do well in his career, but also felt he could get married and take forward his journey alongside his partner. Thus, he said yes for an arranged alliance. The girl hailed from his Tier III town, who agreed to move and live with him in the city of his work.
Speak Up Men
From Day 1 of the marriage, Abhishek felt something was amiss with the woman, as she did not seem happy being with him. The newly married groom thought it could be early days of adjustment and thus let time pass to make her comfortable by more and more communication. However, Abhishek recalls how even through their honeymoon period, she would refuse to go out with him and throw some fit and stay back at the resort.
One one hand, Abhishek wanted to focus on his career, while at the other, he was feeling uneasy with the way things were unfolding in his marital life. He did discuss this with his father, who asked him to have patience and work upon his relationship. Abhishek shares,
I wanted to have an open communication with my wife, however, she chose to live in her own world and often threw tantrums. During some of the days that she would explode, she did mention how she wanted to marry someone else, but was compelled to marry me because her father thought I would give her a better life.
I was not narrow minded, and at this point in time asked her if she wanted to break away and return to that person. To this she once again cribbed and mentioned that the other man too was already married by now, and that her life had become a living hell.
Abhishek says he left the topic open, but also ensured to work upon their relationship. The couple was living in a far away metro city, where the husband would go for work and return in the evening. The woman who was a post graduate, by choice decided not to ever work professionally. Naturally, in such a scenario, she was expected to take care of the bare minimum things at home. Abhishek says,
I encouraged her to take up a course in English and computers so that she could feel comfortable to work part time. She seemed least interested in anything. Eventhough, I had just started my career, I got her a full time maid so that she would not yell and scream about doing house work when I returned home each day.
Birth of Child
After couple of years with daily fights, ups and downs, the couple was expecting their first child. Through the nine month period, Abhishek recalls how he would take off from work and take care of her as she would experience certain health problems frequently. He even asked his mother to come and live with them so that his wife could get better care during a tender time. Abhishek quotes,
By now, her tantrums had turned into curses and abuses. She kept saying her life had become hell because of me and how I had married and dumped her in a different city away from her parents. I had no choice but to keep shut, as she was pregnant and I did not want to affect her mentally in any way.
Sharing further he says,
A beautiful son was born to us and after getting admission into IIT, this was the 2nd best day of my life. I can’t express the joy I felt on that day.
Upbringing of Child
Abhishek speaks about the early years that he got to spend with his son. He quotes,
As I was working, it was obvious that I could not be at home 24/7. However, everyday I returned at around 7pm, I would take him in my arms, play with him, even feed him, alongside constant nagging and abuses from my wife. Her main grudge now was that I married her, and dumped her with crying child, while I was sitting in AC and enjoying all day at work.
There was a time, when she had thrown our 6-month-old son on the ground stating how she hated the sight of him.
Abhishek says he had also hired a young nanny who would live in the same house 24/7, however, his wife would beat her and abuse her as well. Ultimately, the caretaker too had run away without informing her. By now, Abhishek had started losing his mental balance with an absolutely unhealthy atmosphere at home.
Death of Sister’s Husband
After few years into marriage, Abhishek’s younger sister suddenly lost her husband leaving behind two orphan children. Things took a turn unexpectedly and Abhishek wanted to move closer to his parents’ home where they had got back the widow sister and her children.
Shockingly, Abhishek’s wife – who constantly taunted him for keeping her away from her family – now refused to return (on instructions from her father so that she does not have to bear the consequences of a widow sister and her children).
Abhishek was in a fix, however, he chose to give into his wife’s demands for the sake of her and son. His retired father too, understood his situation and took charge of managing his daughter and her children.
Abhishek could not see any improvement in his wife’s behaviour. According to him she was becoming bitter by the day and most of his evenings would result in sleeping with abuses and no food. He says,
I do not say I was 100% perfect. But my wife was just not willing to understand my work pressures or all that I was doing for our home. She wanted me to do and say exactly what she and her family wanted. Despite all her curses, I would lend loans to her brother who wanted to start business.
There came a point, when I stopped returning home even if I could leave from office early. My mental state had been affected to an extent, that I would leave office and roam around on the streets and park alone, but not go home.
Abhishek says relationship had soured so much that he was not even allowed to speak with his sister over the phone. One day, he was caught meeting his sister secretly outside and that was another day another drama by his wife. Abhishek quotes,
Whenever I tried speaking with my wife’s father, he would understand that there was a problem with his own daughter’s mental state, but kept telling me to adjust as part and parcel of marital life.
After few months, Abhishek slipped into severe depression and just left the home and returned to his parents. The woman was shocked as she thought her husband never had the courage to leave her. Few days later, the woman’s father and brother and barged into Abhishek’s parental home, slapped him, abused his family and dumped the 3-year-old son asking them to manage from there on. Abhishek says,
I was not in my senses. I would constantly cry, break down, shiver. I did not know what was happening.
However, once again after few days, the wife’s family returned, snatched away the child and went back.
Husband Files For Divorce
After a point of no return, Abhishek visited his wife’s father and tried to make him understand that it was best that they separated and that he would take care of her and the child in every way. To this, his father-in-law beat him up with sandals and asked him to get out of his home.
