** Alert: The story might disturb you. Apologies for the same. Please read the prologue to understand the background behind this story.
She looked at the clock in the kitchen.
If the food did not satisfy him today, it would be another night filled with punishment for her again.
This had been going on for quite some time. Seeya looked anything but a newly wed bride. The tradition dictated that she wear the red and white chudis for a year because they signify a newly wed bride. However, her face, her red eyes and her swollen cheeks narrated a different story.
Ram was chosen by her parents from 20 eligible marriage proposals. Her parents had looked at various criteria to choose someone “perfect” for her. They looked at wealth, social standing, the company he worked at, his parents, his family background, etc etc. I wouldn’t even go to the lengths of mentioning horoscopes. Of course, they were the first things to have been matched – they matched “perfectly”. The pandits claimed that the couple was made for each other. That they were “janam janam ke saathi”, couples since the last 3 births.
Seeya hadn’t had great dreams about her marriage. She was nonchalant about the whole affair, as she wanted to comply with her parents and do whatever would make them happy. So, she played along and got adjusted to the new home quite well.
A month into the wedding, all the guests had left by then, and Ram’s parents returned to their home. They were of modern ideology, believing in giving privacy to their children and in nuclear families. Ram had separated from them the day he got a new job. He needed to be “free”.
It was only after everyone left that she got to see the true face of Ram. One Ram was called the maryada purushottam, yet he abandoned his wife to make the society happy. What could be expected of this Ram? He was nothing short of a beast. Sadistic tendencies was an understatement. Unnatural sex. Pleasure by causing pain. Finding the smallest of small pretexts only to punish her – beat her, belt her, thrash her, have violent sex and unnatural gratification.
She was living a nightmare. Every night and every morning. It was rape. Downright rape.
Could she escape? Was there any way she could take him to task?
How could she explain her humiliation to the world? Who would listen to her?
Nobody spoke about rape in marriage.
They all would laugh and call her names, they would call her the worst names a lady could be called, and label her promiscuous.
That’s how it went.
That’s how it goes.
The bell rang.
It jolted her out of her reverie.
He stormed into the house with a red face. He was angry. Seeya’s heart sank.
“Get me some food! I am hungry.” He shouted.
She scurried inside to lay the table, and called him. He settled at the table and filled up his plate, downing the food like a man hungry since a week.
Second roti, and he looked at her.
“Why is this so hard??”
“I am sorry, Ram. It was soft when I took it out of the girdle. But it’s hardened while you have been eating. I will make another one. Just give me 2 minutes.”
“Shut up!! You lousy woman! Your mother never taught you how to cook. It doesn’t matter. Here, eat this yourself” and he hurled it in her face.
Seeya had had enough! She knew she had to put her foot down. She went into her bedroom, weeping uncontrollably, wondering how she was to get out of the mess. He came right in. “Is this all your parents taught you?? To cry for the smallest things? Don’t think those tears will make me feel sorry for you. Shut the f*** up and come here.”
She did not respond to him. This angered him so much that he held her by the shoulders and hurled her onto the bed. And another nightmare began…. Her “Nooo!! Leave me alone!” was muffled as he clamped her mouth.
Even after the Nirbhaya incident in Delhi, marital rape still remains unrecognized in India.
Women, scores of women are going through hell inside the safety of their own homes.
There are single women, and there are married women.
However, there are the ‘dis-married’ women who have been wrongly married to the wrong men and are going through a daily ritual of sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
These women are not given any rights to talk against their husbands. Those who raise a voice are silenced by collective humiliation meted out by the society against them. Society, that judges these women and calls them promiscuous,just because they decided to talk about marital rape.
Society is the biggest failure in this case.
What are we, as a society doing to safeguard our women?
It’s women’s day on the 8th of March. We are miles and miles behind progressive thinking.
Our women are chained to their husbands because their identity is chained to their husbands post marriage. The biggest reason why women going through marital abuse do not speak out is because they fear society. They are let down by society. A woman can go to the police expecting help if she is being battered for dowry. But she can not go to the police for help if her husband is battering her in a way she can not SHOW to the cops. In a way she can NOT prove to the judges. In a way she can NOT prove the existence of hurt and scars.
These scars are inside her body – physically, and inside her mind – emotionally. Just talking about it is painful And then, convincing hundreds of people – from the cops at the CAW cell to the lawyers to the judges, to the doctors, to everyone – each time each iteration kills her from inside. And at every step, she faces eyes that are wary and that look at her in disbelief and mockery.
“Lady, Go keep your husband happy” says one cop.
“I can help you and get you justice. Will you sleep with me?” says an NGO owner.
“Every night is a colourful night. Isn’t it? Then why complain?” says another lady cop.
Seeya wants to give up.
She goes to her in-laws.
“Men are like that only, beta. All men are like that. Your first and foremost duty is to keep your husband happy and do as he says. Go go back ma.” Seeya’s mother in law writes her off.
Seeya goes to her parents.
How can she talk to them about what she went through???? How could she bear to look into their eyes?
She talks to her mother. Cries her heart out.Her mom hugs her and says just two words, firm and clear. “Leave him”.
While hundreds of Seeya’s are crying in their bedrooms and wondering why they were even born as a woman, should we be celebrating Women’s Day?
If so, then what should be done to help women like Seeya?
Edited for #WomenInspire
USC’s Women Inspire Campaign
Every woman should be her own ‘Shero’. There is a hero inside every woman’s heart. It’s that brave voice inside her heart that says, “Don’t give up”. It’s that brave soul that eggs her to move forward even after having been broken so many times.
“I’m celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day by blogging for the #WomenInspire Campaign sponsored by USC’s masters degree in social work program. Join the blog carnival to honor a woman who has inspired you!”
It’s weekend again. And I am back to blogging full steam.
And it’s Day 7 of WT’s Festival of Words – for International Women’s Day. Submitting this post on Write Tribe for Day 7.