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Prateebha Tuladhar
Sunday, May 4, 2014

Asian Opinions

From the margins: Blaming women

The Kathmandu Post/ANN | Prateebha Tuladhar | Sunday, May 4, 2014

KATHMANDU: One day in the canteen, a colleague said to me, "You're divorced. You were in a relationship that didn't work. Who's going to marry you?"

The colleague probably took the liberty because he also happens to be a friend. My instant response to his remark was laughter, later silence. My girl friends/colleagues pointed out there was some truth in what he was saying. And there was. To Nepali society, I am a divorced woman, which makes me a person on the margins, of sorts. And I am not just assuming this.

Once, I was telling my colleagues how journalism is the perfect job for me because I like immediate deadlines. And one of them deduced, "You're impatient. That's why your marriage didn't work out." I told him he had no right making a comment like that.

Box of reactions

Occurrences like these are not uncommon to me anymore. I have had relatives, friends and colleagues say unkind things to me about my relationship status. There is a lot of kindness too, of course.

When I tell people I'm divorced, most of the time, people apologise in near agony, like they were responsible for bringing some great misfortune on me. Some give me sympathetic hugs. Others pretend they do not understand and ask me to repeat and I have to repeat of course: I am de-vorce-d.

With the sympathetic ones, I just fall into their arms because hugs are good for the heart. With the apologetic, I say: it's alright, it's alright-almost consoling them.

There's a fourth category of people, who know I'm divorced but they will never broach on the topic because it's awkward. Many of them happen to be relatives. They pretend they never have heard about it. Some will even go to the extent of asking me how jwain is or where he is. You find different ways of responding to these questions as time goes by.

At one point, you will have turned into a pathological liar or turned permanently paranoid. You also get so used to your status that you forget about it, until people remind you to marry again.

It, however, seems harder for others to accept it.

For months, your parents might not be able to acknowledge the fact and will try to cover-up the matter in small lies, trying to protect you. At parties, conversations will transpire behind your back and at the sight of you, people will quickly offer a guilty smile. Those who have not 'heard' of it will ask when you're having kids and you will just say you have no plans yet. They will argue you're ageing. You will use 'work' as an excuse. And sometimes, you'll just say, "I'm divorced."

And the Pandora's box of reactions is again open.

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