Confessions of An Anonymous Woman Metroplus

To grin and to bear it

It was a perfect match. The bridegroom was a surgeon with movie star looks and the gentlest hands possible. The nightmare began soon after we moved to Scotland, where he was completing a fellowship. I was a young mother with a one-year-old to look after, and struggling with life and loneliness in an alien, cold environment, far away from family and friends. First, it was the snide comments — about my appearance, my post-partum weight gain, my disinterest in socialising, my “frigidness”…

Then, the rage began. There was no need for a legitimate reason to trigger his outbursts. His tea was too hot. His tea was too cold. There was a crease in his shirt, if his pants were not perfectly creased… He’d rage, he’d throw things, he’d shake me till my teeth rattled, he’d hit me black and blue. He’d turn off the heating in the dead of winter, only turning it on when he returned from work. How many grey winter days have I had to spend shivering under the duvet, my baby swaddled in several layers of clothing, curled up against me. I learnt to be afraid of my husband’s very shadow. Even the baby learnt to be silent when his father was around. I was so afraid he’d hit our son too. Thankfully, he never did. He was merely indifferent. 

I thought the nightmare would come to an end when we moved back to India four years later. That’s when the invisible women came into my life too. I could sense their presence in his breath, his clothes and the car. Any question would be met with violence.

It was an inadvertent remark made by my son that made me break out of my illusion. One summer, when my son was eight years old, we went home to my parents for vacation. While travelling in the car with my parents, my son happened to witness an altercation between a man and a woman: two roadside dwellers, the man slapping the woman, while she let it all happen without even a murmur. My son commented, “Oh! This is how appa always beats amma.” The startled looks around were followed by questions and my image of the perfect marriage came crumbling down like a house of cards. The family cornered me into revealing everything. All that I had kept locked up, came pouring out. Yes, it was as simple as that. I was free.

People asked me why I kept silent for years and never even told my parents or siblings, all of whom I am really close to. All I can say is that I don’t know. It felt like I was shut in a sound-proof room with no way out; with no one to hear my screams. I do, however, remember feeling ashamed of my circumstance. My siblings, my cousins, my parents, my friends all seemed to have happy, perfect marriages and I wanted to show the world ours was too.

Post the divorce; it was my precious son who once again came to my rescue, encouraging me to get married again. Together, we searched online matrimonial sites and we finally found someone who thinks the world of us.  

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:56:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/confessions-of-an-anonymous-woman-to-grin-and-to-bear-it/article6793739.ece

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