A Probationary Officer’s Interest in Indian Culture

A sequential excerpt from Humbling and Humility

Sid’s query, about clarifications members may need regarding the counseling group and sessions, pulled me back to the day’s session from troubled memories. No, I thought, recalling Sid’s wife-in-bed-with-another question, I had not reacted violently to the discovery of my wife’s affair and plans. I had instead felt a deep sense of betrayal, and overwhelming shock––how could she do such a thing? In our own home? In a home we raise our children in? How could she stoop so low––wait until the children and I fell asleep, to engage in her salacious conduct––in our home? My home, that sheltered my family, that gave me refuge and comfort through many family tragedies, was sacred to me. I felt viscerally violated. John and Parvathi could scarcely respond to my emotions; they had no words to alleviate my shock and sense of outrage.

But this was two full years before I landed in the grips of this legal system. Two long years before I became someone who’d engaged in unlawful, disorderly conduct, falling into a court-mandated re-education program. A program where I’d come to hear that my life partner may sleep with anyone she chooses to, and that I may do the same, regardless of our marriage and its vows.

I was required to follow up with my probationary officer, Lauren Smith-Green, after classes began. I was placed on probation––like any other convicted criminal in this system––until successfully completing the intervention program. Lauren had a second role as an additional counselor. She was a small, short and stocky, white-haired older lady, and quite pleasant to talk to. She seemed sympathetic toward agonies endured in passing through the process. It was within her authority to recommend that I leave this process and the country altogether. But she did have a condition for such release, that I successfully complete such an intervention program in any country I moved to. And though another had taken this route in the past, it seemed simpler for me to stick with the process here, and with her as my probationary supervisor.

Lauren was taken aback by my description of the first group session. “You are definitely in the wrong group,” she said. “Are you sure there isn’t a better group to move to?”

I wondered why she thought the group was a wrong one to be in. Did the group determine results of counseling? I rather liked the idea of a group that tested the limits of their intervention program. I spoke with Lauren instead about a continuing impasse at home, and about accusations of threats made from my spouse.

Threats? What threats could you have made?” she asked.

I said to my wife that I’d take her to task in a court of law, given a chance,” I clarified. “She knows that I’ve prosecuted and won civil cases. I am engaged at the moment in a case against a company that stole some of my intellectual property.”

Lauren asked if I felt constrained or burdened by not being free. I wasn’t sure what she meant, the legal process or my marital nightmare. I replied that I’ve always felt free in my heart and mind. I left with her a copy of My Experiments With Truth, by Mohandas K. Gandhi, that I brought along to the meeting. You may know of him as an Indian who stood for non-violence, who taught generations before us to be non-violent and yet effective. Freudian thinkers may label such non-violent but provocative methods as being passive-aggressive.

I brought the book along because Lauren seemed genuinely interested in learning about Indian culture in discussions with me. The book could help more; I didn’t feel or think much like an Indian after a decade and seven years in America. Besides, India has always been a complex melting pot, of diverse cultures and races, in a relatively small geographical area, hemmed in by massive mountain ranges along its northern boundaries and oceans around its peninsular body. There isn’t any specific culture that could be called distinctly Indian.

Nevertheless, this topic could make for interesting conversations with Lauren. An influx of a large number of new Indian immigrants, into this region of the state, may have aroused in her a desire to learn more about this eastern, ancient cultural tapestry. I knew it to be a complex social fabric, that birthed and assimilated multiple religions, and gave rise to much independent thinking and spiritual pursuits together.

• • •


About Rian Nejar

Rian Nejar is an Indian-American author. He trained and worked as an engineer in India, lived briefly in the Middle East, and arrived in America in the early 90's. After a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in America, he worked as an academic instructor, engineer, entrepreneur, and technical writer over the two decades since. Humbling and Humility (http://goo.gl/FKUnCM) is his first mainstream nonfiction. He lives and writes in the Southwest United States.
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