How are you? You have been too quiet of late, and I thought I would write in to ask if everything was okay.
I know that you will reply that everything is just perfectly fine. You will find excuses in work and family that has kept you so busy of late.
But, You and I both know that there is something amiss.
I recognise that blankness in your eyes. I know too well that pain in your voice even when your words seem to suggest otherwise. I can hear the loud outcries of your heart even though you cry silently in the solitary corner of your home, hidden away from anyone in plain sight. I can easily trace the lines of sorrow along the curve of your brightest smile. I can see clearly those emotional wounds that is hurting your soul. I know your untold story that you try to desperately brush under the carpet.
And, this is exactly why I am writing to you. I hope this letter strikes a chord with you and gives you much hope, strength and courage to open up and make some really tough but right decisions.
So, I am asking you again – ´Is this You, my friend?
- A burden to her own parents and denied all rights to education, proper nutrition and sanitation in the confines of your own home.
- The sister who has to make all the sacrifices for her brothers, owing to male privilege.
- The girl who was trained right from the beginning of her existence on how to be a ´good´ girl – how to behave with men, how to have her head covered and gaze down in front of elders, how to talk in a low tone, how to sit properly (not crosslegged or with legs wide open), not to wear short skirts or show any skin before elders and how to always respect and please your future husband and in-laws.
- The girl who was told that her voice didn´t matter to anyone and her beauty lied in her silence.
- The child who was the mute witness to her father´s misdemeanour towards her mother and hated herself for being helpless in the situation.
- The daughter who was pimped by her own family to get rid of their poverty
- You had to pay a fatal price for loving a boy from another caste, religion or country – either leading to forced marriage or something even more deadly, the family´s honour traded in exchange for your death.
- Your parents finally heaved a huge sigh of relief as they were done with your burdensome responsibility by packing you off to an equally highly cultured family.
- You quickly learn that divorce is simply not an option when you are sent away to your husband´s home, with this everlasting oath that you undertake – ´Teri doli jaa rahi hain, ab wahan se teri arthi hi uthegi´ (Your palanquin is going from our home to your husband´s, now only your coffin frame must leave your inlaws´ and husband´s home)
- You were kicked out of the house by your husband and in-laws in the dead of the night for raising your voice and having an opinion that was against the norms and rules of ´their´ home.
- You are considered ´Parayi´ by your own parents after marriage.
- You are treated very sweetly by your in-laws in front of your husband, their son but have to bear their taunts, threats, hurting words or given the silent treatment by the same in-laws in the absence of your husband, their son.
- Raped or groped by her own family – father, brother, cousin, uncles, husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law. But couldn´t talk openly about it or take any legal action because family´s honour always comes before your own.
- You are body shamed by your family for being – too dark, too skinny, too fat, too ugly, too hairy or too scary !
- You are shamed. Period. Too stupid, too dumb, too uncultured, too modern, too behenji, badly brought up by your parents, badly behaved, too bold, constantly ridiculed for not bringing any or enough dowry as your parents are too cheap and more such insensitive abuses!
- You have no legal property in your name or financial freedom. You are not entitled to your husband´s pocket money or any of his earnings, must give an accountability of all your earnings and spendings to your husband and in-laws, hand over all your earnings to them to decide how they choose to manage it and not permitted to financially help your parents.
- You have no freedom of choice when it comes to work – Forced to work or forced to be a housewife for life!
- You are constantly reminded of your only real purpose and place in life, which is the family and kitchen irrespective of your work status.
- You enjoy no freedom of expression. The woman who is curtailed from dressing as she pleases. The woman who is curtailed for revealing too much on social media or banned from it altogether. The woman who is banned from putting her pictures anywhere online after marriage.
- You cannot venture out on your own without a family escort or have male friends.
- You have to eternally seek the final approval from either your parents, brothers, husband or in-laws.
- You have contemplated and even attempted suicide many times owing to the emotional blows that you have been succumbed to, for not being the perfect homely wife, DIL, mother or woman – a baby-making machine for your husband and in-laws in their vain hope of begetting a male heir, at times, against your own will and at the cost of your health and putting your life to risk.
- The lucky woman who has the most handsome, rich and successful husband but only you know and endure helplessly his passive-aggressive behaviour towards you behind that dubious mask of Prince Charming.
- You are coerced into obeying every command of His Highness and your Master, your husband. Be it as seemingly trivial as submitting all your passwords and informing him of every whereabout while you have no access to any of his passwords or whereabouts. You are emotionally controlled, manipulated and gagged.
- You are torn between the upholding of the family´s honour and well-being and your heart´s outpourings.
- You are always forced to settle for a life that is simply not your choice.
