Its amazing how people betray themselves by the words they choose to use. We all do it subconsciously. Perhaps we try to cover it as much as we can, but often enough, our words betray us.
When W first introduced herself, she told us how she has been in the country over 20 years. And that she is happy with her life here and finds that her life here is better than what her life might have been back in the States.
Which was odd really. Because she was introducing herself as our Quilt instructor. Nobody questioned her happiness or her choice to live here having married a local man. But she brought it up herself.
We noticed it, talked about it. Thought that it was odd but just dismissed it. Its none of our business and all we want is a Quilt instructor. We were eager to learn and wanted to start quickly.
We met her once a week. She was a patient and generous teacher. She often shared with us her stories, how she first started quilting. How difficult it was at first to find the materials.
Somehow, I got somewhat closer to her during that time. Perhaps I found her very interesting, if not admirable, to have chosen to leave a lifestyle that she grew up with and came here with love in her heart.
Her generosity often surprised me. She would open the doors to her home to me. The Quilt guild meetings were held in her home. She invited me to come. Even sent her driver to pick another friend and me up. Otherwise it would have been difficult for us to come to the meetings. I was at awe with her house. It was full of quilts and if anything, its almost like a picture of a house out of a quilt magazine.
Over time she also invited me not just for the meetings but also for once a week sewing cum bitching session, and even for an afternoon tea when J’s parents came from Australia. She wanted them to see what a local home look like inside the high walls. She invited another friend who shared with us their experiences as Amer|can wives married to local men.
And slowly, I was to find out more about her. And her pain. Her marriage has been rocky for awhile. At first, she thought it was witchcraft, concocted by her maid. She told me her son found things in the maid’s room. Strands of her hair in the Quran, amongst other things. She noticed that her husband was beginning to behave weirdly towards her. When she served him the morning coffee, he asked if it was the maid who had prepared the coffee, not her. It upset her, because she said she has been preparing his coffee for the past 20 years, and suddenly he was asking if the maid did this or that for him.
And her husband was becoming increasingly distant from her. He was coming home later and later and even later. At first it was 10pm, then 2 am, then 5 am and then not at all. She tried to confront him but it didn’t help.
She sent her maid home. Especially after her son found all sorts of things in the maid’s bedroom.
And the husband’s attitude changed a little.
But apparently it wasn’t enough.
Just over the summer she went back to the States twice. Once because she heard that her dad wasn’t feeling well. And the second time because she wanted to bring her sons over. Apparently they have never been to their mother’s homeland since they were grown up. She fears that it would be a cultural shock for them, but it was worth a try.
And then a week ago, she sent me an email. That she can no longer hold the quilt classes for us. She needed the time to sort her life and her relationship out. She has decided that perhaps separation will be the answer. She was dying inside and she could not let that go on any longer.
W came to us, when she was experiencing pain and confusion in her life. She thought the best way to handle her situation was by distracting herself. By finding new work, by submerging herself into new projects.
But over the summer she was finding it harder and harder to stay in denial. And thus the drastic action.
I was stunned. And now looking back, I now understand why she introduced herself the way she introduced herself. She was unhappy with her relationship, but was trying to convince herself that she is doing OK, she was as happy as she could possibly imagine to be. But inside she was struggling. Struggling to find herself.
But I admire her for her generosity despite her bleeding heart. Instead of becoming a bitter person, she became a caring, nurturing and generous person. It was a lesson that I will keep in my books.
Why she chose to confide in me, I will never know. Perhaps I never probe too deep, I don’t ask too many questions, and I try not to judge. But I have learnt so much from her. Not just how to make quilts, but an insight into life. I admire her for knowing some things in life so early. She married him at 18, and followed him here. And learnt to adapt to life here. A mighty feat is you ask me. Listening to their struggles before they got comfortable, all five of them sharing a tiny apartment, how they managed and lived happily together. And suddenly, after they got comfortable, with a huge house, kids all grown up, suddenly it has come to this.
And she is taking a bold step, by choosing to leave him and not let herself die inside. Far too many women choose to kill themselves silently this way, to suffer in silence, wasting away rather than walking away.
For W, I wish her good luck. We all try to make the best decisions for ourselves. And she has chosen hers. Thank you for the kind generosity that you have showered upon me, coming into my life pouring sunshine in the rain, while all the while you were burning like a candle in the wind. You have given me some baby steps, that has allowed me to crawl through my quilt projects. I hope you will find happiness and solace soon.