Previous- My 1st Marriage Anniversary
We were to board the bus to Jammu from Connaught Hotel at CP. We may have boarded an auto; don’t remember any of that travel. My mind was too occupied. Reaching the Hotel; boarding the bus- the man had again changed! As if nothing had happened just a day back. What an irony- this is supposed to me my Biography and am compelled to write about Hemant too.
I had bruises all over; so had sat all covered. Like my instinct and sub-conscious mind had been then wanting, I sat at a different seat altogether till very long. He had bought some tea and refreshment, till the bus had waited to start. To fool around, he had picked up a few muffins too. SHOPLIFTED and then had forgotten to pay. Wonder- what was stopping him to steal me away from his mother’s obnoxious, whimsical- comments and proximity? Probably he had never wanted to. I had dressed in layers; it was cold and don’t appreciate using local urinals. Only wherever we (the bus) stopped for dinner, I had changed. I was still chumming.
The trip was one of its kinds. I don’t wish to take that fun off it- by mentioning it here in the marriage episode. You readers would have to wait for yet another post for the details. It was as adventurous as rock climbing and ever unforgettable.
We had come home after a week. A Kanjak Puja was organized to distribute the Prashad. That was yet another battlefield for arguments. His mother had wanted me to touch the small girls’ feet. Neither I had then, nor had I at an earlier stance too. Forgive me for I don’t appreciate touching anybody’s and everybody’s feet. 2ndly, it was not in my culture to touch feet of the kids- younger than my own- had there been any- by then. Cultural Difference- maybe. Moreover, she could never make Hemant do that too- he too never appreciated such practices. By “such practices” he meant that on one hand, his mother showed all respect to a girl- child; however, the same girl once grown up would then become a policy victim. Naturally, the lady was pissed- more because we acted in similar manner! Till then she had known of that fact; we had already argued upon one such situation, by then. What was the pun of insisting me to- with the same already argued-upon-yet-not-reached-consensus upon cultural practice- once again?
Probably she had wanted to make my breathing impossible too; without her making me feel obligated about that. Hemant had tempered up again. Of all, he had been aware of all of “my beliefs”; we had discussed about all such issues before settling down. It seemed that either he had not discussed any of that with his family till then- thinking that he would deal with that when that happens; or, he had only wanted to avert discussing any controversial topic. How very convenient!!
I was put back into the same state of being the very moment I had stepped in after my “Honeymoon”. Dining together had also come to a finale.
One of the Sundays’, I had wanted to prepare Green Paranthas. I had stood preparing the dough when lady P had barged in wanting to know why I was kneading fresh dough when a big bowl was already sat in the fridge. I had explained politely that because that had become sour and that I had also wanted to prepare green paranthas for the breakfast. They were quite used to eating sour flour chapattis. I could not; can you? She had then sternly directed that I was not to prepare any breakfast for anyone. Moreso: because everyone had been asleep till then. It was 10 in the morning- I was starving. Yet, I had wanted to wait for everyone to join in because I was not allowed to eat before Hemant did. A few days that I had done that in the 1st month of my marriage, I was publicly criticized; in the neighborhood and amongst their relatives. She had then simply pushed me aside and had thudded the bowl saying I could prepare whatever I wanted to and not for anyone else. She had started to grumble so loud, that Ratan had finally woken up.
Something had possessed upon me. I had prepared my parantha and stocked the extra dough in a bowl and had gone upstairs. Hemant had as usual kept himself out of that controversy- too. I was not let to eat lunch and then dinner too. A few months back (in the 1st year of my marriage), Hemant had objected upon (something that was already agreed upon), my placing my Gas Table and preparing tea. As a demo, I and he had then gone downstairs, to prepare a cuppa. No one had answered the door. In other words, we were not let inside; they had not heard any of the loud bangs on their Iron Gate. My question here to all is: what if something had gone wrong someday? They would have probably hooted me out like a witch if Hemant may have suffered because of that. And about me, it doesn’t really matter. What would I have done then?
What if I had not placed my Gas- Table up at my floor there; which was certainly not out of any precaution but because I had wanted to. It served its purpose soon enough. I had suggested her to buy a 4 burner table. It was declined, saying- that they didn’t want to behave like richmen do..!!
