I made a choice….

I am Pallavi, a lawyer and on the wrong side of forty. I live with my children in Delhi and have never been happier or more peaceful in life. Or maybe I was happy the way I am today when I was younger, but I don’t have much recollection of that.

Life has always been a roller coaster for me. Maybe it is for everyone, but somewhere I feel that I got more than my share of the lows, the downs. It reached a point where the lows were getting to be a bit too frequent and long-lasting, so I decided to eliminate that part of my life which was causing these lows. The result.. I am a happier, calmer, and better person than before focusing on my goals and passions in life. But it hasn’t come easy. I have had to make difficult choices, but then I made them.

I grew up in a family of four consisting of my parents, Raj and Sheila Sharma, my brother Varun and me,  Pallavi. My father managed a tea estate in an area close to Darjeeling, and so a  large part of my childhood was spent there. I  have vivid memories of the estate, its lush green expanse, the way it sloped gently up and then went down. The aroma of the tea leaves, which was a constant presence in our house, also has not been able to leave me. Tea was an essential part of our lives, as my father loved talking tea. All-day long he worked hard at the estate and in the evening he could speak at great length about the different kinds of tea leaves, their aroma and the types of teas one could drink. As a result, I too developed a passion for tea from an early age, and till date, I love tea. I actually feel that a cup of tea is a solution to all problems from stress to exhaustion to even sadness. It is a great antidote.

Our childhood was quite lonely. Varun and I did not have too many friends, the reason being that we had no other kids around us. Our nearest neighbors were on another tea estate which was quite far from us. So other than the two of us there wasn’t anyone with whom we could interact.

Thus as we were growing up, we were turning out to be loners. Though our mother tried to inculcate various hobbies in us like reading, writing, stamp collection, coin collection, we had a lot of time to spare. She realized that we needed to spend time with children of our age.  She then decided to get hold of all the kids living on our estate whose fathers worked for our dad. She fixed a time for all of us to meet in the evening and play with each other. And all of a sudden, the outdoors became a major part of our lives. Also, we had company and could look beyond each other. This did a lot of good to us, and from just the two of us, there were about ten-twelve of a similar age. We all went to the nearby local school and then came back and spent all our free time together. As a result, we became very close.

However, once I turned twelve, my parents started thinking about sending me to a boarding school since the local school wasn’t that good. Though the idea of leaving all my childhood pals didn’t sit well with me initially, gradually it grew on me as my mother explained the logic to me. Once convinced, I started looking forward to going there.

However, going to such a school also meant that I would be separated from my brother. But then that was inevitable.  Getting a good education was something that my parents wanted for both of us. Since we were living in a place where the opportunities were not that great, we had to move out. I knew that once Varun came of age, he would also have to go to a boarding school, but being a boy it would be a different one. Thus there was no way that we would not be separated. Children, however, are resilient and flexible as well.  We soon got used to the idea of leading our independent lives all through the school term and then getting back together during vacations.

This was the pattern that we followed until I was in school because once I joined college, I started spending my vacations in Delhi, where I was studying. My mother had inculcated in me that I had to learn to earn my own living no matter what. She always believed that a woman should be self-sufficient in every possible way and should not have to depend on anyone. She had always missed out on being able to work in her life, so she didn’t want me to go through the same thing. As I grew up, this feeling resonated with who I wanted to be, an independent and a self-sufficient individual.

To achieve this life goal, I decided to pursue law after school. The space of corporate law had started to fascinate me while I was still in school. This was courtesy of my father. As the manager of a tea estate many times, he had to settle issues that required a lawyers’ help for which he had to travel to Calcutta. Sometimes the lawyers also visited our house, which was when I started interacting with them. I still remember I was in grade 10 or something like that when this lawyer Mr Chatterjee came to see my father. Though they had fixed the time, for some reason, my father had got delayed at one of the tea gardens and couldn’t make it on time. My mother was also not at home at that time. So I had to sit with him till they came back. We started talking, and after a few usual questions about me and my life goals, he started talking about his life and his career.

Something clicked with me as I heard him talk about it. It was evident that he was extremely passionate about his work, and somehow that passion rubbed off on me. I just loved how he spoke about how he was needed by well-known corporates to settle disputes for them, how he had to fight for their rights, advise them on their duties and ensure that they stayed within the realms of legality. We ended up talking for a long time, and he also told me about a few cases that he was handling at that time. Our conversation was cut short with my father’s coming back, but the seed had been sown.

Whenever I got the opportunity, I sat down with my father and questioned him about his cases and the issues that he was facing. With time I learnt to form my own opinions about such matters and always loved voicing them. I started reading books on corporate law, about various well-known lawyers and especially women lawyers.

Whenever I was home from school, our dinner discussions came to be focused around such topics much to the dismay of the other two people on the table. I was also reaching a stage where I needed to figure out what I wanted to do after school. And law seemed to be a brilliant idea. I worked very hard during the last two years of school as I had set my mind to get into the best law school. As they say, hard work always pays. I did phenomenally well in my school-leaving exams and got into the college of my dreams which was in Delhi.

