You are not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage.” – Alex Elle
A True Story:
What you are going to read is not a usual abusive marriage tale. What makes it unusual, are the decisions that I took and stood by.
Those who know me would know why I did, what I did. And for those who are reading it now, I will be able to understand your anger towards my decisions, the choices that I made.
But today when I share it here, with you it is not to seek sympathy or play the victim card but because today I feel, I can talk about all those atrocities without dropping a tear.
Today, I feel strong !!
Born & brought up in the heart of the country, I was raised by two very forward-looking parents. Unlike typical middle-class parents of two daughters, they never cribbed about not having a boy, instead, they raised us to be strong-minded, good human beings.
Now that I am a parent, I can totally vouch for the values they instilled in me, consciously or unconsciously, have helped me all through my struggle.
So, it all began when we were rushed into a marriage in a great hustle-bustle by my In-laws, which we mistook that like the genuine eagerness to accept the new relations. It didn’t take long before the bubble busted!! “Where was the Dowry that the new bride was supposed to bring along? Both parents have been working all their lives, why haven’t they been showered with all those luxuries? For whom are they going to save all that money? We have to give dowry in our daughter’s wedding too, who will provide us with that money now? We have been cheated!!! Now you slog yourself, bring the money to support my daughter’s marriage and their demands, until you pay back what your father should have done” !!
Followed by a dozen of slangs, abusive language that most of you would not even have heard, I was given as my muh-dikhai (The first look at the new bride).
Though we live in the 21st Century, some of us are still carrying that medieval mindset, where the daughter-in-law was supposed to bring trucks of dowry that will keep the household running for the next 7 generations. My husband, though is a well-educated and successful professional, isn’t an emotionally strong person. So, when he didn’t react or respond to any of my MIL’s verbal diarrhoea, it shook me completely.
My dreams of a happy marriage had begun to shatter !!
My mother-in-law is an extremely bitter person. Don’t get me wrong, she is very sweet to her daughter and son. He is, what you would call – A Mumma’s boy, refusing to behave like a logical, mature adult. Totally in her clutches and unbelievably comfortable about it!
The first Lohri, Diwali, Holi or any festive occasion, I used to dread & pray to God, that my MIL’s mood should remain good. I would hope that she should not insult my family but trust me no opportunity was wasted; nobody was spared!!
Thankfully, I was working and office became my breathing chamber. I used to dread the weekends. The environment in the house was very stressful, abusive, foul language, sarcastic remarks on me, my parents, my sister who is a single parent.
I started getting into depression. At work, I was a very aggressive, target-oriented and focused person and I used to wonder, why I go so docile and timid when at home!
As time passed, I gathered the courage to ask my husband about MIL and her anger, almost hatred, bitterness, sometimes malice in behaviour and came the reply “My mother has somehow managed to survive an extremely abusive marriage. She was made to go through so much in her life, because of my father not supporting her. Her anger, frustration is only very natural and now you have also disappointed her by not meeting her expectations”, Phew !! I was frozen.
Does that justify her ill-treating me? And if you are thinking I was alone, nope!! I had company.
To my great surprise, my father-in-law wasn’t in her good books too. He wasn’t given any respect at home. Nobody, my husband, my SIL or MIL had any affection for him. For a person who, all his life has worked at a very respectable position, had to see such bad days.
For me, I decided to make things work, tried really hard to come up to their expectations. I did what all of us would do, once you are in an arranged marriage and joint family setup. Unfortunately, my MIL, just couldn’t stop comparing with what she had to do for her daughter and what my parents or myself, were doing for her. There were times, I would wonder, how badly was she treated by the in-laws that she has becomes so bitter towards her own husband and now with me. I felt sorry for her, but nothing that I ever did, was sufficient.
And as if, all these pressures weren’t enough and Life wanted to do stress testing further, the hell broke loose. I was detected with an extremely higher level of TSH- thyroid !! Reasons could be the stressful environment I was living in, but it acted like adding fuel to fire. When my MIL came to know that I wouldn’t be able to conceive till the TSH level come in the normal range, she was furious.
