When a wife gets slapped around and battered, the world calls it “domestic” violence. The news media all over the world, print, TV, and the myriad forms of news gathering and transmission gives this kind of violence a complete miss. No hotel gets attacked, nobody “known” gets hurt, there is nothing to gain from reporting about it. Unfair enough ! But it is an unfair world that revolves around money, fame and power.
A friend of my mother called yesterday and that made me think of other forms of this “domestic” terrorism … this friend is a victim. She got married to an only son with much fanfare after all the horrorscopes (pun intended) were consulted and the whole gang of relatives and elders came around to bless the couple. She is educated and wanted to work full time. The mother-in-law refused to let her work till she had a “SON”. Yes you read it right, only a SON would do, because a daughter will be a burden maybe ?. For the next five years they never had a child, inspite of all the trying, all the careful planning and the fertility clinics with guaranteed results.
This wonderful mother-in-law was ready to get her SON remarried to another “productive” girl and throw the first wife out. She even found another b%&^#h of her kind who was willing to get her “productive” daughter married to this one’s SON. My mother’s friend didn’t have the gumption to serve a notice to her MIL or husband and suffered the shoddy treatment. Then some miracle happened and she conceived naturally. Probably nature took its own course and decided to spite the MIL. The wait for the SON started … and a miscarriage happened. Finally the next pregnancy went through and they got their proverbial SON, who is now in school. The MIL finally kicked the bucket yesterday and that’s why the call.
Now, this kind of “domestic” violence is never spoken about … and this is without any external injury marks. The hurt and injury is all inside, deep and painful as hell. The verbal abuse, the constant fear that her husband may leave her and the be-littling of herself – all are the worst form of violence.
There is another kind that is even worse than the above. When the husband puts his parents and siblings above all else, and the parents turn out to be monsters. I have always wondered why these kind of SONS get married. They can remain at the feet of their mothers and fathers – its a great choice to make in life. Its exactly the same thing I say to people like Kamal Hassan. Why marry ? Continue philandering when you cannot respect commitment. I love my parents, I love my in-laws but Krishnan is my first priority just as I am his. We take care of our parents, we love them, will do anything for them, but once you decide to marry, your spouse has to be your first priority. Certain spouses don’t have the right values, they try and breakup families … just divorce and move on. Neither can parents interfere in a married child’s life and your spouse cannot separate you from your family. Whether its a man or a woman, their birth family is important to them. If you are unable to get along, stay away, but you cannot ask your wife or husband to stay away from them.
I have a dear friend who got married to a really nice man… rich, well educated and very sweet. This friend is a mental wreck today getting treated for depression. The nice man worshipped his parents who refused to leave the couple alone. The mother had terrorists as her sisters who also would interfere in everything in my friend’s life. Domestic violence has many shades ! My friend was a singer, a “bindass” girl during college. Today she is totally withdrawn, refuses to engage with any of us. Her children rebelled against the father and grandparents for the shoddy way their mother was treated. Nothing much changed. The kids literally flew off and my friend was left as an emotional wreck. This is not in the dark ages, this is right now, in the age of the internet and the utterly useless social media. From the way she dressed to what she ate to when she should speak to her parents to inviting her sister for dinner to the color of the walls in her house – everything was dictated by her in-laws. Such SONS should not marry. Its better they stay as devoted SONS and find enough servant maids to do their parents’ bidding. There is a flip side to this story … some new age young women try doing this to their husband’s family. Its also a case of “domestic” violence and has to be dealt with severely even if the cases are not statistically significant.
A distant aunt of mine who is no more went through 5 abortions in search of a SON. Two daughters of hers are still alive and they have gone through a couple of abortions to get that proverbial SON. This aunt was the youngest kid in her family and when her “horrorscope” was matched to a boy from a “good” family, everyone was happy. During the wedding (in the 70’s), the “good” family boy asked for a handsome dowry as he was an “engineer”. The six brothers of this aunt all pooled in money and gave the dowry. The rotten man then wanted authenticity certificates and even got a goldsmith along to the wedding to check if the gold and silver were truly of good quality. When my mother narrated this story to me, my first question was “why didn’t she walk out of the marriage hall?”. My mother tried explaining to me about how a family’s name will be ruined etc etc etc etc etc, I didn’t buy it then, I don’t buy it now. I have never bothered to speak to that man – I never invited them home because she wouldn’t come without him. His eldest daughter is struggling with terrible in-laws and a bigger rascal for a husband who did the exact same thing the father did during his wedding. Life does come a full circle, but the person who suffered the most, was my late aunt. Everyone will have variations of this story in India 🙁
Domestic violence has many shades. The latest kind of domestic violence is the worst of them all – treating aging parents shoddily. Old men and women left to fend for themselves after they have given their entire life’s savings to their “precious” (demons) children. I have written before about this – I am unable to forget the news story about an old woman standing at a traffic signal near Ghaziabad waiting for her son to come and get her. When police and other good human beings found her son, he coolly said “I have no money to take care of my mother, so I left her there”. How can you leave your mother at a traffic signal ????? She gave birth to you and nursed you even when she was utterly poor and couldn’t feed herself. What sort of twisted mind this man must have :(. Its criminal. The stories that we heard when we visited a long term care facility near Bangalore in 2008 makes Krishnan and I, cry even now. Yes mothers can be witches and fathers can be devils, but they cannot be abandoned unless they are pedophiles or molesters. One doesn’t have to stay with them if they are terrible or control freaks or the chemistry doesn’t work, but please provide for them, make them comfortable. Its the least you can do.
We had an old aunty as our neighbour in Mumbai. She had five children, one of the girls was married to her brother’s son. The other four married complete strangers and all five were well settled in life. When this aunty fell down from the stairs, all the neighbours helped to lift her and get her to a hospital… Uncle was no more and she was getting some money as pension. For the next entire week, not one of her children came over to see her even. She could have been the worst mother .. but how can you just leave her by herself? The brother couldn’t take time off from serving his wife, the first son’s daughter had delivered a baby just then, the second son’s mother-in-law was sick, the third son’s wife was suffering from migraine, the two daughters were in a far off location and couldn’t come. What a sad last chapter of life !!!
The stories of violence against senior citizens is on the rise and it is disconcerting. Do the youth of today think they will remain young forever? What goes around comes around buddy and by the time these young ones become old, there might be toxic air to breathe and hardly a drop of water to drink… We are treating the Earth exactly the way we treat our aging parents.
All of these are forms of “domestic” violence because they happen within the four walls of a home. The victim has no telltale signs except in the case of physical abuse, but the mental abuse is the worst form of domestic violence. There is an urgent need to speak up about these issues and discuss ways of giving our children a better upbringing, better school education that focusses on values and not just on how to make money. More importantly, “WE” need to act with compassion. A spouse is not bonded labour, nor are your aging in-laws a burden. Stop mental “domestic” violence now.