I had become more like an outsider in my marital home. Since my mom wasn’t alive, I didn’t know where to go. I had so terribly wanted that marriage to work. Hemant’s consistent silence to his parents’ tantrums, and their raking up a fresh issue everyday, had only made me all the more despondent. I was regularly reminded of my state of being an orphan practically. I was told that if only my parents were alive- I would have been thrown back to them. That’s the literal translation of what I was being told by all 3 of them. I was constantly in touch with Ruby for that while. She had listened to all my sob- stories patiently and had told me not to break up; with Hemant and otherwise too.
I had somehow convinced Hemant to buy a Cordless phone to facilitate my Office transport pickup the previous year. They had declined to fix up an extension line till 3rd floor. They would keep switching that off every now and then. I didn’t own a television and had foolishly thought that the new one was being bought for upstairs room. They had exchanged their old TV instead. I had expressed my displeasure when Hemant had bought that TV trolley and placed it at the 1st floor. I had definitely tried talking it out- with him that he ought to be concerned about his married family too. He had retaliated saying that I was being a petty thinker. I may have been judgemental cause that had happened within the 1st 3 months of my wedding- what now? Wasn’t that turning out in the similar way as I had been pre- empting?
One evening, there was a yet another one of those huge showdowns before dinner. I had lit up the gas at 7pm instead of the allocated time schedule of at 7.30pm. She had launched in all raged up and turned off the regulator saying that I was not to switch that on before 7. I had quietly resigned and moved out. She had started out yet another argument no sooner Hemant had come home. Was that why she had put the light off because she had wanted to resolve her issue first? Hemant had somehow coaxed her and sent her to the kitchen to prepare chapattis. I had stood at the kitchen entrance when she had looked back at me and had murmured- now you see.. She had thrown the dough portion she had picked up to roll the chapatti, threw herself on the floor and had started howling loud. I had stood bewildered. Uncle and his elder son had rushed in; she had then pretended to pass out. Uncle had held my arm and pulled me out of the kitchen and declared that if only Hemant had complied with what they had proposed instead of getting married to me, they would have owned a car by then. I had deciphered the fact, only a year back. What a fool I had been!
Since her mother-in-law had observed a certain timings to prepare food, now P aunty wanted me to as well do the same. If aunty P was so dedicated to her, why didn’t she jump into the same fire of that of her mother-in-law’s funeral? And set up yet another example like Sati had after she had jumped into her husband’s burning pyre.
It had become more than difficult for me to survive at a place that stank. One fine evening, I was bluntly told to not enter the kitchen at all. Only one lady was supposed to manage that area and that I was not to be the one. I used to be around, whenever my shift had allowed but not have food with them anymore. I ate at office (and now have become obese). Even when I used to eat with them, I was barely left with anything to, in mornings. Uncle ridiculed me every- time I had prepared Maggi. Preparing sandwich was not as simple. Ratan had to be 1st offered a few, out of those remaining 4- 6 bread slices. Kindly note that he was a big- eater and still was a kid- according to aunty P. He was only 8 months younger to me.
It was because of this Lady that Hemant is visually impaired. He had hit himself with the grill, while playing in the park. He had come home bleeding through his right eye. That illiterate mother-in-law of Aunty P had coaxed him, giving him a piece of sweet and had not spoken of that to anyone in the family. After a day or two, the itching in his eye had gone up, that’s when his parents took note of that. They had approached WHO as well, for any treatment that may have been available. They had agreeably accepted the fact that the injection that was administered was an expired medicine. How so very obedient and respecting of them! For two complete days, Hemant was able to view normally. Not anymore- Hemant’s vision had been permanently affected
They were a Ridiculous family, with a higher level of ridiculous practices and mannerisms; and a further higher level of ridiculous thoughts. Of all, why was I to get stuck in that ridiculous situation? I was criticized by the neighbor aunty that why I didn’t wear finger rings on my foot fingers, or even anklet. She was beaten up almost every 3- 4 days by her husband. We would often hear the next door aunty crying and being beaten up; I was never let to go out and stop that. I was held back and was harshly commanded to stay out of that.
I had not known that soon, that was to become my regular life too.
