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It is a time of challenge, new terrain, of facing fears and of chasing freedom. It is also a time of reflection. What went wrong with this marriage? What could be done? Am I being too hasty? Am I not being urgent enough? Perhaps hindsight is better at explaining these things than the present is.

It would, perhaps be easy, if it were like fiction with clear victims and villains and slots for heroes to grow into. Many imagine that I am too rigid about abuse. There are others who think I should have put my foot down long ago. I have come to this point over and over in different ways, only to back off at the last minute.

It would be easy if the person I am leaving was not someone I had loved dearly and perhaps still do, when not facing the overwhelming discord between us. Perhaps it would be easy if I were convinced that he does not love me or my son. But that is not true either. In his own way, he does love us. There has never been any doubt about that.

It would have been still easy if I could claim that he had made no effort to address problems in our marriage, or that I could claim to be free of guilt on everything he accused me of. But that is not true either. He has made an effort to do more for the home in his own way, to care for our son in his own way. I have been severely depressed for years, and I am quite certain that all my intentions apart, I do less for my son than I could have, if I had an enthusiasm for life. But there doesn't seem much to look forward to, in our marriage, and the hostility taints every moment of being home when he is present. If it isn't the hostility, it is the potential for it.

Is he emotionally abusive? Yes. There is no doubt about it. All the boxes are checked. Blame, control, cycles, ultimatums, threats, character judgments, deliberately unfair assessments... I am tired of taunts about food. Whether they are that I am fat, or that I will eat anything good without giving the child or to simply tell me to eat fast just as I am about to begin. Or they are about me cooking "once a week" and me blowing a fuse and marking his next three meals with comments about him being fed for three weeks to follow. The classic wisdom is that this will not change unless major conditions in which it happens change.

It is also a self-perpetuating cycle. The more I am accused of something in a manner I believe seeks to manipulate me, the less energy or interest I have in compromising on it, providing more points to be accused about. To me it no longer remains about whether I am right or wrong, it is the complete absence of tolerance for any dissatisfaction he chooses to blame me for. It is deliberate lack of straight answers to necessary questions so more questions need to be asked which get replied with taunts. It tells me that in his view, me feeling hurt is a desirable goal. This is not acceptable to me, even when I am wrong, which usually, I think I am not.

The one thing I have come to accept is that continuing as we are is of no use to any of us. I need space to live freely in my home without expecting insults hurled at me or being forced to toe demands. If I cannot have someone I can share concerns about my son with, at least I deserve to be free of accusations that make them worse. If I cannot find someone to share the challenges of caring for him, at least I deserve to be free of blame for every challenge he faces. Without that, there is only so much one can endure and remain sane. When I find myself ignoring my son because I am too emotionally drained to be attentive to another, is the time when not only myself, but my lack of ability to find personal space is also harming my son's interest.

Nisarga deserves to live in a home where he isn't constantly witnessing hostility. He deserves the affection of both parents without it turning into snide remarks about how his mother is too busy to care for him.

I think Raka needs this space too. He sees our relationship as entirely different from how I see it. He sees me as a neglectful mother, who doesn't give him food, water, daily baths, attention or affection. The idea that my son asks for my attention while I am writing some article for publishing to him is proof of my ignoring him. He sees me running the expenses of the home as escapism and throwing money at the home to compensate for real work. I believe that alcohol is ruining his ability to think and interact. He thinks that since he doesn't drink in the day or fall in gutters, it isn't alcohol that is the problem, but me making a problem out of it. Yet in the last year or so, we have had no conversations without him being drunk, or there being a specific reason for him to interact with me. It is as though a point came where he completely stopped listening or even seeing me and filled in the gaps with my short comings, both real and imagined.

If there are a hundred ways to react to a situation you don't like, he is guaranteed to choose the worst possible reaction. It doesn't matter if it is counterproductive. It is common to hear criticism for behavior from when we married (8 years ago) for "forcing" him to eat something he didn't like in the first meal I cooked. I don't remember this meal, but I can't imagine myself as a new bride deliberately being nasty to anyone, least of all my husband. He gets furious today about the "stinginess" of a long dead uncle he met before we married. In many ways, the tendency to anger constantly is also being worsened by a genuine inability to organize his thoughts with regard to subjects or time. A handicap, that will lose him the two people he cares for the most in this world. Yet one that cannot be fixed on my end.

