| This is the 96th story of Our Life Logs |
I was born in 1966 in Delhi, India, where I grew up with my three younger siblings. Life was so sweet and so happy when we were little. My parents were loving, and our house was filled with a constant flow of laughter. One of my favorite memories was when I was 15, and my family took a vacation to Mussoorie during the snowy season. My younger brother was very naughty, and while my other siblings and I were in the kitchen, we watched him drink all the coffee and then pour hot water all over the floor. As the eldest, I devised a punishment for him: he was to be a snowman. We took him outside and covered his entire body with icy flakes, laughing as we buried our giggles in the snow.
I wish the innocence of our youth would continue forever. Yet, everyone is meant to grow up and face the world, I guess. I finished college but didn’t pursue a career after that. My parents set me up with a man to marry and thought they’d found a promising future for me. I didn’t know much about the man. He was introduced to our family through contacts of mutual relatives. We learned that he had lost both his parents in his 20’s and was searching for companionship.
We got to meet once before our wedding. He came over to my parents’ house. He was tall with a thick beard and a dark tan, and seemed like a good guy. We didn’t talk much, but I agreed to the marriage, feeling sorry for his loss of both his parents. On top of that, I trusted my parents’ choice. Arranged marriages were such a norm in our culture that I didn’t feel any oddness for my decision.
In 1985, we got married. I was 19, and he was 32.
It didn’t take long for me to notice that marrying him was a mistake. Within the first few weeks of our marriage, I saw how selfish and cold he could be. He worked out of state, so most of the time he wasn’t even home with me. He was only home two months out of the year. He probably could have been around more often if he wanted to, but he chose to stay away. It got to be very lonely. I didn’t work, because in our society at the time, women were expected to stay at home and take care of the family. He did send me money, but it was usually very little, barely enough to cover the daily expenses. While he was away he rarely called, and he never asked me questions a spouse should ask like, “How are you? How was your day?” There was no sweet moment with him that I could recall.
I began to see how truly selfish he was after my eldest daughter was born when I was 24. There were two mouths to feed at home now, but he refused to send more money to help. He would always say that he had no money, which I knew was a lie because he had a good-paying job. When my daughter was old enough for kindergarten, he again refused to send the money for her school fees. These types of conversations happened all through our marriage.
Despite knowing that my husband wouldn’t provide enough for our life, I kept trying for more children. I was desperate to have a boy who I hoped, in the future, could help support the household. But after having three daughters and no son, I stopped trying. I accepted the fate we were given and instead, looked for ways to get us by. I sought help from my parents and relatives. I worked as a teacher for a couple of years to make extra money, but I was forced to quit when my husband found out. He thought that me working would be an affront to his masculinity. He threatened to stop sending us money unless I quit. I wasn’t making nearly enough at the job to rely on those wages alone, so I quit.
For all those years when our kids were growing up, we stayed in misery. Anything beyond the basic needs like food was a luxury for us. If one of my daughters needed a book for school or new clothes, there would be struggle. We tried to spend as little as possible on food, so that we could save some money for the “luxuries.” Sadly, the figure of a husband and a father was seldom in the picture.
I wanted to leave many, many times in our marriage, but I was molded into thinking that doing so would ruin everything. My sister insisted that getting a divorce would negatively affect my kids’ lives (as if they weren’t affected already). A divorced daughter would bring shame onto the family, and it would certainly ruin my own reputation, too. It would not be easy for a divorced woman to find love again. Divorce would put a brand on you that would follow you forever.
As a result, I suffered in silence, for years and years.
About seven years ago, my father passed away. I was devastated. I yearned to go to see my father and be with my mother. I called my husband to ask if he would come with me, but he refused. He said that I could go and he’d stay to take care of the girls. So I went to the funeral.
The next day, unexpectedly, my husband showed up at my parents’ house. At first, I felt warmth that he had come after all. What happened next completely tore me apart. He claimed in front of everybody in the house that I didn’t tell him the crucial information of his father-in-law’s death and that he had to hear it from somewhere else. He pretended to be hurt. What a lie! How was that possible? I was furious with him, especially that he would start all this drama when I was in such a grievous state. He came all way just to make me look bad. After that moment, I knew that I had to consider divorce more seriously, regardless of the repercussions.
Though life with my husband has been dreary, I’ve found light through our three daughters. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived my life to this day. The happiest moment in my life was when my eldest daughter graduated college and got a good job about four years ago. At that moment, I felt proud, and I felt relieved that she could finally fulfill her dreams in her own way, away from the restraints of a broken family. Now my second daughter has finished school and is working, too. My youngest is still in college, on her way to chase her own aspirations. They’ve become what I couldn’t be at their ages: self-reliant and happy.
I’m now in the process of finally filing for a divorce. It took more time than it should, but I’m glad it’s happening. With the promise of freedom in my future, I feel hopeful, and with my daughters by my side, I know my life will be pleasant. No one should live their entire life unhappy. It’s never too late to end your suffering, to step out of a failed arranged marriage.
This is the story of Anita Rawat
Anita, 52, resides in Delhi, India. After agreeing to an arranged marriage, Anita soon realized how selfish and cruel her husband was but took the poor treatment for decades before she decided it was time to leave him and be happy. She is currently in the process of filing for a divorce after years of misery. Anita loves listening to music and spends most of her time with her daughters who have given her hope during dark times. Her youngest daughter keeps her young with her sense of humor. She’s able to make Anita laugh, even in a bad situation. Anita implores other women in marriages where they are miserable to leave and find happiness. She asks others not to suffer. Love is patient, but there needs to be a limit to what is allowed. Anita believes that your life is in your own, and you must take control and drive it in the direction that you want it to go. She hopes that others are inspired by her story.
This story first touched our hearts on May 28, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Manqing Jin; Colleen Walker |