All my life I have struggled at various levels and for various issues. I was and am thankful to the Almighty for having blessed me with such a wonderful and supportive family, parents as well as an extended family. In our family, girls are welcomed and cherished, so much so that even the daughters-in-law are loved and accepted wholeheartedly and this is something I am proud of. So having been brought up no differently than a boy, I had an independent mindset….a confident mindset. I did struggle with weight issues and still am….had my share of heartbreaks, rejection due to being overweight, body shamed, low self-esteem et all….but all this did not stop me from being in charge of my life rather than playing ‘victim’. So first I took the ‘risk’ of getting my eyes done for Lasik as had been struggling with ‘genes-gifted’ myopia (shortsightedness) which was a really liberating experience. Life kept moving along and my 20s turned to my 30s and I was still not married and ‘settled’, but there was no pressure from my family or the extended family whatsoever for we live and let live. Then my weight started to really bother me……so I took the plunge of going under the knife once again. This time for a life-altering procedure – THE bariatric surgery…… after struggling with unexplained weight gain despite taking all measures over the years, I continued to gain weight and this started to bother me, hence the decision. I underwent the Gold Standard in Bariatric Surgery which is a Gastric Bypass.So now, I have 2 stomachs inside my belly. The recovery from the surgery was again a once in a lifetime experience for I suddenly became a little baby who had to re-learn how to eat and drink, for I couldn’t eat more than a couple of bites in one go or drink only a few sips of liquid in one go….the journey was difficult but worth it. I learned to eat again starting from liquids to mashed food and slowly graduating to regular food…..thanks to the surgery, I lost 36 kilos…..yes, you read it right….. 36 kilos!!! and also lost a lot of emotional baggage of being overweight, rejection and body shame along with it…. it was the most thrilling experience for me so far in my journey of 33 years of being on planet earth.
Then as luck would have it, I met my Mr. Perfect……or so I thought….. or he had me believe….whatever…..after a brief courtship of 4-5 months, we tied the knot in September 2013….we both belonged to different communities. I the effervescent Punjabi and he a cocktail of Bengali and one other gene….. it was too good to be true for me….for finally, I seemed to have found my soul mate (or so I thought….) and someone who accepted me for who I am and not how I appeared…. post the wedding….things started to change….all along I was a well-settled professional….having worked in a foreign bank all along….my ‘better half’ was a professional wanting to spread his wings as an entrepreneur and I decided to support him with all my heart and soul. I took on the responsibility of managing the household, the expenses, etc, and give him the comfort that I was there to support him in his pursuit and dreams….little did I know what life had in store for me. Shortly after my wedding, I was asked to share all my financial details with my husband while my husband would not be sharing his, I was told not to spend money without his ‘permission’…not go to see my parents without his ‘permission’……was asked to pay rent to the in-laws for they had ‘graciously’ got the house vacated by the tenants and had simply dumped us to live on our own in a bare, completely unfurnished apartment knowing fully well my husband’s financial condition. I again comforted myself with the thought that marriage is a partnership and I was equal in the marriage and was there to support my husband so I offered to set up the house with the understanding that the expenses would be shared in a few months…little did I realize or know that nothing of that sort was going to happen. I was being manipulated and controlled for I trusted my husband and loved him with all my heart. As newlyweds, it is but natural that the first year of the marriage is a special one, the couple is eager to spend most, if not all time, together with getting to know each other, make memories, build the foundation of the future to come, but alas, not in my case, we never had any outing, not even a mundane trip for grocery shopping. It was all my responsibility to run the house, manage the finances, be a good wife and daughter in law along with my full-time corporate job and my office was in Gurgaon and we resided in South Delhi, so the commute would eat up a lot of my time and all I could think of ways of efficiently running my household to please my husband and my mother in law.
I am a vegetarian by birth, however, my husband is a hardcore non-vegetarian. Prior to our wedding, out of love for him, I had promised him that I would learn to cook non-veg food for him even though I have never ever eaten it once and I stuck to my promise. Not just chicken, but mutton, salami, sausages, ham everything. I learnt to cook for him. Even though the smell used to nauseate me, but I happily did it for I knew how much he loved non-veg food. Any normal person would expect a few loving words of appreciation for the fact that I, a hardcore vegetarian, was cooking and buying non-veg food for my husband. however, it was viewed as ‘just another responsibility of a good wife….anyway…I learnt to live with it and was happy that the husband was happy. In between all this, started the unpleasant discussions around the finances..my not paying up the rent to my mother in law, my giving money to my parents (assumed by my husband and mother in law), my not giving control of my finances to my husband. The financial abuse also was accompanied by emotional, mental and physical abuse. I had to ask my parents to step in. Our very first Diwali after marriage, a big festival for all Hindus and more significant for Punjabis was a washout with the first instance of physical abuse, that shattered me but didn’t break me. I still had hope. Post that, there were a few more instances of unpleasantness and violence because of which I went to my parent’s house and during that one month, made a lot of attempts to speak to my husband to resolve things but most of the times things ended up without any solution as his asks of me were simple. I could not spend anything without his permission, I could not meet my parents without his permission, I could not go anywhere without his permission and I had to give control of my finances to him. It was seeming obvious that I either had to agree to these demands or had to live away from my husband…. during this same time, I realised what I was expecting. There was a life inside me.I was still at my parents’ house. As luck had it, his cousins had arranged for a meeting to help sort things between us….on the day when i received my pregnancy report. I went for the meeting but did not mention this to anyone as I did not want this to be a reason for my going back as it would have been only temporary. I wanted him to value me as what I was, as a partner and not because of the life inside me but since I was aware of my condition, I was really eager to get back and then break the news to him. Post the meeting, I decided to go back with my husband even though my parents were not in favour, having seen me suffer and now scared for the life inside me as well and the effect all the abuse would have on the baby. I still went against my parent’s wishes and went back to my matrimonial home…the day after, i broke the news to my husband and momentarily he was also thrilled and happy . The new year was just a day away so we thought of breaking the joyous news to my MIL and SIL on new year’s day….