He has anxieties about our son's future, much the same as I do. While I turn to chasing down everything I can to fight it, he chooses to blame me for not doing enough to make him "normal". At the root are his fears. Feeding those fears are the beliefs of his mother, who does not understand Cerebral Palsy and refuses to accept it as an "excuse" and firmly believes that Nisarga's problems are because I don't feed him or give him water. She actually repeated half a dozen times to make sure everyone in a family gathering hear that I never give Nisarga water to drink. Explaining over and over is no use. When she meets him, she tells him about these things I am doing wrong which are the cause of Nisarga's condition and the husband .... believes, even though he has met the doctors. The doctors may be right, but I am making things worse for sure, if his mother has spotted problems, right? After all, did she not raise two sons to adulthood without problems?

I am not able to change these perceptions. It is painful after devoting myself to this child. After learning methods of therapy because they are good and not available in India. After researching for hours on end, till a specialist examining Nisarga wrote on the case paper that my observations are astute and important to consider and another tried to get a medical institution to take interest in the therapy I am using with him - which has shown the few results we have, when all other methods fail. No amount of information makes him reassess these toxic beliefs, even though he says he puts the son into my hands because I understand these things and he doesn't.

This being our only child, he has no real idea of what is normal beyond his own childhood and he doesn't obviously have memories of being so young he wasn't even walking. It is near impossible to explain to him that a child waking up in the middle of the night isn't the parent's deliberate neglect of his sleeping comfort, but something fairly normal in children prone to gas. It is impossible to explain that I do need to earn the money I spend on the home, and it isn't a case of having plenty that I flaunt so that no one can complain about me having fun working.

From my perspective, it is rather absurd and would be funny, if it weren't for the deadly payload of hate attached. From his perspective, well cared for children sleep through the night and good mothers hover around their children and don't put jobs first. I am not able to make him understand that I actually am able to give my son more time than I could if I were doing a job, because he's around me even when I'm working and we do interact all the time. It is difficult to explain that when I am very busy, I would rather invest time for him to learn something than to give him a bath and ask the maid to give him a sponging before getting him ready to go out. You cannot explain to someone who hasn't cared for a child through all moods that you cannot simply "not feed" a child and have him act as cheerful as Nisarga is. He'd scream the house down!

He fears, and in his fears he lashes out, uncaring that I have enough fears of my own with regard to the son.

Perhaps with us out of sight, he would be able to appreciate the changes in Nisarga and his individuality more than statistics of what must be done to be a real mother. His fears are very real and based on what he knows. I believe that he would like discovering that his son is okay instead of permanently seeking what is going wrong and obsessing with it so bad, that it sucks all affection out of the environment.

It is going to be tough for him too. He loves us in his own way, and losing us is going to be very very hard for him to bear, even if he is not able to express it. Yet, heeding that unverbalized torment has not led to more appreciation for me after I decide to leave, so I have no answer for it other than accepting abuse to be an adjustment to keep a dead marriage beating, which I will not. Not anymore. I cannot do the same things each time and expect a different result. There has to be a change in what I do to get a result different from what I got and I have run out of things to try without exiting. I have even run out of things to pretend I am trying in order to avoid exiting.

Perhaps, living on his own, and being solely responsible for the running of the home for the first time, he will see for himself what I failed to explain to him. The home is a deadline of its own. If you want to have all your comforts working then those bills being paid is top priority, or you are risking the child living without electricity because you hover around him instead of figuring out the bills. Perhaps that may be what he needs to find forgiveness for this crime he perceives that I have done. The maid doing work, and not me, is proof of my laziness, and the money to be earned to give the maid to do it must be paid by me, because it is "my" work, but strangely, the money is called my exorbitant habits, and the work is not my contribution to the home either. Perhaps he will see that running a home means that there are things that must get done and more important than doing them yourself is making sure that they all get done.

Yet, ironically, this is also the man who has no problem with me being a woman and powerful. I bear the brunt of his out of control anger because of proximity, not gender. He has embraced a completely unconventional person like me without reservation, even as he is himself rather orthodox. My heart also breaks for the freedom I could have had as a woman, except this time the unfairness is not about me being a woman, but it is still there.

