“The first decade of the 21st century turned out to be disastrous for this friend of mine. I regret not knowing her during tough times – first marriage, multiple abortions, and a nasty divorce. At the same time, I feel honoured to have known her after this gruesome experience, for her wisdom and strength are powerful enough to inspire any soul to rise to its fullest.
I have known her story in episodes, and it sounds dark. I cannot imagine what every waking hour must have felt like, that too, with a person that she still labels as her first love. At first, it sounded ridiculous to me, the way she described this person – charming, alluring, handsome. I have questioned this notion several times, by simply stating the opposite – where are the important qualities? Was he promising, caring and sincere?
“You will never know until you fall in love or have a steady relationship,” she says every time I asked her to not glorify this person for a second.
She told me she was married when she was just out of her teens, to this man who had popped straight out of her dream. The initial few days went smooth, it was truly the honeymoon of her life. She was happy. But soon the dark part of this romantic story cropped up. With time, he became more possessive, rude, and the so called ‘love’ started fading. Days passed, from bad to worse.
A few years later, my friend got pregnant with her first child. This was like a beacon to her; “Maybe he would realize and change. I may get back my lost love,” she thought. But then, it was just a thought.
She miscarried the baby and a few months later conceived again. She knew that the baby is her only escape. In 2007, she gave birth to a baby boy. But then, the couple started taking a downhill slide.
Their child was born somewhere between alcohol, domestic abuse, and promiscuity, and this would be the only child that later my friend would take away from the shadows of a dying relation. Yet, she was determined and was in love with her husband. Despite all the violence, she maintained her dignity, dragged herself to work with bruises and back home to get more.
Her hope in their relation was not ready to fade away. Once, she even picked him from a highway where his car had crashed and he lay bleeding. She went on a two-wheeler, strapped him to the back seat and took him home. She undressed him, nursed his wounds and even asked her in-laws not to make a ruckus out of the situation.
Even in this abusive relationship, she nurtured her son, a big-boned child who was born through a messy cesarean, with unconditional love. She has told me he was too young to understand the complexity of their marriages but was only and has been her only ray of hope through the darkest of the times.
Trashy circumstances refused to die down even after the child as she found herself pregnant again and again and again. She was asked to abort because her sister-in-law was yet to get married. The compulsion of sister-in-law’s impending marriage caused her in-laws to ask her to abort. And the next few times, since her husband wasn’t really financially settled, she was asked to terminate her pregnancies. So, there was always some kind of pressure from her in-laws. Her uterus suffered after the terminations and yet, she did not let her work suffer. She looked forward to it and completed her duties. There was a time when one of her pregnancies weren’t terminated properly and it resulted in a dead fetus in her womb. A doctor (who was probably not the best one around) told her that she might have contracted HIV as the complications were symptomatic of this life-threatening disease. The night this was announced, the whole family already started mourning even before they sought a second opinion. When they did, they breathed a sigh of relief.
She did walk away from her husband at one point, only to go back to him due to the kind of love she had felt for him right from the first. And then, later on, she finally left him for good. She took her son away and settled in a small house away from the parents and the anticipatory social stigma which latch on fearfully to anybody who deviates from social norms.
At first, the parents seem to be unforgiving, especially her father. Once, to her surprise, her parents came to her house in the night when she and her son had snuggled up on the couch, watching TV. She told me that it was awkward at first as if some estranged relative or temporary guest had come visiting. And then, she broke down in her father’s arms, who then realized that he had to give his only child the strength to raise her son and get up on her own feet.
She finally got the independence that she was looking for when she shifted cities, leaving her son behind with his grandparents. It was a tough decision and things changed within a moment. She was a single mother, living away from her son in a strange city, all by herself. She got a job, a place to live, however, the will to live still seemed like a distant entity. She was detached.
“Once, I suspended a dupatta from the ceiling fan, waiting for the moment to end my life. I was so drained that I couldn’t muster the confidence,”she told me.
The detachment, galvanized by loneliness, got her immeasurable sufferings. The distance from her son, his well-being were a few concerns that she had to deal with. Within all this turbulent emotional chaos, an optimistic thing happened. An old, childhood friend, with whom she has fond memories, re-entered the life. He, too, was divorced and their parents saw a promising couple within them.
She was apprehensive at first, reluctant to accept the myth of marital bliss voluntarily this time around. But, he was adamant. He wanted to be with her and that, sort of won her over. She still has some doubts about marriage, as she finds it difficult to take on the responsibility of the family due to her first emotional trauma. However, her son, who is now 9-years-old, has suitably adapted to his new father.
They both go shopping together, celebrate small things and click numerous photos. He helps him with many things and even puts him to sleep. The love is unconditional.
After piecing her story over numerous chats, I really hope this is the beginning of her happily ever after. I think anybody will have faith in a person like her, who has been worn out emotionally and physically and yet has a solid will to live, with a lovely dimpled smile.”
– The identity of the contributor is kept anonymous upon request.