I was running on an empty lane outside my house, without any shoes, without a dupatta at 7:30 in the evening. My salwar being stained by the puddles caused due to heavy rain an hour ago. My kurta too was a bit torn around my high collared neck design. My hands were stained of turmeric and flour, which I had used to wipe my forehead twice. Blood was dripping from the cut on my cheek, neck and hand. And to top it all I was getting cuts on my legs too. My hair was not made properly and I had nothing with myself, not a penny nor a phone, only a hope and energy to run to my husband’s shop. My condition was such that I would not mind if someone would interpret me as a beggar.
The dark night and the empty lane did not scare me that day. It was too late for any woman to saunter around alone as expected by our esteemed husbands. However that day I was least bothered about anything except me. So I got myself a place to sit for a while and relax. I sat on a huge stone beside a locked house, the only safe place where no one would bother me for a while.
As soon as I sat my thoughts went back seven years ago, to the day I got married to my prince charming who was exactly the opposite to what I had thought in my dream, tall (just three inches than me), dark (actually too dark for me) and handsome (fairly less than me, even a bit bald). He was eight years older to me and I ignored even this. I am not boasting of myself but actually telling you the truth. I was never forced for this marriage but I knew how my parents worried about me not getting married till the age of 24. I bargained with his looks in the hope that everything else would turn to be perfect. And in actuality it was too perfect for the first two years.
I loved my husband, mother in law, father in law, two sisters in law and my dear brother in law (my favourite among everyone). We were almost of the same age so we used to jell up best. We used to bully each other, crack jokes on each other, spend time gossiping, he even took me outside when my husband did not have time for me even on Sundays. They all cared for me, loved me, and had no issues with me. How perfect my life was with them. It was just a blessing. I used to think that all the compromises, a sacrifice of leaving my house, parents, two brothers, three sisters and even my carrier proved fruitful. The happiness, the romance that filled my life was worth it.
But things changed after we got separated from our extra large family to form a smaller joint family. We left the place of my mother in law’s mother in law, her sisters and brother in law and moved to another apartment with my parent in laws, husband and my dear brother in law. By that time both my sisters in laws were married. Even our financial status deteriorated and perhaps that was the cause of frustration among everyone in our house.
Frustration reminds me that at present hour I was frustrated. I needed to start running again and isolate the place.
I then turned towards main road, extremely lighted for me to bear, too crowded for me to walk, either run and even too decorated where as I was in a condition too tattered. To inform you, in my place it is not less than a shock to see a woman without proper dress (in my case a missing dupatta) to be called a whore in front of everyone.
I turned around to see a bike following me, when I just started running as an athlete who would run as if reaching just too near the finish line and see a competitor reaching behind. I complained to the traffic police that the bike is following me but he showed no reaction except amazement, as he knew both of us, me and my dear stalker.
In a positive hope that the traffic police would do nothing to save me I started running again towards my husband’s shop. On reaching the outside of the block of my husband’s shop, I turned to see if he was still following. Yes he was, but as I reached there he turned back giving me a murderer smile as if saying:
You are dead my dear, going to complain about me to your husband? Go, go! No one is going to believe you.
But you believe me that your being alive is difficult from now on. I promise that to you.
I entered the block and then to the basement, shop no 17, my husband’s shop. It was already 8 o’ clock and I was in such a beautiful condition that as everyone saw me they could not conceal their surprised looks. And as I said it was half past midnight for them and a missing dupatta made me look a whore to them and not a beggar.
I did not care for them now. What I cared for now was myself and my baby in my womb. But yes in this running I had forgot my pain. The pains of the cuts in my check, neck and legs, and the pain in my womb which was due to a kick by him (my bike stalker).
As I was standing outside the shop, my father in law came outside and took me into his arms and took me straight to our shop. My husband first completed attending to his customers as if nothing unusual had happened and then came to me. Till then I was painfully sobbing in my in law’s arms and was absolutely out of breath to say anything, only hoped that I was safe now. No one would beat me; kick me or even worst think of me as a whore.
I took a sip of water and recalled today’s evening at 7:15 in my house.
I was in the kitchen preparing the dough for chapattis and my mother in law was slicing onions. My niece who had come to visit me was watching television with my son. My brother in law came out of his room and without uttering a word switched off the television and showed both the children his anger in gestures. I must say my niece is quite daring and a bit too modern for our type of society. She took the remote, switched on the television and smiled cunningly saying:
Excuse me sir don’t you have that much courtesy to ask us before switching off the television
As we were watching that. Even we have that much common sense.
My brother in law wiped his hand ruthlessly across the centre table, too hard, which broke the flower vase on it and even cracked a part of it. listening to the sound we came outside the kitchen, at first unable to fathom what had happened, and even before we could do that my dear brother in law came almost running towards us, held my neck by his left hand, snatched the knife from my mother in law, put it under my chin and almost cut it. He then kicked me on my stomach. My mother in law tried to stop him but in vain. Seeing the children screaming and crying, he got a bit diverted.
I took the opportunity, pushed him hard enough to remove him till a distance from me, to run before he could get onto them. I took the children to my room and asked for a promise that they would not open the door till I would ask them to. As I came out of the room they locked it from inside.
Without another thought I slipped through the back door and ran on the empty lane at 7:30.
By then I was completely exhausted telling my husband all this in his shop and only after completing my story did I fell unconscious and regained it after an hour, still in the shop.
After another hour passed we went home hiring an auto rick-shaw. The devil was in his room and I ran to my room, politely knocked on the door and asked the children to open the gate. I saw them still crying. My son was of course as I had known too emotional and he was expected in the same state. But I had never in my life seen my niece in such a condition. I took them in my arms, hugged them, and kissed them. Neither I nor the children ate anything that day. We locked ourselves in the room and kept close to each other for the next two days. I knew that evening had changed everything in my life.
Regaining courage I asked my husband to book the first tickets he could get and leave my niece with her parent in the town. Eventually she came out of the scary event after a month, my son after about three months but I was never allowed to come out of it. Because that was just the first time the attempt to murder was attempted on me. From then on I faced regular attempts to murder, harassment, molestation, as well as physical torture of being beaten up by my dear brother in law, for years.
Only until, finally my husband had the courage to separate our houses which was not very soon. They still work together, in the same shop but at least I don’t have to see him.
PS: I know the woman was wrong to still live with such people, to go through such trauma. But before you start judging why the woman still lived with such people, why did she not leave them? For once can we think about how ruthless and unacceptable the men’s behaviour was? Even the husband did not do much to in favour of his wife.