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.