In Part I, I mentioned some of the adults from my Indian church in New York tried to push me out. The man who used the laughable insult of “girl” was the leader of this makeshift group but I had an opportunity to end his campaign by sharing sensitive information about his family’s current scandal. Another church member gave me this information to share widely to crush this man and his family to deflect attention away from me. If I were a big political player, I would have shared, maybe. But, I was not a big player. I was just a woman trying to get through another horrible experience in her life. Fortunately, I realized that this guy was bullying me because he thought he could win by leveraging the community against me. Ultimately, I did not share that information because it would have disparaged a woman in his family and I am not a gossiper. Most importantly, I recognized I could survive a fight with this guy. I lived in America. Even though, he could ostracize me from that church, I would still survive. I did not depend on the Indians for my well-being. I worked at a hospital, had my own apartment, and a completely independent social circle. By taking the attention off me, I would leave him free to focus his madness on another woman who may not have been as independent as me.
Another woman who was solely dependent on the Indian community could not survive it. In fact, exclusion from your community is an active measure wielded to control or get someone under control in many cultures. Who know what would have happened if he attacked another female about anything else? Would she be able to withstand his onslaught? I did not want to take the chance, so I did nothing with that piece of information. As all scandals are eventually forgotten, so was this. In due course, this group moved on to attack others who dared to offend their sensibilities but I did not escape unscathed.
I found out from some of the children and one of the Aunties at church that I had been labeled a “bad person” by the parents of my church. Basically, I represented everything that could go wrong if an Indian child did not heed his or her parents. Apparently, the parents used me as an example of someone who did not behave or respect her elders (read that as all males in her vicinity). I was hurt by this, but the children told me they loved me anyway because I always treated them with respect. The Aunty also told me she heard the adults say how horrible I was but she had never seen any of that from me. She mentioned that she noticed how the children loved me and if they loved me, I could not be all bad. Her unexpected support surprised me as did her candor but I appreciated it.
I know I did the right thing by not sharing that scandalous bit. Another woman would have been ridiculed for not being satisfied with her repressive and confining life as an Indian wife. What kind of a woman would I be if I used the destruction of another woman to save myself? If Indians in America could be this cruel, what could I possibly expect from Indians in India. I shudder at the thought! As I sit in Kerala, I know that I am doing the right thing by not injecting myself too closely into the community here. For them, I am simply a visitor. However, I am not visitor in my own life but my life is not really here in India.