As I took my marriage vows in the House of God, my glittery white wedding gown sparkling in the sun seemed like a symbol of my bright future with the man of my dreams. I looked into his passionate dark eyes, and realized that once again, I had succeeded, gotten what I wanted. No one had ever been able to come in my way ever, and now that I was married to Jai, looked like no one could. Not even my parents. My parents didn’t even know Jai well. I do believe in the whole ‘mothers instinct’ thing, but things were different in this case. All they knew was what they had heard from people, namely Jai’s ex-wife and her mother.
And of course they’d be biased, after a broken engagement, who wouldn’t? Jai’s ex wife kept making up stories about how violent Jai got when he was drunk, I didn’t believe her, partly because I didn’t want to, but another part of me sub consciously filed these ‘fables’ in my memory. Mom kept insisting that she had a ‘bad feeling’ about him, “If he’s left her for you, what guarantee do you have that he wont leave you for some one else? ” But it wasn’t that way, my parents wouldn’t understand. Jai needed a life partner. His wife couldn’t be his companion. I was everything she wasn’t.
She was a slave, more like a machine who just bounced off his ideas to him. Obviously he’d be bored. I also thought that another reason was the fact that I wanted to marry by choice, and not have it arranged like her and Pa, and all the other ‘happy couples’ in the world. Well, so what if Jai had fooled around in the past, or gotten into jail a few times just for small time drug dealing? That didn’t make him a criminal, and it certainly didn’t make me change my mind about his wonderful personality. That was his past, and at the time, I was his present, and that was all that mattered.
Things started shaping up just the way I knew they would, Jai was still the exotic, tall, handsome man, with flashing eyes and a sharp mind. Nothing had changed after marriage; he still loved me with the same passion tinged with possessiveness, and he still treated me with the same respect and dignity as a gentleman, I was grateful because that was something very uncommon in the society I lived in. We shared the same interest in everything: religion, politics, and even video games. I was his companion, his equal partner, I was sure Jai would keep me happy all my life.
Soon Jai got a job as an agent for a company, and it was a good job with a steady income, so I didn’t mind the fact that he had to be in and out of town. Pa got us a nice apartment in a friendly neighborhood, till we could afford to pay our own rent. A few months down the line Jai had gone to Singapore for some business, and while he was away, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was thrilled beyond measure, all my parents’ fears of me being unable to live a decent respectable life with a man like Jai were dismissed. My dreams were coming true; I would soon be a respected wife and mother.
I thought I’d wait for Jai to return, and then surprise him. But Jai returned a little earlier than expected, hearing of my pregnancy from a family friend in Singapore. The night he returned didn’t turn out to be quite as I thought it would. He came home drunk, and I was at my mother’s house when he returned, and was livid to find me out of the house without his permission. That night, when I returned home, I found him on his rocking chair, awaiting my return. The first thing he said to me struck me like a lightening bolt, ” I should’ve listened to them when they told me about you.
You’re finally showing your true colors aren’t you? ” I didn’t know whom he meant by ‘them’, but I was shocked by the bitterness and sharpness of his tone and could only manage to mumble a feeble “huh? ” “Don’t pretend! There’s no need to, I know you were with Philip, and I know what you’ve been doing the past few months while I’ve been out of town,” His breath reeked of alcohol, and his words were slurred, and bitter with contempt, “You think I’m dumb huh? Huh? You think I haven’t noticed you’re interest in him? And I know that you’re carrying proof of that.. ” Philip was our young, vibrant next-door neighbor.
He was quite a good looking, charming boy and I had mentioned it to Jai a couple of times. I noticed that he didn’t seem too pleased about it, but I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that he would ever suspect me of being unfaithful to him. Jai went on to call me a string of demeaning nasty names, but my mind was blank. I was weak as it was, and the shock was too much for me to bear. He got up slowly and walked towards me, stopping a few inches away from me, ” Where did you go? “. I opened my mouth to speak, but my throat was parched, and no words could be formed.
After what seemed like eternity I uttered “Ma’s house”. His eyes bore into me like needles, and suddenly he struck me screaming “LIAR! If you aren’t hiding anything from me then why are you so scared! ” His eyes were bulging out of his sockets, and his breathing grew heavier, suddenly he caught me by my hair and flung me onto the couch. As he slapped me repeatedly, I fought to stifle my screams lest the neighbors heard; he then caught hold of my long auburn tresses and dragged me onto the floor, then lifted me and hit my head against the wall again and again and again. His fury was sated.
