Sunday, May 20, 2012

"S" and her own Satyamevjayate.....

Sunday mornings at 11.

Satyamev Jayate happens . The daughter watches . I am busy with something in another room. My household help, "S", (who has appeared on this blog very often)  is just back from a long break, and is getting things organized in the kitchen, from where she can see the TV, and she is making a much needed decent cup of ginger tea for the three of us. She isn't really watching TV, but glances that way intermittently.

Somewhere during a break, the daughter comes into the room where I am , aghast. Reading stuff in the papers is one thing. Seeing an actual person telling about it is something else.

The story  (watch post minute 17.00)  of Nishana. The lecturer from Madurai's  American College, whose parents acceded to every demand of her in laws, during and after marriage. Money, gold, vehicles, and the oddest demand, cosmetic surgery on her nose. Then  her verbal humiliation regarding her looks, from her husband rubbishing her looks in public phone messages. The slow sharp denting of a mind, and how a cheerful girl, whose parents gave her everything that was demanded pre and post marriage, finally killed herself.

"S" came in while I was listening to this shocking story.

"How can parents listen to such nonsense from in laws? " she asked.

And then she was telling me about her own daughter.  (S has three sons and one daughter, all adults).

Married off with  great celebration to someone who lived in the district next to Mumbai, on some relative's recommendation, it slowly became clear that there were a lot of lies and untruths dotting the landscape of the in-laws.

The boy was supposed to be working in a printing press.   He wasn't. He didn't have any job.

The entire family depended on his income.  There were days when there was no food for 3-4 days.  A case of mixed up and messed up priorities, and parents with a vagabond undisciplined lazy son.

Strangely, there was a TV bought on installments, and the company was  threatening to recover the TV if the payments were not made. And so , S's daughter started getting hints of how her folks should come up with ten thousand rupees.  Not stopping at commanding the daughter, the family independently communicated this to S.

The brothers were prepared to mobilize things somehow, for their only sister. But the daughter called and  conveyed her displeasure with all this and told them to bluntly refuse. S was worried.  She herself had been rescued , 30 years ago, from a drunkard, violent, psychotic husband by her parents , and she worried for her daughter's future. S alone was now father and mother to her grownup kids. 

The young girl was humiliated, beaten frequently by the husband in a drunken stupor. One day, he beat her, dragged her to the nearby suburban railway station, left her unconscious on the platform, and disappeared.  I don't know why no one on the platform questioned him, since our platforms are perennially crowded regardless of time of day.

When she came to, some vegetable vendor ladies were sprinkling water on her face, and trying to revive her. They listened to her story, and one of the ladies took her to her own home to feed her. Accompanied her back to her mother's home, almost 2 hours away by train, late that rainy night, and told everyone what had happened.

A few days later the father-in-law came. With a helpless look and a semblance of an apology.  S, who has had the worst kind of marriage and married life herself, thought it over, discussed it with her daughter,  and the fellow was given one more chance. In her own case, 30 years ago, no one was apologetic, no one even saw her out when her parents came to take her back home , and there were whispers.

The daughter went back.

Two months later, the beatings and drinking had commenced, and slowly , so did new demands.  The daughter sat the family down. In front of her father-in-law, she said she had tolerated a lot, even agreed to give the fellow a second chance, but this was it. She mentioned the name of the intermediary who had suggested this alliance.  Telling him this story would expose her in laws.  They were wary of that.

She demanded that she be taken back to her mother's place, and she would not be returning. She packed, and left with the father-in-law, came back home, and despite several entreaties, requests and pleadings, her mother and brothers not only refused to send her back, they even initiated divorce proceedings, that documented the fellow's behaviour etc, and saw it to completion.

She has her own name back.

S's daughter  has trained in stitching clothes, as a beauticians assistant, and has a daily job in a ladies hostel as a cook now.  She contributes to the family kitty, volunteers to look after the nephews/kids when she is free,  and S,  is currently tension free.

 Though she will often discuss with me how she wants to see the daughter  independently settled in her own lifetime...

The great thing is that she learned from her own experience and her daughter's. And took action. She has the confidence to face the chatterers and the gossipers.

With zero formal education, her own life has shaped her thoughts, and she doesn't worry if  someone is shocked by her thinking.

She was shocked by the story of Nishana.  More so by the capitulation by her parents to the in law's demands.  Nishana , like her(S.),  and  S.'s  daughter, should have been brought back by her parents to her own home,  and should have been alive today. 


In her own way, S. has her own SatyaMev Jayate......

41 comments:

  1. This is the reason when I see well written articulate articles on such issues, I have a question on how honest those articles are? Most educated people preach in pretty sounding words to others but when it is their own turn to act, they succumb to the pressures for a temporal relief.
    Thank you for sharing this story, as there should be examples to show how we do not need degrees to know what is right or wrong for society and family both...individual or collective interest.

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    1. I agree with you preaching is easy .. but when it comes to doing there is not that many..


