My mother’s family has always been very poor. When one of the siblings was able to buy a small lot, we built our homes on cement boxes piled one of top of another.
In this setting, we knew each other’s lives intimately. There were no secrets that were not known immediately. We even got to wear each other’s clothes taken from the laundry line if our own hadn’t dried up yet.
Thankfully, some of the second-generation kids like me were able to leave that little lot after college and getting a job.
A cousin my age has been closest to me, since we’ve been classmates from elementary to high school. In our fourth year, she changed from being studious to wild. She’d disappear from class and not come home till late at night.
She gave the excuse of doing research, but I knew she was seeing a younger boy. I submitted assignments for her and finished all her requirements to enable her to graduate. She enrolled in college but before the semester was over, she got pregnant. Her mother didn’t even scold or get angry at her.
Then, she got pregnant again—by another boy—in less than a year—and a third time a year later, also with a different guy. We just stopped caring. We never found out who the fathers of her children were as she also didn’t care what we thought of her.
Then, perhaps her surroundings affected her after she saw our other poor cousins graduating one by one from college and landing good jobs. She suddenly wanted to finish her course, which she did. She met a boy again, but this time, there was a face and a name to introduce to her family.
A college graduate, the guy worked full-time in a bank and had parents and siblings who were all professionals. He knew of my cousin’s past and was soon playing the father to her kids. He also moved in with her.
When he got her pregnant—her fourth—we were all happy to hear of their marriage plans. But when the boy’s parents were about to ask for her hand in marriage, we were told there would be no mention of my cousin’s kids.
When his family came, all three children were banished to a relative’s house elsewhere. The parents never knew of my cousin’s situation. Now, every time the parents of the guy would visit, the children would be gathered and herded somewhere.
My cousin and her husband are married now and have a kid of their own. I should not be involved, I know, but until when will this lie continue? Until when will the three kids be carted off like rubbish?
However strict and religious the guy’s parents are, the kids are here to stay. Isn’t it time they are made aware that their son’s wife is already a mother three times over—with three children from different men? Isn’t it time they’re told the truth, finally?
Hold your horses. Gather your senses. Go out and feel the breeze. Then, breathe in and breathe out.
Put it in your head that however bad this situation seems, it isn’t your business. You’re not your cousin’s keeper. She may be your blood relative and you may care deeply about these kids, but you shouldn’t do anything or say anything about it.
This is your cousin’s life, not yours. Nobody is going to die because of it. If her new husband doesn’t have the guts to tell his parents the truth, so be it. It is abundantly clear they’d rather treat them like stray kids—much like the proverbial elephant in the room—so why should anyone else care?
The mother certainly doesn’t, and the step-father too. Playing dead is much safer than rocking the boat.
To quote from Desiderata: “…Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the world is unfolding as it should.” Despite your good intentions, and as long as nobody is being hurt or being treated inhumanely, accept that life in your little lot will go on, as will the rest of the world, regardless.