All is not well with NRI couples: Sasikala Then, Swathi Reddy Now

Young couples living abroad away from their families are unable to manage emotional turmoils ending up in suicides or homicides. Sasikala and Swathi Reddy are recent examples.

Hyderabad: That all is not well with NRI couples has been proved by recent homicide and suicide in the US. The episodes of Telugu techie Sasikala and her son being murdered in New Jersey and Madhukar Reddy committing suicide in Seattle are underlining the problems of young couple staying away from elders and unable to manage emotional problems. Sasikala parents back home had accused son-in-law Hanumantha Rao of killing their daughter and having extramarital relationship with one Deepa. Madhukar Reddy’s relatives accused his wife Swathi of extramarital affair that drove him to commit suicide.

Madhukar Reddy had committed suicide ten days ago in Seattle. His wife, Swathi Reddy, too attempted to kill herself the other day after she was attacked by Madhukar’s relatives at the funeral.

With the young couples living far away from parents and relatives and nobody to guide them or give a shoulder when there are emotionally upset due to marital discord, the couples are feeling lost as they don’t have anyone to depend upon for emotional cushioning. The phone calls and emails from parents, though warm and reassuring, are not solving the issues. Cases of physical abuse, battles for custody of children, murders and of course suicides like Madhukar’s have become the order of the day with NRI couples. Every day, the media reports at least one case of such incident. We watch either the wife or the husband complaining. While most of the cases are ending up in divorce, there are rare cases like Madhukar, where the young couple resort to suicide. The work pressures, an aspiration to live a luxurious resulting in dissatisfaction towards the spouse are finally leading to depression.
The case of Madhukar Reddy, which has been in news for quite some time, falls under the above-category. His wife Swati shared her views with ‘Sakshi’ daily (published in the daily dated April 15) about their relationship, life in Seattle and finally the insensitive treatment meted out to her by in-laws. The following are excerpts of the interview:

Q:What has happened to you?
A: We live in Seattle. Our workplace is a bit far and takes three hours to reach there. As usual, I went to the office on April 3. I called Madhu to share good news with him that afternoon. I told him about my transfer to Seattle branch. He felt very happy that I will not have to wake up early and hurry.
He chatted with his office colleague Srinivas Nagendra around two thirty (she has shown the screen shot). His colleague queried Madhu, if he knows anyone with the knowledge of SAP, as his manager is asking him. In reply, Madhu asked him if they are trying to remove him from the job. Srinivas said as the work is too heavy they needed another hand. But Madhu was not convinced as he was working from home for the past one year as his office is in Oregon. Though attending the office now and then, he was working from home regularly. Because of this, he was sure that he would be removed first. This conversation took place between two thirty and three thirty that day.

Q: When did you return from the office?
A: As usual, by evening. But by that time Madhu hanged himself! I was shocked and scared. I ran out of the house shouting loudly. Those who were passing by that way asked me as to what happened? I told them. They came inside to help. Meanwhile, I called 911. It came in two minutes. They performed CPR immediately, but he did not respond. They performed some medical tests for fifteen minutes and declared him dead. He probably might have hanged himself between three thirty and five thirty.

Q: Did he resort to suicide due to work tensions?
A: Probably, he was suffering from depression since a long time. He is undergoing treatment from 2016. As he was suffering from mood swings, I suggested to him to see a doctor.

Q: Since when is this condition persisting? Is it recent?
A: He was like that ever since we got married. We were supposed to visit his home three days after our marriage. But, he went away alone. He came back after an hour and said, “Sorry, I want to stay here. We will stay for one more day.” I said ok. Within an hour, he said we will go. I was surprised with his attitude. The same thing got repeated after ten days. When I asked him why he was behaving like that he said, “I’m like this. Be with me if you like.. Otherwise forget it.” I was hurt. I shared this with my parents and refused to go back to him. His sister came to our house and pleaded. My in-laws too convinced me. Then my sister-in-law said, “We bore him all these years, now you have to do it.”

Q: When did you go to the USA?
A: Madhu was in the US since 2007. We got married in 2010 and I went to the US in 2011 January along with him.

