I had an arranged marriage in 2016 after which I became pregnant and I was told to pay for everything on my own. I was good to my husband and my in-laws in every way possible. Rather than receive love and affection, I was tortured by my husband and in- laws for many months which resulted in me becoming a patient of high blood pressure. I used to pay for all my expenses and I used to give a huge amount of money to my husband and in laws. My mother-in-law — a woman herself — used to say that women are not nice, they are egotists and proud. So I must deliver a son or else.
After my son was born in 2017, I knew that I had to fight the demons because if I didn’t, I would be overpowered. I got out of my marital home and after a lot of fights, my husband and I started to live in a rented house where I had to continue paying for all the expenses and the torture didn’t stop. Rather, it increased, in the form of abuses. One day my husband walked away and never tried to contact me, or meet our son or myself.
In 2018, I went to the Women’s Cell to file a complaint against the people who exploited me for two years. I met women coming from different backgrounds and different kinds of marriages — coming after three months of marriage, a second marriage that had also ended in abuse. Yet, still they talked about “koi toh hona chahiye companionship ke liye”. I used to tell them that it’s better to work for yourself and do something good, rather than waiting for someone to feed you while you just sit and grumble “ki bahut bura ho raha hai mere saath”. Then I realised that women are not taught to, neither do they want to, live alone.
Am I the only responsible one — bearing the burden of my marriage — while the other person can sit, relax and just assume that he is a child of his mother and now the responsibility has to be taken care of by me? Do these men take permission before going out with their friends before they get married? Why do they become so obedient after marriage?
Self-pity is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Women must get out of the self-pitying mode and change their weaknesses into their strengths. They must not boast about having the fortitude to be a part of a bad marriage because it becomes a bad example for coming generations.
Women always say that they stay in a bad marriage for the sake of their children. But they forget that the children need to live in a positive environment to grow and to become healthy, secure people.
Right now, I’m talking to women like me who are going through rough times. I keep telling them to concentrate on themselves, leave their oppressors and move on.
Don’t think about “society” because society won’t come to feed you and pay your bills. Society can only be pacified to an extent but that extent will never be enough.
But often women are lazy. They are ready to sit and eat in a house where they are being tortured, ill-treated and exploited and say “koi baat nahi, auraton ko adjust karna padta hai”. I don’t agree to this attitude at all. If I’m not exploiting someone, then I definitely won’t accept it for myself. Does adjustment mean suffering?
I have often wondered why women accept their lot, live in situations of oppression and tolerate good-for-nothing men who do not earn, do not support them and abuse them. Not only do they tolerate them, but they also seem to believe they cannot live without these men. This is how we are socialised. I, too, dreamed of a white wedding, a loving husband and a lovely child. And I had it for a bit. Or so I thought.
Women need to realise that the dreams they have been fed are poisonous lies. That the realities of living with a man, dealing with his family, giving birth to and bringing up a child are difficult and constitute a daily grind. The sooner they unlearn these fantasies the better. I had the strength to get out. A college classmate of mine killed herself in a bad marriage. She haunts me every day.
Women need to realise that you only have yourself at the end of the day and you need to live with and for yourself. Women are taught to be relational, to always put somebody else before themselves — be it the father, the brother, the husband, or the children. But sometimes you have to put yourself first. Sometimes it is a matter of life or death. Women need to choose life.