The domestics of a territorial conflict

At least that is how Wikipedia defines the Kashmir conflict — ‘a territorial conflict over the Kashmir region, primarily between India and Pakistan, with China playing a third-party role.’ There is also some reference to a rising demand for self-identification further on. 

My husband is from Srinagar, where his entire family is based. We met overseas, in a first-world country, where I also grew up. A charming, old-fashioned introduction led to a simple wedding, and here we are, two beautiful little children later. In our first year of marriage, there was a lot of talk about moving back for a few years, considering the old age of his parents. There were a lot of arguments too. And a number of factors in favour of the move, which made more sense to me than I would like admit. Some, that still do. 
The family is beautiful, his parents are kind and quiet, and barring unwelcome conversations with respect to parenting styles, my relationship with his siblings and their families is generally good. That being said, the longest time I have spent in close proximity with them has never exceeded six weeks. So, naturally, the same cannot be assumed in the long term. 
Also, my being unable to understand the manner in which everyone helps each other in his family is perhaps a result of having lived the expatriate and immigrant life since the age of two — I have mostly only been exposed to how extended families function in close quarters during vacations in the summer. 
Nevertheless, I cannot imagine a more wholesome environment in which to raise children, given the notoriety traditional households have unfortunately gained in the South Asian diaspora. 
They have a ten-room bungalow in a secure, close-knit neighbourhood. The lawn is two times the size of the bungalow, complete with a sweet little kitchen garden and compost pit. There is a house in Jammu as well that I have not yet had the chance to visit. 
Our basement apartment here is cozy, and our landlord and his family are what dreams are made of. The neighbourhood is lovely — mostly immigrant — and the warm and comforting snippets of conversations in Urdu and Punjabi floating around on our daily walks feel like home.
Children do not remember living spaces. They do, however, remember the love, affection and care those spaces are a composite of. I know that. But I also cannot help but consider the size of a lawn that is two times the size of a bungalow, in which mine — and especially with all their cousins — would have the very best time. I do not remember the heat waves or the power and water shortages from my summers in India, or how regularly we got into trouble with our elders. But I remember all my cousins, and I remember all the mischief-making, and I remember that it was always merry.  
And even if we were to buy a lawn-laden house in the near future, from where would we procure the incomparable childhood experiences of merry mischief-making alongside brothers and sisters our children could love like they would love each other? 
There is also the matter of quality government healthcare, which is available to us for free here. Let alone an arm and a leg private healthcare would cost in Kashmir, I know for a fact that relying upon which would be agonizing for me, given the medical negligence horror stories.
To top it off, dust mites, lawn grass, and pollen-induced allergies have already been classified as a perennial hazard in the region — and despite taking at least two antihistamines a day, extremely unpleasant symptoms not limited to watery and itchy eyes, a nose that does not stop running, itching, or sneezing, and routine hives compose enough of my waking and sleeping hours when I am there. 
I have spent most of my life in grey t-shirts and black joggers, by myself, and surrounded by more books than people. And much like my preference in clothing, I do not like most people. Some are unable to hold my interest, and most do not interest me at all.
I worry also about the unpleasant person I am known to revert to whenever I feel vulnerable or territorial, which is perhaps at its most intense when it comes to the upbringing of my children, and the intrusion of personal and familial space (the doors of my in-laws’ house are, literally, always open).
Marriage and motherhood, however, are social institutions, and I am learning where it bodes well (and not just where it is imperative) to yield. Choosing to abandon control and make room for flexibility when your heart is accustomed to asphaltic tendencies, is hard enough. Add to which, the absolute lack of privacy the general social environment in Southeast Asia accords an individual, and you have the perfect recipe for interpersonal disaster — especially for an introvert like myself.
A matter of fact
Our options include travelling back and forth as a family, as well as him splitting the year between us and his parents — I detest even having to consider the latter because it would just be too much time spent apart, all four of us yearning for one another.
If we did not have children, I like to think that I would not accompany him for such a long period of time. And even though it would have been difficult living without the only person who understands me, it would still be a lot less stifling than what I feel is waiting for me in Kashmir (asidefrom the current political situation in the region, which is another rabbit role I would much rather not go down). 
The fact of the matter remains, however, that I cannot separate our children from their father, and I cannot separate their father from the responsibility (one I fully understand and support) of taking care of his parents.
Michael Scott loved his job. Michael Scott loved his colleagues. Michael Scott loved the office. And yet, he — a non-believing fictional character from a television show — moved all the way to Colorado (in The Office’s seventh season) so that the love of his life, Holly Flax, could care for her aging parents. 
Why then, despite all Godly affirmation, do I continue to flail and fumble in the face of completely entrusting my affairs to the Most Beneficent? 
Perhaps though, I am wrong about what I like to think. And that I would accompany him anywhere, children or otherwise, and for however long. 
My husband brings out the best in me, and puts up with the worst in me. I would never have been able to live, let alone function so well, with someone like myself. But not him. Not good and kind him, showing up in the most beautiful, unimaginable ways, every single day. 
He sees and understands me for who I am, and is the embodiment of all the values that a true lover of the Ahlulbayt (a) should be working towards manifesting, if it were their sincere aspiration to achieve closeness to God. 
I broke down last week. Our day had ended in yet another argument, and after putting the children to bed, I was too tired even for an episode’s worth of the remarkable Detective Goren from Law and Order’s Criminal Intent series. But I forced myself out of bed, sat down next to him, linked my forearm with his upper arm, put my head on his shoulder, and poured my heart out.
I told him, tears and all, everything I was afraid of, everything I found overwhelming, every way in which I had been unable to help myself. And he just listened — even the hard, mean things. 
And suddenly, I felt like I could breathe again. 
I was free of everything that had been holding my face in the sand. I was free, in my unhappiness at leaving a place I call home and have grown to love. I was free, in my disdain for having to make home a place I found alienating. I was free, in my shackles, in my shortcomings, in the darkness of my beautiful, ugly heart. I was free, in spite of myself. 
I was free because of him. He let me hold on to him at my weakest of lows, and he did not turn away. He did not absolve himself of my well-being, on account of my dark-heartedness. I was as much in his care now, with all my unpretty feelings and nasal discharge, as I had been on the eve of our wedding, in full bridal glory. 
Whatever the secular comprehension of love, this was something far greater. This was divine. This was wilayah. This was my husband bringing to life, the infamous words of the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini — if the purpose is divine, it will reign. 
God willing
And perhaps that is how I have come to the following conclusion. I trust God. He is the constant, and I am the variable. My being in His care is the constant, and my efforts in His way, are the variable. I know now, my purpose — what He wants from me. I understand now, His design — each moment, every conversation, each intention, every action, an opportunity, an invitation into Himself.
It is my prerogative, and that of no one else in my life, to slow the self down — to reflect, reflect, reflect, and introspect, to respond instead of react. All feelings are valid, but I must first understand the feeling, breaking it down to read all the pieces, in order that I may overcome my base self — here, in Kashmir, everywhere, when speaking to others, in matters of the children, in matters of the self— and inculcate command over triggers, and not succumb to them.  
It is not going to be easy because it was always meant for it to be challenging. And in the overcoming of challenges and obstacles along the course of my imtehaan, and in spite of my self, is how I will thrive, is how I will attain the very closeness to Him that I have always desired, God willing. 

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