Saturday, February 24, 2007

An enigma...

Sonia was a slim and extremely beautiful girl. Fiercely independent and a go getter. She finished her Architecture from a leading college in Bangalore. Her parents, both successful doctors live in Kerala. While she was doing her engineering she spent her free weekends at our house as my parents were her local guardians. I was very fond of Sonia and she was my adopted elder sister. It was nice to have a sister and she slept in my room whenever she came over. We spent hours talking into the night. The bond between cousins is much stronger especially if you have stayed in each others house. After a point of time you stop being cousins and become family. I have several cousin sisters and I know the familiarity and trust that we share even though we meet only during vacations.

Pretty soon Sonia’s parents were looking for a groom for her. After a prolonged hunt they zeroed in on a boy from Trichur, a software engineer in a leading firm in the Gulf. I was aghast. I protested to Sonia that she would have no job opportunities in the Gulf. But Sonia was already in love with the photo of the groom. She would look at me dreamily and say that “You wouldn’t understand. When you grow up you will realize the importance of marriage and settling down.” Somehow even at that age, I realized that this was wrong. It felt ridiculous to see this girl who burnt the midnight oil in my house during weekends, completing complicated projects and earning a degree only to throw it all away.

Sonia’s groom was extremely good looking. He was a six footer and looked quite aloof at the Engagement. Sonia looked resplendent; she stood demurely her head bowed like a dutiful about-to-be wife. A faint blush lit her cheeks at the proximity of the strapping man beside her. I felt sick. Something was not right. I kept quite as my mom had pleaded with me to keep my sharp tongue in check for the sake of Sonia.

Sonia got married soon after and left the shores with her husband. Soon she was pregnant. And she had a baby boy. One day a cousin of my mom called up. She sounded absolutely thrilled at the scandal she was delivering. Apparently everything was not hunky dory with Sonia. Her husband beat her up regularly. He was a short tempered guy and a very jealous man. Soon, suspecting her fidelity he made her pregnant again so that she would look ugly and undesirable to other men. I sent frequent mails to her telling her to stop taking the abuse and leave him. But she never replied. I reasoned with her that she had the qualifications and the money to survive on her own, besides two apartments of her own in Kochi. Her mother called up my mom one day telling her rather sharply to rein me in and my ‘modern’ ways. My mom flatly refused as she said she found nothing wrong in my advice to Sonia.

The beatings and abuse continued. As soon as Sonia’s second child was born she was pregnant again. One day she came on Yahoo chat. I had nothing to say to her. What do I talk to a woman who deliberately takes punishments? As she filled me on the news, gushing over her children and their antics, I replied in mono syllables. An “ok” or an “oh”. She soon sensed my mood and enquired why I was being so distant. I told her rather frankly that I found her a loser for staying in an abusive relationship and a hypocrite…for chatting with me as though I didn’t know anything. She quickly said a bye and logged out.

Some time ago we heard that Sonia was back in Kochi to recover from an abortion. She had apparently lost her fourth child due to a merciless beating session. She was sent back to India with the kids to recover from the miscarriage. After her discharge from the hospital she packed her bags to go back to the Gulf. I made a last ditch attempt to stop her. But it failed as her mom would not allow her to take any calls from me. Sonia just left for the Gulf. She has a job now as her husband is unemployed. He has grown fat and is just as aloof as ever.

Is there any sane explanation for such behaviour?


Di said...

thats terrible!! i really dont understand y people continue to live in abusive relationships..maybe its coz of the societal pressure that insists that relationships last forever.. :-\ watver it is..its just sad

quills said...

Terrible and I hope someday soon Sonia has the courage to walk out of the relationship. But it is no means easy for her. She has kids to think about too. But ultimately it is the only sane option rather than be an abusive relationship and let her kids also grow up seeing such abuse and get influenced.

I feel Sonia continues to be in such a relationship, mostly coz of her fear of society and what they would think (although high time she gives a damn about it)and more importantly her parents' refusal to support and offer her help to come out of it.

