I consider myself to be an average girl born to a set of small-town, but liberal, parents a good 37 years ago. I owe my rebellious and free-minded streak to my father’s army background having been exposed to a lot more than just mundane school activities and usual bachpan (childhood). Known in my family as a talkative favourite, I always enjoyed the privilege of being the first-born on both my maternal and paternal side. A geeky, bespectacled teenage phase had made me ultra-sensitive to public ridicule and criticism but guess that helped too. Once adulthood set in, I knew the best was yet to come…or was it too much to hope for?
Like most girls in our country, I had been raised on the fodder of a fairy tale life in exchange for compromises made by the woman once married. I soaked it all in like a brand-new-sponge!! As I grew up, the imminent future seemed pretty close when I would change roles from a carefree teenager to that of a daughter-in-law, wife and subsequently, a mother! Seemed totally normal to the teenage me…isn’t that what means you have arrived? We girls used to stifle laughter, hiding our blushes and embarrassment in classrooms over such everyday discussions, but we all knew that every young mind was dreaming and confident of their own fairy tales. I was hungry for it, eager in anticipation and could hardly wait to spread my wing and fly.
However, I made a small mistake of falling in love with someone who wasn’t suitable for me! After a whirlwind romance of 11 years which blossomed at tender age of 17, we married and that turned out to be the worse psychological ,mental and physical abuse imaginable. Those who know me call me the strongest woman they know of but even I faced inevitable depression during the span. The consequence of a decision taken due to emotions more than practicality was pretty adverse.
Gathering all my courage and strength the miracle happened in the form of being able to separate and get a divorce. However, my journey post the divorce was what got me thinking. I suffered further with mundane societal routines. From Landlords to relatives it was terrible to raise your head high and be able to walk tall. I had made no mistake. I was not wrong. I gave it my all and more. Made most of the compromises and tried best to adjust and adapt in absence of basic respect, care and love. In fact I am super proud to have found that courage to take my life in my own hands when it came to push and shove & take a decision. I was very happy to move on.
The time I was getting back on my feet, I realised how difficult it must be for other women to walk out of abuse and how many parents don’t support their daughters decision to walk away and that causes them to suffer immensely, often living whole life with a chaos and confusion within! So many friends told me that I was ‘lucky’ as my parents were rock solid with me on the decision to end my marriage. More importantly I hated the way I had to hide from everyone about my failed marriage! For about a year, I didn’t attend social gatherings and avoided relatives. I stayed alone building my life piece by piece. But so many girls I know who continue to suffer in silence often due to the fear of being tagged by the society and social stigma attached. Often children are involved so things get so much more difficult. I questioned all this in my head but didn’t do anything about it till last year!
Last year I got to know of Ms. Anissia Batra who was an air hostess with Lufthansa Airlines. I had known her through my ex family and had grown up seeing her and aspiring to be like her. Unfortunately, Anissia was found dead post series of abusive experiences with her husband. She allegedly jumped from 3rd floor of her house leaving messages for her family that she can’t take it anymore!
She was not a close friend. However, whatever I knew of her and how she ended her life pushed me in a shock! I could not imagine the state of pathetic and mindless beliefs in our country! Why was it so tough for a successful, independent and strong girl like Anissia to walk out rather than ending her life?? Her parents knew of each and everything yet she could not be saved!!
I felt I needed to do something to impart some strength to all who were in an abusive marriage and how they needed to get that courage to know that its JUST a marriage and not their lives! They need to be strong to fight a wrong decision rather than ending it. I have penned a book called ‘How Much Is Too Much’ which is based on what to do when you know its not working for you and even after you walk out. How parents should react and support. How to make the women aware of the society and mentally prepare themselves. The regressive trauma of being a divorced woman needs to be discarded so each of us can be truly happy. The fear of unknown as per my experience, is written with a hope that maybe I can save some Anissia and perhaps in that process save myself too from that guilt, that I should have spoken up and guided millions of those who are not so fortunate. The book is now in final stages of publishing and would be out in a months time.
I am also planning on starting a counseling center for such women who need advise and support during such times. In our country those who visit psychologist are considered crazy, where do we expect them to go? How will they know what is not acceptable? We don’t teach all this in our schools and colleges yet a marriage is a barometer even today for a woman’s success, character and her very being!
I think life changed post this incident and I am glad I am not silent anymore and doing my bit for those who need a helping hand. I am now happily re-married and advise everyone to find that happiness. Its okay to seek another chance and no matter what the world say – we ALL deserve it in every sense of the word!