There was pin drop silence in the room, as if someone had just dropped a bomb. Their shell shocked faces, eyes almost popping out, Rohan’s mouth wide open, like that of a fish, Shilpa’s expression of bewilderment – it was quite amusing. I would have laughed if it were a different situation
But it was not. Here I was, in the middle of a tsunami, unleashed by none other than me. A perfect Sunday morning, where everyone had woken up late, the delicious aroma of sambhar and the sight of the white fluffy idlis on the breakfast table meant they were just about to have breakfast.
I walked in and they were pleasantly surprised to see me come, unannounced as thats not how I usually came. They were a bit confused when they saw the suitcases that I lugged in.
I decided to spill the beans without further ado. After all, everyone who needed to hear this was around. Rohan, Shilpa, Sunita and their spouses.
“I am sure this perplexes you , seeing me here with all the baggage.” I took a deep breath “I have left Raj” a pause “for good”.
There were gasps.
“Its not a decision taken all of a sudden, based on a whim or a tiff. Its been there in my mind since long but I was waiting for the right time. His behaviour with me is not unknown to any of you. When I first married him, I was told I am the luckiest woman on this earth. A smart, intelligent, handsome, rich husband- what else does a woman want? Perhaps they forgot- these qualities are no doubt desirable but a woman needs a man who respects her, accepts her as she is and loves her. For Raj, I was only a showpiece on the mantle. The trophy wife he could flaunt everywhere, the woman who kept his house, cooked hot meals and served him, the one whom he could take to bed as and when he pleased without a care about what she felt, the one who bore his kids, the one whom he could take out all his frustrations on. “You dumb woman, what do you do at home the whole day? You cant even serve me hot parathas on time, do you even realise the value of time. If you were working and earning money, you would know how hard it is. So stressful. But what do you know, you just sit at home, whiling away time, spending your husband’s hard earned money.”
I remember the day I told him about my desire to start something of my own- a boutique. I was interested in fashion designing right since college, I had good ideas but his response was as usual – derogatory. “Who will invest money? Do you have any idea how much funds are needed? Do you think its a joke? A dumb woman like you will only get into losses. “.
“I am ok to take a loan”, I pleaded. “I just need the down payment amount”
“And who do you think will repay the loan once your venture fails? There is no way I am giving you permission to start this”
He crushed every dream of mine, either I was useless unable to do a single thing right or I was physically not fit- too fat, greying hair, dark circles, not fit to be in his social circle. The months of dieting, sweating it out in the gym, going for those expensive and painful cosmetic treatments – I did it all. I appeared calm on the exterior, but I was breaking within, bit by bit. I was losing myself and one day when I looked at myself in the mirror- I got the shock of my life. I couldn’t recognise the lady anymore. Who was she? Where was that bubble, feisty girl who thought the world was her oyster? I had to find her back, she was lost, hidden, perhaps no more, but I had to resurrect her, bring her back to life.
But how would I do that? Here I was penniless, living in a posh villa with 3 cars, jewellery, servants, all comforts but none of it was mine. I had never worked, had no savings of my own, my parents hd left me a pittance , everything had gone to my brothers. I had to find a way to be financially independent – thats was the starting point.
“Stop it right there Ma”. It was Rohan.
Maa for god sake, you are 67, not a newly married woman or someone in her 30’s. Why would you want to walk away at this point? Yes I agree dad is not the best person and we have seen his temperament and behaviour with you which has not always been pleasant, but for god sake. Why are you creating a scene at this point? Do you even realise how embarrassing this is for all of us, your kids, their spouses, the grandkids. You need to think of the consequences of your actions Ma and how it impacts others.
He looked at his sisters Shilpa and Sunita for support.
Shilpa echoed his thoughts “Rohan is right Ma. Dad has not been an ideal husband but life is not always fair. He has given you a good life, maybe not the love you needed, but whats the point in severing ties now In the sunset of life? After 47 years I see no point in this Ma. Life is not easy outside, as a single woman, with no support, with no money, no roof. I am getting cold feet thinking how my in laws will react”.
Sunita was silent, she said nothing.
I was prepared for this reaction, after all my kids had the genes of their father and mine. I was unfazed.
“The reason I took so long was mainly due to you guys. I did not want to cause any embarrassment and waited till all of you got married. I know what a stigma this is in Indian society.Now that all of you are married and settled, I am entitled to live my life. How long do you expect me to stifle my emotions, my self respect? For now its your in laws, tomorrow it will be your kids, then their kids. And I will die in this rut one day. No I am not ready to be the sacrificial lamb anymore. I have performed all my duties as a mother. You need not worry about my financial security, I have taken care of that.
I contacted Rashmi my college friend , who was in touch with me on Facebook and confided in her, She works with an NGO, I then met with the trustee of the NGO. They have helped me find a place to live in and I can work in the NGO, the sum is small but I can meet my expenses. Its a start and I am happy. My only purpose of coming here was to let you know the truth. I never expected anything else.
Its time for me to go. Take care and live a happy and dignified life”
As I turn to leave, I hear Sunita, my youngest “I am proud of you Ma, that you found your voice finally. Let me come with you to the NGO, I would like to see your new home”
I smiled, she has my genes I thought proudly. Hand in hand we walked- the sun was shining bright, it was a new beginning.
About the author:
Akshata is a Chartered Accountant by profession, someone who is passionate about her career and aspires to grow. Her heart lies in writing- She writes on varied topics ranging from fiction, relationships. women at the workplace, sexism, parenting stories. She loves to dabble in micro fiction, writing a story in 33 words is a challenge but equally rewarding.
She was recently chosen by Women Web as one of the Top 10 Indian women bloggers to be followed. Apart from her blog http://www.akswrites.com, she also blogs at Women’s Web, Bonobology, Mycity4kids, Sheroes.