Potato syndrome

Submitted into Contest #29 in response to: Write a story about someone dealing with family conflict.... view prompt



It was not easy for my elder brother to provide for all of us. We were seven sisters and two brothers. Having lost our father in India and Pakistan partition riots we shifted to west bengal. My mother, aunt, grandmother all were dependant on our elder brother's megre income. He was just high school pass and had got an ordinary government job . All our relatives and neighbours said we sisters were exceptionally beautiful with slender figure, sharp features and fair skin. In our Indian culture most people desire a fair skined, slim and a beautiful bride. If a girl has the above physical attributes her chances of getting a groom increases many fold. Not only that some people don't expect dowry if the bride is good looking. That doesn't mean that girls who are dark skinned or not good looking enough will not get an eligible groom. This is the common perception. I don't support these kind of mindsets because it makes a girl feel like a commodity and not a person. That's offcourse my personal opinion. But this mindset is still very prevalent in India. My eldest sister was the prettiest among us all and very soon a good proposal came for her. Soon she got married. The groom's family didnot demand anything from us. 'We only want your sister to be our daughter in law. Send her in two sarees. We will be satisfied'said her father in law. Our elder sister got married and our brother in law turned out to be a nice person. My second sister's proposal of marriage came from a rich family. She was also married within a year of our elder sister's marriage.Then my turn came. My husband was a friend of one of my cousin brother.He had nobody except an older brother. Not good looking like my other two brothers in law and much too old for me he was my grandmother's choice for me. My brother wanted to wait to seek better prospect for me but there were other younger sisters to be married off and my brother also had to get married. My marriage took place with pomp and show. After spending a month living in the house of one of my husband's relative I finally went with him to live in Jamshedpur. He was posted there. I had just turned 16 . He was already 33 years old. I remember our first night in the rented house he took me to live . I was feeling nervous. He entered our room.I was sitting on the bed. He said "You should sleep on the floor. I will sleep on the bed" I got down from the bed and made a bed for myself on the floor. I was too young to argue. Then our landLady entered our room and started talking and joking with my husband. They asked me to go to sleep. I saw them sleep on the bed together in front of me. It happened every night. My husband lived with his landlady as husband and wife. I used to keep my eyes tightly shut and put fingers in my ears to stop the sounds from reaching me. You can very well imagine how I must have felt. It was like seeing an adult porn film in reality. Their affair went on for two years. Then my husband got transferred to Ranchi and that affair ended. I was eighteen years old then. I remember our honeymoon if it can be called that. For many Indian couples in my time honeymoon meant going to a holy city and get blessings of GOD before starting the married life. We went to Kamakhya, a famous holy temple city in Assam dedicated to Goddess Durga. Newly wedded couples go to honeymoon after marriage ceremony to know each other better. We went after two years of our marriage. Anyway we were returning from our so called honeymoon and going to Ranchi by train, where his company had recently transferred him when that incident happened. The train jerked and swayed as it hurtled in great speed. I stood up to take out a towel from my bag.The train made a big jerk and I lost my balance and stumbled and fell on my husband. I involuntarily touched his shoulders to steady myself. He slapped me across my face in front of everybody present in that coach. I sat quietly in my place beside him not even daring to cry, lest he slap me again. Obviously I couldn't complain. He was my husband. In those days domestic violence was a word I didnot know. Neither was there any law or awareness about it. I looked out of the window and felt like jumping out of the train.Then I thought of getting down at a station and not return. But what could I do. I had nothing. Modern women with their ideas of feminism can't even imagine what kind of life I lived with that monster beside me. I couldn't talk about my problems. My sisters, my mother and even my aunts refused to help me. Nobody wanted to hear anything against him. I could understand. In a family of fourteen people with only one earning member it was impossible for them to think of accommodating a young divorsee daughter. So everybody gave me advice. Advice to adjust and compromise. They said touching your husband in front of so many unknown people was shameful. Nobody said slapping me, a woman in front of so many people or even behind closed doors was shameful. I could understand they thought i would be a burden on them. After all everything finally