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.
Schools of thought that believe in the concept of rebirth will tell you that the struggles of your present life are the result of your past life karma, for which you are paying in the present life. Too bad the banks do not offer this facility of payback in the next birth.
One thing is clear, though. For the antagonist, it is so convenient to blame past the victim’s lives than self-reflect on their own behaviour. It is the ultimate fatalistic view, one that tends to absolve your tormentor of all blame.
When I first interacted with Bhargavi, she came across to be a wonderful, bubbly personality. Her ready wit and funny one-liners always brought a smile to my face, many a time reducing me to helpless giggles with tears streaming down my eyes. What I didn’t know at the time, was how much pain she had gone through in life, to be able to finally, freely, laugh and be merry.
Bhargavi was born into a joint family. Her parents and the rest of the family were migrants from their native village to a large bustling city, struggling to try their luck in the big metropolis they now called home. Migration from a village life to a busy city life often comes with its own pressures. Some welcome the pressure, challenge themselves to work hard and make a life for themselves. Some give up and turn to drinking, gambling and such other vices to take the edge off.
The demands of a joint family and providing for all family members proved to be one too many responsibilities for Bhargavi’s father who soon turned into an alcoholic. To make matters worse he was fifteen years senior to his wife. Add to this the undercurrents of emotions, politics, misunderstandings and disagreements that inevitably accompany a joint family, he preferred to be in absentia for days at a stretch. His priorities were very clear. He provided for his parents, brothers and sisters. And whatever was left after his savings he spent on alcohol. His wife did not form part of this life equation. It was into this environment that Bhargavi was born.
Thinking back today, Bhargavi doesn’t recall a moment of affection, attention or love from her father. In fact, he never spoke to her or showed any interest in life.
While his brothers and sisters slowly separated from the joint family to pursue careers and lives abroad, Bhargavi’s father’s one redeeming quality was that he was the only one who remained till the end to take care of his aging parents. He was a man of contradictions, on the one hand he took care of his siblings and parents. But on the other his own wife and daughter were nowhere in his focus.
Bhargavi’s mother quickly realised she had to step up and be the mother and the father to her daughter, if she was to be educated and make a life for herself. The timid, shy woman by nature turned into a strong, powerful presence. With the help of her own relatives who lent their support, Bhargavi’s mother managed to bring her family out of that joint family environment into a separate home. She then proceeded to make South Indian savoury and sweet snacks at home and selling them to the local community who were mostly South Indian and welcomed the availability of homemade, quality foodstuff.
She then expanded her homegrown business to include creche services for children of working parents. As an additional service, she served the children nutritious breakfast which was a big relief for working parents and slowly she made a name for herself, while also ensuring a regular income came into the house and took care of Bhargavi’s education and other needs.
A younger brother was born to Bhargavi, seven years after they moved into their new home. But the family wasn’t still out of their troubles. Although Bhargavi’s father had agreed to a separate home, he had not been able to kick his drinking habit and Bhargavi’s mother had to often be alert to ensure the children under her care never came into contact with him when he arrived home reeking of alcohol, often shouting and abusing her mother loudly. Bhargavi’s mother would quickly lock him up in the bedroom, keenly aware of the responsibility entrusted to her with all these children under her care.
When a child grows up in an environment filled with hate, abuse, and vices, survival instincts take over and the child often becomes quiet, reserved and turns inward. Perhaps this is nature’s way to help the child survive the worst until they are old enough to figure things out better on their own.
It was no different for Bhargavi. She was so quiet and reserved during her school and college days that most of her batchmates don’t even remember her today. She kept to herself, made no friends and basically attempted to survive amid the stormy environment of her home. Her study books became her friends and she excelled in her examinations.
All this changed in senior college when she finally began to open up a little bit and made some friends. This sudden onset of freedom after years of repressed life caused Bhargavi to completely lose interest in her studies. Many of her friends had boyfriends by then and she was often called upon to cover for them while they went out on dates with their boyfriends. She was part of a generation where parents had little or no tolerance for dating or marrying a person of your own choice and so these cover-ups were quite necessary.
In spite of all these distractions, Bhargavi managed to graduate and landed a job in a government office as a typist. For the first time in her life, she discovered warm and understanding people and was touched. Her colleagues were a great source of support.
But there is always a rotten apple in every basket. And one was about to enter Bhargavi’s life.
Author’s Note: Bhargavi’s story continues here
Illustrated by Dr. Anisha Kumar ( Visit https://ignitingmypassion.wordpress.com/)