Just to refresh, I got married in September 2013 and all this took place within the next 6 months . after having gone back, I tried to build my life again and was looking forward to the baby as thought that the baby will change things for the better…..but my relief and happiness was again short-lived, for soon the financial demands and emotional and physical neglect and abuse started…Yes, I was physically abused in the third month of my pregnancy and my MIL did not take much action. Life continued for a few more weeks and emotional and mental abuse and neglect continued. In March, I wanted to go for a short 3-day vacation with my parents and my husband refused to accompany us. Having undergone so much in the past months, I decided to go with my parents. Our marriage had almost broken down by then as we had started sleeping in separate rooms, he started coming home late at night, had his meals with his mother and I and my unborn child were on our own with only my parents to support me mentally and emotionally. I was then threatened that if I went with my parents, I would not be allowed back home, despite the fact that I was in my fourth month of pregnancy. Having had more than my share of abuse and mental torture, I went for 3 days to my parents and on my return, as promised by them, I was not allowed back into my matrimonial house. I begged, requested, and pleaded with my MIL to open the door and let me in however she said that I could wait downstairs till my husband came back. on calling my husband to let me in, I was again asked to wait till he got back from the office and then he would decide what was to be done with me!!!! This is when I realized that this was over and we had reached a point of no return. If a man was not sensitive towards his unborn child, how could I expect him to be sensitive towards me or my needs? I went back with my parents and waited till the night for my husband to call me. When I didn’t receive any call till late at night, I had no option left but to approach the police to help me get back home. I went and lodged a complaint with the local police station. Thereafter started the drill. The police called me the next day to listen to my complaint and then also called my husband to the station. Upon his arrival, he informed the police of his inability to take me home as his mother would not approve of it and that he needed to speak to her. Then his family arrived along with a few neighbours and nothing much came out of the entire discussion.
With no option left, I finally had to approach the court and I filed a domestic violence case in March 2014, exactly 6 months after my marriage…..in my fourth month of pregnancy. I was standing in court all along my pregnancy, appearing for the dates, running around completing the formalities, and in between went for my regular monthly and fortnightly checkups with the gynae. Not once did my husband ask about the welfare of the unborn child, not once did he inquire about my health. I kept messaging him, pleading and begging him to resolve things before the baby arrived and that I was willing to withdraw the case.No amount of effort worked and there was absolute silence from his end. Soon enough, it was time for the baby to arrive, I was standing in court a week before the day I delivered my baby….alone….though my parents stood by me like a rock. I kept begging my husband to be there for the baby, to be there to welcome the little life into this world, but none of it made any difference to him. There was complete silence from his end, neither did my MIL make any attempt to check on my well-being. All through my pregnancy, not a single night went by when I did not cry myself to sleep. All along I wanted and longed to be back with my husband and give my child a normal happy family to grow up in….but God had other plans. I welcomed my child into this world in August 2014 and my husband was informed immediately despite which he came to see the baby after 10 days of his arrival. I again expressed my desire of getting back together however, it fell on deaf ears . The first 4 months after my child’s birth was most difficult for me however by then I realized that my child and I are better off without the presence of my husband or my in-laws in our lives and that I should now focus on building my life with my child and focus on giving him a good upbringing. As I said, God only knows his plans..In December 2015, I was laid off from my job for 15 years. It was another jolt as my job was a necessity for me to give my child a decent and comfortable life. I accepted God’s will and refused to break. I started looking for a job and even tried to dabble in a few entrepreneurial ventures. By the grace of God, I was offered a job in 2017 May by another bank and I willingly and happily took up that assignment and have been working since then.
In all this, my child is now in grade 2, I have learned to be a mother and father to my child, though still need to learn a lot….the cases in the courts are dragging on, my child has never seen his father, nor has his father asked to see his son….there is silence from my MIL as well….and my son and I are happy having the company and support of my parents and my extended family and rock-solid friends.
In hindsight……I realize and accept that whatever God does, has a reason. My faith in HIM has grown stronger……. I know he is there looking over me, looking out for me and will be there to support and guide me through life’s ups and downs…I cannot let a few people kill my spirit, it is not the end of the world, rather an opportunity to build a better one….a world where my child is growing up without having to see his mother going through abuse, a world where my child is happy and content and is growing into a wonderful and sensitive human being..my son and I go for vacations together, do fun activities together and are companions for each other…..though I do realise that soon enough he will be ready to fly out on his own and that I would be the happiest person to see him spread his wings and fly high into the sky….wherever he wants to go…