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An Ever Happening Story

By Madhavi Chintakunta

As I drove out of the apartment complex I called my manager, imitating a heavy tired voice told him that I am sick and will not be coming to the office. I need to give it half an hour at least to take effect is my calculation. A kind of adrenalin was carrying me along, I drove around on the near empty early morning roads for 10 minutes and came to a temple. ‘Might as well take the divine blessings’ I thought and got down from the car, religion is more a habit than a belief for me. I went in and sat down contemplating the next course of actions, after 10min gave a call to my MIL (mother-in-law). I asked her what the kids were doing and what their Dad was at, she answered saying kids were still sleeping and her son too had dropped off on the sofa in the living room, snoring away. I told her to wake the kids up and nudge their Dad a little, so he can go inside into the bedroom and sleep.

I reached home in 15 min after that, my both girls were up and wondering why on a holiday they were woken up early. I told then that we are going to their Grandparents home, elder one immediately understood that this was going to be a permanent move or maybe a long time one. The younger one started crying, so had to cajole her saying that her Grandma has made her favorite breakfast and is waiting for her. We had to hurry, or the effect of the two tiny sleeping pills that I had mixed in his coffee will wear off and the scenes that I was hoping to avoid will erupt on us. I gave a hug to my Mother-in-law and carried the already packed bags down to the car, I took my small Suzuki swift leaving his favorite Toyota-Innova for him.

Driving to my parent’s house, I was excited and scared at the same time. I knew in my heart that this separation is going to be permanent. After 13 years of marriage, and few years of dating before that I am calling it quits. Really not so proud of the reasons behind, I always wanted to be different from others, not go on the beaten track. The same old litany of, alcoholism, abuse – physical and emotional, ego, and above all inferiority complexes did us in. The dreamy, ideals worshipping, happy go lucky girl got married to a controlling, narcissistic guy. My mum later joked with me, ‘that guy gave you few books and took you to some art movies, and that’s it, you fell for him’, well, he did stand in queue for The Harry potter books and our first movie together was a Polish movie in a movie festival going on at that time. What can I say? when you grow up in a hard-core masala movie loving, literature allergic family, that guy would seem like an answer to your prayers, right? And specially when the so-called arranged marriages did not seem so great (you get my point, don’t you?)

Girls, in our families are protected, we dint get to date several guys and decide who is not for us (elimination process is best way to decide, if you know what you don’t want, you will get to what you want 😊), and just so we don’t have high hopes, we are never told we are beautiful and intelligent. So for many years I had this idea, that only people who look like movie stars have a love-marriage (Haha) and yet I said NO to this guy when he proposed to me in a letter (how quaint and romantic, but by then I had sworn off marriage, I was confident that I’m no film star material, and arranged marriage was anathema to me). But he was not the backing guy, he is the one who loved Sun-tzu, so yeah ,the tactics changed. ‘Friends?’ He said, Idiot that I was, felt sad for him and accepted. And so, the friendship went on for more than two years, in the meanwhile he was always at my side, working on my defenses, and when he popped the question again, he gave me the ultimate logic too. ‘You can’t get away with not getting married, your best bet is me, for I know you well, and our relationship can be as you want it to be’, really, that decided it.

After that, my most debilitating quality took over – loyalty, I became attached to the idea of ‘us’ and closed my eyes and brain to all his short comings, (majorly his cynicism, negative attitude and his anger), I fought my way through the clutter of caste, class, age, family oppositions to get married. My Dad too was complicit in aiding me here, naïve bloke that he was then, believed in his daughters’ choice (well, how wrong can a guy be really? Was his thinking, frankly, he never heard of narcissism). Between us, we utterly, butter-ly ruined the best years of my life. Let’s not forget the role culture played, girls in our country, once committed, are to stand by the guy, they have to move heaven and hell to make the marriage work, like Savitri – the dedicated wife who fought with Yama for her drunk, adulterous husbands’ life. I did not go to that extreme extent, I only visited a psychiatrist, to ‘understand’ this drunk, abusive husband of mine. That poor doctor did not know what to do with me, this logic prone female sitting across her table thinking aloud what and where she went wrong. In the end, she prescribed medicines for him, which in a fit of frustration at his drinking, I took en-masse’. Nothing happened, they were mild blood pressure and sleeping pills, he gave me one slap to get me out of the stupor and that was that with the psychiatrist.

I dragged my feet for a long time, may be my dreamy nature was insulating me and made it bearable day after day. Alarm bells started ringing as the kids were growing up and the mental abuse was getting stronger. When my 7yr old daughter was sitting at the table till 1am in the morning seeing her father drink and talk and be abusive, I decided the ending was near. One particular morning after a particularly bad night before, I stood up to him, and laid out that its his last chance to clean up or he won’t have a family. Stupid fool of a guy that he was, ranted and challenged, ‘You think you can survive without me? You are good for nothing, you are a naïve fool who will be exploited thoroughly and will fall by the wayside’. It was so grand, his eloquence and his gesture of holding me by the throat while he was delivering it, believe me it was super grand, considering that I had a job, properties (from my family side) were in my name, while he had nothing. And that day, I started planning my escape, good plan too, slowly taking from him my cards, all our passports, locker keys, documents, and files, getting them one by one to my parents’ home which was few miles away. Finally, as the school exams ended, I made my escape. The mixing of sleeping pills was a panic thing, did not expect him to wake up early 😊.

As I turned the car into the gate and parked it, my sister came to help the kids get down, couple of years older to me, she had come to help with our adjustment. New paths open up as you take those first hesitant steps into the hither to unventured roads. Those are going to be bumpy, unpaved and may even be full of detours, yet those roads will take you to your true self again. The layers of adjustments that I had put on to keep going in that hell hole will now start coming off, I started to feel light already.

By Madhavi Chintakunta

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