Category Archives: Women -as we are!

The Last Name Drama

We were just sitting at the tea table, sipping some tea when the conversation began between me and my mother. Of course I don’t remember how it started, but it ended quite abruptly and not in good terms. And I will admit from the beginning that I might not have been the sweetest and the most patient person then.

Watching TV and discussing about God knows what, we started discussing about the name change of a woman post marriage. All I had said till then was that a woman has the right to decide if she wants to take her husband’s name or not. And just then, she blasted. “What do you mean that it is on her to decide? Are you implying that you want to keep your name after marriage? Do you not understand how your in-laws are going to react when they find out about that? They will only think that you never accepted them if you don’t change your name. And what about your husband, how is he going to feel?”

And that is when I broke the spell, and asked her to hold her horses.

“Mom, please calm down, I am not getting married now. And I just said that it is on a woman to decide, I did not say what I am going to do. And after this you have made me realise that it is almost a rule according to you. Not changing name isn’t exactly acceptable.”

“No, no, you don’t want to change your name, don’t change, you handle your new family then, I will not interfere.” And started the emotional drama.

“Yes, I will see what I will have to do then.” And we continued watching TV in silence, and after a while I left the room.

*

I might have over-reacted but she might have too. I was just passing a general comment. I am really not getting married now, and honestly, I haven’t even thought about such things. Just the fact about getting married scares me now, let alone the thought of changing names.

And yes,, I still stand by what I said, it is on her to decide what she wants to do. Anything forcibly is not accepted.

And honestly, just how much trouble we have to go through to change names everywhere, on each and every identity cards, not to forget the social media where we have the trend of having two last names.

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The Talk of Safety!

Let’s talk a bit about safety. Shall we?

(Warning, I am going to digress from the topic, totally!!)

So today I was almost done with all my work and was about to return home early when my friend called and asked me to meet her at a coffee shop near her place. I thought why not? It was early as it is and didn’t have much to do either. So I went there, had a cup of coffee, we talked and in some time I decided to leave. It wasn’t late but I just wanted to reach home before it started raining. We were sitting in the garden and I could see clouds getting darker with the time.

Just when I was leaving she reminded me to wear the helmet. Of course I forgot. How could I remember that? I just do not like wearing helmets, I feel as if I have overburdened my tiny head. So I wore my helmet and rode towards my home. It was just a fifteen minute ride.

After just two minutes I felt the strap choking my neck, it was too tight. I loosened it with one hand and rode on. After another two minutes it felt too loose so I stopped and tucked it tight again. I’d better choke than let it loose and keep the helmet coming down to my face. I don’t think there is any helmet made for my size of the head, or for a woman. They are all either too loose or too big! (Smaller ones and the perfect ones are really rare.)

I rode on for five more minutes in full speed, the roads were not too packed, and now I was in a hurry too. My phone was constantly ringing and I knew it was my mom. I hadn’t informed her that I’d be late.

Riding peacefully at a consistent speed, I was really enjoying the beauty on the roads. The part of city which I was leaving is really beautiful with trees on both sides shading the road.

I was about to reach the main road when I noticed two boys riding behind me in a bike, they were almost shouting and I could hear their voices, but could not make out what were they talking about. I wasn’t interested either. Only up till the point when I realised they were following me.

My initial instinct was to ride faster, so I took up the speed. I reached to main road circle and however hard I tried I had to slow down with the evening rush. They had taken all the same turns up till now, and I was hoping against all odds that they would divert ways now. This was the turning point; if they wouldn’t take another turn here then I would be sure that they were after all following me.

I gave no indicators, ignoring the traffic rule, and pretended to go straight. And then just when there was no other way to go, I took a sharp right turn and moved inside the area, switching off from the main road. They had pretended to go straight too but had followed my vehicle taking a right turn against the rules.

I was sure. They were following me after all.

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Speeding up wasn’t helpful, so I slowed down, hoping that they’d go away. That particular street was still busy; once I’d go inside the residential area I knew the streets would be would be isolated.

They slowed down too behind me.

I was frustrated, angry, scared all at the same time.

I moved on taking another right turn, taking me inside to the residential area. They came too close to my bike and I am pretty sure my face would have given away my inner feelings. What was I feeling? I was shit scared!

The next time they brought their bike beside me, I loosened my helmet and kept it handy on my left side, the side on which they kept nearing. By this time I had already moved past my home. I couldn’t let them know my residence. What if?

I was already way away, and the streets were getting isolated, and the sky was giving me signals that soon it would rain. It was almost dark now!
I had no option now. I did not know what to do? Where to go? My hands were shivering and making it difficult to ride. My palms were sweaty and tears were almost on their verge of flowing down.

