The mere sight of my husband would scare me to the core. A few more episodes followed and my MIL’s quiet continued. But I always justified it to myself.
I stood back looking at the mirror. The reflection showed the grim reality of a modern yet patriarchal society. This was it, the moment. Some may call it triumph, some may call it surrender. But for me, it was the right thing to do for myself and my children. And the woman who kept justifying this behaviour for the sake of society was left alone with guilt, shame and loneliness.
Akash was a sweet man, with all the qualities any bride could ask for. A match made in heaven, many claimed. He came from a reputed family with an army background, was handsome and well-settled. What more could a retired army officer have asked for his daughter’s groom! After all, he still had two other daughters to be married off.
Even though the daughters earn very well for themselves, they still are a liability to their family. They are burden to get done with before they lose their value (age) in the matrimonial market.
Soon after the marriage, I got pregnant and was more than willing to jump off the balcony several times. Akash was an abuser. The harsh reality dawned on me just a few days after our honeymoon and in the presence of his mother.
It came out of nowhere and felt even more shameful to be hit in front of my mother-in-law. She just sat there with a calm demeanour and behaved like nothing had happened. And that shocked me even more! How could she be so casual about this! Did she enjoy it? Or did she have no feelings at all?
The next day, while everything seemed normal and life went on as usual, the mere sight of my husband would scare me to the core. It was followed by a few more episodes and my mother-in-law’s quiet continued. And I would always try to justify it. There is too much work pressure that a Chief Financial Officer faces, I would convince myself. Or there is the stress of travelling to different locations for work, I would tell myself. But every bruise on my body yelled otherwise.
Raised by an abusive father, who recently died of a heart attack, the mother justified her son’s behaviour as hereditary and something that would subdue with age. But, by what age, I wondered. At the same time, I was also shaken by the realisation that I was talking to a fellow victim, someone who tolerated all the abuse silently. She emerged as a living example of tolerance only after her husband’s death after suffering for more than 33 years!
As my pregnancy progressed, I used all my patience not to provoke my husband. And if he did get angry, I used everything I had in me to save my unborn twins. There were times I woke up feeling nauseous and this wasn’t because of my pregnancy but more so because of the shameful secret I hid.
And finally, parenthood embraced us. We were blessed with two beautiful babies- a boy and a girl. The family was filled with happiness but in the corner of my heart, there was a lot of gloom. There was excitement around the house as the babies bloomed into beautiful infants. And all the while I prayed that my mother-in-law’s prediction came true.
It was our children’s first birthday party. A number of our family members had been called, it was a day of fun and frolic. I was exhausted by the time the festivities got over and I tucked the kids to sleep. As I came out of their room, something close to a thunderbolt hit me.
I was unable to hold my head up and neither could I see clearly with the blood flowing in my eyes. And I heard another bang but this one didn’t hurt. Once I could sit and look around, I saw that the lady had hit her beloved son, to stop him from hurting me further.
As he tried to get up and wreak the havoc of anger on his mother, I mustered all my strength, pushed him into another room and locked him. That was when my mother-in-law handed me a phone and asked me to dial a number I desperately tried dialling a number of times earlier but couldn’t The animosity between us was over.
We were both released from our shackles.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Thappad
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