These kind of incidences are becoming more prevalent than ever and we hear about it mostly because women are finally speaking up. It is never easy though for the victim, for in some way or the other the bully manages to convince his victim that she is responsible for all the things happening to her and she is the one who may have provoked him into displaying such a cowardly behaviour. So the victim feels that she has definitely contributed, and tries to make light of the situation, and it is only some third party that could probably convince her of her innocence otherwise. I guess these kind of situations will continue, especially since we still are a society, where family background, religion and other criteria are viewed as most important, while genuine factors like compatibility and affection for each other is hardly considered. It is ultimately the biggest gamble one can take in one's life.

It is a sad state of affairs, but hopefully people getting into commitments will think twice before getting into it for others' sake.

And I hope and pray, people like Sonia will soon realize her self worth, get help and recapture her life.

Great post Silverine! Glad to see such things covered in your blog.

N A R I YA L C H U T N E Y said...

Marriage is the most important decision in life taken with least amount of information based on so many parameters like social status , degree , looks, money etcc..that does not affect the life after marriage .

If what you say is true ( since it is only one side of the story), then the six foot guy doesnt deserve her but what should Sonia should do? .

If she walks out from the relationship or ask for a divorce she will be treated by Mallu Xian society as an outcast. May be she may be prefering the guy to the outcastness.If she walks out and get a divorce and get married again this behavior may repeat again. Who knows?

If she stays in the relationship may be she thinks the guy will or she can change the behavior of the guy after sometime.Finding it a hard possibility from what you said.

Forgiveness is at the heart of a good marriage or any relationship. Forgiveness is hard to understand and harder still to do and if Sonia went back it is simply remarkable among all those girls /guys who walk out and file for divorces based on silly arguments and perceptions.

But still , I hopef the relationship will improve and the guy will change or Sonia will be able to chnage him :P

Mind Curry said...

Her husband beat her up regularly. He was a short tempered guy and a very jealous man. Soon, suspecting her fidelity he made her pregnant again so that she would look ugly and undesirable to other men.

ohhh mmyyy godddd!! TTTERRRIBBLLLEE!!! its absolute craziness..thats what it is. i dont know if this happens only with mallus..but i hear only of their stories..and even i had a cousin who went thru similar things..but luckily she had the sense to not get pregnant with that loser.

i think its ultimately the fear of the society that drives people into such stupid insane behavior. and i can vouch that this so called society-crazy people are the most stupid people i have ever seen. they just live a hollow life..a show..and waste their entire life.

i have lots more to write..

i am so angry!

mathew said...

quite sickening story...some people just resign to "it-was-in-my-fate" belief..and sad it is it know that they themselves dont want to escape..cant believe how Sonia's mother could be so indifferent!!!

Thanu said...

OMG... I can not believe that gals in this genration put up with all this. One of my friends hast he same thing happen to her, met a guy fell in love, got married, had a kid. He became very abusive after the first few year. She stayed with him just for her son. After 5-6 years of abuse she finally left him.

That day it got me thinking y do we gals let it happen? And when it happens y do we take it.

All we can do is pray for gals like Sonia to understand they don't deserve this.

Radhesh said...


Anonymous said...

All that glitters is not gold.

Our people never look beyond the polish.

This is a terrible thing to hear, especially, about a girl who at one time had achieved so much. Without even respecting age, I can say one should slap her mother and her and put some sense into their heads.


Alex said...

It was Sonia's choice early itself and if she still makes the same choice, there is nothing others could do.

We can try and you did try.

People need to be independent and not think of marriage as the only solution in life and also understand that 'she' can live independently.

Unless, she feels so, she will forever remain under the clutches for her husband.

Realisation needs to come from within.

silverine said...

Di: In a state where divorce is not a scandal anymore I dont know why she cant leave him and live a life of dignity. But what Quills says makes sense.

Quills: You said it. It is the abuser who convinces the abused that it is her fault and the abused tries her best to rectify the wrong. I think this mentality comes from our upbringing. As kids we are taught to obey. You always put a lot of thought behind your comments :)

NC: "if Sonia went back it is simply remarkable..."
I am appaled at your comment!!! Unbelievable!!!