There are many unknowns. I have no answers yet for questions like how Nisarga will endure the summers without an inverter to run fans, when he doesn't even do well with fans. I have no answer for how he will drink water when all he drinks is cold water in the summers. I am quite aware that I am taking Nisarga away from a home that is very comfortable to live in physically, even if not emotionally. And all my insecurities eat away at me.

But I feel certain that there is no alternative to finding that clarity by walking the path that leads to it. For all of us.

Do I want to leave him forever? Or for a while? I don't know. Do I want to live close to him forever, or do I want to head to my beloved mountains when I can? I don't know. What do I expect? I don't know that either in terms of our relationship.

I am taking baby steps, and the results of this one determine what the next will be.

One thing is clear, something has to change, if we are to be happy - either on our own or together.

It is that twilight of a love that seems to have lost its ability to make any impact on reality. It hurts because it is there and prevents clean breaks, it enriches by being there to ensure that the decisions are not of bloated ego or spite.

Who knows if it lives or dies? Who knows where it leads?

It is time to find out.


This article takes off from the previous one exploring the natural rights of children that are abused casually. So here, I am looking at schools. Let me say upfront that I am not “designing an overhaul” and I don’t believe I should. Public services should always be designed by consensus, hopefully with some input or observation of children.

The following isn’t intended to be a working model of education, but a set of goals that should be incorporated into planning one, if at all we ever get around to making so much effort when kids are “perfectly fine” in their tidy boxes. I use this space to share ideas that occur to me. I hope many minds will join in in precious contribution.