      Bikram's

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    2. when u have lost so much in life, the only thing you have left is guts. S uses those, and her native intelligence. not worrying at all about what others may say and think is a key requirement , and she has it. Observing her is an education in itself ....

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  2. Wow, Surangaji. What a woman your S is! I'm humbled and totally impressed by her and her daughter.

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  3. Until now i was your fan, now I admire your S as well! I read out this post to Mrinal... Made for an inspiring bed time reading! Good night!

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    1. Anuradha, wow. Didn't realize this was a good bedtime read. But am glad your child heard it out... Thank you!

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  4. I am a big fan of S...please tell her that okay :)

    Awesome post and totally inspirational!

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    1. R's Mom, Just mentioned it to S. She is just beaming and thrilled to be "on the computer" .....thank you!

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  5. Hmmm. I have mixed feelings about Satyamev Jayate type of shows. But that is not the purpose of your blog! I would say S is a strong woman and has shown the conviction to bring her daughter back and help her stand on her feet.

    I have come across many young women for whom both the doors were shut. They work, earn and feed themselves!

    "S" and daughter are an inspiration to many. I will make sure people i come across hear of her.

    Thanks for sharing this well written report

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    1. "They work, earn and feed themselves" That is a good thing. Its better than being beaten, made to cook for an ungrateful family and then getting to eat left overs. I think that is the plight of daughter in laws in many abusive families.

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    2. Ritu, thank you! What you say is so true.... have seen such families. S's neighbors.

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    3. Madhuri, thank you. Watching "S" deal with crises, is like learning a new chapter everyday.

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  6. Very inspiring story of S!!Shows like Satyameva Jayate can only be limiting in their format! I think education, or for that matter, formal education does not guarantee learning.

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  7. That is whatone shud do always .. as the first comment does not take a degree to know what is right or wrong

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram, your ability to discern right from wrong, and how you deal with it, is really, almost always, decided by how you were brought up. Formal education has no connection to it. Intellectually, everyone will agree and applaud; when it comes to putting your hand up and helping/contributing, everyone has excuses.

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  8. I always admire women who stand up for what is right. And your S is a wonderful example for the educated ones. It was not as if she immediately told her daughter to break off, but having given a chance to her in-laws, she took the step. But most of all, she taught the girl to stand up too. That is the important thing. This

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    1. Zephyr, thank you for the comment. I a continually amazed to see her daughter, and how she has picked up certain attitudes from her mother.

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  9. Very inspirational post. S is total rockstar!

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  10. I am a fan of S! Hats off to the lady!

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  11. And that's why I love Mumbai and all its people

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    1. Life Ordinary, Mumbai is too big and diverse to be clubbed under one attitude. But it is possibly the best place to be to take an initiative like this.

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  12. It's really so impressive and inspiring to read anything about S :)
    Nishana's story, esp. the nose correction and such parts were more than shocking. Hw i wish those criminals are punished too :(

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    1. Swaram, thanks. I often think S needs to be on TV. ...

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  13. For all the Nishanas there are equal number of S. Still there are educated girls who think receiving dowry is a good tradition!

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    1. Giribala, thank you. I often think parents need to show kids that facing such things with courage unmindful of societal attitudes is the way to go. S's parents did that way back in the 80's, and stood behind her 110%. S's daughter has learned from life.

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  14. It was super nice meeting you & your daughter. I think this is so inspiring... we often see educated people of 'high status' subjecting their daughters to bad marriages because a divorce is bad for their name. Wish more people could take a que out of the way S lives.

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    1. Magali, Thank you for the comment, and welcome to this blog !

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  15. My cook , a 9th pass lady in her late thirties has been earning for her family of 3 children and a husband who keeps telling her- 'Please write on a piece of paper , I have no relation with you!'
    She has everything in her to run the house by herself, but because of the thought of societal pressure on a relationship of over a decade she is not able to break free.I wish every woman could make that choice irrespective of the community/social class to which she belonged!

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    1. Ila Johari, Mumbai seems to have a huge number of such ladies, with gutless husbands living off them. Maybe her children will learn from this.

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  16. No matter what the culture, women have always been the victims of men. It is worse when the man's family joins him in the abuse. Thank God we now have laws protecting women from abusive husbands in my country.

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    1. Darlene, than you for your comment. The societal spectrum in this country spreads wide across so many levels of extremely diverse economic, religious, and other strata, complicating stuff with their various traditional outlooks. Laws exist. Education happens. But parents must instill certain values , which sometimes doesnt happen due to social customs. All problems of a society which is developing too fast in a globalized world.

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  17. Divorce is the biggest taboo any Indian woman faces. My own best friend in her early twenties found it extremely difficult to break free from an abusive husband because of the fear of social stigmatization.! I am a new blogger, blog rolled you and following you.! Take care.! And keep up the good work.!

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  18. they mam, i love your blog title and your posts, keep writing.
    http://parabsmita.blogspot.in/2012/06/spice-up.html

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  19. First time here Suranga. And must say this post has me hooked.

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  20. Hats off to your maid and her independent daughter.

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  21. that was an inspirational read....thanks for sharing.

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