Author’s Note: Every one of my women with spunk stories are true stories, narrated to me by the women who went through these challenges in life, and overcame them with sheer grit and determination. Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Read Part 1 of Durga’s Story – Here
Durga was shaken up but determined to put this episode behind her. No one had ever raised a hand to hit her until that day. She had never known violence of any sort. Up until then her life had been a sheltered one, and her personality one of pure joy.
That was also the year Durga became familiar with another emotion – grief. Her father had passed away of lung cancer within months of being diagnosed. It was at her most vulnerable time when he entered her life and her mother’s. Durga had only a younger brother as a sibling and he was too young to be of any support yet to the family.
While Durga had updated her mother and grandmother on everything that had happened, he hadn’t been idle either. He had thrown a fit of desperation in his own home, sensing the object of his desire had firmly put herself beyond his reach. He had issued an ultimatum to his parents that he would not marry for the rest of his life unless he married her. His was a joint family with a younger sister and brother, uncles and aunts and above all his grandfather who ruled the house with a firm hand.
One by one, members of his family arrived at Durga’s home and attempted to convince her mother and grandmother of his good qualities, extolling his virtues and painting a rosy picture of the future that awaited her. He came from a very well-to-do family, and lived in a bungalow in a city where even a modest home wiped out the savings of an average family.
For a whole year, a number of his family members visited Durga’s mother and grandmother, each one pleading with them to convince Durga to reconsider her decision. The pinnacle of this pleading concluded with his grandfather coming to their home and laying his very dignity at her mother’s feet.
Whether it was their persistence, or their affluence, or the grandfather’s impassioned plea that made Durga’s mother reconsider her stand, we will never know. But soon Durga found herself in the middle of discussions between both families. The only good that came out of these discussions was her grandmother’s insistence that she would agree to the alliance only if they allowed Durga to complete her studies.
Preparations for the engagement ceremony soon began and while Durga knew what a monster he was capable of being, all through the discussions and the ceremony, he showed only love and concern for her. Even her mother and grandmother were finally convinced they had found the right family and the right boy for their precious jewel, their Durga.
Men who resort to any kind of spouse abuse also resort to smart and downright diabolical tactics to keep this fact unknown to anyone else but the one being abused. Within a week of the engagement, the violence began again. A sharp jab, a pull here, a pinch there. All subtle reminders to Durga on who was in control. All meant to keep her “in her place”, wherever that was in his sick mind. His vocabulary of verbal abuse was also vast, and he never tired of calling her lewd names which no woman should have to hear uttered by her spouse. She tried telling her mother about these signs that all was not right, but he had everyone convinced he was a steal and all her words fell on deaf ears.
Soon her engineering studies came to an end, and the marriage was fixed for six months later. Durga resigned herself to accepting what awaited her and put on a happy face for the sake of the family. She didn’t have to wait too long to find out what sort of future he had planned with her. Life as she knew it was over before it had even started.
The wedding day for any woman is one of the most special days of her life. It is the day you make a lifetime commitment of love, honour, understanding and togetherness. It is the day your mind is filled with happiness and hope for the future, you want to take every effort to look like the world’s prettiest woman, and you want to remember every minute of it as a lifetime keepsake.
But for Durga, the marriage altar beckoned to her like a knife beckons a sacrificial lamb. She knew she was not entering into a life of love. It was more like a lifetime sentence of torture and fear. But no one believed her, and she was left with no choice but no put one foot in front of the other and go through the motions of what is supposed to be a marriage.
The married couple settled down to their first meal together, and it is usual for photographers to request the newlyweds to lovingly gaze into each others’ eyes and feed each other morsels of food, smiling, talking and enjoying the moment. He did all that, but shoved the spoon sharply in her mouth, hitting her teeth and beginning her journey of pain, all the time smiling for the benefit of the photographers, the warning implicit in his behaviour that she better smile too. And she learnt the first lesson – how to hide her pain and keep smiling like all is well with the world around her.
Soon it was time for the marriage nuptials, the night that couples look forward to solemnize their relationship physically, mentally, in every possible way to become one with each other and be in sync for the rest of their life. As is custom, his cousins had decorated their bedroom, and waited to tease the newlyweds and prolong their separation. They sat with Durga, teasing her and making her smile for the first time in the entire day, probably the entire year when he entered and tersely ordered them out. Sensing his mood, they left without a word.
He looked at her in disgust, and the words that came out of his mouth were even more disgusting. The one year she had held off getting married to him had cost her more than she knew. He spewed pure poison from his mouth, declaring himself damaged because of her, blaming her for ruining his life, and that he could have married anyone but he married her. She was about to stand up and ask him exactly why he married her then, but she didn’t have a chance. He dragged her off the beautifully decorated nuptial bed. And proceeded to hit her repeatedly with a belt until she passed out.
For years, Durga was subjected to physical, mental and verbal torture. Although they lived in a joint family, he operated so smartly that not a single family member suspected what went on behind those closed doors. He did not attempt anything sexual with her, it was his way of making her feel like she did not deserve any happiness or pleasure. It was probably a blessing in disguise; the only sexual interaction his sick mind could have come up with would have been rape. At least, she was spared that particular brand of pain and humiliation.
After three years and a particularly painful beating, Durga went to her in-laws and told them what was happening on a daily basis. What followed was a string of visits to sexologists and psychiatrists. For Durga, not for him. His parents were convinced there was something wrong with their daughter-in-law, and their son was picture perfect in their eyes.
The absence of sexual relations encouraged all his aunts to speak to her about how she should seduce him, how she should dress, how she should conduct herself so he’s attracted to him. It would have been the most comical experience of her life, if it was not for the circumstances of these discussions.
Apart from a couple of instances of peace in Durga’s life, this string of tortures continued. Her abuser got more and more creative over the years. His abuse kept escalating to new heights. And Durga silently bore it all.
For eleven years.
Author’s Note: Durga’s story concludes in Part 3
Illustrated By – Dr Anisha Kumar (Visit https://ignitingmypassion.wordpress.com/)