There seemed to be no end to my misery. My MIL didn’t waste a moment in tagging me a BANJH (infertile). My parents were targeted once again for none of their faults. They were accused of cheating and not disclosing about my ill-health at the time of marriage. Who was going to bear the cost of the treatment was a bigger concern than my health? My husband, who was supportive of me until his mother brainwashed him. In my whole life, I have never seen such a drastic change in someone’s attitude and behaviour. What strong influence or should I say GRIP my MIL had on her son !!
There were times when I tried to discuss or confront and things would go completely out of hand. I would be verbally, physically abused by my husband & MIL. There was a lot of tension that I was subjected to at home. It was becoming unbearable. It had started affecting my performance at work. But I had decided, come what may I wouldn’t leave my job.
The rift between my MIL and me had only gone deeper with her becoming more and more bitter and I was on the verge of breaking down. There were several incidents of verbal, mental and physical abuse, however, I did not allow my parents to be dragged into. I was constantly trying to make my marriage work, on my own.
You must be wondering, why? What was I trying to prove and to whom? At what cost? If financially independent, well educated, mentally strong women living in a cosmopolitan city like me would succumb to such pressures, what do we expect from those who are not so privileged? I agree. But, trust me, you will get answers to all your questions. While I had no control over my MIL, I still hadn’t given up on my husband. He is a classic case of an Alpha Male, easily tamed by his mum. This one almost worships her. The same level of possessiveness he would demonstrate for me, the typical toxic masculinity. During those rough times, there were a few moments rather, patches of raw emotions, aroused hormones and some pleasantness between me and my husband. And in one such rare moments of passion, we conceived. I was pregnant !! More than the joy of being pregnant, I think I was relieved to be “No More a baanjh” !!
After 17 hours of labour, major cramps, acute pains, finally had a normal delivery. My daughter was in my arms, my joy knew no bound !!
If I had thought the tougher, stressful days were over, I couldn’t have been more wrong !! The era of sleepless nights had just begun. And as the days passed by, I realized that my daughter was my responsibility, alone. My MIL, SIL or even my husband, were neither available nor interested to spend time with her.
Postpartum depression, fatigued mind and body, soar nipples, frequent hunger pangs as you are a lactating mother, I went through all this, alone. My husband & MIL simply refused to understand what I was going through. Was it because she was a girl child? I used to wonder.
My maternity leaves were soon to be over. I had to continue with my job for more than one reasons but couldn’t leave my 5-month-old daughter unattended. I managed to convince my husband & MIL to keep a live-in maid, after all, I was the only source of fetching the recurring Dahej. And I joined my office, again.
Things were going downhill for my FIL, especially after retirement. He was frequently abused by both my husband and my MIL. My FIL’s was under immense mental shock, it triggered the onset of Alzheimer’s.
I bet; you treat your maids & domestic helps much better than how he was being treated. I had developed a soft corner for him, as he too was ill-treated, like me.
My MIL seemed to have started a non-cooperation movement with almost everything and being associated with me. The maid was not given basic amenities, she was asked to do all other household chores instead of looking after the baby. There were times when I had come back from the office to find my daughter howling, squealing. For hours, she had been in a soiled diaper causing painful nappy rashes. Despite having a 24*7 maid, every day I used to end up cooking, using one hand, as my daughter would refuse to go to anyone else.
I have lived those times when I used to get nightmares about the maid running away with my daughter, only with the thought of taking revenge from my MIL for the torture she was subjected to. It was a terrible phase and found myself all alone in this battle. If it were not for my daughter, I wouldn’t have but finally, I sought help from my parents. They were very happy to play with their new granddaughter. And just when, I thought there was some peace in my life, things took a very shocking turn.
Upon reflection, I can say it was a major turning point in my life. My MIL had been boiling from within, as I had started visiting my parents frequently. In the middle of the night, she came charging in my room. I suddenly woke up with a cry. I was hit, hard!!
It took me a few seconds to understand what had just happened. Oblivious to my feelings, she went on her violent spree of accusing my parents, who had recently moved in their new house. It was built jointly with my paternal uncle and my parents after their retirement. She was screaming at the pitch of her voice, abusing my parents for not giving enough dowry, hiding a huge amount of wealth with them. She crossed the limit, when she said that I had been in a relationship with my FIL, otherwise why did I feel so concerned for him.
