Sharing an email from ‘A worried daughter’.
I would like to tell you a little about my family – we were a small family – parents, myself and a younger brother. I’m a post-graduate, married with no children, and holding a good job abroad. My brother, who is six years younger to me, and is living in the same city as myself, got married a year after me and since then, whatever we had as a family, has been destroyed.
My parents were settled in India. Since my Dad had retired from a private concern, he didn’t have any pension to speak of. They spent everything on giving us the best possible education.
Three-four years before retirement, he purchased some land in our ancestral village in my name and also constructed a house there. (Mine is quite a late marriage & I have contributed significantly to the construction of this house as well as towards the monthly expenses for my parents). The plan was that everyone will live together happily & the house was supposed to be a security for me, being a daughter. He also exchanged a plot of land adjacent to this property with another of his relatives and directly registered the same on my brother’s name.
All my earnings have been used to keep my parents in a reasonable good lifestyle as I am aware of the sacrifices they had done to bring us up. My brother on the other hand has been money conscious from a very young age and has lived either at home or with me abroad and has saved every penny of his earnings and purchased flats & property in his own name. We were ok with that and happy for him as he was the baby of the house.
Immediately after marriage, (he married into a family with only one daughter & no other siblings), he & his in laws started pressurizing my dad to turn over the house (which is in my name but in which my parents were residing), over to his name. According to them, the house should be given to the younger son of the family. This was not possible and the harassment kept on growing.
At this point I have to tell you that his wife did not stay even for a single day in our house after marriage and also made the situation such a hell in our home abroad that me & my husband moved out to keep peace in the family. (I did mention that my brother was living with me & where he was concerned, everyone in my family was submissive & bowed down to his wishes. He gets quite violent otherwise & nobody can stomach it). Things came to a head when I met with an accident while vacationing in India and had to recuperate at home. My brother & his wife came down one day and physically assaulted me & my mom and my dad was left standing like a statue by the shock of it all. He passed away due to a stroke some months later and my brother had the audacity to tell my mom that she should never call him or try to get in touch with him ever again as he would like to live his life in peace. My mother has never contacted him and it took me & my husband more than a year to get her to come out of all this ugly situation and start living normally.
Unfortunately for us, my brother’s in laws live quite near to us & they along with my bother have spread ugly rumours about my mother & me & have told all & sundry that we have kicked him out of the house without a penny. It’s difficult for my mom to face all this when she does happen to attend family functions. My bother has a very polished & charming image outside the family and bcoz. my parents were very very private people, these facts are not known to anyone outside. My mother still keeps a stoic silence on all this. My bother on the other hand looks thu’ my mother if he happens to meet her anywhere during his vacations back to the hometown.
Between me & my husband, we have been taking good care of my mother and were hoping to bury the past when now out of the blue this brother of mine has surfaced and demanded that we should build a boundary wall between my property & his as he wishes to break off some portion of the boundary wall on his side to have ready access to his property. We are agreeable as long as he approaches my mother & brings in the village officials for the boundary demarcation. She has categorically stated that she will not entertain his in laws. She lives alone on the said property & in reply he has threatened that he need not contact anyone & will go ahead as per his plans.
I am sorry for such a long story but I felt it was necessary to give you the whole picture.
My questions are :
1. What rights do mothers have in such a scenario?
2. It is lucky that I am earning and am able to take good care of her and also have the full support of my husband in doing so. What if that was not the case – what if I was a house wife & not earning, or if my husband was not so supportive? What recourses would my mother have had then?
3. We do not need any maintenance from my so called brother but if my mother had approached the courts for the same, would they have forced her to live with him?
Unfortunately, since both my husband & myself are outside India – all we can do is take care of her financial needs and call her on a daily basis & make sure she is ok.
It would really help me if you could post this on your blog and I could get the advice from all your well read commentators. It has taken a lot of thinking & courage on my part to bring out all this family dirt out in the open but I really would like to know if things as severe as this do happen outside? If so, how do the survivors tackle & move on with their lives?
[If this info will help you in any way – we are Keralites and my mother lives in Kerala now. I live in the Middle East and she refuses to move in with us as the lifestyle here is not conducive or healthy for senior citizens besides which she has pets back home who won’t live without her.]
Thanks a lot.
A worried daughter.