MC: Yes it is terrible, so terrible that I refrained from writing about this for a long time as it upsets me for days when I think of her. But there is a silver lining. Concerted efforts are being made by my aunts to get her to see reason and she is coming around it seems :)

mathew: Very true. Sonia's mother is the Potta types. Enough said. I think what Quills says makes a lot of sense.

Thanu: There are so many girls who live like this :( I dont know why! I guess our upbringing by parents have a lot to do with this.

Radhesh: It is indeed a shocking situation :(

Kajan: Believe me I feel like doing the same. And the feeling is mutual :p

Alex: You said it, realisation has to come from within and I hope it is soon as she is barely 30 :(

Scribbles said...

Thats a depressing story..cant understand why people insist on putting up with such people .. ITs frustrating..But yes, I come across so many people daily(of our age ..not elders) who have the same concept as she has...but there s just one life . why shud she spoil it for him?

Sarah said...

it isn't my fate..kind of logic that makes her go back to her abusive husband..
Believe me.. the society makes her do that..
What chance a mother of three kids( irrelevant of the money in the bank or the paper qualification) have in India?
Who among you would let her live a life peacefully?
Who among you wouldn't judge her? Who among you wouldn't stop saying.. that she didn;t make any effort to make the relationship work?
Who among you wouldn't say, how could she do this to her kids?
Who among you will be willing to give her a second chance?
Who among you will want to marry a woman with three kids?
between the choice of the devil and the deep blue sea.. some women just pick the devil.. which is better that sinking the malayalee hypocracy,

Anonymous said...

It takes all kinds to make the world.


Stop by and check out one I found on the news the other day. Made me just as angry as your post did.

കൊച്ചുത്രേസ്യ said...

Many people think that divorce is a sin against god. They don’t realize that god does not desire any of his children to be harmed physically or emotionally. Anyway , here in Sonia’s case, since she is ready to suffer the torture for whatever reason , the only thing can be done is to reduce her suffering . May be his/her family can interfere to send him for some counseling or some psychiatric treatments.

There is one more issue which caught my attention in this post is her decision to remain unemployed even after such a good academic qualification. People like her actually spoiling other people’s chances. I’ve seen many girls do their professional courses only to get good groom in the marriage market. If this is their ultimate aim, why don’t they do some home-science courses which will help them in their future and thus leave the limited seats in the professional courses to the people who really want to do something in those fields..

silverine said...

Mind Curry: I am beginning to see what you have so often repeated, that we are a people who live for the society and not for ourselves. It is becoming clear to me now as I have a non conformist father who taught us to live for ourselves by example. There are a lot of people in our family who envy him/us for that though they would never be able to live like that :) I think you have a better view of the Kerala society than a lot of people.

scrible: Exactly what I keep telling her that she has only one life!!

sarah: You are very right. But here is a paradox. There are girls like Sonia who make choices based on the coinsiderations you have mentioned and there are girls walking out enmasse from marraiges. Kerala is number one in divorces in India now.

G: I read the article and am so damn angry myself!!!

little flower: You are right, we are taking the "what God has put together let no man put asunder blah" thingie too far. Ultimately we all have to make choices to live a good life. Her reason to remain unemployed was because her husband would not allow her out of the house.

Neihal said...

More than sympathy its anger, I feel....what happens to the children....why are they put thru hell....and I dont buy the whole 'society does this to women' bullshit...even thousand years ago there were women who did what they felt was right....and society cudnt stop them then....things have got better....sadly in such cases women usually dont take a stand unless the abuse reaches the children....and its too late by the....:(

Amey said...

It's so weird (ok, weird is maybe not the right word). Things like this don't happen only in India. But domestic violence is an issue which gos way beyond just dowry...

I wouldn't have been so angry if she had just given up her career, since the decision was (hopefully) her own (I wouldn't have been too happy either). But after all this, she has to work again?

And 4 kids? That should be criminal...

It is a sad fact that divorced single mom is not accepted in our country, except in high-income, big-city group.

AK said...