Hearing those loud noises, my daughter woke up and started crying fanatically. While calming down the 18-month-old in my arms, I was trying to put some sense of my MIL and just then I got one tight slap on my face. How dare, did I answer back to his mother?
This wasn’t the first !! It had happened several times before also. When it happened the first time, it must have been an involuntary reaction as I gave it back to him. Immediately my parents were called IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, to take me back home with them. I couldn’t see my parents being insulted, humiliated and abused in front of my eyes. And so, asked them to leave. They didn’t agree with my decision and insisted not to take any pressures. I knew they would happily have me home again but I had decided otherwise.
What was I thinking? Why did I go through all that bullshit? What was stopping me from not leaving that abusive relationship and return back home, where I WAS SAFE AND LOVED?
My mind went numb. My elder sister was already living with my parents after her divorce. A single parent. My parents have always been extremely supportive but I knew deep down they would have wanted her to be settled in her life. I freaked out. I didn’t want to be in that situation both for myself and for my parents!! Crazy as it may sound, but I had then decided to stay put and find a way to save my marriage. But that eventful night, I wasn’t the same old person anymore, not a weak, timid, docile wife, desperate to make her marriage work.
I think motherhood gave me the courage to fight back. I got hold of my phone, I called women helpline and asked for Police support. It was 1:30 at night. Strangely, police also did not arrive, but my call was more than enough to shake them and give a message that I won’t bear it anymore.
Hours later, I tried to escape out of the house with just bare essentials and my 1.5-year-old daughter. But My husband found us and tried to stop. I literally screamed at the top of my voice such that the neighbourhood could hear me shouting. I threatened him, not to touch me or my daughter. My body was shivering in rage and fear the same time, but I had finally found myself!!
It was 4:00 am and I left that house with my cousin, never to return again.
For a month or so, I stayed with my parents and searched for a house, job & my soul. Eventually found a new job, was able to focus on my career and life again. My daughter had started smiling more often, and I guess, me too. It was the beginning of the next phase for us, a way for the negativity, the torture and the stress.
The thing about life is that just when you think, you have found your way to live it, it throws you another challenge. I got a call from my husband that he wants me and our daughter to come back to the house.
Not Again, Never Again, was my reaction!! I had barely started to breathe. I just couldn’t have gone back to that abusive, unsafe and toxic environment. And hence, I communicated as sternly as possible. Something would have told him that I will not take the S**t any more, from him or from his mother.
We sat and discussed almost the entire night. And when I told my decision to my parents, I still remember their expressions. I could sense that they were really scared for my life and well-being. All this time, my parents have never tried to pressurise me or influence my decisions. They just stood by me, which in itself was my biggest support. I had taken my decision.
The following week, my daughter, me & my husband, we moved to a rented accommodation closer to my new office. We started to live together under one roof, again. Managing mood swings of my husband was one hell of a task but was able to do that. While life had slowly started to move at my pace, I often used to think about the plight of my FIL. With very little food and care, he couldn’t survive for long and eventually passed away. Much ahead of his time. I would say, death eased away from his pain & misery. I confess I felt relieved for him. I wasn’t even allowed to attend his funeral or the prayer meeting. A very gentle person, he was. May his soul rest in eternal peace. That brought us back to square one, my MIL couldn’t be left there alone and by now my husband knew that come what may, I wouldn’t go back to live with her. So, it was decided that he will move back to live there and I continued to live with my daughter. We used to meet, occasionally. Life started to move and I was thankful for that. My daughter was growing steadily in a safe & congenial environment, she was now ready to be put in a playschool.
And if you thought, this was over… “Picture Abhi baaki hai, dost !!” My husband got the opportunity to work overseas. Once again I was put in a spot !! I was suggested by my family and close friends, to go along with him. Maybe it would have been the ideal thing for us. A new country, new people, a fresh start!!