I blinked hard. This was not the time to go weak.

“Shut up and think!”

With again an impulse decision, I slowed down my bike to almost 20kmph and pretended to take out my phone. This time I was the one shouting on the phone declaring my whereabouts to the constantly vibrating phone.

Just when I slowed down further, the main door of the house on the left opened and a man came out. I did not stop but I slowed down to a speed of 10, barely moving further. Of course if the boys behind me slowed down with me that would look fishy. So they maintained enough speed to go ahead of me.

Finally I breathed a sigh of relief. Just when they were at the end of the road, I gave my right indicator on making them feel that I would turn that way.

They turned right. Mission successful!!

I never drive past speed limit, of course I always follow the safety rules, but this was an exceptional case. Just when they noticed me taking up speed, they went further right, one boy constantly glaring behind, to keep track of my bike.

I took a sharp left turn, fortunately avoiding a Harley and increased my speed even further. They took a u turn too but very fortuitously a car came following from just where I took a turn making it difficult for them to follow me. But they still were after me, but thankfully very far away, almost at the far end of the road.

I took continuous three sharp lefts making it a circle to my home. But before I stopped I saw the reflecting mirror that they were not there, they had missed me. I zoomed the bike to the parking space, locked it and rushed to the elevator, the helmet still in my hand.

I was only relieved when I reached the inside of my house, still shivering.

“What happened?” my mom was all worked up just by my looks.

I broke safety laws.

“You never do that. What did you do?”

I broke three laws, mom. Not one. First, I did not give indicators, and when I gave I gave the wrong one. Second, I over sped. And third, I did not wear helmet.

“But you are carrying your helmet in your hand.”

Yes, mom. I just did not wear it.

“So did the police charge you?”

No, I saved myself.

That Evening

 

I was running on an empty lane outside my house, without any shoes, without a dupatta at 7:30 in the evening. My salwar being stained by the puddles caused due to heavy rain an hour ago. My kurta too was a bit torn around my high collared neck design. My hands were stained of turmeric and flour, which I had used to wipe my forehead twice. Blood was dripping from the cut on my cheek, neck and hand. And to top it all I was getting cuts on my legs too. My hair was not made properly and I had nothing with myself, not a penny nor a phone, only a hope and energy to run to my husband’s shop. My condition was such that I would not mind if someone would interpret me as a beggar.

The dark night and the empty lane did not scare me that day. It was too late for any woman to saunter around alone as expected by our esteemed husbands. However that day I was least bothered about anything except me. So I got myself a place to sit for a while and relax. I sat on a huge stone beside a locked house, the only safe place where no one would bother me for a while.

As soon as I sat my thoughts went back seven years ago, to the day I got married to my prince charming who was exactly the opposite to what I had thought in my dream, tall (just three inches than me), dark (actually too dark for me) and handsome (fairly less than me, even a bit bald). He was eight years older to me and I ignored even this. I am not boasting of myself but actually telling you the truth. I was never forced for this marriage but I knew how my parents worried about me not getting married till the age of 24. I bargained with his looks in the hope that everything else would turn to be perfect. And in actuality it was too perfect for the first two years.

I loved my husband, mother in law, father in law, two sisters in law and my dear brother in law (my favourite among everyone). We were almost of the same age so we used to jell up best. We used to bully each other, crack jokes on each other, spend time gossiping, he even took me outside when my husband did not have time for me even on Sundays. They all cared for me, loved me, and had no issues with me. How perfect my life was with them. It was just a blessing. I used to think that all the compromises, a sacrifice of leaving my house, parents, two brothers, three sisters and even my carrier proved fruitful. The happiness, the romance that filled my life was worth it.

But things changed after we got separated from our extra large family to form a smaller joint family. We left the place of my mother in law’s mother in law, her sisters and brother in law and moved to another apartment with my parent in laws, husband and my dear brother in law. By that time both my sisters in laws were married. Even our financial status deteriorated and perhaps that was the cause of frustration among everyone in our house.

Frustration reminds me that at present hour I was frustrated. I needed to start running again and isolate the place.

I then turned towards main road, extremely lighted for me to bear, too crowded for me to walk, either run and even too decorated where as I was in a condition too tattered. To inform you, in my place it is not less than a shock to see a woman without proper dress  (in my case a missing dupatta) to be called a whore in front of everyone.

I turned around to see a bike following me, when I just started running as an athlete who would run as if reaching just too near the finish line and see a competitor reaching behind. I complained to the traffic police that the bike is following me but he showed no reaction except amazement, as he knew both of us, me and my dear stalker.