The lady steps into the moonlight..
Her first tentative steps carrying her fears to the moon…
If only, the moon knew…

Jiby said...

a real sad reading this was...not for sonia though whom i feel only anger...even today parents look at the family more than the groom the gal is marrying...many of them havent realized that in today's nuclear family setup the individuals coming together are more important than everything else...youngsters like us who are part of the social changes happening these days understand this much better than the earlier generation who seems caught in a time-warp...such a pity that sonia for all her schooling and professional skills cant fight for her happiness. what will the kids grow up to; seeing their mother abused like this???

Jeseem said...

hey , this is so wrong.
people get married based on the initial rush ( and just by good looks, this is so dumb) and then the real life starts.
As to why she can't walk out, I guess, when one is in such a state, your self morale is so low that you simply loose the strength to walk out. and thats when you want to look for friends and cousins for help. help in means of support, not advices. just support to tell, you are still a very important and strong person.
so your straight offhand shouting her in the face comment was bad. If you had supported her for 6 months and made sure she was strong enough to act on it, and then given your advice, that would have been different. not everyone is made as strong as you and situations weaken a person. by your comments, you just made her afraid to ever approach you again.
And as for the moron of her husband and what he deserves to get, well i better not use bad language in you blog comment..

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

Its an after effect of getting married without really knowing the groom..I guess her parents and maybe her too went after the salary figures and looks of the groom without really bothering to know much about him... I've seen that happen .. I've seem relatives 'shortlisting' the prospective groom for a girl just based on salary figures..

And I dont think all is lost in this case..Maybe a good counselling session would help them. I might be sounding a bit out-of-times..but certainly I feel a divorce is easily said than done and that too after having 3 children...

Anonymous said...

'Arranged' marriages are just not right. I feel this sort of trouble comes with the urge to 'settle down'.

Anonymous said...

Life of an educated girl !!!

what do we expect of the others!!!
I really dont understand what this girl is waiting for!! but I strongly believe that her parents are to be blamed for her suffering..People who are supposed to be her strength in hard times have left her to suffer...shame to such people.what good can they do for the society when their own blood is left to die!!!

quills said...

U know, today I was talking to someone about this topic, and then that person, highly educated and quite modern in her views, said that since in the Bible it says " Daivam kootiyojipichathu Manushyan verpirikathey irikate" it seldom turns out that, the spouse who breaks off a relationship, however bad it may have been, may never find true happiness. I was appalled to hear that but this are the kind of comments people make when hearing about such incidents. It is very few who actually support and encourage someone in an unhappy relationship to come out of it, heal and then look forward to a new life.

AK said...

Issue is not about Arranged marriages Vs Fixed marriages... it is about people... and how they subdue their own free will or may be ...just may be...sometimes, the subjugation is deliberate, as a trade off for being acceptable in the ‘societal framework’.

Life is a precious thing to have… and one is always at perfect liberty to live it on one’s terms… Relationship should not be about trade offs… it should be congenial and benevolent…

In this case, it is obviously not so…
But then again, (no offence meant), you can wake someone who is sleeping…
You can’t wake some one who is pretending to…

Anonymous said...'s too convenient to say she can't walk out with 3 kids. Let's not forget the last 'would-have been' was murdered by this so called 'reformable' man. It's disgusting to even assume that such a person would be livable. If he can't comprehend what a cruel thing he has done at this stage, it is better to just wash hands.


ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I start painting a pretty world, and then someone tells me a story.
This is terrible, even considering that the scale could be grossly unbalanced.
But most girls walk into sorry stories. (i dont mean to be tagged an MCP in here, but that is the fact, most of the time). I have not been able to understand why it is that girls are taught to accomodate, and not collaborate, Especially when it comes to marriage.
After marriage your friends slowly cease to exist. it's his friends, his family, and his bed. And most of the time it is not really the man's fault. It is so natural for him to get bossy, and some pricks become abusive - what man would respect a woman who is not her own individual?
i dont advocate that women stop being women and start acting like men (The stupid so called feminists tell you all the wrong things).
You can still collaborate, and overlap, and be happy even being the woman that you are.
Now this got too long, and i dont remember what i started off on.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

