August 9th, 2010

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What Is And Should Never Be

Previously, I described how I left for Iowa as an absolute last resort, my children starving at Leo Carrillo State Park. I settled in to life in Iowa, got my own apartment, and continued to correspond with and talk to Mahasraya on the phone. I had agreed to return if he got us a place to live, and I fervently hoped that he would.

In January of 1982 there were some serious storms sweeping across the country and floods in Santa Cruz county killed some people and washed out a major bridge in Santa Cruz itself. I was worried about Mahasraya, who had been living at times in the redwood forest, still homeless. I wrote to my friend Isabella, (not her real name) to ask if she had seen or heard from him. I wrote also to the mailing address I had for him. The same storm reached Keokuk and we lost power for part of a night. I later heard from him that he was fine and hadn't been in the forest during the storm.

One morning in March of 1982 I answered a knock on my door and there was my husband! I was stunned but fell into his arms with joy. We talked and talked, and as soon as we had the privacy we made love.

At first everything seemed so wonderful but as he talked about having the equipment shipped to my home to make knives (his latest scheme), I worried again about being caught and getting in trouble for receiving aid while he lived with me. We lived in a small town and word travels quickly. It wasn't like the impersonal big city. I was filled with anxiety but knew that opening the subject would cause an explosion. How quickly I reverted to tiptoeing around him to avoid violence!

Lakshmana quickly responded to Mahasraya and resumed their relationship but my daughter, Ramya, held back out of shyness. She barely remembered him, but gradually warmed up and got to know him again.

I noticed some odd things about his behavior--he seemed to need to go to the pay phone a lot, making calls to friends, he said. He started talking about making plans to go back to the west coast in a few months. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but my intuition told me something was off, that I didn't know everything that was going on with him. I couldn't understand why he would ship his equipment to Iowa but then start talking about returning so soon.

In April, he received a letter from his best friend Keshava in the mail. I have never done this before or since, but I opened the letter, thinking I would carefully seal it back up again. I expected to gain some insight as to what was worrying him--and boy, did I.

I took the letter with me into the bathroom and read, "Bella told me that you were coming back to her soon. I don't understand why you are changing your plan to live with Tapati and make knives there..." There was more that I can't remember, mainly because those words were blazed into my mind and I couldn't help but read them over and over again. Bella told me that you were coming back to her soon. Isabella! My good friend! I felt like I'd been stabbed in the solar plexus.

I sat in the bathroom and cried, reading it over and over. Finally I came out and went back to the master bedroom, where he was reading. I threw the letter at him and stalked out, not trusting myself to speak. I went into the kitchen and began washing dishes, slamming cupboard doors, trying not to cry in front of the kids. They went out to play and finally he came into the kitchen, and we started arguing. I lit into him about the affair, when he shocked me more than I thought I could be at that point.

"You don't understand," he said, "this isn't just an affair. I love Isabella; she's going to be my wife too. It's destiny!"

My life had just turned into a nightmare. It's a measure of my dependency on this man that I didn't already see that it had been for quite some time. This hurt me more than all of the beatings combined because it hurt me where I lived. In this one moment I became convinced that he must not really love me. He couldn't love me and do something like this! I felt worthless and abandoned. Not just abandoned. Thrown away.
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