In a positive hope that the traffic police would do nothing to save me I started running again towards my husband’s shop. On reaching the outside of the block of my husband’s shop, I turned to see if he was still following. Yes he was, but as I reached there he turned back giving me a murderer smile as if saying:

You are dead my dear, going to complain about me to your husband? Go, go! No one is going to believe you.

But you believe me that your being alive is difficult from now on. I promise that to you.

I entered the block and then to the basement, shop no 17, my husband’s shop. It was already 8 o’ clock and I was in such a beautiful condition that as everyone saw me they could not conceal their surprised looks. And as I said it was half past midnight for them and a missing dupatta made me look a whore to them and not a beggar.

I did not care for them now. What I cared for now was myself and my baby in my womb. But yes in this running I had forgot my pain. The pains of the cuts in my check, neck and legs, and the pain in my womb which was due to a kick by him (my bike stalker).

As I was standing outside the shop, my father in law came outside and took me into his arms and took me straight to our shop. My husband first completed attending to his customers as if nothing unusual had happened and then came to me. Till then I was painfully sobbing in my in law’s arms and was absolutely out of breath to say anything, only hoped that I was safe now. No one would beat me; kick me or even worst think of me as a whore.

I took a sip of water and recalled today’s evening at 7:15 in my house.

I was in the kitchen preparing the dough for chapattis and my mother in law was slicing onions. My niece who had come to visit me was watching television with my son. My brother in law came out of his room and without uttering a word switched off the television and showed both the children his anger in gestures. I must say my niece is quite daring and a bit too modern for our type of society. She took the remote, switched on the television and smiled cunningly saying:

Excuse me sir don’t you have that much courtesy to ask us before switching off the television

As we were watching that. Even we have that much common sense.

My brother in law wiped his hand ruthlessly across the centre table, too hard, which broke the flower vase on it and even cracked a part of it. listening to the sound we came outside the kitchen, at first unable to fathom what had happened, and even before we could do that my dear brother in law came almost running towards us, held my neck by his left hand, snatched the knife from my mother in law, put it under my chin and almost cut it. He then kicked me on my stomach. My mother in law tried to stop him but in vain. Seeing the children screaming and crying, he got a bit diverted.

I took the opportunity, pushed him hard enough to remove him till a distance from me, to run before he could get onto them. I took the children to my room and asked for a promise that they would not open the door till I would ask them to. As I came out of the room they locked it from inside.

Without another thought I slipped through the back door and ran on the empty lane at 7:30.

By then I was completely exhausted telling my husband all this in his shop and only after completing my story did I fell unconscious and regained it after an hour, still in the shop.

After another hour passed we went home hiring an auto rick-shaw. The devil was in his room and I ran to my room, politely knocked on the door and asked the children to open the gate. I saw them still crying. My son was of course as I had known too emotional and he was expected in the same state. But I had never in my life seen my niece in such a condition. I took them in my arms, hugged them, and kissed them. Neither I nor the children ate anything that day. We locked ourselves in the room and kept close to each other for the next two days. I knew that evening had changed everything in my life.

Regaining courage I asked my husband to book the first tickets he could get and leave my niece with her parent in the town. Eventually she came out of the scary event after a month, my son after about three months but I was never allowed to come out of it. Because that was just the first time the attempt to murder was attempted on me. From then on I faced regular attempts to murder, harassment, molestation, as well as physical torture of being beaten up by my dear brother in law, for years.

Only until, finally my husband had the courage to separate our houses which was not very soon. They still work together, in the same shop but at least I don’t have to see him.

PS: I know the woman was wrong to still live with such people, to go through such trauma. But before you start judging why the woman still lived with such people, why did she not leave them? For once can we think about how ruthless and unacceptable the men’s behaviour was? Even the husband did not do much to in favour of his wife.

Whispered mocking

She stood there, staring blindly at the silvery wall, with no engravings on it. She hoped she would change them one day to a brighter colour, never liking the dull, un-happening colour. After all it was her personal space, where no one had the right to bother her, except of course a knock every now and then, but otherwise it was her place, her space. And no one would burst in here without her accent.

Leisurely she turned the knob on to let the water cascade from all sides. She stood there calm, a battle raging within. And yet she smiled. Did the water cool her?

She shut her eyes, and sat down on the floor, letting the water reach her from all sides, leaving no escape from it. She seemed to enjoy it. The water was cold, but so was the temperature outside and so were the people that she just left in the middle of a movie.

Her face was wet, but she knew not, if it was the shower or were there some tears involved? It had been usual for her to be mocked at, and she had long lost the hope to make people understand that it wasn’t her fault after all, she needn’t be laughed at.