I couldn’t keep track of anything that happened after that, I just remember excruciating pain in my head, and then I went numb and blacked out. I woke up to find myself on my bed, Jai was by my side holding my hand, my head still spun, and it took me a while to recollect the events of the previous night. Jai sat with his head bowed. He whispered an apology to me, I was too weak to show any signs of acceptance, and then suddenly he started sobbing, “I can’t believe I did this to you. I’m so sorry, I must’ve been possessed by an evil spirit. Please forgive me. I love you. I beg for forgiveness.
That wasn’t me. I promise to never raise my hand on you again. I’m sorry Jyoti, please forgive me. ” I was scared. I didn’t entirely believe him, but something inside me wanted to believe his every word. I knew my Jai, last night he was sick, he was drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing. Maybe I believed him only because I knew that I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back to my parents, because my ego wouldn’t let me, nor could I let them know the torture and humiliation I had been subjected to, because I wasn’t used to being proved wrong. I didn’t want them to know that they had been right.
So I stayed, I believed what I wanted to believe about him, he was my strength, everything else was perfect, and these were just trivial things that happened sometimes between couples, meant to be forgotten, it was the price I had to pay for my love, my impudence and what the world would see as my victory. After that incident, things were back to normal between us on the outside, but deep down I was scared, I was scared of making any wrong move. I was still not thoroughly convinced that he believed that the child I was carrying was his, because he did pass snide remarks implying that I was unfaithful to him.
For a long time after that I avoided him when he was drunk, I let fear overtake my pride, and soon I let my ego dissolve in front of him. He was my husband, my master, my provider, my everything. It was the price I paid for my image in society. People admired me for being able to live with a man known by his notoriety. They thought that I had reformed him, but that was only in public. At home I slowly began to uncover his darkest secrets. After I gave birth to my baby, Rahul, I stayed at my parents’ house as per the customs of our society.
One night I had to come back to my house to get a few tablets that I left there before. My father offered to drive me there at around 1 in the morning. As I entered the house I heard voices from my bedroom, I decided to go take a look, thinking that maybe Jai had a few of his friends over, and as I walked in, I saw him in bed with another woman. I wasn’t as shocked as I ought to have been; perhaps because deep down inside I knew this was going on, I just hadn’t expected to catch him in the act so soon. As soon as he was aware of my presence he ordered the other woman to leave.
I grabbed this opportunity to have the upper hand. He was the unfaithful one, not me. I started reprimanding him and he kept quiet. I thought that I was winning, he was ashamed, and had been caught in the act. But I made one little mistake. In my rage, I abused him. A clenched jaw and red, bulging eyes looked up at me. He rose and struck me on my face. I knew that my father was waiting outside for me, and under no circumstances would I let my father know, ever. So I ran out to my father, knowing the fate that awaited me the next day. The day I went back home with my baby was awful.
He was drunk when I arrived, and he waited for my parents to leave before he used the events of the other night as a stick to beat me with. Thus the beatings started. Every other night at first, and then everyday for trivial things, like not serving him breakfast on time, not ironing his clothes well, and coming home late, even if I was at my parents’ house. I began to feel like I could trust no one. I lived a schizophrenic existence. The humiliation of not being able to keep my husband happy and falling short of my parents definition of an ideal marriage seemed more frightening than the beatings.
I tried everything I could to keep him in a cheery mood. I eliminated everything that would slightly upset him. I tried to mould my personality to fit him, so that we could live in harmony. Along with my pride there was something else, much more precious to me at stake, my baby Rahul. Even if he never showed much affection towards the baby, Jai had never raised his hand on him, and I tried my best to keep it that way. But it was inevitable. I knew that Jai had a suspicion that the baby wasn’t his.
One morning as I woke up to Rahul’s cries, Jai was getting dressed for work, and he had not attended to the baby, but I could see that the baby’s wails were increasingly annoying him. I knew that if I didn’t do something to stop Rahul from crying, he too would be subjected to his father’s evil. Jai probably saw my fear for my baby in my eyes, and decided to taunt me with it. He commanded me to leave Rahul alone, and ordered the baby to shut up. At this point, I knew that I had to try and save my most precious asset, and I ignored his command and reached out for my child. Jai caught my hair and dragged me away from him.
I was powerless to resist. I could only pray to the Lord. Rahul’s wails got louder when he saw the brutality of the scene. Jai left my hair and reached for the baby’s neck, almost chocking him to death, his eyes bulged with fear and I knew that he would soon turn blue. An eternity passed before me, until I was suddenly overcome by strength so great, I can now say that it was the strength of the Lord. The strength he had given me, to save my baby. I spotted my heavy rot iron lamp on my bedside; I lifted it with all my strength and brought it crashing down at the back of his head. He fell on the floor with a thud.