boils down to money. And I didn't have any. My new rented flat in Ranchi comprised of a large room which worked both as a bedroom and a living room with an attached kitchen, bathroom and a big open courtyard. It was the first spacious place I got to live after living in a crammed place with 14 people for so many years. I was happy.I could decorate the place to my liking. Physical comfort gives happiness to a certain extent. My two sons were born in that house and grew up there. I remember feeling so happy whenever my husband went away on an official tour. He worked for a medical company as a representative. As he got his promotions his tours became more frequent. It was a blessing for us. Me and my two boys found the space to breath freely without the constant threat of his looming figure on the doorway. I could sleep at night without any pain or slaps. I kept 'Kadwa Chawth' every year because if he died, me and my sons would be on the streets begging for food. At least people called me 'bhabiji' and respected me because of my wife 'tag'. I could wear a 'mangal sutra' and 'sindoor' and bangles that I bought every year during Durga puja festival. I had a way of adjusting to all kind of blows that life threw at me and I made a fantastic job of hidding my wounds. My sons had grown up a little. So I thought of becoming self reliant. I joined a shorthand and typing class where I went everyday. I wanted to do something useful with my life now that the boys were big enough not to need my constant supervision. It was also a way for me to get out of the house on my own without having to answer questions from inquisitive relatives and nosey neighbours. I could do anything in that 1 hour time. My husband thought I would get a job after the training and be able to help with growing family expenses. I didnot know my life was going to change. A man came into my life then. I met him in my shorthand institute and we became instant friends. I had never felt I could talk to a stranger so openly. Years of repression and insults had built up a dam of sorrow and bitterness inside me. Somehow that had burst and I did not want to hold myself back. I didnot care what people would say. I didn't care what my sons would think either. I wanted to live my life for once, whole heartedly. My husband must have suspected something. One day we had an argument. I never argued with my husband. Whatever was said in the family was him saying and me obeying. It was that way. But that day I got the courage to stand up for myself and voice my thoughts aloud. He was dumbstruck. Then he pushed my elder son with such a force that he fell down. Then he went inside the room and banged the door shut on us and locked it from inside. My elder son was preparing for his boards exam. He got a chest pain that lasted for more than a week. I spent the night in the open courtyard with my two sons. Next morning before my husband opened the door I left his home for ever with my two sons beside me. I went to my friend and he opened his door and heart for us. He never asked any questions. He never advised. He helped with my sons' schoolworks and found me a job in a local hotel and stayed beside us like a tower of strength. People spoke about our supposedly immoral relation behind our back and called me a slut and an 'adultress'... but I didn't care. In all my seventeen years of bleak married life nobody came to help me so I didn't think anybody had any right to point fingers at me. As my friend said, "a society which only knows how to throw stones at you but never help don't deserve to be respected and followed." I knew he loved me and I knew I loved him as I had never loved any man in my life. My elder brother was shocked and tried to convince me that I was living a 'life of sin' but for once I didn't listen to him. He never spoke to me ever again till he lived. My sisters moved away from me and cut all ties with me. So much for family love and sacrifices for them. So, for the first time in my life I felt free. Freedom from all that bound me to a life of misery. My friend had a wife in his native village. He had married her at a young age when she was 11 years old and he was 17 years. He had a son with her who looked after the family farming business. He said he had tried to love his wife. But she never reciprocated. She had grown up and lived in a small village all her life and her views were very different from him. "What did I know of marriage at that age? What did she know of marriage at her age?" he said to me. He never got to know his son because his wife never let his son be close to him. He was as lonely as me. Finally we married. Who says second honeymoon can't not fun?

February 20, 2020 09:58

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Ola Hotchpotch
14:22 Feb 27, 2020

Thanks for liking the story. All my stories are personal and thanks for the blessing as well.


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Tim Law
09:10 Feb 27, 2020

Ola thank you for sharing what must be such a personal story. I’m glad the second chance at love has been a better one. Good luck and blessings to you.


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