A Popular Social Media Page Wrote About A Girl Who Lost Her Husband. The Guy’s Brother Called Out The Biased Social Media Narrative
Losing a dear one is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences – and several of us have gone through that. But not many of us know how it feels to lose a child or a life partner. This is why I can’t claim to truly understand what a woman feels when she loses her husband, what a family goes through when they see their son pass away. I can’t but I imagine it to feel several times more painful than what I can even fathom it to be.
Humans of Bombay shared a post of a young woman who lost her husband recently after he had been in coma for a few months. She spoke about how she moved on to rebuild her life – with her writing and dancing. And as I write this, honestly I feel like I am walking on eggshells because I don’t want to hurt the sentiments of those who went through the loss. Yet, the young woman who got featured ended up hurting the family with that post as she insouciantly told a story from a biased point of view and about a subject that requires sensitivity. But we wouldn’t have been saying this unless the brother of her late husband hadn’t shared their side of the story. We feel guilty that until then most of us fail to understand the complexity of a situation and how it affects the people involved in it. The family that the woman claimed to have made her life worse when her husband was in a coma has feelings too, and a story that doesn’t agree with hers.
“I didn’t believe in love at first sight until I met Utkarsh. After our first date itself, we said we’d get married once…
The young couple had been married just one and a half months when he met with a bike accident and slipped into a coma. The lady said she’d kept hope until the doctors said there was barely any left. However, she claimed that her in-laws made it worse and she decided to move to her hometown to continue her life. “It got worse when my in-laws wanted me to give up eating my favourite foods, chant a mantra 108 times everyday and go back to the spot of the accident to do a puja. Most of all, they wanted me to give up my job and move permanently to take care of him.”
She further added that when he passed away, she was blamed and criticised, “My in-laws were furious– they blamed me for his condition. They said, ‘You could have taken better care of him’, ‘You aren’t fasting or praying enough’, ‘You don’t love him.’ It wasn’t just my in-laws. After I moved back, society looked down upon me. Relatives said, ‘This is the problem with this generation, there’s no commitment.’ My in-laws also started spreading rumours about me– they said that I was ‘sleeping around’ and that I just wanted a ‘new husband’.”
At Hauterfly, we would always side with the woman – women’s stories are important to us and these deserve amplification. But often, the power of a well-worded social media narrative also comes into play. And this is exactly what happened here. When the story was put out, her in-laws were portrayed as the monsters who wouldn’t let her move on. That her religious beliefs were being impeded upon and that she was not okay with it. The comments section in this post is filled with people who side with her, it’s got to be tough. But let’s spare a moment for the parents. In the end, they lost their son too and whatever happened, whatever her perception is, nothing justifies playing with their sentiments. Wouldn’t our parents do the same? In such times, whatever hope you get, you hold on to it – even if it comes in the form of fasting and religious beliefs. It’s fine if she didn’t agree with those, but in the end, she can always respect the fact that they are grieving too.
An Open letter by a brother.This is in response to the claims made in the Humans of Bombay post; the link which is in…
Her husband’s brother Mangesh Kadu wrote an open letter in response to her post. “While my brother was lying in the hospital, everyone had an opinion on whether you are doing the right thing,” he wrote reflecting on the time when she decided to leave her comatose husband to “rebuild” her life. “We never judged you for leaving,” he clarified. “Everyone has their breaking point at which they say – “Enough. I can’t do this anymore.” And yours came when it came. No one can exactly comment on that when they haven’t gone through that experience. But it did come. And you left when you left. But when you left, you broke that commitment with Utkarsh. You were no longer his partner. And you posted “Amidst the pressing questions of why I’m not the grieving wife, I’ve realised that it’s more important to rebuild my life”. You did not want to be the grieving wife when he was fighting. But you are doing that now when he is gone,” he pointed out.
Kadu explained how his parents didn’t have an option of leaving him and they wouldn’t have wanted to. “We do appreciate your love and concern in the first two months after the accident. Before we knew that he is probably never going to be the same. But his parents nursed him for 5 months after you left. They did not have the luxury to rebuild and move on. They had to see him bleed. And see his pain when he was incapable of even screaming in his pain,” he explained.
As she had said how his parents made her life worse with expectations, he tried to explain their perspective, “His parents wanted to try absolutely everything ranging from doctors to temples to prayers to save their boy as would every parent.”
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There are always two sides to a story, and one will be a villain in the other side. We are no judge here to decide whether she was right in leaving her comatose husband to rebuild her life. Nor we are here to say how her in-laws’ expectations were justified or not. But one thing I do want to say is that sensitivity and respect matter. Her in-laws lost their son and it cannot be less than devastating. So what is the point of publicly saying things that would hurt their sentiments? They did not come up with a public statement of how she left. She came up with one talking about how things became difficult for her. “Coming to why I am saying all this – we let you go. We are still grieving. His parents are still grieving and will continue to do so for a lifetime. But your posts keep coming back to us and them through friends and relatives. And each time, depending on their own opinions on the subject, it is like poking a wound that is still open,” Kadu explained.
When a page as popular as Humans of Bombay builds a story around a person – and we’re talking about any person at all – it often is met with overwhelming love. And rightfully so, we could all do with some happiness right now. But perhaps we should be more careful of carefully constructed social media narratives that could hurt other people. And as they say, let’s not take everything on the internet at face value.