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You need not depend on a man to give you the love and respect you deserve. Hug yourself and say, ‘I love you.’ That’s the finest, beautiful, most vital love.
I am a mere mute spectator to my life that is being rolled out at other people’s will and being stomped on when they found it suitable. Maa says, “A man is the puppeteer and the woman merely performs according to his direction, and that’s the way of the world.”
My husband spelt out his verdict today, “You don’t need to work. I already earn more than enough.”
I remained silent. ‘Silence is a woman’s best friend, her safest bet,’ my parents would say. But, I am really sad today. I had toiled day and night to achieve my B.Sc. and B.Ed.
Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t been married. Before marriage, there was a rising bubble in my heart, a bubble called happiness. I knew how to laugh and how to be carefree. Breathing freely was something I understood.
“Good girls know how to adjust. Make us proud by being at your best behaviour at your husband’s home. Overlook small differences, accept their gentle chiding with a smile,’ my parents told me instead of telling me they’d miss me during my farewell.
I love my parents and I couldn’t bring myself to disregard or disobey them. Hence, here I am being the ‘good’ woman, surrendering my joy and spontaneity. This is probably what sacrifice looks like.
Today, I wanted to ask my husband where he was past 1 a.m. but I am scared of his anger and his outbursts. The last time I asked him why he had to go to the office on a Saturday, he has reduced me to tears with his words.
“Do I need to explain all my minutes and hours to you? Who do you think you are? Some queen!” He had yelled.
I have accepted that I am not an equal but how could he be completely blind to how I am reorganising all my pieces every moment! How could he not see me living like a completely different person?
Maa has done a good job of teaching me to control my temper. Today, I saw a chat message on his computer screen. “Coming tonight, baby? I can’t wait to be in your arms.” Another message followed, “Love u, my hunk.” And this was followed by a string of explicit photos.
Mustering all the courage in my heart, I calmly, asked him, “Who is she?”
“My friend,” he replied nonchalantly, without an iota or guilt or shame.
“Your mistress, you mean?” I said, failing to keep control over my nerves, this time.
And he slapped me. This was the first time he had physically hurt me.
“Know your limits, okay? Besides, I am a man. A fact you have forgotten to acknowledge these days. So I have the right to seek for it else where!”
And then he stomped out. I’d never felt so humiliated, so second-class before. It wasn’t because he chose another woman for his pleasure but because he treated me in the worst manner. He treated me worse than I’d ever been treated.
I told my mother that I wanted to go back to them, to the small town. And how my husband had slapped me, yesterday. I told her I would continue teaching in the neighbourhood school, like I did earlier, that it was something I really enjoyed.
My mother said, “Don’t ever think of leaving your husband’s home. We couldn’t live with that disgrace. That’s your only home now. Besides, men get angry sometimes. You need to be able to shake it off.”
I even told her about my husband’s infidelity, to that she said, “Our bodies are transient and so are the relationships based on physical gratification.”
I have nobody to confide in except you. Thank you for listening to me so patiently, my dear diary. It is hard to bring myself to do anything. I used to paint to vent out my pain. Now, I can’t even focus on that.
I feel this urge to stop everything right this minute. End my life. With a husband who disrespects me in the worst possible way. Someone who sees me like a slave, a quick-fix for his physical hunger. With parents who are never by my side.
I feel trapped, life seems pointless.
Today, I went to the pharmacy with a prescription from two months ago. I have two more strips of the same medicine at home. And I felt safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to live this terrible life for long.
A young girl, possibly 15-16 year old, was crying profusely outside the medicine store. I started following her as she seemed really unwell.
My heart stopped when I saw that she was a few feet away from the mouth of a vehicle. Just in time, I managed to pull her arm. I heaved a sigh of relief to see her breathing and the vehicle gone. Then I helped her get up from the road.
By this time, I too was panting but I held her hand like an elder sister. “I am sorry you are going through so much at such a tender age,” I said to her.
“Why did you save me? I hate my life!” she started crying loudly. “My parents don’t care about me. All they care about are my marks. They want straight A’s me. I trusted my boyfriend to love but he too betrayed me in the worst possible way. Yesterday, I said ‘No’ to him and he tried to molest me. I am so sick of my life!”
Pulling her close to me, I wiped her tears and told her, “You need not depend on a man to give you the love and respect you deserve. Hug yourself every morning and say, ‘I love you.’ That’s the finest, most beautiful, the most vital kind of love. The love you have for yourself.”
Considering what a hopeless mess my own life was, I was surprised that I was able to utter these beautiful words to her. I needed to hear the words that came out of some deep secret corner of my heart as much as she did. Then I repeated them for her and myself.
I hugged her, this girl on the road. Never before had I met her and yet in that moment, she seemed like my family, a sister and definitely my saviour. For in saving her, I saw hope, a hope for a future with the word “life” written on it.
Editor’s Note: This post was one of the short listed stories from the Muse Of The Month Contest for the month of December 2019.
Picture credits: Unsplash
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