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It’s easy to say from a place of privilege that women should be strong and not tolerate abuse, but for the first time I witnessed why many women can’t get out of such a hell.
The other day I decided to visit a very old friend of mine. It had been almost 20 years that I had met her. She was my college friend. I was very excited to meet her as I was meeting her after ages. I remembered the good old times and was eagerly waiting to meet her.
With bated breath, I rung her doorbell. The door opened. A frail lady with dark circles opened the door. The smile resembled that of my friend.
Yes… she was my friend! I was aghast to see what she had turned into. She was same age as me, in the 40s, yet she looked much older. Her eyes were sunken with dark circles, there was no glow on her face, she was shabbily dressed. She hardly smiled during our conversations.
As we went on to share what changes had taken place in our life in the past 20 years, she confided how she was enduring an abusive marriage. Her husband and in-laws had left no stone unturned to humiliate her, torture her, make her life hell. Her parents, like many Indian parents out there, had turned a blind eye to her ordeals. She wasn’t allowed to pursue her career and hence she was financially dependent. She had to endure the torture day in and day out. Her child was in severe depression and trauma due to the negative circumstances in the house.
I was pained and shattered. I remembered how this friend of mine was happy-to-lucky, always smiling, ambitious, had dreams to achieve a lot of things in her life. She loved to dress up, put on makeup, hang out with friends. Here she was all sad, shabby, unhappy, pained, tortured, depressed. She told me she didn’t want to get married so early, but her parents didn’t care to listen to her and got her married off to finish off their ‘duties’.
I realized that it was very easy for me to advice her to get out of that hell, but she said her husband had threatened to kill her and her child dare she complained against him or try to leave. She had lost all her confidence as a result of years of humiliation. She had nowhere to go as her parents had turned their back on her. She had no money to sustain her and her child.
We can write loads of articles on how women shouldn’t be living in a hell and be strong, but for the first time I witnessed why many women can’t get out of such a hell.
What had that girl transitioned into in 20 years? Who was responsible for the slow death of a happy and ambitious girl into a living corpse? Why didn’t she get the respect, love, and freedom she deserved? Her own parents, husband, in-laws, society had let her down. They had killed a lovely happy girl and pushed her into depression.
As I bid my friend adieu, I simply hoped she have the courage to get out of that abusive marriage some day and regain her lost confidence and happiness again.
Image source: a still from the film The Lunchbox
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