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.
Simran’s story is probably one we all relate to, and yet it’s one that questions everything society considers right and wrong. At the end of this tale, you, like me, might wonder how long does Simran have to pay for the one mistake of judgement made at an age where we don’t know what judgement even means.
Simran was brought up in a strict household like most of us of that generation. Those were the values our parents lived by so this was no surprise. But it was also an environment where a girl talking or meeting a boy was frowned upon and instantly everyone surmised they were “up to no good”. And so Simran went from childhood to teens without any normal friendly interactions with any boys, in spite of studying in a co-educational school. Her father worked outside the country, and her sister was already married and settled outside the country as well. Her social circle was limited to a few school friends and her mother.
And so when, during the course of a tuition at a friend’s place, the friend’s brother showed some interest in her, she was drawn to him like a fly to honey. Admittedly for a teenager, he had the makings of a perfect man. He was what the 80s dubbed a macho man, all brawn and though she couldn’t see it at the time, no brain. He was over-protective, took over all the decisions, making her feel like she could float through life without a care in the world. She would be protected under his male prowess. Romantic, she thought. Controlling, he knew.
By the time she had finished school and moved on to college, he had proposed to her. And her immediate answer to him was – let me ask my mother. But something stopped her from doing that. Fate? Who knows! Maybe if she had, she would have had to deal with months of parting rather than years of horror. But life inexorably leads us sometimes to dark places, places we wished we never went to. Doors we wish we had never opened.
And so unknown to her mother or anyone else, their relationship grew deeper and stronger. He was everything a girl would want in a boyfriend. Attentive, ready to do anything for her. By this time he was also in college, in another town but they would correspond through letters, which were delivered to a post office box which one of her friends would faithfully check every few days and be the courier for them to communicate without getting caught.
The one saving grace of this period of Simran’s life was that she didn’t let her love life interfere with her studies. She was a top ranking student and worked hard at her scores. And so her mother could be nothing but proud of her daughter, not suspecting the double life that her daughter was leading by now.
Things came to a head when her cousins saw the two of them lost in each other, and reported what they saw to her mother. Her mother searched her bag, and found one of his love letters. That was when all hell broke loose. Her father arrived at the scene and for a while, her parents even considered locking her up at home. She had turned into a rebellious woman, fighting for her love and her life. When she thinks back today, she cannot explain what came over her and why she fought her parents like she did. She even threatened to commit suicide and attempted to slash her wrists to prove how serious she was about the relationship. For the first time in her life, Simran’s father raised his hand and gave her a sound spanking with a belt. Even this did not deter her. If anything it made her more determined to marry him and make a life with him.
She was in the final year of her studies and being the student that she was, her parents did not want to jeopardise her education. An uneasy truce was formed and she found herself being monitored closely by both parents, but she could attend her classes. Eventually it was time for her final examinations. The boy was aware of all the drama that had ensued in her house. They both knew her parents would not let her so much as step out of the house once her exams were over. And so with some degree of planning and with the help of friends, the two of them got married in court.
As expected, Simran was cloistered in her home as soon as the exams were over. And a few months later when her parents inevitably began the process of looking for the ideal groom for her, she had to come clean and let them know she was already married. Simran and her husband were already prepared for this eventuality too, and she walked out of the house and shifted to an accommodation that he had already arranged, as he too had to tell his parents about his marriage and his bride. These were still the days Simran felt enveloped in love and bliss, the few happy days of her life where she felt strong enough to fight with anything and anyone for his love. She found a job and continued to live in a small apartment, he would visit whenever he could take time off from work and spend time with her. It was a blissful existence but very short lived.
Eventually he spoke to his parents and they both were married once again formally. Things slowly began to unravel year after year once they were married. What she had mistaken for romance now came to the fore in a full-blown form of control. He decided everything to do with their life. She was neither consulted nor taken into account for a single decision made, whether it was to do with her own choices of work, or what curtains to put up in the house. Slowly she began to lose interest in her life and simply went through the motions. Struggling to establish a common channel of communication and failing miserably at it, she found herself going further and further away from him emotionally.
Simran always wanted to adopt a baby rather than have one of her own. This was her way of giving a child a new life, a new hope and she was very eager to do this. Her wish was not only turned down, it wasn’t even discussed. The theme of her marriage was slowly turning into “my way or the highway”. The highway was closed to her as far as she was concerned. She had rebelled against perfectly wonderful parents to marry this man and live her life with him. She would not cause them any more pain by sharing what she was going through or end the marriage and cause them more grief. And so she continued in what cannot be described as a marriage. It was the one-man show of a control freak, where she was the hapless puppet on a string, able to move only in the direction he moved.
A few years into their marriage she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. His first action of that night was to go out and get punch drunk with a bunch of friends because it had all been too stressful for him to handle. The fact that she was the one who went through months of childbearing and hours of labour was completely ignored. That night she got up from her bed because she was completely alone with no one to help to even get a glass of water. She was so weak from the delivery that she fainted and lay abandoned on the floor until a nurse came to check on her. When he came to know about this, all he had to say was why did she try to get up when she was that weak?
Back home after the delivery, Simran had to go back to work soon and hired a maid to help with the baby and the housework. Simran was in a high pressure job and often worked long hours. The maid was a real help. And Simran probably gave her more freedom than a housemaid should be given. Soon enough she came home to scenes of her husband and her maid deep in conversation like long-lost friends.
Being the control freak that he was, the maid was also witness to him forever suspecting his wife of having an affair. She had never cheated on him or so much as talked to another man since their marriage. But his sick mind would make up imaginary situations and every day she would be questioned, tortured into admitting she was sleeping with other men. On the other hand, just before the birth of their son he was very intimately involved with his secretary but would never admit to anything more than a friendly concern.
He had also decided that he wanted only one child and no more. But he also did not want to practice any means of contraception. He had no intention of slowing down his sex life either, and forced Simran to undergo an abortion. Not once, not twice, but thrice in her life. While he prayed for forgiveness and got over these abortions, Simran struggles with the enormity of her actions to this day. These children will forever be a mark on her soul that she will take to her grave.
But fate was not yet done with her. For standing at the crossroads of life, fate brought her in contact with the man who, had she met earlier in life, would have been her soulmate.
Illustrated by Dr. Anisha Kumar ( Visit https://ignitingmypassion.wordpress.com/)