So dedicated friend this aunty P was of hers, that she had never intervened saying that that was their personal matter. I was amazed at aunty’s dedication, since she was made to stay along with yet another woman that her husband had took fancy to- not long back. The Fancy woman had shared the same house for years, when neighbors had thought that he was married to that other one and this aunty was their domestic! Lady P had described that other dame’s beauty with that of Sampada’s!! What level of comparisons! I have no issue with any concept, excepting for and as long as it’s consensual. Here, it was not. My problem was that aunty P was pretty orthodox in her approach and had not approved of that, then why she had compared her with my only relationship- alive? Ruby has been more to me than any blood relation could or have been!!
Hemant and I didn’t bump into each other. The sharing of the bed: was as if silently agreed upon. He used to go down as soon as he woke up; leaving me to sleep at odd hours after my unusual shifts. Holi was not celebrated the 1st year because of Shelly’s mother’s demise. All I and him had wanted was to just freak around in the house only. Diwali was as well (not) celebrated the same way. Lohri- 2004, my 1st at their place; was never celebrated at all. What would have people thought; that they had limitless cash flow?
The 2nd year (of my stay at their place), no sooner I had stepped in to the 1st floor flat, despite my requests, aunty P had emptied a plateful of color on my head- literally. I had not wanted to wet my head because of tonsils that day. My pleas had fallen to deaf ears. Shouldn’t my husband be the 1st one to color me- if at all..? Suitably, she had not wanted me to imitate that. She had scribbled in her diary that Madam O had walked upstairs and not cleaned the color that had fallen on the floor. Hemant had watched mutely since I had looked tad too irritated at her act. All through my shift and walk from the cab till my house, I had managed to not douse myself in dyers bath and here, that was washed off in no time. May I express that I don’t like and playing wild as in “Holi”?
I had not known any of her ailments till then. Hemant had concealed all of those things very faithfully. I should have known- apparently, they were a family. They were bound to stay true to each other at all times- no matter what. With her new found illness, I had felt even more depressed. I could not walk out of my marriage (whatever was left of it- if at all) that I had been wanting to- ever since Hemant had beaten me up like quilt- cotton. I had become so baffled that I had not known what to grief about more- her such critical illness or my inability to walk out on them?
Sadly, I had prayed that why it was being so difficult for me to carry on surviving? I had a decent job, with a decent earning and an equally decent social upstanding. Yet, why was I being so victimized and caged? The only one time we all had attended a marriage, was at Sahibabad at her sister-in-laws place. It was in a village. I had come home starving- no sooner the food counter was “opened”, people had rushed on to the table, eating straight out of that serving table. Aunty P had insisted me to go and push them aside to fill up my plate too; since, I ought to have eaten something. Didn’t I stay in a home? Or was I a street dweller that I was to freak out- like the others to eat out? Or better still, was that how Sharma family ate? At 2 in the night, Hemant and I had sat eating Maggi. We were practically pushed out since they had felt disturbed and had wanted to doze off. Anyways, 2am was no time to be eating, it was for sleeping; no matter even if one maybe starving. Wasn’t there enough food for me? Alas!! Indeed, I had become a slum- dweller.
I had till then survived through really struggling days and equally horrible nights. Yet, I had never felt so humiliated, hopeless and depressed. Each time, I had been contented thinking that my self respect was still within me to stand me up. My marriage was as if a festival of calamities- an unending one.
A couple of months later, I had gotten my 2nd and the last opportunity to be at the 1st floor house all alone. I had fished out that Diary again. A couple of months that we had contributed a joint amount for house- hold expenses; the break-up was mentioned as if Hemant had still contributed his whole salary, I, the remaining. Anytime, that I had praised anyone in their family, was noted and criticized; not that there were many of those stances. She had in as many words written down that may O be ill of some in-curable disease such as even Doctors fail to diagnose that, much less be treated.
She had gone to the doctor to collect her FNAC report, the same day when I had read that diary. for the 2nd time; she had returned home all depressed. She was diagnosed of Breast Cancer! She had noted there that I had made that happen to her. She had already attributed her cause of eczema, migraine and asthama to be me. She used to bleed from several places on her body due to skin allergy and yet not go to doctors feeling hesitant. How did she deliver her two sons in the hospital then?
Things had been messing up day by day. It had become so skewed that I had terribly wanted to commit suicide.
Mom had given up her life to keep me alive- practically. I wasn’t ready to drown her sacrifice for a bunch of psyches.
Next- Brewing Inquietude