Addition: Some men are born morons, and the wise thing to do is to be sensible and not get married to them.

silverine said...

neihal: Thats exactly what I feel..anger. Both are not thinking of the kids who are suffering seeing their mother beaten up :(

fleiger: Yes she has to work again and support that b*****d and not only that he has bought properties with her monies :( Man I am so angry!!!!!

abhishek: That was so peotically put but then the moon in this case is a beast!

jiby: many of them havent realized that in today's nuclear family setup the individuals coming together are more important than everything else" You hit the nail right on the head. This is the foundation on which modern marraiges should be built on!!! The kids are already affected :(

jeseem: Oye!!! LOL I didnt shout at her re. When everything else failed
people close to her will tend to get frustrated!! She has the support of the entire khaandaan except her own people. She never has to fear being alone as my family is very close knit. Which is why her inaction rankles!
...and you didnt have to mail in and apologise for this comment. Most people have reacted angrily at the situation Sonia is in, but natural as it is difficult for right thinking people to digest this situation.

Ajith: You are so right. People marry, salary and status never the human being behind all that.

Anon1: "setle down" is such an ironic term.

Anon2: Very true, education I guess for many people is just a piece of
paper.And as you said someitmes the fmaily is the biggest culprit in such situations.

Quills: I am not suprised at all!!! I hate such people. I am so mad!!! Such people think that marraige is an Institution that is more important than the people involved in it!

Abhishek: As MC said, we mallus only think of society, never for ourselves and we spend an entire lifetime conforming to society mainly because our society is very bitchy and gossipy.

Kajan: She can walk out and live in dignity without his support, but she is deliberately staying in this realtionship. Some people like being martyrs I guess.

tothless wonder: That was an astute observation!!! You are right, if you let a man become bossy it is your fault and you also got to make your man respect you. But I have seen men who like docile women and make life hell for women who stand up for themsleves.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

Like i said,
Your wedding is not a spur-of-a-moment decission. I'm the kind that believes weddings are for life, and for the same reason,it would do one good if he/she gave it enough thought.
The kind of person one wants to get married to maybe a tough one to answer, but it isn't half as tough to know the kind of person you WOULDN'T want to get married to.
I hope your cousin finds happiness.

Amey said...

Seriously... her parents should try and change her mind. It looks like she has enough support in your family if she wants. Why does she continue?

Anonymous said...

your writings are so terribly addictive!!

going thru the archives here after the other blog!!

keep writing!

silverine said...

toothless wonder:"The kind of person one wants to get married to maybe a tough one to answer, but it isn't half as tough to know the kind of person you WOULDN'T want to get married to." Wow, well said!! A simple truth but so many overlook this!

fleiger: I think she is enjoying the martyrdom feeling, thats the only explanation I can think of. Her folks are fanatic Xians who think divorce is a big sin etc. For all you know her mom must be telling her that she will be rewarded in heaven for the suffering.

Anon: Thank you!

Reshma said...

I come across that a lot at home, the be all & end all of a woman's (and a man's) life is a marriage. it does take a lot of courage to stand up for oneself. i guess your cousin in denial, or she might be telling herself that he will change, or maybe she even thinks its her fault. in a way, you will have to wait for that straw that will break the camel's back. and silverine, maybe you could help her by allowing her to believe in herself, and seeing herself as a person of value and strength. maybe its even the martyr?!
Anyway - its a pity about the children - they are going to have some very poor values & role models to mirror.

Amey said...

No offense to christianity... but why should god be happy with you if you didn't help yourself? And even when it is entirely in your hands?

silverine said...

rune: We have tried our best to help her, but she has to be ready for help in order for us to help her.

fleiger: This sati savitri mentality is drilled into women by all religions. Marriage is considered sacred and the girl told to stick with it and such girls are glorified. Hindu mythology abounds with such examples. Take the case of Kannagi as an example. Even Xian stories of women who endured great pain under abusive husband only to turn them around are used as examples to indoctrinate impressionable minds. In the olden days this was necessary as the girl had no go but to remain within the marriage or be homeless, but today when a girl can live without the support of a husband the old mentality should be shed.

