Monday, April 27, 2009

My answer was... and Bitter gourd and Bilimbi in a coconut gravy

The comments on this post about the court case I was called on to be a witness capture the range of emotions I felt and also helps understand that each of us approach a problem utilizing our own life experiences. I am of the firm belief that the parent be it the mom or dad, the one who makes the sacrifice, effort and time to be with their children has to be respected. The part I hate most about divorces is how children are treated, like they are possession to be divvied among the concerned parties.

I said "Yes" when asked me and what kept going through my mind was that the boy needed the father as much as he needed the mother. First instincts are usually right and here it was to say Yes. A slight doubt if I should go through with it came after I gave it more thought and realized that I should have discussed with DH before giving consent. This hesitation made me get my questions organized and have them ready when the lawyer called to discuss. Foremost in my mind were, in no particular order, who initiated the divorce (it was her), what did the boy think (the boy was being questioned by social services to determine if there was any abuse by the father to which the boy had answered he wanted to be with both the parents and that he was very upset), if there would be any questions about her (no). I reiterated that I would not answer any questions positive or negative about her and I can only testify to what I saw which was mostly outside the house and I was not privy to anything that happened inside the house.

The court date arrived bright, clear, chilly and with 2 inches of snow on the ground. When I went to the court the neighbor and his sister(sister had travelled from Florida) walked out to inform that the cases for the day were cancelled because of the snow. I was relieved that I did not have to testify but making mental calculations of how to accommodate another day off from work for a later court date. Situations like these take an emotional toll on everybody who is concerned and it was no different for me and thanks to DH who agreed to come along and was supportive. I guessed it was on that day the mom came to know I would be a witness.

The drama came the next day when she called to ask if I was testifying for her husband. She already knew and I was not sure where the conversation was leading. The minute I said Yes she lost it. She demanded to know if I was a friend or not and if I would testify on her behalf. I told her (I hope) very politely that she had never asked and so I had not given it any thought. Then she demanded that I be her witness too, to which I explained to her that perhaps a face to face conversation would be useful and that we could do it as soon as she could come out of her house and that pretty much ended the pointless conversation. I was hopping mad (I was in my rights to do what I pleased. What was she trying to pull? intimidate me?) but it also had the desired effect. I started to get a bit anxious and considered for a brief second to pull out as a witness. But in the end it made me all the more determined to go through with it.

DH decided to the call the parents of the boy's friend (the friend referred to as TF from now) by the way the only friend the boy had in the neighborhood. TF's parents are also our neighbors and very good friends, a bit older than us and so in a position to give advice and also knew the situation as well as we did. This happened to be a blessing in disguise because TF's dad assured us and recalled an incident. The mom was upset with TF for some reason(the boy had to always play the games TF suggested or some such) and she marched over to TF's house, once there besides accusing TF also accused TF's mom of several things and stating that they cannot play together ever again. Take into context that TF was the only friend the boy had in the neighborhood and he also regularly played with him. The boy's dad on coming to know of this walked over to TF's house and appolozied to the parents and also requested that the boys play together again because his son was very upset. This talk did enough to further cement my decision.

A couple of weeks later I heard that the case was settled out of court with an agreement to joint custody and I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and hoping that the boy would do fine.

The dad had moved out a few months before the court case and the mom lives in the house with her son. The dad visits regularly to pick and drop off the boy and on enquiring about the boy it was sad to hear that he is having problems at school and went from being a good student to not doing well at school and I don't see him playing or hanging out that often anymore. TF and the boy play together still.

The time period for which I have known them as a couple is 8 years and the case came at the beginning of the 8th year. In all that time he never bad mouthed his wife or tried to charm me into making me believe he was a great dad or anything. My impressions were formed from my observations alone. The last 2 years that he lived here, he actually stopped walking over to talk for the most part.

As for me I have no regrets for agreeing to testify other than a few sleepless nights. Even with close friends or family it is almost impossible to know what goes on inside closed doors and it is even more difficult with casual acquaintances. Taking decisions like these affect us more than we think they would.