  1. The duration. Cut it to a third. Currently, we have three to four years of pre-school, kindergarten, etc before school, plus the ten actual years of school. That’s too much. If you want kids ready for college at fifteen, put them in school by ten, get them out by fourteen and give them a year’s break before further organized study. This has the added bonus of tripling the national educational capacity instantly. More on this later.
  2. Get rid of compulsions. If the school thinks something is important, and the child doesn’t, its time to get real, and like real life, negotiate. And suck it up and accept that things don’t always go our way if the child still doesn’t agree. In other words, they are people.
  3. Memorizing must be so minimized, that if it can be noticed, its too much. Instead, teach kids how to find out. How to reference knowledge, how to rig up their own research, how to question the knowledge and test it before accepting or not. How to disagree, without inhibition.
  4. Banish syllabus and subjects. Have classrooms loosely defined by what is happening in them and let the children be free to use them or not.
  5. Get totally rid of this good and bad. If you have bad students, please remove them from school and let them join whatever they are good at – even if it is watching TV all day. They have one life and don’t deserve to suffer our hang ups.
  6. Knowledge must not be seggregated. A snowflake being beautiful, cold, inspiring poetry, geometrically interesting….. should not be unrelated. This cannot be designed. You will have to get rid of subjects and dive into whatever the kids seem interested in. Which brings me to….
  7. Teachers should be facilitators. Once we get rid of the idea of limited information, the idea of a teacher becomes impossible to provide. No one can know everything about everything. Thus, the teachers must have skills that get the knowledge flowing rather than delivering the final word on something.
  8. Drop the idea that kids did “nothing”. Nothing is what brainwashed adults do. A quiet kid has gears turning in his head, a mischiefmaker is figuring out out of the box ideas that no one thought of, so that he can do his mischief. There is absolutely no reason to plan every inch of the time and space a child spends in the learning center. On the other hand, there is every need to offer a variety of things around what is enjoyed or considered interesting.
  9. Which brings me to… don’t limit learning. If your classrooms are by subject, there is absolutely no reason why people can’t take life memberships and/or to multiple schools or walk into a government school at whim. If they don’t have to attend everyday, they can, you know? What more perfect thing on a boring afternoon than to discover something astonishing? To hop across and check out what’s “happening”? Or, to continue on to their specialized colleges, but feel free to supplement it with more holistic learning in the center? It would be great for the kids to have diversity in learning partners. More real, more practical. If something specific doesn’t support it, that can always be protected.
  10. You understand of course, that from tiny, regimented, stingy parcels of learning, I’m talking of throwing the world open to kids. Of helping them learn whatever they want, as far as possible. No compulsory subjects, no lectures, unless the teacher is gung ho about something and the kids find it interesting enough to not walk out.
  11. There is absolutely no reason why basic education can’t prepare one for a future in agriculture or hairdressing, if it truly offers freedom of learning. That is the whole idea of basic, you know? Education now is ridiculous. The foundation for never finding out their real passions, because they are supposed to do all kinds of things and anyway, its highly likely that what you want to do cannot be described as one out of eight subjects – and thus kids actually have no idea what to do after their board exams. If this nonsense were working, by the time they hit the age of college, children would have had a fair grip on what it was they wanted to do, instead of saying, “Oh, if I get good marks, I’ll take science, or commerce if i can’t do that, or arts if  I get no admission for either.” This horrible predicament of theirs is because they are taught fantasy subjects, which have no reality with what they can envison anyone actually doing. They haven’t actually done anything that gives them an idea of if they want to do it a lot in the future. And no, they never had an ambition for memorization, and if they did, it would be something more spectacular, not something everyone “had to” memorize.
  12. The so called “B.Ed” variety degrees should be replaced by more practical psychology experience and skills of resourcing things. Nothing currently teaches that, so it will have to be designed. The actual learning expertise can come from anything ranging from a bunch of kids taking things apart and finding out for themselves, or a nuclear physicist volunteering an afternoon. Or from the tomes of textbooks of a bygone era to the internet or whatever comes next.
  13. school like this ought to actually be LESS expensive. Resources are really vastly scalable – there is no need to standardize – whatever is available, its unique, and real, and likely influenced by what kids wanted. This money should be not saved, but used to add resources and pay teachers really well. Teachers who become teachers because they couldn’t get better jobs should not be trusted with shaping the future of very precious people.
  14. Exams should be banned at the “end” of schooling. There is no end to learning, and there is absolutely no realistic way of assessing learning. Attempts to do so should be considered an insult to learning itself.
  15. But…. but, how do we put people in college? ENTRANCE EXAMS. If a child WANTS to do something, it makes sense to train for it and pass an exam certifying it. Colleges already have entrance exams. What difference does it make to them if the kids didn’t do other exams before that? Skills considered essential can be tested, and that is that. Let’s stop these anal routines, as though assessments are the whole point of learning.
  16. For jobs, it makes more sense to have entrance exams based on the actual work expected. An accounts job shouldn’t need the same skill set and marksheet as a receptionist, for example, as is the current scenario. Someone interested in numbers can learn really cool things with them and become a far more exceptional accountant than a garden variety “some of everything”, so actually, it is a grounding for far more intense specialization.
  17. It has the added benefit of dignity of labour. If there isn’t an educational norm that you can study commerce and become an executive with 80% marks and a receptionist with 60% marks, there is no shame in choosing what your heart is comfortable with, or becoming a driver or a nuclear scientist. A child choosing to attend school a couple of days a week and focusing more on the garage on the corner because he’s interested in race cars is LEARNING. Will be good initial work for that mechanical engineering entrance exam. If this child is not condemned, he may want to use the learning center to be able to calculate the power of an engine better, or learn the correct spelling of some term the mechanic used. Such things should be seen as apprenticeships rather than wasting time.
  18. I am not saying organize nothing and let kids go wild and be complacent because you don’t have to show any results. There is a difference between nurture and neglect, just as there is between nurture and prison. . Something like this would be more difficult on the teachers, BECAUSE they are supposed to deliver more. The world, instead of ten chapters.
  19. Also not saying that no lectures should be organized. I am saying that they should have a purpose other than ramming an essay into a child’s brain. They should be free for anyone to learn from, not just one group of people doing it whether they want or not. A lecture designed for the sixth grade shouldn’t disallow anyone wanting to attend it, nor should it disallow a sixth grader from leaving, but there will have to be a target audience in designing it, of course.
  20. Obviously, this isn’t something that would work out of the box. For one, even if this idea were adopted, a transition would have to be worked out. This idea would have to be refined further. But that a basic education ought to be good enough to set many people up for basic jobs without having to do anything further exotic. A basic education ought to create a foundation for learning, which can be applied in any sphere of life, and a love for knowledge, which goes beyond proving worth in exams. It ought to give the children enough of a sampling of what happens in different kinds of work so that they have a fair idea of what they really want by the time they hit the age of eligibility for college. And no, you ambitious parents, this shouldn’t be an opportunity to lower the entrance age for college.

