There is a custom where the newly wed couple is invited by the relatives to their homes. It’s meant to help the bride get a chance to know her new family better. On all those occasions, I was forced to have a loud make-up (very deep tone of blusher on my cheeks, dark lipstick, a big bindi, and bangles just short of the elbow, etc.) and keep a pallu covering the forehead.
I am an educated girl who knew how to dress well, but all this was way beyond my comfortable liking. The result, my MIL would herself do the final touch-up before we went anywhere and my opposition would be dealt with angry notes by my husband. While at the relatives place, my husband would make sure to stay at least ten feet away from me. According to him, sitting with his wife would make his family pronounce him a ‘joru ka gulam’.
I wasn’t allowed to talk to my parents and when I did it had to be on the land-line. My MIL or FIL would overhear the conversation from the phone instrument in other room. I was aware of this fact so I never tried to tell my parents anything while on phone. Though my parents did get doubtful the way I used to avoid answering any direct question about my well-being or how everyone treated me and the like.
Then came the time when I moved to my new home with all my belongings (sarees, gold,etc.). The issue of bringing gold along didn’t end at that, but instead, my husband had made it a staple topic of argument everytime he was in a bad mood. The first weekend after he resumed his work overseas, we fought for nearly the whole evening and I cried the whole night. It took me a long while to settle in this new place. The reason being, my husband didn’t like me wearing any kind of Indian clothes, ever utter even a single word in Hindi while not at home and order for non-Indian food at all times (according to the food ordered by people in our company). The same man who wanted me to wear a saree all the time I was in India, changed the minute he stepped on foreign soil.
Slowly and gradually the real motives behind this marriage started coming to fore. This didn’t happen all of a sudden, neither was I ever beaten or abused in any other form, but there was slow poisoning in form of emotional blackmailing that was totally intended to brainwash me. It was a big project and my husband being the key player had many tactics at hand to slowly prepare me to accomplish his mission.
I won’t get into too many details, but I’ll first tell you all that he did before I actually learnt about the secret plan. We both are well-educated and were in jobs that brought home a good sum of money. To be honest, affording anything that money could buy wasn’t a problem with that kind of salary. But my husband is one of the stingiest misers born on the face of this earth. He won’t let me spend a cent against his liking. He wouldn’t let me shop on my own (on the pretext, he doesn’t like me working too hard).
I had slowly grown used to have items taken off the grocery trolley (by him) before reaching the checkout just cause my husband wouldn’t agree to buy anything he didn’t want to see/eat. He would literally hold my hand while picking up things from aisles to keep our bills in control. You’d think the outcome should be our bank accounts should be overflowing with money; right? WRONG!!
Then where was the money going? It was constantly being transferred to my FIL’s bank account. I didn’t mind his sending money home, but sending money home at the cost of keeping all my basic necessities at bay wasn’t acceptable. But he wasn’t ready to hear a word against it. The same energy and emotion with which we used to fight for the jewelry I had brought along, we now fought over the money that was constantly being drained from my bank account.
The other big issue was for everything that I would want to buy, my husband would sweetly nudge me to ask my parents to buy it from India and send it across. I flatly refused to co-operate or do as he would lovingly try to push me into. He had many secret weapons to succeed in his missions ( that did not require my co-operation) and they soon became operational.
Like every couple, we too had dreams of buying our home one day, have kids and live a peaceful, content life. We actually started saving money for our home and our baby’s future, which I later learnt was all spent on buying jewelry for my MIL and two sis-in-laws while I was struggling for my life in India.
Things got very bad in the due course of time. My parents sent in thousands of dollars to satisfy the never-ending-needs-of-their-son-in-law. Besides all this mess about money, that involved creating an artificial crisis of money in front of my parents (in my absence) and extracting money from them in one form or the other. My husband was double-crossing me and my parents over the years, a fact that I saw and learnt about only recently.
On the other hand, in India, my in-laws would make my parents give in gifts on the pretext of one occasion or ritual or the other. The most ridiculous aspect of it being, they (my in-laws) believed in all festivities and rituals that involved receiving gifts, etc. but not in any that meant giving something to their daughter-in-law. The same was true for my husband. He’d quote we are Indians when he was talking to my parents, but he’d soon change and tell me not to believe in Indian beliefs if it meant spending money in any form.
The biggest motive behind marrying me came to fore very late in my marriage, but when it did, I took the big decision to move out for good. When checking for the backgrounds (before marriage) my in-laws had come across a very interesting match (mine) whose parents had a ery interesting amount of ancestral property. To get it all transferred in their son’s name asap (as soon as possible) was the sole aim why all this drama was going on.
My husband was the key player, who took many steps to achieve this goal. But failed cause of lack of one BIG virtue.
He would have almost succeeded in his motives, had he treated me well, had he been respectful to my parents, had he had the basic human values of treating his wife with love and respect.
I had smelled something fishy right in the start, but kept quiet in hope of things getting better someday soon. I did commit a lot of mistakes, like any other human being. But eventually succeeded in finding out what was the big hidden intention. When things gradually started falling in place, a very scary, distorted, ugly image arose.
Something that shook everyone who have been closely associated with me.
It’s a big mess. Agreed. But, I strongly believe, every problem has a solution and I am determined to find one for my life’s problems too.
“The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution”
The song on my mind: