This happened in the 1990s. I was 20 years old and had just completed my graduation. I belong to a middle-class family and my parents live in Kerala. My dad worked in Saudi Arabia. I wanted to become a doctor. I even got selected at a prestigious medical college. But I gave up the idea of becoming a doctor because I did not want to burden my parents with my educational expenses. I was planning to do my B.Ed but in Kerala, we had to pay lakhs to get a teacher’s job. I did not want to do this. So I gave up this idea too.
It was at this time that my mom met an astrologer. He said that I should be married off by 22 else I would get married only after I turned 30.
In South India, if a girl got married after 30, it automatically meant that she had some kind of a fault. People thought that she had some health issue or was embroiled in some kind of an affair etc.
Society will claim many such things about you when you don’t get married at the right time.
One fine day, an old couple came to our house to see me as they were looking out for a girl. They wanted to get their son married. A close family friend had introduced their family to us. Their son was working in a private firm in Mumbai. They liked me and they had been requesting us to finalize the wedding for over a year now. They would visit us frequently and send us gifts.
They said that they did not want any dowry from us. They just wanted me as their daughter-in-law.
After consulting all our family members, my marriage was fixed. We decided on a date for our engagement but my fiancé did not get leave so we conducted the function without him. My dad met him a week before the wedding date.
He started asking my dad to buy a flat for us to live in. My father didn’t like this.
But the marriage could not be revoked at this stage as everything else had already been planned. So, by the time I had turned 22, I was married off. My husband’s family was very nice to me. My husband had 2 younger brothers and we were a perfect family in every way. I loved them more than my family. After a few weeks, I came to Mumbai to settle down with my husband.
And now all the horrors of our marriage started showing up.
I was an ideal wife. I did all the household chores and obeyed my husband. He used to come home late from his office every day. He returned at around 3 – 4 a.m. When I asked him about it, he would say that he had a hectic workload in his office. After a month, I realized that I was pregnant. He said he wanted us to buy a house because we would now have a baby to take care of. He said that there was no money in the house.
So he asked me to sell all the jewellery that my parents had gifted me when we got married.
He assured me that he would buy it all back for me in the future. I allowed him to do this because I believed him. We bought a house after selling my jewellery and I gave birth to a daughter. After 3 years, he pestered me to ask my parents for money so that he could buy a new flat for himself. He also told me not to mention his family’s or his name when I asked my parents for money.
He kept telling me that my parents were very smart and bad. He said that they will not give me any of their assets and will give everything to my brother. My husband and his entire family asked me not to talk to my parents. I thought that they were right.
In the meantime, my husband would write letters to my parents and ask them for money. He told them that I was not talking with them because they were not giving me the money that I was asking for. The best part of it all was that he told them that I was mentally unstable and therefore will have to be taken to a mental hospital.
My parents were sad to hear all this.
I became pregnant at that time. My husband and his family harassed me saying that they would think about what they would do with me if I did not give birth to a boy. Right from the initial years of our marriage, my husband would come home drunk and beat me for small reasons. When I complained about this to his parents, they asked me not to discuss such things with my parents.
I was dumb enough to believe them.
When I gave birth to a boy, everyone was happy. My husband and his family came to visit us during my delivery in Mumbai. My condition was critical but no one even cared about me. A few months later, he was talking to his best friend. He told his best friend that when wives say anything, just hit them with whatever you have.
My husband had broken my index finger and my nose and had even poured hot tea on me. He abused my parents over the phone because I would keep asking him why he returned home so late and because my parents did not sell their house for him.
One day, I narrated the entire incident to my neighbour. She encouraged me to talk to my parents about it. I mustered the courage to do so and called my mother after years. I told her all that was happening in my life. My parents were anyway feeling sad that I was not talking with them.
They asked me to leave him and come back. But I had two small kids and their lives mattered a lot to me so I chose to stay with my husband.
In the meantime, my husband got transferred to New Mumbai. After a few months, I came to know that my husband was selling our house in Mumbai. I did not even know about it. He told me what he was doing only when he was on his way to Mumbai.
We had bought that house with the jewellery that my parents had gifted me when we got married. And he had not even informed me about what he was planning to do.
