Dubai: Tears welled up in his eyes as Gokul Sreedhar typed out the words of a Facebook post, wishing his mother a happy second marriage. This was not an ordinary post, it was a quiet expression of a life-changing moment for the 23-year-old from Kollam district in the Indian state of Kerala.
But the post picked up a life of its own, as the message resonated, and has now gone viral on social media, with Indian news media outlets taking up the story.
His mother, Mini's first marriage had been unhappy. The loud fights, beatings and bruises are still fresh in his mind.
He told Gulf News: “I really thought about it for several minutes before posting... it was emotional.”
Sreedhar had grown up watching his mother tackle an abusive relationship. The loud arguments and fights between his parents are still fresh in his memory. She had finally moved on and found someone better.
But his fear was would society accept it? He braved the fear and hit the post button. All he wanted to do was informe his close friends and relatives and request them to be respectful of his mother’s decision.
Sreedhar wrote: “The marriage was a hush affair with only close family members. Everyone including my mother felt people should learn about it only gradually. However, I felt it was better that people hear it from us, and not from others. I was worried that my close friends or relatives would talk ill of my mother for her decision.”
As a millennial, Sreedhar cannot understand why people have a problem with women marrying again. “Our society has no problem with men remarrying. Then why do they have an issue with women doing the same?”
The political science student added: “I don’t consider my father a horrible villain. My parents were both different, and my mother couldn’t accept my father’s behaviour. He was aggressive and would always fight with her and shout at her.”
The situation got worse in 2002. “I was just six at that time and we went back to my mother’s home. She got a job. My father then moved to Dubai to work. In 2004, my father came back saying he wanted to work things out but asked my mother to stop working. She did and we moved back.
“My father was a very strict man, I wasn’t allowed to have friends or socialise. When he was angry with my mother, I would try to stop him, but he would push me away. Twice or thrice I have seen him thrash her. I was scared of him, I couldn’t stop him from hitting her.”
In 2009, for a second time, his parents decided to live apart. And finally in 2013 they moved the court for a divorce. He added: “My father too looked like he preferred a divorce. As settlement my father financed my education and paid for a house for us.”
His Facebook post in Malayalam reads: “It was my mother’s second marriage. I had pondered over whether or not to put up such a post as it is the time when there are still people who can’t accept second marriages. Now, don’t look at us with scorn and hatred. Even if you do so, no one here will feel humiliated. My mother is a woman who had set her entire life apart for me. In her calamitous marital life, she suffered a lot. When blood oozed out of the bruise sustained from beatings, I have asked her, ‘Why are you suffering so much?’ I still remember what she told me then, ‘I’m living for you. Again, I will tolerate’. On that day when I held my mother’s hand and left that house, I expected such a moment... I decided then that I would make it happen. My mother, who had sacrificed her youthful days for me, has many heights to conquer... I’m not willing to say anything... I thought I need not keep this a secret.”
Social media users praised him for being a good son and congratulated his mother.
Facebook user, Issac Eappen posted: “You are a great son...”
And, Jineshej Pranayamai added: “Yes, this is the duty of an ideal son. I congratulate you.”
Gireesh Kumar wrote: “Those who want to say thing will do so, don’t mind them. Congratulations.”
Pabalan Krishnan: “A new message to the society.... Women have ambitions. Society kills her ambitions.”
The positive reactions have made Sreedhar very happy. “The situation is changing now, the postive comments I got are really amazing and it is overwhelming.”
Gokul Sreedhar has a message for mothers in abusive marriages: “Don’t be in that relationship for the sake of your children, get out with them, at first they will question your decision but after reaching an age when they understand how the world works, they will love and respect you.”