(Names changed to protect identities)
I am Divya, a successful HR professional turned homemaker. Falling in love with a charming young man called Alok in college was obvious and natural. Marrying him was even more thrilling than the coveted job that I secured in a top telecom company.
The first few months of my marriage made me feel like a queen and within ten months we were blessed with a baby girl. I was overjoyed that I could not only take care of our princess but also made rapid progress in my job. When Alok used to snub me from talking about my day-to-day achievements at work, little did I realise that he was jealous.
Subsequently he suggested that I should give up my job and concentrate on the health and happiness of the family. Initially I was reluctant, but I made the sacrifice out of my love for him. Taking care of our daughter compensated for the feeling of loss. I thought it was in all our best interests that I should give my best with no pre-conditions.
It began with finding fault and criticism, until I felt I knew nothing. The efficient homemaker and effective professional was a person of the past and I started doubting whether I was a good wife and a caring mother at all. I would reassure myself that I was managing perfectly, but Alok’s criticism and arrogance would overshadow my rational thinking.
Dependent upon him for all my needs, I kept silent when I wanted to disagree. My tact was taken as timidity and his aggressive behaviour increased. If I had a headache I was supposed to stand in the balcony rather than ‘disturb’ him with my ‘morose face’ during his phone calls or when he watched TV.
After he had his supper I was supposed to be available for him with a smile and bringing up feeling 'unwell' was not tolerated. I was not a participant in the game though, only a mute facilitator.
I realised that forcing me to quit my flourishing career was to clip my wings and make me completely dependent on him. My parents found him jovial, with great interpersonal skills. They would not allow me to share my opinion about him.
He had everybody in the family, relatives and friends eating from his hand and nobody would believe that he wasn’t the best husband on earth. From being a brilliant and beautiful girl, I was reduced to being a slave. I had to undergo medical termination of pregnancy three times because Alok was not comfortable using protection.
My tired body with a broken spirit was no more than a sleeping pill for him. Emotional suffering soon got converted into migraine and other health problems. The psychiatrist put me on medications, which created more complications, including hormonal imbalance.
Despite being a mental wreck in an otherwise able and beautiful body, when Shashank met me at a party, I could see a ray of hope in his smile. It was an official gathering of Alok’s company and I was both perplexed and scared. I was surprised to see a message from Shashank on my phone the next day. It took me three days to gather courage to reply to that courtesy message.
Since then we are in touch very cautiously and he knows all about my suffering. Shashank is younger, still single and madly in love with me. I find him a total contrast to Alok. I am split between my matrimonial status and responsibilities and the possibilities of a life ahead with a caring, mild mannered and loving individual.
The chances of anyone from my family supporting me in getting a divorce from Alok are zero. I continue to succumb to his demands and feel used. Going to the matrimonial counsellor has not helped, only making Alok more aggressive.
I carry on, hoping for a miracle to happen to ensure my safety and move towards a situation where all the love and affection awaiting me can get showered on me and my daughter.
(As told to Sanjeev Trivedi)
This story was first published on Bonobology.