I did not know anything about his bank details. The worst part was that right from the beginning, my in-laws would keep telling me that men should be left alone to do whatever they think is right and women who belong to good families never poked their nose in such things. I was stunned! I had once heard my in-laws and my husband discussing my property. They were asking my husband why my parents were not giving it to us. It was at this time that I realized why my husband had claimed that I was mentally unstable when he sent that letter to my parents several years ago. He had tried to take me to a doctor so that he could get a certificate from him.
If he had a certificate claiming that I was mentally unstable in his hand, no one would believe what I said and he could legally acquire all my property.
He started assaulting me for money again. I even thought of working as a maid because he never gave me any money - not even to buy medicines. Meanwhile, my father had come down to India because he was suffering from cancer. My parents came to meet us.
They wanted to take me away to Kerala and apply for a divorce.
My husband begged them and told them not to take me with them because even my daughter wanted both her parents. My parents then gave him a warning and decided to give him one more chance. I had started taking tuition classes at home to earn some money. One fine day, I got a call on my landline. I was not allowed to have a mobile.
I was called for an interview from a school. I had applied for the position of a school teacher without my husband’s knowledge. I got the job because I had a B.Sc degree. I told my husband about this. He congratulated me and said that I had got the job because he had brought me to this place! I then called my parents and my in-laws. My in-laws were surprised. They had not wanted me to work when I had got married.
When I started earning and meeting new people, I started forgetting my tensions and felt free. I felt more confident about myself and was full of courage now. When my husband started assaulting me again, as was his usual habit, I held his hands and shouted at him. He could not digest this.
7 years later, my dad passed away. My husband’s family was very happy now because my brother too was working abroad. They thought that they could easily harass me for my property now. My husband lost his job after a few years. He had quit his extremely well paying job because of some politics. I knew nothing about this because he never shared anything with me. Basically, he was at home for almost 2 years. But he had bought himself a new Android phone and would always keep chatting on the phone. He would go out every day to drink. He would buy the liquor on credit or use his savings to do so.
We were paying a rent of 25k per month. My daughter was in the 12th standard now. She now understood all that my husband was doing to me. She was a strong girl. I was sure that my husband was having some sort of an extra-marital affair because he rarely spent time with us. My daughter hacked his phone one day and checked his Facebook messenger.
To her horror, she found a chat which she should never have seen. She stood like a statue.
When I took the phone from her to see what was wrong, I saw that my husband had been chatting with a lady who happened to his junior in college. Yes, he was cheating on me. I threw the phone and SLAPPED my husband. He had harassed me and assaulted me for years and I had suffered through all of this only to realize that he was cheating on me.
That slap said it all.
My kids stood still and both of them were crying. After all, they were seeing the end of their parents’ relationship. My brother was in India at that time. So my mother and his brother-in-law came to meet us by the very next flight. In the meantime, my husband left the house and filed a case against me saying that I was trying to kill him. The police called my children and me to the police station and after questioning us they told us to settle the matter in the family court.
When my family came to take me back, my husband begged them to give him one last chance. He promised to remain loyal to me.
My mother-in-law told my daughter, “Why did you check your dad’s phone? Good girls don’t do that.” When my daughter heard this, she shouted at her grandmother and asked her what kind of a lady she was to support her son even after knowing what he was doing.
She just kept quiet when she heard what my daughter was saying.
My husband is now working in the Middle East. We still live in a rented house. He still insists that we buy a house but he tells me to do this when my daughter is not around. He knows that she will rebel against it.
My husband and his family ruined the best years of my life.
Both my brothers-in-law are married. Their wives too are assaulted like I was. My mother-in-law supports such things. I keep encouraging them to stand up for themselves. Basically, no one in our society respects them. They keep fighting with other family members for some property or the other.
My husband still does not give me much money to take care of our expenses. He knows that I earn well and can take care of all the expenses. My in-laws loot all the money that my husband earns to develop their house. Both my husband’s brothers are working in the Middle East. Their families live in Kerala. But my husband takes care of all the expenses that my in-laws incur. They don't even contribute to their expenses. My father-in-law is suffering from cancer and my mother-in-law has a lot of cysts and is facing other problems too. They were happy when my father died of cancer.
I am bringing up my son very carefully so that he doesn’t end up becoming like my husband. My daughter has grown to become a strong person. Tomorrow if any guy dares to do anything like this to her, she’ll immediately file for a divorce and end the relationship.