Amrita first saw it on social media. Various groups of students from various batches from her MBA college were talking about it. Within minutes, she received a message, ‘Do you know anything about it? How did it happen? You were close to her.’
Damn, I was close to her. She was my roommate and a cool one. Amrita thought to herself. She checked her contact list for her co-ordinates. I hope this is her active number. Amrita dialed the number and waited pensively.
‘Hi Amu’, came Ishita’s voice from the other end. There was a calm in her voice, as if she were expecting this call.
‘I just read. What happened?’ Amrita chucked off the formalities and got to the point. Anxiety was getting the better of her. Also, she knew that Ishita won’t mind. They had not been the best friends at college, but they were the coolest roommates that anyone could dream of. They had Maggie together at midnight, enjoyed the mushiest of bollywood movies umpteen times on their laptop together. Their late night tet-a-tete(s) were about everything under the sun. Amrita found it hard to believe that the lean girl who was known as the ‘Chota Bomb Bada Dhamaka’ in the batch had been through hell in her marriage. What forced her to file an FIR against her spouse and seek protection? Her head swarmed with questions as she waited for Ishita to reply.
‘He turned out to be a wife-beating puppet in the hands of her mother and sister. He…..’ as Ishita recounted her story, Amrita’s heart went out to her. With a heavy heart she said a few words of support to Ishita and disconnected the call.
Later that night, Amrita mused over what Ishita had told her.
That morning Ishita had left from home in a jiffy because of an important client visit and it was safe to have some time in hand when your office was 30 kms away from your home. She was excited about the meeting because the clients sounded very optimistic and the deal if finalized would mean 120% target met for Ishita. She had only been half way through, when her phone rang and Ishita froze. ‘What could it be? God let everything be fine!’ Ishita’s vision almost blurred with anxiety. She immediately took the call else her husband would think that she was trying to ignore him, which would not go down well with him.
“I have some friends coming over in the evening. So come home early and prepare some good food along with starters.” said the voice on the other end.
Ishita sighed, “That’s no problem. If the meeting goes well, then I will be able to leave early today.”
“I am not concerned about your meeting or clients. You should be home in time enough to have starters and a sumptuous dinner ready for 6 people”, he growled on the phone, “By the way did you clean the toilets today?”
Ishita felt a lump of air choke her and she whispered, “No. I had cleaned them just yesterday, so just washed them over with plain water.” Something told Ishita that this was going to get ugly.
“You are such a good for nothing bitch. I need you to go back home right now and do the cleaning. I do not wish to be embarrassed in front of my colleagues”, he was shouting now.
“But I could do that in the evening. I have an important …” Ishita tried to reason.
“Listen to me girl, I have had enough from you. So if you want to spare yourself the consequences tonight just drive back and clean the entire house” A tear rolled down her eyes as Ishita turned around her car to go back home.
Having done the cleaning, on her drive back to the office, Ishita pulled her car on the service road of the highway and reclined the driver’s seat so that she could lay back and relax for some time. That was the first day when the thought of not carrying on with this toxic relationship occurred to Ishita. A honking truck passing by woke Ishita up from her nap. She straightened her car seat switched on ignition and started for her office where on her request her boss had managed to postpone the meeting for 2 hours. She twitched with a sad grin. ‘Even my boss understands my condition. I did not have to give him any explanation when I requested a late arrival to office.’ She thought, “Then why is it that my own husband cannot see what he is doing to his seven month pregnant wife!”
Ishita’s thoughts ran in an endless loop everyday trying to figure out, how her life had come to be such a mess. She had completed her MBA three years back and was earning a handsome 6 digit salary per month when Harjeet’s family approached her parents for alliance through a common friend. Everything was nice and rosy until the wedding. But there on things had worsened beyond imagination. Her in-laws had not been discrete at all in letting her know that they had not liked the gifts conferred upon them by her parents. Very diplomatically they had led Ishita into feeling guilty about the whole thing and manipulated her into agreeing to spend her money on expensive gifts for Harjeet’s parents’ and extended family.