This Bitter gourd and bilimbi recipe is based on Redchillies Raw Mango Coconut Curry. I followed the exact same recipe, added a couple of medium sized bitter gourds and 12 frozen bilimbis. The curry was creamy and very tasty but on the bitter side. We love bitter gourd so this was not a big problem. RC had suggested using a small bitter gourd but mine had bitter gourd as the main ingredient instead of the sour agent and I increased the quantity of methi(what was I thinking) which too added to the bitterness and the sourness from the bilimbi was not sufficient.


  1. It's always hard on the child when parents separated and being parents, both should act responsible for the best of their child and not trying to out beat each other to get an upper hand just to spite the other. However, it is not always the case that parents put aside their difference and put their child on first priority. :(

  2. it is sad when the kids suffer... there was a tamizh movie (forgot the name)... where someone says this "a husband and wife can divorce... but parents should not".. this is not always possible though...

    lovely creamy dish!

  3. PHEW!!! I stopped breathing while reading all that! :D

    Real victim is that boy, isn't it? That's sad. But that's life here for most kids. As time goes on, he will learn to live with his situation. Glad he still has his buddy to plat with.

    Nice looking dish, only thing I make with BG is stir fry! :)

  4. As you said, it is the little boy who must be going thru hell:-( My heart just breaks for these kids, esp. when i take a look at my own,& think how delicate & vulnerable their minds are... & how their entire world can crumble just for some darn selfish parent.... sigh!

  5. Wow, what a story! I just read the comments from the other post,what an interesting discussion. Personally, I'd have said no, as that is the easiest decision, I am selfish like that. You were brave and selfless to have said yes, and lucky you didn't have to actually go through with it.

    BTW, loved your sausage biryani, yum!

  6. Oh what an ordeal you went through ISG. Visiting courts even for my own matters gives me sleepless nights and then you went ahead and did it for your neighbor. But then glad to know that they have the joint custody of the child.

    Yay, I guessed right and so glad that you liked the mango curry albeit a bitter one :-)

  7. Oh Indo I made a wrong guess but am really relieved of the outcome of all this emotional web. Sigh its sad to know about the boy's performance and yeah they are the real victims. The curry looks good and bilimbi is my favorite but the only place we use it is in a fish kulambu. You can't find a fish kulambu without it in Cuddalore households. Never tried it with other recipes.

  8. I am glad that they agreed for a join custody.
    I agree about the sacrifice matter, but how many courts give the kids to their moms , even when they sacrificed their carrier to look after the kids and stayed home.
    Not that many as they say the mom don't have the mean to support the kids.
    Ofcourse in your neighbours case it must have been different issues.
    I totally agree kids are the victims in all these.

  9. Phewwwwwwww !!! What a story. Very sad ending to it though. I am feeling all gloomy now.

    It was real nice of you to say "Yes", it needs a lot of conviction.

    The boy sure misses his Dad but I do hope he is happy with his Mom. What do you think ?

  10. It is always the child how suffers the most from a divorce... At least the mother agreed for a joint custody...

  11. You were courageous and made the right decision. Hats off to you! It is always sad when families break up, especially in a situation where there isn't much support from an extended family. This is often the case in America.
    Let's keep the little boy in our prayers!
    I enjoy your No-Ferment Oats Dosa every morning. It is tasty and healthy too!

  12. I must've missed the previous post. What an ordeal that must've been! And you were being nice in trying to help. Divorce, even the so-called amicable ones, are always a mess. Glad you did not have to testify either way. So sad to see the kid suffer.

  13. bittergourd in coconut gravy sounds yummy. i love bitter gourd.

  14. Ya I have the same question as Sandeepa! Does the mother talk to you now?

    I have never tried bilimbi before. hmm..mebbe I should sometime when my in laws come over.

