Sixteen years. Sixteen years of torture. Sixteen years of living in hell. Sixteen long, never-ending years of tears, pain and self pity. And finally, there’s light.
She was the average girl-next-door. Someone who you could easily miss in a crowd. A girl with small eyes and smaller dreams. She didn’t want much from life. She just wanted to get married, start a family and spend the rest of her life taking care of her loved ones. When her parents got her married, she thought she could cross one thing of her wish-list. Little did she know that her entire world was about to be turned upside down.
They looked like nice people. They demanded huge amounts of dowry at the wedding, but since that was ‘the trend’ then, no one thought too much of it. She left her small town to go and live in the big city. The cruel, materialistic, monstrous big city. Soon the nagging demands started. More dowry. More money. And if she resisted- physical torture. The bruises soon became prominent. Swollen face, burn marks, sore eyes, scratches all over. She began hating herself. She thought she deserved it. And bore it all. Sometimes, she tried running away. But always came back. They’d sweet-talk her into believing they’ve changed. He’s changed. But they never did.
A year or so later, she became a mother. Her hopes rose. She had someone she could call her own. She’d give her daughter the life she could never live. They cursed her even more for giving birth to a girl. But surprisingly, the father was affectionate towards the daughter. Not the mother though. His hostility towards her grew more. He still beat her whenever he felt like, but never harmed the child. As the little girl grew, she became more inclined to her father. She listened to all that he said. And she saw the way he treated her mother. And caught on. Her daughter, her only hope, had turned her back against her.
Her family back home tried all they could to bring peace. But in turn, they got only insults and humiliation. And criticism from all the relatives. Days turned to months, and months to years. She realized she was no longer the young girl she once was... the gray hair, the sagging skin…she was only a shadow of her past. She forgot what it was to be carefree and happy.
They sent her daughter out of the city to pursue her studies. Her husband became even more violent after that. Returning late at night, beating her just for ‘fun’. She couldn’t take it any longer. And then one day, after sixteen years, she decided she had had enough and fled. She broke away from that prison cell and never looked back.
Divorce. That’s all she can think of. No more living with the devil, no more bowing to his every whim. She had wasted sixteen years of her life trying to survive in a hell hole. No more.
This isn’t a work of fiction. It’s a story about someone I know personally. And I’m completely in awe of this person. But I’m also very surprised to see that social evils like dowry, wife beating, preference of a boy over a girl child, are still very much alive. How long can women be oppressed like this? We say India is developing. Sure it is. But only on the surface. Social ills are rooted inside us. This narrow mindedness is something that we do not wish to depart with. We still expect the woman to be silent and keep on bearing just because she’s ‘supposed to’. When I hear educated people talk like this, it makes me wonder what education really means. After sixteen long years, this woman has decided to fight. She finally saw light. What about the rest of the countless women who endure all this agony without even knowing that it’s wrong. Will they ever come out of the dark ages?