Struggles and Scars

My husband passed away three years back, and I’ve never been happier

One woman recounts her husband’s alcoholism, domestic abuse and subsequent death. Free from social shackles, she now lives her life to the fullest
woman hands tied with rope

(As told to Priya Chaphekar)

I had the expected arranged marriage

The turbulence in my life began when I was in my final year in college. I hail from a small town near Pune where a girl is married off the minute she turns 20. The guy was working as an engineer in an MNC in Mumbai – a good catch for a small town girl like me. We got engaged, but the wedding was cancelled just two weeks before the day due to familial disagreements. Exactly a year later, I was married to a boy named Rajeev who was well settled in Mumbai.

The nightmare began at once

Just like any other girl in her 20s, I dreamt of a fairy-tale life – how I’d have a bath and wake him up by flinging my wet locks on his face, cook the best dishes and keep myself looking good all the time. Over time, my dreams broke, like bangles. There were too many skeletons in Rajeev’s closet – I was his second wife, his previous wife had committed suicide by hanging herself and he was having an affair with his sister-in-law.
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Two months into my marriage, I realised I was pregnant. I had married a psychopath and I was irreversibly stuck. How is a girl in her early 20s supposed to digest all of this? Even then, I stayed strong. “This shall also pass,” I promised myself. I chose the responsibility of motherhood over aborting the baby. So what if my husband wasn’t there for me, I’ll always have my baby to fall back on. During the first three months, my health started declining rapidly. I could barely eat, my haemoglobin dropped and I was put on five injections daily. Not once did Rajeev come to see my condition, and when he finally did, he came empty-handed.

Related reading: I escaped from my abusive marriage but the experience has left me feeling broken

He was abusive, drunken and suspicious

Over a span of seven years, things grew from bad to nightmarish. Rajeev was fired from his job on account of his drinking problems, and all hell broke loose. He started flinging glasses in anger, he threw plates full of food on my face if the food wasn’t good enough and suspected that I was having an affair with every man I spoke to – from the watchman to the driver. I was woken up in the middle of the night and beaten to a pulp. I don’t know how, but I endured all of this with miraculous patience, sometimes praying God to take him away for good.

abuse man
Image source

My father begged me to file for a divorce, but I was determined to make my marriage work, to cure my husband of his inherent madness.

My father begged me to file for a divorce, but I was determined to make my marriage work, to cure my husband of his inherent madness.

Just like they show in the movies, I’d hold his hand reassuringly and walk with him, only to be insulted in public. My loved ones had begun to think that Rajeev’s insanity was seeping into me; that I’d started romanticising this misery that he inflicted upon me.

I hung on thinking I could change him

Six years later, Rajeev found a job in Dubai and we decided to start on a fresh page. But destiny had other plans. Once, when he didn’t return to bed till 3 am, I went to check what happened, and there he lay in the living room, motionless. My instincts told me that something had gone terribly wrong. By the time we reached the hospital, Rajeev was declared dead. He had had a massive heart attack. At that point, I wondered how I was supposed to feel – was I supposed to grieve like the good old widow or celebrate my newfound freedom?

Rajeev’s last rites were performed on Dussehra, a festival where people burn the demon king Ravana. For me, it signified the death of evil.

It’s now three tough years since my husband’s demise. There are nights when I break out in a sweat in the middle of the night, only to realise he’s no more. There are nights when I’m haunted by the presence of his earlier wife. Some nights when I fall asleep on the bathroom floor, dead drunk. There are days when I’m protective about my daughter, and there are days when I see her father in her. I break down, I cry, I pick myself up – the vicious cycle has become an everyday reality. And it’s going to take mammoth emotional strength to break out of it.

struggle and scars

Related reading: 11 easy and effective tips to survive heartbreak without breaking yourself

Now I’m an utterly changed person

All said and done, I’ve completely transformed as a human being. From the good housewife, I’ve metamorphosed into a wild woman, doing whatever I was supposed to do during my early 20s – drink, smoke, party, have affairs. I run a salon single-handedly, and I’m happy to say that I’m doing really well for myself after all these years.

I know that people around me gossip about me, mothers tell their daughters to stay away from me, husbands frown at me when they spot me talking to their wives, but secretly check me out in the lift. It’s not an easy life when you’re a widow – nay, a single mother, you see. They don’t spare married women with families, why would they spare a bold, flamboyant woman like me? People who know me deliver sermons on how I’m supposed to live my life, but they don’t know the pain when your hair is pulled to a point where your scalp starts bleeding, they were never there when my husband refused to take me to the doctor in that situation. It’s for a reason that my daughter doesn’t mention her father any more. It’s for a reason that I think I’m reborn.
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    2 Comments

    1. You know many go through this but having read it here is so nice. i wish we got more pieces like this…great job! went and read most of your pieces here.

    2. I am not sure that demons are an age old thing and that they do not exist now!! But yes arrange marriage is more open to fall into circumstances like these!! At least know them properly

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