Ok, I’ll stop here, because again, the article must go on, but you get the idea. Measuring people, demeaning them, limiting their learning is not necessary at all.

~*~*~ Fun Break ~*~*~

A bubble of pure water without soap added – impossible on earth, because, in zero gravity, the film of water doesn’t collapse under its own weight. Syllabus? Everything from surface tension and gravity to forces shaping objects to the nature of a scientist’s mind or the beauty of bubble itself or how do they design the shuttle so that it doesn’t leak or collapse? A million learning conversation possibilities….. or…. we aren’t in space. Which brand of soap will make best bubbles? Or…. on earth, could zero gravity be “rigged” to make this possible? One interesting thing leads to a lot of thought. Thinking is going to get someone figuring out black holes or the latest laundry detergent patent.

~*~*~Ok, back to the topic~*~*~

This is a vision. An ideal. I share it, but there is little hope in me that the world we have has the guts to face raw learning. However, there are a few suggestions I have, that can be implemented, and MUST be implemented. If you have a child, or are a teacher ethically responsible for the harm of school, or are even more introspective and realize that we are responsible for the wrongs we allow to happen unchallenged, you MUST fight tooth and nail for these.

  1. Asking children to take complaint notes about them by their teachers to their parents should be declared a crime. High quality abuse. Enough humiliation already. Its the teacher being paid to make this teaching thing work, not the child. If s/he cannot handle the child, they have choices. Ideally, beginning with another job, but at the very least calling up the parent her/himself and not bullying a child into carrying demeaning words about themselves between people. Or even good words. A child is not a courier for gossip about itself.
  2. Design engaging and “cool” knowledge sharing. Encourage trying things out, based on the learning theme.
  3. Parent-Teacher meetings, staff meetings, etc must be totally open to whichever child wishes to observe them, possibly they can get permission to address the group if they have something important that they want to share. In any case, they must have the RIGHT to know what are the processes around them.
  4. Memorizing needs silence. Learning needs engagement. Engagement is frequently noisy. Noise must not be discouraged. In fact, I go ahead and say that if a teacher can get a class chattering excitedly, they are learning. Teachers MUST receive training on non-violent communication.
  5. Uniforms should be replaced by dress codes, which should be sufficiently tolerant of the intended age and context. There is no two ways around this. Just imagine this. The boss lining up all the women showing cleavage and telling them to “dress better”. Lawsuits would fly. What makes you think that a child is less bothered by being paraded for having untidy clothes? Trust me, just get rid of this shit. If they join the Army, they’ll figure it out fast enough. If they end up working in a place with such rules, they will be doing it out of choice and for a reason. Don’t just randomly fuck with their dignity like this.

I am, like the earlier article, leaving out the “obvious and accepted wrongs”. Use your brain. If I’m holding things up with such integrity, it goes without saying that children being punished and beaten and so on is out. Just out, unless the teacher is cool with being caned in front of the class for being such an insensitive ass. That’s it.

Note: Rather abrupt, but I don’t have it in me to polish anything. Too heartfelt. Maybe later, so you may want to return to this article in the future, which is  a good idea for any article of mine you like, because I have zero publishing ethics. I change them, update them, and in general keep making them better if something occurs to me. I will also do the italic/bold thing, so that quick scanners get all the importantest words at least. Later. Now, I must stay with this feeling of talked out. When I wrote A new look at child abuse, I had planned it as a two article thing. The second article to contain a vision and possibilities. After the article finally wrote itself, and I read it a few times, I realized that it was too long. And it still didn’t allow me the space I needed without risking people running away just at the length of the page. After all, an idea unspread is a tree that fell unseen, unheard. So this thing is snowballing. The three sections will have their own follow ups of alternatives. And if at all anything remains left in me to write, I’ll see. But I’m not leaving go of this subject.