Things did not end there. Harjeet himself was a Management Post graduate and had ventured into a small business of his own. A couple of days into the wedding, Ishita realized that contrary to what had been presented to her family, Harjeet had not been doing well in his business. As a result Ishita was asked to take care of all the household expenses. She was also expected to perform all the daily chores of the house all by herself because they could not afford domestic help.
Initially, Ishita did not suspect any foul play because she being in a sales profession was enterprising enough to understand that life with a start up owner could be difficult and challenging. She was somehow hopeful that things would work out eventually, and thus did not mind supporting her husband financially or in any other way. Though she felt extremely exhausted running around the house as well as fulfilling her commitments towards her highly demanding job, she continued to work 20 hours a day for those few words of appreciation from her husband.
Why despite being educated and financially independent, did Ishita put one with this nonsense of a relationship? That’s because she did not want to give up so soon. Ishita feared that if she failed as a home-maker, people would get back at her parents for giving her a free hand to pursue a high flying career. She did not want anyone to tell her parents that, “See! This is what happens when you let your girls have their own way. They cease to be good wives!”
Six months down their wedding, Ishita declared her pregnancy anticipating that her in-laws would warm up to her now. That her husband would now take care of her and not abuse her any more. But things worsened. The conversations around her pregnancy were full of hopes of having a boy child. Whatever love and care was showered upon her came with a superscript, “We hope there’s a boy in there.” Harjeet’s unreasonable demands at home and consequent abuse became frequent and violent. Ishita’s only hope to have a peaceful and happy marriage now rested upon the child inside her womb. She prayed to God day and night for a boy.
Days passed by and Ishita went to her parent’s home in a different town for her delivery. She was admitted to the nursing home with an alarming pain in her abdomen. Her husband and his family were informed about the emergency. Harjeet traveled 2 hours to the hospital, met her parents, said some curt words about how he and his family should not be bothered again for such trivial matters and left without meeting her. It was for the first time that her parents came to realize about the problems Ishita had been facing in her marriage. They were astounded, but did not say much because they knew that Ishita needed all their support and care at this crucial juncture in her life.
All hell broke loose for Ishita when she was told that God had showered his blessings in the form of Goddess Lakshmi. A month later Ishita along with her daughter and parents travelled back to her husband’s house. She was terrified at the thought of the treatment her parents might be met with. Nevertheless, what could she do? A married girl could not stay at her parent’s place forever.
So what if she was qualified and financially independent! Her success quotient in life would only come from her ability to keep up a marriage that had only bitterness in its foundation.
Upon reaching her husband’s house, Ishita found a drunk disheveled man who seemed prepared to leash out at anyone who dared to confront him. Her parents while maintaining a composed demeanor tried to reason out with Harjeet. They said that this was their first child; they would definitely have a boy for a second child. Harjeet in his rage became violent and attacked her father with the glass in his hands. When her mother tried to intervene, he pulled her back with her hair and threatened her with her life if she interfered. As Ishita watched the series of events unfold infront of her she went numb and felt as if her feet were struck to the ground. She felt incapable of moving and taking any action. But suddenly she realized that Harjeet was moving towards the cradle in which her daughter was lying. It took her a couple of seconds to comprehend that her daughter was in danger. With the force of lightening she ran to pick up her daughter, shouted out at her parents to gather themselves up and run out of the house. Before a drunk Harjeet could understand what she was upto, she shot out of the house and locked the door with the keys that lay in her trouser pockets.
Ishita is running pillar to post for a battle (legal and emotional) that is hers to fight and win, so that her daughter can live a life with her head held high. As Ishita looks over her sleeping angel, she understands now that God did not confer his blessings upon her in the form of Goddess Lakshmi. Instead he sent Ma Shakti in the form of her daughter so that she would give her the strength to let go of a toxic relationship and fight back the injustice she had been tolerating for so long. Becoming a mother changed everything for her.
I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter