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Stuck in an abusive marriage, a woman finally takes inspiration from her mother’s struggles and decides to fight for her rights.
One look into her wallet, and Sunita got a sweet surprise!
A pale thousand rupee note nestled cozily in the left corner of her purse. As she took it out, tears started rolling down her eyes. All the fond memories from last year surfaced before her eyes. How her beloved Bebe had given her this note and said…
“I sense something is not right. I won’t force you to tell me but whenever you feel low, just look at this. It will remind you of all the struggles your Bebe has been through in her life to earn this. It will tell you how to do away with your greatest fears, giving you strength, hope and confidence.”
Sunita knew her Bebe well. She could never have parted with that note, she always considered it a good luck charm. Sunita still remembered the day her Bebe got it and how elated she was at receiving it. Bebe had smiled after ages and Sunita could never forget that day.
After the sad demise of Sunita’s dad, Sunita and her two younger siblings’ future loomed in the dark. Bebe was devastated and hardly had the courage to raise her three kids. Their only asset being her dad’s truck fondly called ‘Dhanno’ which stood like a log of wood after her master’s death. Bebe, Sunita’s mom was afraid to go out and work.
“Ki kara Main…how are we going to survive?” She would lament time and again.
Sunita, an eight year old then, would ponder over this and would persuade her mom to do something for their family’s survival. But alas! all her efforts would fall on deaf ears. But one day, something happened that changed the world for Bebe and her three kids.
“Tu bhi teri maa ke jaisi gawaar hi rahegi” (you will also remain uneducated like your mother). These words were thrown at Sunita but it ignited the fire inside her mom’s heart.
“Nahi hogi woh mere jaisi”, Sunita’s mom roared like a lioness. And at that very moment decided to be the the pillar of strength for her kids. There was no looking back since then. She started doing odd jobs and finally one fine day, dared to do the impossible.
Yeah! She became the new master of ‘Dhanno’. She would drive the truck and deliver goods to the neighbouring villages. This thousand rupee note, being her first income, had a special place in her heart.
“Mera good luck charm hai” – her face would light up at the sight of this currency note.
Sunita was lost in these thoughts when suddenly her phone beeped and she got a jolt. It was Raj.
“Hello, won’t be coming for dinner today!”
This was not new to Sunita. Every other day she would get a call like this, and it would tear her into pieces. Sunita had never thought that a time like this would come, when she would be in such a dilapidated state.
After successfully completing her graduation, she thought of applying for the State Government Exams, but as destiny could have it she met Raj, an NRI in Chandigarh, and her whirlwind affair started. Tall and handsome, Raj was Sunita’s best friend’s brother.
“I love you Sunita. Will you be mine?” Raj’s proposal was straight out of a fairytale.
Sunita had never thought that such a proposal would ever come her way from someone like Raj. Though she contemplated her career plans in her mind, still she couldn’t say no to Raj. Soon the duo got married, and Sunita accompanied Raj to the United States.
Sunita couldn’t have been happier and she thanked her stars for the same.
“Can I get some work here, Raj?” Sunita casually asked him, the moment she stepped into this foreign land.
“Why do you want to work ? Moreover even if you want, you can’t as you are on a dependent visa,” Raj replied upfront.
All hell broke loose, as Sunita was unaware of this dependent visa and the restrictions it had.
“You should have told me before, Raj!” Sunita was concerned.
“I didn’t think that it was important. On top of it, you are happily married, isn’t that enough for you?” Raj was stern and Sunita preferred to remain silent.
It had been more than three years since that day and Sunita had spent most of her time confined to the four walls of her house. Raj who seemed like a warm and involved person once, soon turned out to be a Casanova whose only guilty pleasure was to be with other women. Everyday there would be texts and calls from unknown numbers on Raj’s cellphone. Initially Sunita couldn’t resist and asked her beloved…
“What’s going on? Why are these ladies calling you?”
“It’s none of your business!” Raj rebuked her and Sunita chose to remain silent.
Sunita knew that Raj was from an influential family and he would leave no stone unturned in making Sunita’s family’s life miserable. The marriage which had shown her a thousand dreams, soon turned out to be a cage from which she wanted to break free. The innocent love had made way for hatred and anger in no time. Every night Raj would force himself on her, despite her wishes.
When she shouted at him once, “I want a divorce! I don’t want to stay with you anymore”, Raj grabbed her and said she could do as she wished, he would not give her a divorce.
That day Sunita realised one thing for sure, it would not be easy to get back her freedom, it was going to be a long haul.
Every day after Raj left for work, Sunita would search for different NGOs and support groups. She started writing mails to them, but Raj’s dominating attitude and the well-being of her family members would prevent her from reaching out. She cried her heart out behind closed doors. She could no longer carry the baggage of this relationship.
Today this faded thousand rupee note brought back the bittersweet memories.
“If Bebe had not worked this hard, then our lives would have been miserable; Bebe handed me this note with so much conviction, how can I not be strong enough to fight for my rights ?” Sunita was immersed in deep thought.
Sunita finally gathered the courage to dial the number of a helpline which she had come across a while back.
“Hello, This is Sunita…” Swallowing a lump in the throat, she waited.
“ Yes…this is Supriya Shah. How can we help you ?” The lady from the other end sounded concerned.
“Mam, I need your help. I am on a dependent visa and my husband seems to take advantage of the situation.” Sunita started crying like a little girl.
“Please, tell me in detail. We are there to help you. Deep breathe and just speak your heart out.” Supriya’s words encouraged Sunita and she started explaining her ordeal to her.
“I want a divorce and I want to go back to India! My husband is not ready to cooperate. What do I do ?”
“Don’t worry girl! Just send me your details like your full name, address and contact details. We will get in touch with you within three to five working days.” Supriya’s words were like a ray of hope in this poor woman’s life.
Sunita couldn’t have been happier. She went to the terrace door and started dancing. She couldn’t believe her own actions as she had always been scared of her moves and the repercussions. Finally she had found the courage to fight for her rights and that gave her immense satisfaction.
She believed and waited patiently for Supriya Shah’s call. She behaved normally with Raj so that he didn’t get suspicious. Finally, after two days that moment came for which Sunita had waited this long. Supriya Shah along with two associates arrived at Sunita’s place. Unfortunately Raj was in the house…
“What am I going to do now ? Raj is present and I hope he doesn’t create a ruckus…” After coming this far, Sunita didn’t want to be at the receiving end once again.
As soon as Raj opened the door, he was surprised to see three ladies asking for Sunita.
“What do you need Sunita for?” Raj was curious.
“We need to meet her! Please, can you call her?” Ms. Shah requested him.
“She isn’t home. Sorry! ” Raj didn’t think twice before lying.
“Okay, let us inside, we will see for ourselves,” an older American lady said in a heavy voice.
“How dare you say that! You can’t come inside, else I will be bound to call the cops!” By this time, Raj had become furious and his eyes bore testimony to the same.
Before anyone could react Sunita came and slapped Raj.
“Call the cops! Even I have so much to say. You have taken my humility for granted. I am the one who sought help from Ms. Shah and her team. For the last three years I have been a silent sufferer to your atrocities but not anymore; I can’t be a coward any longer!” Sunita took a pause and continued, “You won’t give me a divorce! Fine. I am divorcing you. My mom was a fighter and so am I. I can’t let her down. No doubt it took me long to realize, but today I can proudly say that, I am the worthy daughter of a proud mother.”
Before Raj could even utter a word, Sunita shut the door on his face and went out with a renewed spirit and morale.
Picture Credits: Still from the movie ‘Thappad’
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A former Banking and SAP professional, I love scribbling my thoughts. Mother to two boys,
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