Remembering each gory detail is a nightmare in itself. How can I forget the first night – He had warned me of dire consequences if I ever dared to disobey his parents. I had ignored it then, thinking that was a dutiful son speaking.

Soon family secrets were shared- that hinted to cheating, lying, fraud- all committed to get the son married. Apparently it a norm in the family; a mandate of sorts. The sole reason for the treachery- Dowry.

Dowry- A word unheard of in my family. I didn’t know how to react, or even respond. Belonging to an affluent family, I was used to living a comfortable life. Promised the same by my new family, I had only painted rosy pictures. Weren’t there tell tale signs all through the engagement period, I had been such a fool.

They had after all pocketed the expense for the marriage and put up a shoddy arrangement in the name of the marriage function. I wish my parents had insisted on not letting them do any arrangements. Multiple cancellations and bearing the costs, my dad had half heartedly agreed to let them do as they wanted. It only dawned on my family now, why the insistence on their part.

The honeymoon too was cancelled and we embarked on a religious 2 week trip with in-laws and the entourage of uncles and aunts in tow. What an experience!

Returning back, I tried to keep my hopes high. But to my dismay, I wasn’t allowed to even employ a maid for basic jobs. Watching TV or reading the newspaper were privileges I now yearned for. Suddenly the most mundane of things seemed like distant dreams.

The phone was out of bounds. I was but a prisoner in the new house. Not allowed to have any contact with anyone, I was made to live the life of a recluse. I wonder what made me maintain my sanity!

A new bride- I was advised by my parents to give so much love and care that there would be a change of hearts. But the word ‘Obey’ now held a lot of meaning. I had to seek permission to even eat. My first beating, is an instance deeply etched in my mind. I had dared to cook lady finger instead of beans. He had beaten me black n blue under his sister’s and mom’s influence.

I had no means to get in touch with my parents. I didn’t know where to look. All doors seemed closed. Thankfully, I got a chance to live alone with my husband. I thought this surely would make a difference, life could be normal.

But to no avail. Had my parents not given me a ready house to move into, we would have died out of hunger, for he refused to convert the 4 walls into a home by buying even the essentials. Each decision was taken over umpteen calls. The sister sitting 1000 miles away decided what would be cooked in the house. The mother decided whether I was to be allowed to open the door to a bell or not.

Needless to say, my life was a never ending saga of permissions and granted privileges. Disobeying meant marks with scars for months.

Menstrual cramps were the worst. Mine were 100 on a scale of 10. They went on for days, rendered me practically dead and motionless the first 2 days. All tried and tested potions and tests over the years had not given any respite. Those were the most trying times. For he kicked and pushed and dragged me across the room if I even dared to utter an ooh or aah. l pleaded with him to spare me atleast for then, but it all fell to deaf ears. Faint, lifeless- I tried my best to hide the pain. How I wished I would hit menopause just to avoid those spasms.

Life went on, a struggle each passing day. I knew not what lay in store next. For every single day they came up a new way to torture. Was dowry the only means and end for them?

Their son, a pilot- Incapable of earning? They- Residents of a metropolitan- Literate?

These questions and more tormented me 24×7. But I kept bearing the abuses. No one can be that evil. It would all change one day….