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They forget that if you want a change then be the change. Be the change Maa. Don’t worry about me. I am extremely proud to be your daughter.
The alarm rang sharp at 5 AM. Radha switched off the alarm. As such, she had hardly slept the whole night. She had just spent the night tossing and turning and worrying about her future. She dreaded the day ahead. Today was the day of her court hearing, for the impending divorce case.
Sometimes Radha wondered, was she right in what she was doing? She had tolerated an abusive marriage for 18 long years. She had believed that she could change her husband’s attitude with her love and devotion. But nothing worked. It would be the same story daily. Her alcoholic husband would come back frome the office dead drunk, start fighting for no specific reason, use absolutely filthy language, throw the food, vomit on most days, and nine out of 10 days he would force himself on Radha and behave like an animal. If Radha tried to speak or oppose, he would beat her black and blue and doze off. Next morning, he would pretend as if nothing had happened.
Radha would try to hide her bruises and her tears, but her growing up daughter Shikha gradually started to realize what was happening. She herself was growing up in a dreadful environment. Her father never loved her as she was a girl. Shikha saw her mother quietly slogging day in and day out, bearing the brunt of her father’s alcoholism and violence, but she never saw her utter even a single word in her defence.
Days went by, years went by. Radha recalled that fateful day when she had finally decided that enough was enough. That was a winter night. Radha had fever that day. Shikha had asked her to rest and assured that she would serve dinner to her father. As usual, her husband came dead drunk. Suddenly Radha heard Shikha’s screams and her husband using filthy language! Radha ran to the next room and what she saw made her blood boil. Her husband was forcing himself on Shikha, his own 16-year-old daughter. That was the limit. Radha herself didn’t realize where she gathered all the courage from and smashed the glass vase on her husband’s head. She gathered a shaken and crying Shikha in her arms and decided to leave her home. Was it ever her home in the first place?
She went to her mother’s home, but she could feel that she was unwelcome there. Her brothers weren’t really happy to see them both. Radha had never earned a single penny in her entire life as her husband didn’t want her to work. According to him, working women are “wayward”! Radha decided to take charge of her life. She started working as a cook and soon word spread of her excellent cooking skills and good behavior. Now her motto in life was to make Shikha independent and happy. Soon, she rented an apartment.
She filed for a divorce. The lawyer had told her that it wasn’t going to be an easy road ahead. Her husband had money and influence and he had the biggest power, “HE WAS A MAN”! Soon, the court hearings began and began the cycle of humiliation, character assassination, and a lot of filthy stuff. Radha’s husband was hellbent on proving that she was a woman of “questionable character” and that his daughter was unsafe with her. As such, she didn’t have enough money to fund for Shikha’s education and marriage.
Today it was almost a year that had filed for her divorce. Society, her own family, neighbors had questioned her, advised her to “adjust” and go back for the sake of her daughter’s future. She could see people avoid her, talk about her in hushed tones. A lot of money was spent on the case as well. She worried about Shikha’s future. Shikha also had to bear the brunt of all this, without any fault of hers.
That morning Shikha sensed that her mother was upset. She asked, “Maa, what’s the matter? Are you worried about the hearing? You are my brave Maa, I know you will fight it out.” Radha said in a tired voice, “Beta, I think I will give up. I don’t have the energy to fight this case anymore. I can face all the humiliation, but I can’t see you getting humiliated and dragged into all this. I can’t spend so much money on this. I can’t ruin your future.”
Shikha held her mother’s hand and calmly said, “Maa, do you know what Mansi, my college friend, was saying the other day? Shikha, your mother is a courageous woman. There are so many women out there who day in and day out tolerate domestic violence, emotional violence, drag through a bad marriage but don’t have the guts to move out of it. You know, my father is having an affair with another woman for the past 10 years and he is proud about it. My mother is treated badly by my father, still she doesn’t move out. She is earning, yet she doesn’t have the guts to take this step. Your mother is setting an example Shikha.”
Shikha continued, “Maa, it’s very easy to say for anyone that leave your husband or move out of an abusive marriage, but how many women really have the guts to do so? They keep mum fearing the society, their parents, their false prestige, “depriving” the kids of their father and what not. You didn’t want me to suffer and walked out of that farce (marriage). You are setting an example Maa. You can’t give up. Society, especially women lament that there is no change. They forget that if you want a change then be the change. Be the change Maa. Don’t worry about me. I am extremely proud to be your daughter. You are setting an excellent example for me. C’mon buck up, pull up your socks, and let’s go for the hearing.
Radha had tears in her eyes and a wide smile on her face. All the worries and fear had vanished. Her daughter was her strength. Yes, Shikha was right that if you want to bring a change then be the change. She was ready for the hearing now…
Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the October 2017 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.
Image source: pexels