  15. Guy marries girl,they are happy together, they breed, then fight, then get divorced....they succumb to the circumstances(and most of the times ,just to their inflated Ego).But what about the kid? How can a kid live without either of them??
    It will be too regressive if i said that couples should stay together bearing the physical abuses or lethal addictions of each other(Alcohol, gambling,drugs etc).But other than these reasons, couples should adjust with each other for the sake of a pleasant and calm life of their kids.
    I agree that couples living together and fighting over stupid issues on and off, does no good for the Kid, but still the shock of parents separating mostly results in a shattered mind of the baby and such kids are not very comfortable with the institution of marriage
    I agree that every individual has his/her own life and i ain't any preacher, but still separating on silly grounds like snoring hubby or Fat wife is ridiculous and pathetic.I feel so sorry about the kid,and though he will get back to normal soon, but will he be the same again??Won't this affect his innocent mind negatively??
    Wish couples get more sensible and sensitive towards their kids , and after reading all this i am just not in any mood to talk about food.
    Will come back later, when my mind is not as disturbed as this

  16. An excolleague she was in her late 30s when her parents divorced. They wanted all their kids to get to a certain age before they went through with it. Even at that age she was not happy and said she will never accept it though she understood fully why her parents wanted to do it.

    Kids learn to deal with it but I doubt if they ever really get over it.

    Sandeepa, I am not really sure about that or in other words I don't know to give you an answer one way or other. But why is his school work suffering? That is a question for me as well.

    A_and_N, as for the mom, she does not talk to me the boy and I talk when we run into each other. She talks to DH though. But I can't really blame her, she thinks I took the opposite side.

    Alka, sorry to have upset you. I totally agree with you, where kids are concerned parents should be more than judicious when they make their choices.

  17. That's true - the hardest hit are the kids and i always pity them. It definitely must've been a tough decision for you.

    The coconut gravy looks delicious but what is Bilimbi? Need to look it up.

  18. I also want to add that when a majority of these decisions are taken with great thought it is still not easy on anyone associated with it. I don't want to be totally insensitive to the sometimes intolerable marriages people live in as well.

  19. Nirmala, I have never seen bilimbi before but I am sure the fresh one is sour and better than the frozen one I got here. Does it taste like chinna nellikai?

    Laavanya, I came to know of these when I saw this recipe on Tastes Like Home. I made the sour with manoges and when I saw this frozen in the Indian store I could not resist picking it up. But I still have to taste the fresh ones to decide if I like them or not.

  20. my friend is going through a divorce, her husband is an azzhole, and the worst part is that jai bumps into that azzhole at work often. sucks to be caught in the middle, esp when you know the person you bump into is an azzhole. kudos to you for doing what you thought was right. it takes courage.

  21. Tht's sad ... btw nice dish

  22. Its almost like arinellikai but more fleshier and with no crunch. We used to reduce the tamarind in the fish kulambu when we add these. It tastes lovely...slurp :)

  23. You are courageous, Indo. I appreciate your agreeing to give a witness testimony for the kid's dad.

    Divorces are heart breaking for most people involved. But sometimes I feel that a divorce is a lot better than the tension filled abusive atmosphere some kids grow up in. That can harm the kids more than a divorce will.

    Never heard of a bilimbi till now, had to google it to see what it was. It looks like an elongated guava. How did it taste?

  24. i am seeing a friend's marriage fall apart and i feel i can't take sides coz u finally don't know what happens inside the house.yes it's the worst thing to happen to a kid and we can only hope time will heal a bit.

  25. sad story and it was really nice of u to say Yes...
    bitter gourd with coocnut gravy sounds interesting...

  26. Just like there are bad husbands/fathers there are bad wives/mothers. Just as there are bad mother-in-laws's, there are bad daughter-in-laws. There is not much publicity about the women who don't fullfill their roles...With how things are changing today in India, I worry more for my son to find a good wife than for my daughter to find a good husband.

    I too agree that a child needs the mother more than the father, especially for stong emotional growth. This is true only if the mother is capable of providing that.

    I would have done what ISG did. But I agree with the emotional toll it took on her. These days I sometimes choose to stay out of conflict, because I cannot handle the stress it brings upon...and also feel guilty for not standing up for what is right.


  27. Great that you had the courage to go through with what you thought right Indo!

  28. Good one. After knowing the health benefits of Bitter gourd i have starting loving it. Bitter gourd is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2 and c and contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.



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