I remember her dark, large eyes which spoke thousand words. I can still recall her cheerful laugh which greeted us whenever we visited her. My nose is still able to remind that lingering aroma of the hot and delicious ‘Luchi & Aloor Dum’ she offered us. She had the perfect housewife or Grihanee skills imbibed in her soul.
I was barely in my pre teenage days when one of my playmates cum neighbor informed me that ‘Sen Dadu got married again’. Mr. Sen was our retired neighbor who was in his mid-sixties and was widowed couple of years back. With due course of time, we came to see new Mrs. Sen whom we addressed as Sen Dida (A bong way to address grandma). Although Sen Dida in her thirties was too young to be termed as grandma but her relation with Mr.Sen automatically upgraded her position as universal ‘Sen Dida’. Soon, all the neighborhood kids including me became great fan of her. She helped us in our school craft projects with her creativity. She seemed like some angel who was able to transform trash items into splendid craft work. While we visited her place to just sit and watch our art work being made, she sneaked in between to get scrumptious snacks & eatables for us. Those days we were too young to notice any discrepancy in her perfect life other than her thirty years of age gap with her spouse.
Few years passed on, Sen Couple shifted to another locality of the city. We almost lost touch with them. Also, with growing age, I came to know many veiled facts about her gloomy life. Sen Dida was eldest of three daughters of her parents and she lost her father while she was still in her teens. She struggled hard to maintain her studies and started working at an early age to meet the ends of her family. Time flew and she found herself at the threshold of thirties after she was able to marry off her sisters with her meager income. Her mother’s demise instigated her relatives to bundle her off to marry any Tom, Dick or Harry whoever came across their way. They never thought twice before arranging here alliance with a man more than twice her age. She was almost pushed into an unequal, loveless and abusive relationship by the society who thought that without getting married she might remain incomplete in her life!
Mr. Sen was an autocratic, misogynist patriarch who held his bad temper as the alibi to hit her regularly. She tolerated all his atrocities silently and never raised any bleak protest. I saw her again after many years when I went for my tuition classes in her locality. She looked visibly ill. Her blank stare which refused to recognize me cemented the rumor that she had lost her worldly senses because of violence she is subjected to in her house by her husband. I came to know from grapevine that she was never provided any professional medical help by Mr.Sen even after she got badly injured on her head once when he threw a vase on her. She died after few months pathetically struggling for her life while her body refused to recover from the internal bleeding & injuries.
I still wonder why a literate, skilled and jovial human being like her has to suffer throughout her life. I am not merely pointing out here that the domestic violence in her house could have been stopped by timely intervention of neighbors but I am trying to sketch out the deeper reason for the whole scenario.
Why it is important for a female in Indian culture to get married? I mean, she would have led a comfortable, peaceful and above all sane life if she had not been forced into this marriage. She had the skills; she could have done something better to her life on her own rather than subjecting to inhuman torture by her whimsical spouse. Why it was necessary to pass the baton of control to a man through the institution called marriage?
Why was she never able to muster courage to get a divorce? Just because that her parents were not alive, but, I know numerous similar cases where the girl’s parents are alive but always ask their daughter to ‘adjust and compromise’ with their abusive spouses rather getting divorced and being called as ‘Chhodi hui aurat’. You see ‘Getting married & Staying married’ is far more important in Indian society than any individual’s life.
Why was she never able to give back to her psychologically & physically abusive husband? It has been ingrained in our society to consider husband as demigod - Pati parameshwar! A girl child since her birth is made to understand that she belongs to the inferior race of mankind. Her will, her wishes, her dreams, her opinion does not stand anywhere in front of her male counterpart. She is born to exhibit her sacrificing skills.
These questions do compel me to ponder that the violence or atrocities against women can only be eliminated by change of mindset of this Neanderthal society which hides behind the curtain of culture whenever these kinds of happenings takes place. The outlook towards women has to be changed. Society has to accept her individual human being, who is not inferior or stands lower in social pedestal, who has mind of its own, who is able to take decisions of her life.
This is an entry for 'Ring the Bell' initiative in association with Indiblogger.