Q: How was his behaviour there?
A: We went to Las Vegas for a pleasure trip. There too, he used to leave me alone and go away and return saying sorry. He used to be moody at home and loved being alone. He used to break everything around him when he got angry, later used to feel sorry and assure me that it would not be repeated.

Q: Is it a love marriage or arranged marriage?
A: Ours is an arranged marriage. We got married within a month after the engagement.

Q: How was he during that period?
A: We spoke hardly five or six times in that month. I thought he was a shy person. But, he was the same after marriage. He preferred to be alone. When I told his people, they said that since he lived alone for three years, he might have got used to it. Before marriage itself, they said that he was not a gregarious person. We believed it. Even his brother is like that. Nobody can predict his moods. He easily gets angry and throws everything around him. He even gets fits. We came to know that he too tried to kill himself twice.

Q: Did you not complain to your parents or in-laws about Madhu’s behaviour?
A: I did. My in-laws never took what I said seriously. In turn, they used to comment with relatives that I’m creating problems for their son. Exasperated by his behaviour, I said, “let’s go to India, speak to our parents and solve this.” He stayed back citing the problem of Visa stamping. I came alone along with my daughter. I explained to my in-laws about Madhu’s problem. As usual, they did not take me seriously. They only suggested to me to adjust. Even my people said the same and convinced me. I came back to the US.

Q: Did you find any change?
A: No. Even I could not handle the situation. So, I requested him to see a doctor in 2016. He obliged. First, both of us went and saw a physician, he suggested a psychiatrist. He went alone to the psychiatrist. I did not go along with him as I was afraid that he might not open up even before him.

Q: Is there any change after the treatment started?
A: He used to be fine if he took medicines. He used to mingle with people and be active. He used to be good with me too. But he used to complain of drowsiness. He often stopped taking medicine. Then he used to be back to square one. He revealed to me that he was suffering from depression after he abused me physically in the early days of our marriage. Since then I’ve been suggesting to him to see a doctor.

Q: Were his people not aware of his condition before the marriage?
A: He was never with parents. Though he is a native of Bhuvanagiri, he was in relative’s home at Hyderabad for in hostels for education. He was in the hostel during his intermediate and later completed BPharmacy at Bits Pilani. Later he went to the US. He was not attached to the family much. My in-laws were only concerned about property even after his death. They fear that I might demand a share for my daughter.

Q: But she is their granddaughter, don’t they love her?
A: They did not like the birth of a girl child as his elder brother too had two daughters by that time. They were angered when a girl child is born. They expressed their displeasure with my parents that they don’t have a heir. They came to the US during delivery, but they were not happy.

Q: How was Madhu?
A: He was very happy. He asked me not take his parents seriously. There are no disputes between us as being claimed by my inlaws. From the beginning, the problem was his health and we were on the way to solve it.

Q: Your in-laws are alleging that you forced him to buy a house..?
A: That’s not true. We used to stay in a rented house earlier and paid 2200 dollars per month. Cost of living in Seattle is high. When I started working, we thought it would be better to buy a house instead of paying so much of rent. He looked out for a house, as we liked it we paid advance. Since then he started feeling tensed that if he loses his job, it would be difficult to repay the loan. Watching him get stressed out, I suggested dropping the idea of buying. We had cancelled the deal too.

Q: What would you like to say about the whole issue?
A: They defamed me saying that I would make him do domestic work when Madhu was alive. In America both male and female share domestic work. They used to comment why he is doing such thing being a man. But Madhu never took them seriously and told me not to bother about them. After his death, they’ve exceeded the limits and resumed defaming me. I’m proving that they are wrong, let them prove one allegation. When I went to attend the last rites of my husband, their relative Ravindar Reddy hit me pulling my hair. Is it fair to abuse me that way in such a situation? Do I not have the right to see my husband one last time? I absorbed the shock of seeing him dead and brought his body back home.
Can’t they imagine how much pain I’m undergoing? The person who abused me took anticipatory bail. How can the court also give bail to a person who abused a woman publicly? I demand justice. They allege that there was discord between us, but we started event management four months ago on a part-time basis. He was very happy with it. We also conducted an event a month ago? If we are not happy, how can we work together? They are making baseless allegations, let them show the proof, said Swathi Reddy.

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