But by now, I had become a strong support for my sister and my parents as they were for both of us. We used to love watching our little girls play & fight together same as us when we were kids. Kind of re-living our childhood in them, you know. It was THE eco-system for us, all of us. And I wouldn’t break it for anyone, not even for myself! It wasn’t easy. I had to make the equation work and I did !! Today, I live with my MIL, in a house that my husband bought in a gated community which I thought was safer to live for my daughter and me, as compared to the independent house that we were living earlier. He visits us every couple of months for a week or so. Are things any better between us? Well, he definitely has realised the strength of my character, when I told him that I will look after his mother in his absence despite everything. Yes, he says multiple times in a day that he loves me and I think, I like to believe him when he says that. My MIL and I are poles apart, in every aspect. And the biggest difference is in our thought processes, I guess. It wasn’t easy to be able to choose to live with her, again. I believe this had a lot to do with the kind of upbringing I got from my parents, “We are no one to pardon anyone, let karma play its role. Don’t be vindictive. Stay human and lose your values”. I was on my journey of tolerance, patience and not losing my inner peace. I was determined to not allow anyone to disturb this newfound harmony ever again. All my attention would be for my daughter alone, such that I can instil similar values in her. If possible, a much stronger version of me. The journey has just begun and I hope, I live it fully. As I mentioned earlier, my idea of writing this was not to gain any sympathy from anyone, or defaming my in-laws or mocking at those who gave up because it was too painful to have gone through it.
The idea was to share my evolution, my learning. So here are my two cents:
1. Take charge of your life! Till the time I kept going back to my parents and did not or could not gather enough courage within myself to realise that it was my battle. I had to fight it out to achieve what I had wanted, desired or wished; it didn’t happen.
2. Be in control of yourself! It is quite easy and natural for anyone to initially lose control when exposed to such devastating moments, however, do not stoop down to the level the other person has because that is not the real you. I am most certainly not with Gandhi when he says- If someone hits you offer the other cheek too !! Maybe I should have said ENOUGH the very first time it happened to me.
3. Be clear in your thought, take an informed decision and then don’t back off. When I decided that we all will stay under one roof, I knew what I was heading for. While I had this clarity that I will never be able to forgive anyone, but I certainly ensured that I do send across the correct message to them.
4. Get over with “Why Me?” syndrome. I have lived through the days when I have cooked food for the whole family, despite a 24*7 cook being there with my baby in one hand and cutting chopping and making chapatti with one hand and still not being treated fair. Don’t play the victim card. It does more damage to your self-respect than to anyone else.
There was a time I was so determined to take control of things, I just got over with everything and thought to myself, I cannot give up… and yes, it did work for me big time !! I started seeing my husband change and he started understanding my perspective in pieces. I was thankful for the times he wasn’t behaving like a mamma’s boy.
5. Make yourself financially viable – Come what may, under any circumstance don’t leave your job. I could fight it out, give it back to them only because I have a bank balance that will sustain me.
Today, I am thankful to God Almighty for the strength He gave me as my family. The pride that my parents have today in their eyes, the respect that they see for me, in my husband’s eyes, the guilt that I see in my MIL & my husband’s eyes makes me a strong woman every day. But what makes me really happy is to see my daughter grow and bloom as a happy child !!
Every day, I thank God for always being there for me. Today I am living life, as per my own terms & conditions.
Writer’s Note: By sharing this story, we are not supporting domestic violence or showing malice towards anyone. The thought is to encourage self empowerment, even in adverse conditions.
Gone are the days, when being an Equal Opportunity Employer was considered as a USP. Or having a Sexual Harassment Cell was a sign of being a proactive employer. Or that conducting a Gender Sensitization Workshop would add a feather in your HR department’s hat.
It just can not be limited to a considerable male-female ratio, or a great mix of multilingual, multi-ethnic groups as part of your workforce.
When we say that an organization is an I would like to question exactly how much equal opportunity employer are they?
Is equality only for males and females?
Do you think there is another segment in this society that also needs to be spoken for?
Does HR fraternity, actually think about making policies keeping the LGBTQ community in mind?
Is your organisation ready to accept the LGBTQ Community as their coworkers?
Is your gender sensitization workshops, also cover sensitizing about the LGBTQ Community?
#EachForEqual, for me it is about providing equal opportunities to all genders, not just binary gender but also transgenders equally. It is about being all-inclusive. So for me, I don’t want to fight for the rights of women. I would rather Fight For The Rights Of Being A Human.
Women are natural when it comes to empathy and therefore the onus once again rests on out shoulders to make the society more accepting for all.