- You are a roaring tigress outside home but a meek pussycat who is shown her true place within the stifling confines of your home by your husband and in-laws.
- The woman who would rather prefer to be in an abusive relationship because it scares her to face and fight lone against the world.
I have news for you, my friend!
We are all scarred and broken! I know, I understand and I empathise because I have been exactly in your spot.
It does not matter if we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, employed or unemployed. We have all been hit by people we call our own within the four domestic walls of ´home horror home´.
We are all victims of some form of domestic violence or the other. Physical or emotional!
While physical scars and wounds can be easily seen and draw attention, sympathy and even justice, what about the emotional hits that leave us all broken and scarred in the deepest cores of our hearts?
Every time that we are told that ´You cannot´ by our own family, remember to hit them back saying ´Oh Yes! I can!´.
But any kind of change begins with the acceptance of reality. We cannot sugarcoat our lives anymore. There is no shame in letting the world know that our lives are far from perfect and we are prisoners in our homes.
You owe it to not just yourself as an individual. But, also to millions of women around the world to shatter this myth of leading a perfectly happy life. When you choose to remain silent about your woes, you are not only letting yourself be hit by one man, but taking down several women along with you in the process as well. Silence is not golden but fatal.
I fully understand all your apprehensions and fears about getting out of your abusive relationship and facing the world all alone by yourself. But, you have to ultimately let go off these same fears and doubts which chain and imprison you far more than all of the abuses that are inflicted on you by your husband and in-laws´. Remember that a bully gets empowered and thrives on the victim´s fears.
Whenever your husband or family tries to pull you down, hold your head high and your resolve even higher. Don´t be naive and mistake slurs, rants or jealousy pangs for love. Seek hard and find that reservoir of huge courage that lies latent within yourself. You are the Shakti, the force. You are incredibly powerful. Don´t let anyone tell you otherwise! Harness that power and positive energy. Strong women intimidate men…and women. Your strength and confidence terrifies them and reminds them of their own weakness. And they will do anything to tear you down. With menacing looks,plotting schemes, snarky remarks, physical blows and stabs. Don´t let them win and get away with it. Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Don´t give them that kind of power or hold upon you. Your victory is important not just for you but the greater cause of truth and justice for humanity. Be that change you want to see around in the world!
If you are still scared to face them alone, remember there are several women and men like me whom you can confide and get support from.
But at the end of the day, only you can answer this question – ´Do you want to save your marriage or yourself?´
Let´s just say – If you had fallen off a boat in the midst of a mighty, turbulent ocean, would you rescue the boat or save your life first? The boat is like your rocky marriage. When both your marriage and you are drowning to death, which one would you reach out to save first?
It is upto you to make that important decision. No one can make it for you. You have to find the strength somehow to do the right thing for yourself. Sometimes, you can save both yourself and the rocky boat in the process. Sometimes, you can just rescue only one while sacrificing the other. In the latter case, please do not end up being the sacrificial goat at the cost of that rocky boat of a marriage. And if you still believe that you can find that elusive balance and maintain your sanity in that rocky boat, good luck with that!
There are so many alternate solutions. Sometimes, leaving is not the only option left and the marriage can indeed be saved by a change of heart and actions by both partners. Sometimes, it is the only option left. If open, respectful and sensible discussions don´t work out with your partners or inmates of your home, then maybe it is time to move on.
Women are not weak, my friend. We have just let our guard down and given away the remote control of our life to another person.
If your life is a motorcar, would you give it to another person to drive it in the reverse gear, steer altogether in the wrong direction, stay stationed at one spot all your life or worse still, lead you to a fatal car crash?
You do not need anyone´s permission to drive your own car and run your own life. You owe no one any explanation about your past, present or future. Your choices are your own. And so is your life!
Remember always – It is your car, your life, your destiny, rules and choices. The car keys ought to be in your hands and the car in your control. You steer your life in the direction that you want to take. You are no one´s puppet to be pulled up constantly by hurting, nagging strings and you do not have to let your life fly by before your own eyes like a dramatic soppy puppet show.
As for the world, let me tell you that this world is as much yours as any man´s. No, it is not a man´s world alone! You are just as much its rightful inhabitant. Own it!
You are strong, beautiful and incredibly talented. Always believe that! Each one of us is blessed with abundant gifts and talents of our own. Let your light shine and spark up the whole world. This world is your stage and you, its star performer. Yes, the hero lies in You!
So, Run, Sing, Dance and Play, my Beautiful!
What are you waiting for? Get in the driver´s seat..NOW!
Have a wonderful, fun-filled and memorable journey ahead!
I am writing a #LettertoHer as part of the Blogathon run by Women’s Web based on the theme ´Domestic Violence´.