And now, just after a long shower, she was past it, she was the strong adamant girl again who would fight any one off, who would knock your nose if you misbehave, who would punch you in the stomach if you say something disgraceful.

Sluggishly, she got up holding onto the curtain. She did not mind her nude body, not her bulky stomach, not her flappy arms, least of all not even her friend’s mockings. Giving a bright smile looking at her reflection in the mirror she voiced herself, “I am a beautiful woman. I am strong and I am invincible.” Almost priding on humming to the song “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.” And suddenly the scoffing’s and scornful comments on her bulky body by her friends, or by anyone else did not matter.

She was well past that.

Turning the shower off, she came out of the room wrapped in a towel. Her mother asking her to wear a robe instead was waiting with some weight loss drink and a reminder of her workout session.

Silently, smiling at her mom, thanking her, she drank from the tall glass, and took out the tracks from the cupboard.

Just when her mother left, she whispered to herself, “Who cares if I lose weight or not, I don’t. I am not a fan of size 0.”

Why was I sleepless?

I was awake the other night, (now at least three consecutive nights) almost the entire night thinking of a person I care about a lot. I thought I would let this go, I wouldn’t make it an issue, but it is and I am unable to just let that pass off. I thought that I’d not make it public, I won’t discuss it with anyone, after all it’s not my matter, it is someone else’s private business but then I am incapable to get it out of my mind, I think either I’d die of guilt, or of anger at the least. I am sorry for violating this person’s privacy, and can just hope that she never reads it.

She met a person a few months back, for marriage- she liked him. He on the contrary refused to marry her with an unsatisfying reason, saying that her grandfather has a serious disease which travels with heredity, so what if? The matter was closed and she accepted the rejection without much thought.

He, got engaged to a girl, and broke off the engagement just in a few weeks’ time, when he eventually found out that the girl was obsessed and mentally unstable. (I don’t care what happened with him then, and what is true and what is not true.)

Oh, this arranged marriage thing!!!

Somehow, these two bumped into each other again, and he asked for her hand, again! This time, forgetting his own reason of not wanting to marry her.

This girl, of course she has some self-respect, she did not want to marry him now. I totally respect her decision on this. But her parents did not; at least that’s what I think. She said no – her mother agreed- her father thought otherwise. He tried to change her decision, she still was hesitant. So his father talked to his brother, her uncle, and now even he was pestering her.

What he said to her was extreme, and that is what is most fuming me.

He said, “You are of age now, and it is high time you get married, you are age is passing, and since you are manglik, I think you should change your mind, and accept his offer. Your luck isn’t that good either, so what do you think?” (This is the exact literal translation from the person who heard it first-hand.)

Like, seriously? You have the right to say that? And you could really listen to that?

She agreed to meet him again, saying that she will say ‘yes’ only if she thinks she likes him. But I knew her decision even before she knew it. I knew she would agree to them, her uncle had hurt her so bad, making it all her fault, I knew she would say yes.

And the night before, her mother called us that she is getting engaged to the same man now. She said that she really liked the boy, and is not saying yes under any pressure. She said she is happy.

I know she isn’t. I want myself to be 1000% wrong here, I want to know that what she said was the truth, that there was no pressure, but there is no way I can know that now. I just hope that she is happy with her decision, and need not regret it later. She is like an elder sister to me, the one which I never had. She has been with me through thick and thin, whenever I needed her, and all I can do for her is hope that she stays happy? I am guilty at myself, and angry at the person who filled her ears with such negativity about herself.

My mother thinks it’s her fault, for not putting her foot down. But no one understands that she was brought up like this, in a conservative home, where girls were told what to do, and live in a specified manner. And she has been moulded into a person that she is now, from a very small town, with the concept that girls are meant to do certain things, that you should not talk up to elders, that there is a certain age for everything, and all other usual norms. Sure she could have said something, before and even now, but who listened? She did say no, once, but who listened? Instead she heard some really piercing words that demeaned her. She was so broken that she just gave in, and people think that it’s her fault. Not everyone can remain strong, after listening to such things.

I don’t know what to say, I just feel or rather I just wish that I could have helped her, at least I could have been with her. But I am very far away, in a separate state altogether. And all I can do for her now is hope that she does not regret her decision, that she did say a ‘yes’ only because she liked him and for no other reason.

PS: Really not feeling good about discussing her problems here, but I don’t know who else would listen? I am sorry for violating her privacy like, I truly am. And I am dead scared for her reading it, I am just hoping that she is busy enough, not to read it.