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Society will advise a wife to put up with a cheating husband rather than speak up and claim a divorce. What does this say about our sense of right and wrong?
Neha was bubbling with rage as she reached the office. The collateral damage was the poor peon who had cleaned her table.
Since my seat is right next to hers, I kept watching her for an hour. She couldn’t locate the file right in front of her, and for that, she blasted everyone she could. Her face was tense. The once smiling Neha had metamorphosed into the Goddess Kali over the past year.
It all started when the once deeply in love Neha realized that she was being cheated by her husband for the past three years. At first she tried to coax him to work on their relationship, but soon realized that she was the one working overtime for it. Her husband showed no signs of remorse and didn’t want to sacrifice his playboy image for the sake of their marriage.
Along with her daughters, she moved out of the nest they had once built together. No soon did she do that, the entire clan of her in-laws, his aunties, uncles and even her own relatives started advising her on how to save her marriage.
“Men need sex, it’s like food for them. Be good to him in bed and he will stop venturing out.”
“You should have kept a tab on his mobile phone.”
“Why did you go every weekend to your mother’s house?”
Some were ready to take her to an astrologer who would tell her ways to counteract the evil ‘other woman’.
Everyday she had her fill of such remarks, and the once strong girl would break down when asked about it.
Ever since she filled for divorce, they made her life more hellish. To them her husband’s infidelity was acceptable but divorce was not an option.
“Let’s go for a coffee?” I asked her after sometime. Reluctantly she picked herself up.
“Got stuck in traffic?” I enquired casually.
“Ya, the traffic of well wishers,” She sarcastically remarked. “His aunt and mother came over. They want me to reconsider my decision. No one in our families ever had a divorce”, they say. “Females should have patience. Men are like that only. Being promiscuous is their second nature. Youth does not last long, and then he will realize your worth.”
“I am just furious”, she added. “Infidelity is acceptable to them because it was under wraps. But divorce is not as it has spoiled their reputation. Which reputation do they take about?”
I tried to calm her, but thought about the strange ways of our society and its damage control measures. As long as what a person does was under the covers, no one bothered. But once a woman speaks up and does not want to be a part of it, it becomes a matter of reputation.
I had once read a census over divorce rates being low in India! Is it a thing to be proud of, I wondered. No! My mind cried out aloud.
Divorce rates are low because we are taught to adjust and sacrifice our selves for others. A woman is set as an epitome of sacrifice. The family’s name, the feelings of the entire galaxy are on the shoulders of that one woman. The stigma of abandoning her duties and damaging the false reputation prick the conscience of many who even think of divorce.
The great Indian joint family upholds more financial than moral considerations. Think of kids and the family, is the plea which is given time and again. As per our traditions, marriage is not just between two individuals but two families, and the custodians of the families take it as a personal agenda to correct what has gone wrong.
Why do we value reputation over morals? Food for thought! Do share with me what you think, in the comments below.
First published here.
Top image is from the movie Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna that deals with a theme of infidelity
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