Abhishek now unilaterally went ahead and filed a petition for divorce on grounds of cruelty. The woman’s family was furious and making this an ego issue, slapped another case accusing Abhishek and his entire family of domestic violence.
Family Court Proceedings
The two landed up at court and after prima facie hearing, the family court granted monthly maintenance sum to the woman, despite husband being the victim. Abhishek says,
All that I needed was my peace of mind. All that I needed was to keep her away from me, else I would have ended my life. The day I filed for divorce, was the best decision of my life.
Abhishek by now was in depression since he was also separated from his son. He wanted to give up his job and sit at home. However, it was his father who discouraged him from doing so. Abhishek quotes,
My father would accompany me to work daily, sit outside from 9-6pm and plead to my boss not to let me resign. He knew that my work was the only strength that would keep me going.
Court dates would come and go and on few occasions, the woman had also agreed to divorce as she thought the husband had become a gone case.
Two Years Later
After separation from his abusive wife, Abhishek somehow focussed back on his work and rebuilt his career. It was after over two years, that he started seeing better days at work.
The woman who was constantly spying on him, learnt of his current salary and returned to court demanding 8 times more enhancement of monthly maintenance. Since then the case has been hanging.
It has shockingly been 18-years that the parties have separated and the woman has still been tracking each and every movement of the estranged husband. The woman has forged her property documents, lied about her income and siphoned off every penny of maintenance received till date. Even after two decades, the woman has been trying to hack husband’s IT returns, has been filing multiple cases at different courts to try and extort as much money that she can. Courts of course have started taking the matter as “Not urgent” and both parties are living their lives separately without formal divorce.
Sadly, the son who has turned into adult, has been pushed by mother to become a party in the court battle, instead of focussing on his studies and career.
Equation with Son
Since Abhishek filed for divorce, the wife never ever allowed him to meet or interact with his son. If she ever did so, the condition came with riders of doing as she wanted.
At the time of our child’s school admission, I requested my ex-wife to allow me put him in the best school, however, due to her ego of showing me poorly in the eyes of the law, she got him admitted to a school much lower in standard than I could afford.
Everytime, I pleaded her to allow me take him out on holidays, she would force herself with us, which was not acceptable to me. Whenever I wanted to bring my son to my parents’ home, I was never allowed to do so, while she ensured complete brainwashing from her parents’ side.
During court proceedings in the day, she would file false and frivolous petitions against my parents and in evening call me demanding gifts for our son.
Abhishek says that he could never have any association with his son, because whenever he wanted to do something, his wife ensured she would push completely different opinion. He says,
The woman is beyond anyone’s comprehension since whenever I wanted to meet my son, she would refuse. However, the minute she realised that I was not inclined in pleading to her anymore, she would file application calling me an irresponsible father.
Abhishek also says there was no point playing ping pong at court asking for custody, as the woman could go to any level to keep the child away.
Note to Son on Father’s Day
Abhishek says that whatever he has gone through or suffered, he has ever tried to brainwash his son mind against the other parent. He claims that he started reaching out to the son aggressively on the onset of his XII admission few years ago. While the son started responding, the woman immediately got all communication stopped when the father asked the son to meet him for counselling and admission advice.
My son today may think I am the worst father because he has been told from childhood that your papa left us and ran away. My son today may feel that he is unfortunate to have a man like me as his father, because I was never there on his milestone days, be it 1st day of school, 1st day at cycling, swimming and so on.
But I want to take this opportunity and share not just with my son, but children of all separated parents. Your parents could be terrible as husband and wife, but that does not mean they are bad father and mother. You could have spent your life with only one parent, but perhaps that was better, rather than seeing your parents fight daily.
Even today, I would maintain that your mother has been with you through the larger part of your life, and you need to respect her. But you must realise that father was kept away not by choice, but due to unfair practices adopted by the custodial parent. I have seen the lawyer of your mother brainwashing you in front of me telling you how cruel I am. I have witnessed your mother not leaving you alone with me even for 5 minutes in the premises of court. Today, you have chosen to treat me like no one, perhaps even dead, while on the other hand, your mother continues to demand money in your name since the past 18-years (which I have been doing so).
As an adult, you must understand the Other Side of what your father has gone through, rather than being influenced by one sided narratives, constant victimisation of single motherhood, or living your life thinking that your father was evil.
I do not expect you to leave your mom and come to me. I would not put any conditions of either my way or high way. All I want today is that you do no spend the rest of your life holding grudges, hate or bitterness against anyone. As a father, I have and am here to guide you whenever you need me. That’s my only Father’s Day wish for you.
Abhishek ends the interview by stating, this is not about mother Vs father. He says,
This is my life story. There could be many men who have abandoned their wives and children, and then there are several men such as myself, who have been made to appear as evil. Many women such as my estranged wife think, that it is their biggest achievement in life by alienating a father from his son. However, the hollow happiness that they experience, has done no good to the mental state of any child. I could have sent my son abroad for higher education, however, to prove that I am a careless father, my wife has now got him admitted to a college, whose name I had never heard of.
As for me, I have moved on, am living a happy life as I chose to accept my circumstances instead of spending my entire life fighting a bitter ego battle.