As a mother, I am working consciously to ensure that my progeny is accepting all individual differences and is able to take everyone together.
A Vote of Thanx : For the past few days, half of the world is busy scratching their brain cells and rubbing their fingers on their laptops, smartphones around #EachForEqual. Thanx to the #6BlogsIn6Days Challenge!!
Men descended from Mars and Women, from Venus. And then they chose this beautiful “Blue Planet” andcalled it their Home. There is another story of Adam, Eve & Apple but today, this is the version that I like to write as my tribute to the author John Gray.
When two people come from diversified orientations, they are bound to be different from each other, no doubts about that. But mind it, the word chosen here is diversified and not dominating. So when and how did we start making this difference of orientations, opinions, or even ideologies and coloured it as a matter of gender discrimination?
Let’s go back to Charles Darwin, the evolutionist when he propounded the theory of Survival of the fittest. Did he mention any gender-based biases on the basic instinct of survival?
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change. – Charles Darwin
All the archaeological reports on the world’s ancient, prehistoric civilizations talk about the distribution of work based on physical capabilities. So all the tasks, jobs and responsibilities that which needed physical endurance naturally went to those with great, strong bodies. Not necessarily males but anyone who had that attribute would be engaged in activities like hunting or wars for that matter.
Women always had to maintain their menstrual calendars and had to be away from the action for those 9 months and postpartum. But that was never considered as a drawback or a weakness, rather a privilege, as it is about the continuity of the genes and generations.
Because men & women have different types of hormones and anatomy, the difference in interests and choices would naturally prevail. Now that being characterised as superior or inferior, nomination and submissive and being generalised as a trait or a characteristic of a gender can’t be called wise, rational or intelligent. Consider, an all-boys or an all-girls school. Do you think that all those lads are equally strong, active, intelligent or smart? No, yeah!! Or for that matter, all girls will be supremely delicate, shy or submissive in nature. TheNormal Probability Curve will apply there as well and let’s just thank the mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss for it!! At best, it can be considered as a great plot for a hilarious or satirical movie but it doesn’t exist in reality.
The reality is that be it a guy or a gurl, when in a group we will display, exhibit and practise our basic, natural instincts. And that is a subject matter of studies and interests for the HUMAN GROUP DYNAMICS in the field of Sociology or Psychology at best. In a group, the game changes and then it is about the demonstration of POWER. Now that’s a tricky one, Power corrupts, Power skews, Power is intoxicating, Power is a Game-Changer!!
That is the justification for Reservation System, the Vote Bank Politics, maybe to some extent the Performance Appraisals too but should that affect our style, approach or even the parenting of raising a boy or a girl?
Yes, we must look at the overall development of our child, based on their interests and personalities but gender should not be the reason why boys get all the opportunities and girls are limited to a few.
My Two Cents…
PS: You may choose to agree or disagree, in whichever case please do leave me a comment.
No, we are not equal, we never were, we never will be! And all these talks of feminism, women empowerment, to me, are nothing more than attention-seeking, manipulative marketing campaigns run by a group of people with their vindictive agendas. It’s BULLS**T.
I can already feel eyebrows raised, Tsk-Tsk-Tsk, mouths twitched in disagreement, some of those cuss words that are classified as the bad language in my own house but that is exactly what I feel about all these issues and about people who flaunt them like medallions.
Sorry, but I am not willing to accept EQUALITYorEMPOWERMENT which has been given by somebody else, who is also as much a human as I am. This premise, to me, is absolutely faulty.
Why am I spitting acid? Because of around 200-250 women, who came out on the 1st of March at midnight, just to prove that they are free to walk at any time of the day and night. Nothing wrong with that only, they shouldn’t have been led by a bunch of guys to convey this message. That didn’t go down my throat. Do we really need to display that? It is a free world; isn’t it? And do we need to be told by some guys that hey, you need to go out and March on streets at odd hours? And hey, we will empower you and you have been ignored!! Yes, we have been ignored by our own self. Not just for days, weeks or months or even years but decades.
