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.
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Bhoomija is another name for Goddess Sita, and it means “born from the earth”. Our newest women with spunk who I choose to call Bhoomija was not born from the earth but her emotions and life were trampled upon with such viciousness that it felt like someone being crushed into the earth to suit someone else’s purposes. More importantly, from that rock bottom, Bhoomija rose as if born from the very Earth and transformed herself into what she is today – a strong, confident woman who doesn’t let anyone walk over her.
I am honoured to be chosen to tell her story. This one is for all those Bhoomijas out there who are yet to rise from that earth into which they have been pushed, and claim their rightful place in this universe.
Bhoomija was born into a typical Indian middle class family and led a typical Indian middle class life. Hers was a small and happy family of four – mother, father, Bhoomija and her younger sister. While her father worked in a financial institution, her mother was a housewife. Bhoomija was a very shy child. Her interests lay not in her schoolbooks but in creative pursuits. Her father however, did not approve of what he felt were outlandish day dreams and Bhoomija had to firmly ground herself to reality and choose a more affordable and practical career path. She studied subjects like economics, marketing and advertising and found to her surprise that she excelled in these subjects.
Bhoomija was eventually gainfully employed in the same field.
There was another undercurrent of developments though in her life, one that no one was aware of. While Bhoomija was studying, she met the love of her life. For the purpose of this story we will call him Ram. Ram entered Bhoomija’s life and shook her world as she knew it. Their love was from now to forever, the kind of everlasting love fairy tales are made of. What they felt for each other was strong and intense. They met when Bhoomija just began her graduate studies and continued to see each other for the next six years. At this point both decided to approach their families and confess their love for each other, they were both ready to take their relationship to the next level and get married. Both were now gainfully employed and slowly building their life and career. It was time.
The reactions from both families were polar opposite. While Bhoomija’s father was open to his daughters finding their own life partners within certain specifications that were clearly communicated to them (incidentally Ram met these specifications), Ram’s parents were vehemently opposed to the union. Both families came from different areas of India. They differed in almost every aspect one could think of – culture, food, language, customs, traditions, even how they celebrated the same festivals. While Bhoomija and Ram were willing to meet halfway and work through these differences, his parents and family could not see past these gaps.
Sad at this outcome but unwilling to end the relationship, Ram and Bhoomija decided to slow things down. Meanwhile as a means to calm everyone down, both told their respective parents that they had decided not to pursue this relationship any further.
A couple of years passed by in this uneasy truce. By this time Ram was in another city and gainfully employed. Bhoomija continued to live in their hometown and was employed too. Ram’s parents decided it was time to find Ram a life partner. Ram’s brother however had a feeling he couldn’t shake off and asked Ram point blank if Bhoomija was still a significant part of his life.
Ram could no longer deny the inexorable attraction Bhoomija and he felt for each other and admitted as much to his brother.
Another volcano erupted, of finger-pointing, emotional upheavals and above all, Ram’s parents’ staunch refusal to even consider the alliance.
Ram’s uncle finally stepped in and settled the matter. He became the voice of reason in Ram’s family and convinced them that going with the flow was in their best interests, lest they lose their son altogether. This observation put things in perspective and Ram’s parents turned the corner.
Both sets of parents met and it was agreed that Ram and Bhoomija would first get engaged and marriage would follow a year later. This would give both families time to get to know each other and further strengthen their relationship.
Ram’s mother suggested Bhoomija spend the weekends at their house. Since Bhoomija worked weekdays, weekends were an opportunity to learn the nuances of Ram’s lifestyle and their culture.
At face value, this sounded like a really good idea and Bhoomija’s family also agreed wholeheartedly. Behind the idea though was an elaborate plan to control and orchestrate every aspect of Ram and Bhoomija’s life.
It started very subtly and very slowly. Ram’s mother slowly cranked up the pressure on Bhoomija and before she knew it, every aspect of her life was dominated and controlled by Ram’s mother.
Ram’s mother began to make decisions for Bhoomija to the level of even her clothing, food and lifestyle. She even decided that Bhoomija would not be allowed to work after she and Ram were married. Slowly but surely, every decision involving Bhoomija’s life was no longer hers to make.
This was the first crossroad in Bhoomija’s life where she now feels she picked the wrong fork in the path. Had she been more assertive at this stage, perhaps things would not have reached the point they did. Once they were married, Ram’s mother even set the parameters around how much time Bhoomija and Ram would spend together and how much privacy they were entitled to.
But Bhoomija was very young and naive and did not understand the depth of control that was being exercised. At her age and level of experience, she really didn’t have anything to compare this behaviour to, and concluded in her naivety that this was perhaps expected of every girl who got married.
An incident happened on the last weekend before their engagement that should have given Bhoomija pause. Even in her naivety she recognised this was not normal or acceptable behaviour.
Weekends had now turned into days where Bhoomija pretty much cooked, cleaned and took care of Ram’s house. For her, it was a labour of love and she put her heart and soul into accepting his family’s lifestyle. Over one particular weekend, Ram’s mother decided to push things even further and gave the house help the weekend off. She then proceeded to ask Bhoomija to mop the floor of the entire house.
Bhoomija had been brought up in a family that doted on her. She realised her own family’s lifestyle left her quite unprepared for this new request and respectfully told Ram’s mother that she wasn’t quite sure how to mop the house. Ram’s mother proceeded to give her a long-winded and passionate lecture on what was expected of her in no uncertain terms. By the end of this tirade, Bhoomija was shaking like a leaf and felt humiliated beyond anything she had ever experienced in her life so far.
Unable to bear the harsh words that were spewed at her in a pure venomous tone with the inappropriate and borderline violent body language to boot, Bhoomija went home and broke down. She had a long talk with her father about everything that happened.
She could see her father’s anger in his eyes but for her sake he remained calm. For the first time since all these developments came around, Bhoomija’s father sat her down and had a long talk about his feelings about Ram’s family and the fact that he continued to have misgivings about the family. Ram’s family hailed from a part of India where over-dominant mother-in-laws and orthodoxy surrounding the conduct and expectations of daughter-in-laws was the norm, not the exception.
Did she really want to sign up for this?
Her father went so far as to say he would support her and stand by her even if she decided to break off the engagement.
Her father counselled that she should speak to Ram about all this and then think carefully and make a decision.
Bhoomija was faced with yet another crossroad in life.
Visit The Bhoomija Story To Access All Parts of this True Story