The tears flowed down my eyes and wet the pillows. I tried not to make any sound as I sobbed my heart out. I didn’t want to wake up Yatin who was sleeping next to me. My hands and arms hurt badly where Yatin had placed the hot ladle on my skin. But I didn’t dare put on the light and inspect my wounds. Instead I cried into the dark night, the silent sobs racking my frail body. I slept in a fetal position, hugging my knees close to my chest.
When Yatin had returned home in the evening, I smelt the foul alcohol on his breath. But today he was intoxicated more than usual; he had difficulty walking and when he sat down at the dinner table, he was about to fall off from his chair. I tried supporting him but he pushed me aside and sat down on the chair.
The minute he took the first bite, he threw the food on me and held me by my hair.
‘Bitch, are you trying to kill me? You have put more spice in the food deliberately. You know I can’t consume spicy food. You want to kill me and then enjoy with your other boy friends in my bedroom’ he screamed at me.
I was confused. Yesterday he was in a rage complaining that the food was bland, so I had ensured today that the food had precise amount of spices and salt. But I should have known better. No matter what I did, I couldn’t appease Yatin.
‘No Yatin, here let me taste the food’, I said trying to pacify him.
But the monster in him was beyond control. He took the hot ladle and placed it on my hands and arms. I cried aloud in pain, but he just threw me against the wall and then dragged me into our bedroom and forced himself on me.
Most nights these events would repeat but today Yatin was angrier than usual. I didn’t know what had irked him or if he was just drunk beyond any sense.
In the morning I woke up to the sound of Yatin getting dressed, he had an early morning meeting. I opened my eyes as Yatin came to my side and kissed me on my forehead. I shrunk away from him but he folded me in his arms. My hand was hurting badly and I winced.
‘I’m sorry Neeta. I don’t know what comes over me when I’m drunk and plastered. I know I need help. I’ll go in for counseling, I promise you. Please don’t leave me. You are all I have.’ he pleaded.
I just nodded my head. He had already promised a thousand times that he would mend his ways, but he always fell short on his promises.
After he went to office, I got up slowly and washed my bruises and made myself a cup of tea. The doorbell rang frightening me and making me jump. I looked out through the peephole on my door and found Shalini standing outside. Shalini was my childhood friend and she visited me sometimes. She was the only one with whom I could share my woes. My parents were dead and I had no children in whose warmth I could find solace.
Shalini was horrified seeing the bruises on my hands.
‘What happened Neeta?’ she asked worried.
I narrated yesterday’s events leaving out the rape that I had been subjected to from my husband. I couldn’t make myself tell her somehow.
Shalini comforted me and hugged me as I cried my heart out.
‘Neeta, I have always wanted to ask you. Yours was a love marriage, so you must have known Yatin before marriage. Didn’t you have any inkling before marriage about his anger issues’?
I remembered the time when Yatin and I were dating. We had met through some common friends. Yatin was a businessman who was trying to find a foothold in the market. I was totally mesmerized by his charm and his handsome looks. He pursued me relentlessly until I gave in and accepted his proposal.
Yatin was a possessive lover and he didn’t like it when I talked to other guys. 6 months after we started seeing each other, I understood the extent of his possessiveness.
We were supposed to watch a movie together and, I had informed Yatin that I would reach the theater directly from work. Since I was late, I asked one of my male colleagues to drop me since the theater fell on his way home. Unfortunately Yatin who was waiting for me, saw me getting off from my colleague’s bike. When I reached him I had a big smile on my face, but it was instantly wiped off when Yatin slapped me. Right there, in front of the public.
I felt so insulted that I ran all the way home. Yatin followed me and begged to forgive him. He said he loved me too much to see me with anyone else. He said that he felt insecure in our relationship. He promised that he would never ever lift his hand on me. He said he wanted to marry me because he wanted to take care of me for a lifetime.
I should have known then that Yatin had a problem with his anger. That he needed help. That was the first sign of the calamity that was going to fall on my life. I should have acknowledged it and stayed away from him.
But I thought that he would change, that I could change him. That I would love him to an extent that he would overcome his problem. How stupid I was.
Our marriage was a simple affair. Yatin’s possessiveness grew by manifolds after our marriage. He wanted to keep a tab on everything that I did, everyone that I met, wherever I went. I lost contacts with my friends because none of them were good in Yatin’s eyes. I quit my job because he didn’t like me interacting with other male colleagues.
After a year of marriage, Yatin’s business went on a loss. And his life went on a downslide at breakneck speed. He started drinking and verbally abusing me. I pleaded with him to meet a counselor but he slapped me accusing me that I was implying he had mental issues. Eventually he closed his business and joined a low salary job in his friend’s company.
But he never recovered from the incident as every night he returned home drunk and took out his frustration on me.
Shalini placed her hands on mine as she listened to my story silently.
‘You have should have taken heed when Yatin showed the first signs of mental illness. You should have asked him to take help before marriage. You could have saved yourself from this misery’, Shalini stated with a long sigh.
‘Leave him now before it’s too late. Things have gone from bad to worse and you don’t have to suffer any more. You have a degree; you can easily get a job. And you can stay at my place till you can afford to rent a space. I’ll help you through.’ Shailini comforted me.
I was still skeptical. I had no one except Yatin. But what good would come if I stayed. I would be abused and all my self-respect would be stripped off until my soul and body both were stark naked.
I asked myself if it was really worth it. And suddenly I wanted to break free. I wanted to breathe fresh air, I wanted to start my life all over again. I had to live for myself. I owed that much to myself. I knew it was not too late to do what I should have done long back. I stood up and walked towards a new day shining with new hopes and dreams for me.