I was born in a very traditional family and lead a very sheltered and protected life till 24 years of age. All my time was spent in studies or helping my mom with household chores. By the time I finished my post-graduation my parents found a suitable match for me. Soon I married Alok and travelled to Delhi, miles away from my parents.
Anyone who saw us believed that our relationship was painted in love and care. Once I had gone to the supermarket when a salesman bumped into me. Deliberately or accidentally, I am not sure! But Alok just blew up when he saw it. One angry stare at the salesman and the other at me, grinding his teeth, “You are not coming to the supermarket ever again.”
“Aww.. You are so possessive for me.” And I hugged him. Gradually I had limited places to visit and absolutely no friend circle of mine. He decided that we won’t have kids as he didn’t want to love anyone except me. I readily submitted believing in his love and possessiveness for me. With each passing day, he criticised my cooking skills, housekeeping skills, fashion, anything and everything under the sky. But I always gave him a second chance blaming his office stress, the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the nerve wracking traffic and most of the times myself for failing to understand his expectations.
And just when I was on the verge of believing that he doesn’t love me anymore, he would compliment me and shower me with love. Just a small compliment made me feel so valued that nothing else mattered. Amidst all the turmoil, I was holding on to the smallest rays of light and some rare good moments.
Years flew by and it was our 5th marriage anniversary. We were hosting some of his friends at our house. He was guiding me on what to get first when suddenly, in front of everyone he started shouting at me for being so clumsy. I just gathered myself and sneaked into the kitchen. He got back to casual talks with his friends, when one of his friend’s wife, Roma came up to me and asked:
“Are you fine? You have been an amazing host and not at all clumsy! I wonder how you put up with him.”
“Oh no! Don’t bother. He has just quit smoking… only because I asked him to. So his hormones start acting up every now and then.”
“Do you think, the man who insulted you publicly deserves a second chance?”
“You saying a second chance? I can give him a thousand chances, for I know that deep down he loves me a lot. Else why would he quit smoking for me?”
Roma smiled uncomfortably and said,” I will mail you some articles. Hope you would like them.”
Next morning, I saw a mail from her. On reading the opening lines I realised that it was the story of a woman who was emotionally, verbally and even physically abused.
Aghast, I rolled my eyes up, just half way exit from the article and threw the phone on my bed. Oscillating around the room, I murmured to myself, “Was she thinking that I am abused? No ways. My husband never hurt me physically. He has not even used abusive words for me. This lady is out of her senses.”
I was so upset that I never attended any of her calls. Her mails kept coming in but I never opened any. I didn’t even attend her when she came to my door step. Another year passed by and my parents paid me a short visit. Earlier they always visited me when Alok was away for business. But this year, Alok would be home and my parents and I were equally excited to spend some time with together.
I made a lavish dinner. While having dinner, I humbly asked Alok to pass on the water jug that was well within his reach. Instead of passing me the glass jug, he lifted it and smashed it in front of me. The jug shattered into pieces and my parents just took their plates and hurried to their room. Alok continued, “So now that your parents are around, you think you can boss around me. How dare you instruct me? How many times do I tell you to mind your words before you speak…..blah..blah..”
Had it stopped at criticism, I would have accepted it but the shattered pieces were screaming and pleading to not give Alok a second chance this time. He clearly didn’t deserve it. When Alok left in a fury, maa peeked out and found me sobbing and clearing the glass pieces. Maa sat beside me and said, “You could have taken the jug yourself beta. He must be tired after the day’s work.”
A glass piece pricked my fingers and my mother’s words pierced through my heart. For the first time in 6 years I heard my conscience and it told me that I should be guilty of giving so many second chances to this man. It reminded me of Roma. The same night when everyone dozed off to sleep, I dived into Roma’s mails. It had stories of women in abusive marriage. And as I read the stories I found a piece of myself in them. Sentence after sentence.. Para after para… My life was written all over her mails. The mails… the signals… that Roma had been diligently sending me for a year but I never bothered to respond.
The darkness passed and the dawn came with a musical silence. It was a new day and a fresh page was waiting to be written. I rushed to maa , shook her up and told her everything I had been facing for the past 6 years. In the name of love he was controlling my life and my soul. I gave him second, third and don’t know how many chances hoping that acting differently would stop his criticism. But it never did…And now I know that it never would.
I pleaded Maa to take me home along with her. But my mom just said, “ Suhagan toh pati ka ghar tab hi chodti hai jab uski arthi uthti hai. Just be patient and everything will be fine. “ And just like that, my parents packed their luggage and left even before Alok woke up.
Over morning tea, Alok told me that he would be promoted as VP of the company. So in the evening his office colleagues and boss will accompany him home for a party. Some close friends and relatives were also invited. While he was passing on instructions for the evening party, I traversed into a parallel world.
I made all preparations for the evening and now I am eagerly waiting for the evening to begin.
It’s already dark outside. I have pulled down the MCB and everything is set to give a big surprise to Alok.
Oh look, Alok is here making all the ruckus with his friends and there he pulls up the MCB illuminating every corner of the house.
So my surprise has worked. Everyone stands frozen. This silence is the much needed peace I always yearned for. Engulfed in tranquillity of the new found peace, my soul hears soft whispers, ‘I am here because I gave second chances to my husband’, as everyone read the words scribbled all over the walls.
Hanging from the fan of the living room, I enjoy the sight of Alok drenched in sweat. My soul will now rest in peace for I fulfilled my parents’ wishes – Akhir meri arthi mere pati ke ghar se hi uthi.
Author’s Note : Most women find it tough to identify if they are in an abusive relationship. Even of they identify, Indian women accept it as part of their destiny and submit themselves to all the wrong doings. A data from The Hindu proves it – “About 86% women who experience violence never seek help, and 77% of the victims do not even mention the incident(s) to anyone.”
So it is important for women to hold on to the survival instincts and educational qualifications to become financially independent. March on with a strong belief that you deserve better in life.