We were taught in our psychology lessons at University that No two beings are identical and therefore shouldn’t be compared!! Both men and women have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, hence should be treated likewise. No, I am not being euphoric, I also understand that the majority of women across societies, communities, geographies, races, ranks, cults are not enjoying that status even till date. Some of my own #MeetTheMom Series heroes have experienced it first hand but trust me we have to look at the entire equation a bit differently.
It takes two to tango!! And yes, we need each other to support, mental, emotional, physical but mind it just support, capabilities, we already have. From Indira Gandhi to Indra Nooyi, from Margaret Thatcher to Sanna Marin, from Nirmala Sitharaman to Christina Koch all these women and many many more have paved their way to reach where they are or they could reach in their times. You name a field and women have proven their competence. No field left untouched, unexplored !! It is not because of the reservation quota or out of pity but purely because we are capable of doing anything we put our heart to. Also because, for years we were suppressed, made to feel inferior and were treated like a doormat. Yes, we need opportunities to prove ourselves but that’s it!!
From the times immemorial, men have been right royally pampered and therefore spoilt by the endless battalion of women as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, have been assisting them with zero expectations whatsoever. The breed of the social reformers such as Raja RamMohan Rai, William Beveridge, DadaBhai Naoroji and their likes were solely due to their mothers who were aware of their own capabilities and were not willing to be treated, any less.
Referring here to one of my previous article published on the International Men’s Day 2019, it is our guys, our boys, our sons who need attention now more than ever in the history of mankind, not us!
Today, at work, a guy finds it difficult to take instructions from the so-called weaker sex. The guys in the pub can’t resist a girl or group of girls exercising their right to freedom. At home, a husband is not able to cope if the wife earns a fatter paycheque. All these and many more similar situations are results of years of ill-parenting. Never before, they had felt so challenged by their counterparts. And the sad part is they have never been told or trained to handle themselves in such situations.
However, there is a new generation of mothers who are ensuring that their boys also learn how to co-exist in a world with self-empowered women. That gives me and thinkers of my kind great hope that our girls will find more competitive life partners than previous many generations. So to all those guys reading this, please don’t shy away from seeking help. And to all the girls reading this, please take cues when your man, son, brother, a friend needs you to stand by their side, to help them learn, how to coexist in this world with us, the women!!
While changing sheets one morning, found a note under the pillow. It took me a few seconds to read, but it left me thinking for hours.
At the dinner table, the previous night we were discussing what should be done so that we are able to restore this beautiful world’s glory.
And this is what my 6YO wrote before going to bed. It left me thinking, what could be the possible reason that we grown-ups have stopped thinking like a child? We all would have been like her, logical, simple and able to think clearly. Then what makes us, our minds dysfunction?
The obvious, answers would be,
– You can not remain a child forever!
– Being and thinking like a child doesn’t solve the problems of the grown-up world!
– Win-win situations are not possible all the times.
And to some extent, I confess even I would have used these reasons at some point in time. And the pictures of the dying whales, dolphins, sharks, other sea creatures that pop up on Google, Facebook or any other social media pages make my guilt even deeper. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to figures published in the journal Science in 2015, which is just 3-4% of the total plastic waste.
The rest of it goes in the landfills, in the trash yards and I don’t have to specify it but that’s where we get our cereals, grains, lentils, vegetables and fruits supply from. The water, the air, the land have been massively abused, as a result, there is adulteration. This is equally atrocious as physical assault or molestation. And trust me, unlike our judiciary we won’t be spared!! The climate changes, recent bushfires in Australia, the extreme weather conditions world across are the consequences we have to be prepared to accept.
This is way past the 12th hour to do the corrections, we are on the verge of losing various animal and birds species that we had grown up looking at but they won’t be there for our kids to observe and admire. And it’s not that every day a new species will evolve or be explored for them.
As a community, we need to one, take actions to save our environment. But I firmly believe it can be corrected when each one of us teaches our progeny, by showing and becoming a real-life example of how to take care of the environment.
Parenting in our times is one of the most challenging jobs, tougher than a rocket science. And it’s us, who have made it so complicated.
My two cents….
Don’t spit on roads and on each other Tame the Beast within!
Like your mind, your planet is not a trash can. Choose your garbage carefully!
Your child learns more from observing you than listening to you, set a good example.
Feel free to add in this list, the longer it is the better.