The faraway look of desolation was difficult to miss when I meet you after a hiatus. We are sitting face to face after a decade. You are chatty, you laugh at my jokes while we reminisce the days gone by with nostalgia peeping in from all nooks and corners. But, I could gauge that something is awry behind your premeditated mannerisms. You are not the same girl who broke into uproarious squeals of laughter at the drop of a hat. You have changed. For a moment I think that the travails of time have transformed you. Time moulds and reshapes our very being and we stand staring at our new selves that stare at us across the mirror each morning. May be you too fell prey to the clutches of Time.
You are a wife now, a mother to a two year old child. As I ask you about the little girl of yours, there is a glimmer in your eyes. And just like that I find my friend. You go on talking animatedly about your little bundle of joy like a child who has suddenly found himself in a toy shop. Then in a blink of an eye, you look glum again. You constantly check your watch and you jump with a start only to tell me that it is time to head home. I make a mental note to call you the next day as I find you eerily distant.
The next day as you pick my call, I sense something in your voice. Is it fear? You sound afraid of something. I beseech you to confide in me, but you are too shaken up to concede. I rush to be with you as I know you need me. As you open the door of your apartment in that posh building, I am stunned. You are bruised and you are not at all like the woman I met a couple of days ago. As I comfort you, you break down. Tears give way to shrieks of pain and misery which were buried deep down in the chasms of your heart. Yes, my apprehensions were not baseless. You are a victim of domestic violence. You had been suffering abuse since the day you were married. The perpetrator of this heinous act is the father of your child. I look at you questioningly as to why you have been enduring the pain. Your silence tells me the answer as you look at your two year old girl who is building blocks at a distance, oblivious to the fact that her mother’s abode has stumbled and shattered into pieces long ago.
You are wretched, you are lonely and you are scarred. But, you are the same woman who not many years ago, was elected Vice President of the College Council. And how can I forget when you stood up for one of our friends who was groped by a pervert in a city bus. No, I refuse to perceive you as a meek woman who does not have the courage to stand against wrong. You have to be a role model for your little girl not by bearing and becoming a sacrificial lamb in this patriarchal society but by standing up for yourself.
As you listen to me, fresh tears well up in your eyes. The trauma and fear which had hitherto stopped you from taking a step forward dwindle slowly but steadily. May be you had the strength within you all along. May be we all do. There are many such women who lead dual lives and are victimized. I hope and pray that may each of these women find the courage to rise from the throes of fear and subjugation. But, at times we need an anchor, we need someone to give us that little nudge which leads us towards the path to freedom and happiness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we look around and be that anchor for someone who needs us?
# This post has been written as a part of the Blogathon #ALettertoHer by Women’s Web to create awareness about domestic violence.
# I am looking forward to read Meena Kandasamy’s new book bit.ly/Meenabk2 as it is time we come out in the open and talk about domestic abuse since it is embedded deep in our society.