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She suffered immense emotional and sometimes even physical abuse at her husband’s hands quietly for the sake of her child. But her struggle was yet not over.
Nidhi was glancing through her phone’s picture gallery sipping from a glass of chilled juice while Nikhil was in the pool. They had been married for just about a year, so technically they were newlyweds, but quite apparently the most odd pair in that tropical honeymoon destination- both of them in their late forties. Earlier that day while they were making Skype calls to Nikhil’s kids back home and her son in his hostel she was so emotional of having this feeling called a family after so long, finally.
Almost two decades ago when she was married to Amit, the arranged match also had her expectations high, as her parents and family were so keen on Amit and assured her that he was the right life partner for her in every way. She was just a graduate, while Amit just a couple of years older than her was already handling his family business. The courtship was almost negligent, restrained to a few chaperoned meetings at restaurants and family gatherings.
Amit was nice to her generally; he was the one who taught her minute nitty-gritties of socialising at clubs, playing a hostess and dressing up according to the occasion. But over the period she realized that every decision was only his, even the one to have a child immediately after the marriage was largely his and of his mother. If given a choice Nidhi would have wanted to wait for a while and get to grips with her new life before becoming a parent.
Suyash, their son, not only brought her lots of joy but also lots of new responsibilities and fatigue. Amit’s behaviour towards her also underwent a sea change; he now rarely took her out with him, and seemed to shirk being seen publically with her. Nidhi’s self-confidence was already at the lowest because of her lack of self-care during post-partum and her changed appearance post-pregnancy.
Over the next few years the disconnect between them increased further. Amit started drinking heavily and his business began to suffer too. All his frustration and drunken rage found one easy target- Nidhi. He and his family labelled her as unlucky for him and his family began to openly assert that ever since Amit married her things went downhill for them. She suffered immense emotional and sometimes even physical abuse at her husband’s hands quietly for the sake of her child. But her struggle was yet not over.
When Suyash was just nine, Amit passed away due to his alcoholism and other incumbent health issues. His family was quick to blame her “the unlucky one” and to have “killed” their son too, and she was emotionally coerced to go back to her parents with her son. Things weren’t smooth there as well, after all her brother was brought up in the same patriarchal mode. He and his wife saw Nidhi as a threat to their right over ancestral property, and made every day living difficult for her and her son there. She took tuitions, volunteered at events and institutions to support her but it wasn’t enough.
Suyash was in his crucial class 10, when she met Deepti at his coaching class. Deepti was her class mate from school, and they had met after so many years. They talked and Nidhi found some empathy after years. Deepti taught at the class, and urged Nidhi to also start taking English speaking lessons as since school her language skills were her strength. Soon they were taking classes at a lot of places together.
Through Deepti she was introduced to her cousin Nikhil. He was a divorcee and had two kids in the same school as Suyash. Soon the acquaintance turned into a friendship. Three years later on Suyash’s 18 th birthday party, Nikhil proposed Nidhi to become his life partner.
Nidhi was embarrassed first to say the least. Suyash’s grandparents and Amit’s parents were present there too and she knew that this would give them another excuse to malign her character and intentions publically. She refused. But Nikhil was persistent; he strongly believed they were perfect for each other and having undergone similar suffering and loneliness would understand each other better.
One day Deepti took her out for lunch and asked, “So what have you decided regarding moving on in life?”
Nidhi answered reluctantly, “What’s there to decide, Suyash is an adult now, I am working enough to sustain us both for the time being.”
“And when Suyash moves out, has a life of his own, what then?”
“What then? There are so many other single elderly women in the society; I will be one of those.”
“Yes Nidhi you can choose to be single for the rest of your life if you want, but you know you don’t want that, you want companionship, you long for a home and a family, and the only thing that keeps you from making that choice is ‘what will people say’ or ‘what if it doesn’t work out like the first time around’, isn’t that true?” Nidhi just nodded; by now she had a lump in her throat. She liked Nikhil too and trusted his integrity, but the ifs were too many.
Deepti continued, “Nidhi your first experience at marriage wasn’t good, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a second chance or that you are jinxed. Please take this leap of faith, and I am sure you will create a new life and family for yourself, Nikhil and his kids, and Suyash too.”
Deepti’s words that day had shaken her frozen core, Nidhi had finally taken that leap of faith, in spite being labelled the jinxed widow, in spite having an adult child, in spite of the world making her believe that women post-forty must only aspire for spiritual salvation and not romance, in spite of the decades of scepticism seeped deep into her.
Her life with Nikhil was picture perfect and now she believed that the bright beam of faith had erased all scars of self-doubt and fear from her life forever. She looked at Nikhil in the pool and as soon as their eyes met she blew him a flying kiss; she now knew love could only fly on the wings of faith.
Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the May 2018 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.
Image source: pxhere
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