Pradeep Nair said...

It looks like some coincidence. One of the girls I know, after suffering a year of abuse and beatings (from a software techie hubby) -- all for more dowry -- finally decided to walk out yesterday.

I asked her why you didn't do it long before. No, she really hoped things will change, you don't get married to walk out just like that.., she said.

Now finally she has had enough and is convinced the guy just doesn't deserve even a half an extra chance.

It's easy for you and me to comment when we are not the people involved. Matters of heart, emotions and relationships can't be generalised.

It's hard for people like Sonia, but it's easy for us to make judgements. True, she should walk out... if she could, she would have, wouldn't she?

So many things matter, the legal battle for divorce, it's painful; then the support systems... The lucky get the divorce with less pain and less delay... Others neither have a married life, nor a divorce...

I only pray that people like Sonia, whether they are married or divorced, are able to face with equanimity the challenges that life poses, look positively at the hardships and work around difficulties in a constructive manner....

The women have to take decisions, you and I can only provide help and support... is it not?

How do we know said...

Yes there is an explanation - she is insane and dependant on that abuse. You can't do anything, and much as it hurts, we have to let people go down the path of destruction if they choose that path - just be around to help her pick up the pieces if she decides to ever reclaim her life.. she might, one day.. who knows!

Amey said...

I knew there was no concept called divorce in Hindu mythology, but wasn't aware of that incident. Thanks...

If you know that trying to change somebody is going to make a difference, then it's justifiable. But there should be a limit to trying, right? For "satyagraha" to work, the other person should have his value system well and correct.

Sticking to improper old habits is as bad as change for change's sake.

Amey said...

Oh, btw that "offense" bit was added just on chance, since you mentioned they are catholics... I know some people who take these things directly on religion level. Better safe than sorry I said.

Don't mind and all that, what? :D

silverine said...

Pradeep: What a coincidence that a techie coleague of mine was thrown out of her house for inadequate dowry and it took a lot of counselling from all of us for her to see reason and accept divorce!! You are right that matters of heart, emotions and relationships can't be generalised but none of that is involved here. This is just a brute who has a willing victim. She has our support but will she use it another question.

how do we know: You make a lot of sense :)

fleiger: I was not offended at all!!! :) I understood perfectly what you were trying to say!

Anonymous said...

I digress; but babes.... puhleaseee no more 'gulf'.. though its better than 'persia' it still kind of gets on the nerves of those of my ilk i.e. those born and brought up in the 'MIDDLE EAST'



Enigma said...

she might not be confident enuf to face the society alone. she might be thinking abt her kids. Ans it is not easy t o stay alone being divorce din our society. Its not only teh comments they pass but there are other men who are tryin to take advantage of ur situation. they think u must be s** starved hence reday to get into bed with nay one. They think its all womens fault. It takes lotsa courage to walk out. U cannot do it without parents/siblings support. But once u rae out of it u shuld never feel guilty , u shoul dnever feel sad, start being optimistic

Mellowdrama said...

Well, firstly a woman who has a child with an abusive husband is an idiot, a woman who goes on to have child after a mascochist. Surely she could have taken contraception into her own hands. Or then again perhaps she felt kids are her only solace. What is the guarantee he doesn't abuse the kids in someway? With three kids, a woman who has no job prospects, who has scant work experience cannot take off. You may think she is a fool, which she is, but what are her options after having a brood of children?

silverine said...

JJ: Sure Sir, it will be Middle East from now on :)

enigma: If she is thinking of her kids, then why is she getting pregnant? I am afraid she may get another one soon. But you raised a vital point that one needs family support to take the extreme step of divorce.

mellowdrama:Your first line makes sense. She had work experience and a job before she left for the Middle East. In fact her employers were willing to take her back as she is a good Architect. She has a house of her own and some plots too given by her parents. And Kerala today is number one in divorces, she would def be not the only odd one out.

Anonymous said...

Dats just soo SAD .......