Since I was pursuing a course of my choice, I was deeply interested in every part of my curriculum and worked hard to stay top of the class. Even during my vacations rather than going back home, I chose to remain in Delhi to intern with lawyers of repute to add to my experience and knowledge. My parents and in particular, my mother would always protest and get upset with me, but my father always understood and let me be.

Meanwhile, my brother had also finished school and joined college. He had chosen to get into the corporate world but not as a lawyer. He wanted to be a corporate professional. Our parents had instilled in both of us the need to work hard in life and have clear cut goals. As a result, both of us were not only ambitious but willing to work as hard as possible to realize our ambitions. Our parents were extremely proud of both of us. As luck would have it, Varun had also moved to Delhi to pursue his college. We decided to stay together during that time, and very often our mother would come and stay with us. So it was as good as being at home.

Both Varun and I loved participating in cultural activities in our respective colleges and college festivals was a natural progression of that.  Since we both lived together, we could match our schedules and go for such festivals to different parts of the country. We really enjoyed doing that.

It was at one such festival that my life took a turn. I bumped into this really hot guy who would later become my husband. The thing was we had all gone for this rock show being held in one of the college campuses. As it is, our excitement levels were pretty high as we all loved music and rock music was the flavour of the season. We were around eight boys and girls, which included my brother and some of our friends. The venue was crowded, and everyone was having a good time. Various bands were to perform, but one particular band was the object of interest for most of us. That band was the band of the host college, and the reason for its popularity was the lead singer Rohan Khosla who other than being a great singer was really good looking too. He was the heartthrob of many girls and obviously the star attraction of the show. I was also very keen to see him. And see I did.

Since their’s  was the host college as per convention, their performance was to be the last.

All the girls were waiting impatiently. We had to sit through all the other performances, which was quite tiresome but we had no choice. And then he came, and the world came to a standstill. Rohan had a deep, sexy voice and his looks were a killer. We were all mesmerized by the whole package. But the girls wanted more. So Varun was pressed into service and instructed to look for a common connection. We had to had to meet him. Poor guy, he had to run from pillar to post to do that. Eventually, he found that Rohan was a close friend of one of his acquaintances. We made him contact him, and a few days later, a meeting was arranged at a local ice cream parlour. But we were warned that all five of us could not descend on him at the same time and only three could meet him. That was a tricky one, but we hit upon an ingenious idea. We decided to draw lots. I was one of the lucky ones whose name got picked and lo and behold I was on my way to see him, of course with the others.

As I now recall for me, it was love at first sight. Already impressed by his looks and voice, I was completely bowled over by how he spoke, his sense of humour and the way he carried himself. As my friends later said, I had no hope in hell. But as it so happened, I wasn’t the only one to be impressed. Somewhere I had also made an impact on Rohan, and within two days, he got in touch with me.

Now those weren’t the days of mobile phones, so getting in touch wasn’t as simple as it is now. So Rohan told the same common acquaintance to arrange for a long-distance phone call, and then he decided to come and see me. He was in Ahmedabad, and I was in Delhi, but love was in the air. My brother naturally was entirely in the dark. I didn’t want to tell him anything till I was absolutely sure.

We took off from where we had left in Ahmedabad, and it was a matter of time before we realized that we wanted to take this further. It was a warm, heady feeling.  I was the cynosure of the campus girls. After all, the heartthrob of so many was now with me. I couldn’t believe my luck. Life was good, and the future seemed even better. It wasn’t long before Varun got wind of these developments. Though initially a little sceptical about Rohan gradually Varun too started liking him.

By now, I  was almost on the verge of completing my course. Rohan too was in the final year, all set to become an architect. The going seemed to be very good. Both of us were ambitious and driven individuals who wanted to scale heights in their chosen professions. I loved his views, especially those about women and their careers.

Two years of knowing him and Varun suggested that we should be telling our parents about the relationship as we had become pretty serious about each other by then. Though I had been with him for two years, I had never met any member of his family though Rohan was very close to Varun. They had become pretty thick during this time.

From the very beginning, I had been aware of the difference in our backgrounds. While I came from a modern family, his was an orthodox and traditional one. Rohan’s parents lived in Patna, and his family consisted of a younger brother and an elder sister. The sister had been married off at the age of 20 and lived in the same city. The brother studied in a college in Patna and was set to join their father in the family business. Rohan was the only one who seemed to be different from the rest of them,  and since I was to be with him, I never let the difference in the family background affect us. But then I did agree with my brother when he said that we should now bring our parents into the loop.

So the next time my mother was in town I told her about Rohan. She seemed fine with the idea and wanted to meet him. They met, and though she liked him, she was a little unsure about the family. In any case, my father still had to be brought into the picture. When he was, he felt that before giving the go-ahead, they must visit Rohan’s family. I was, of course, pretty clear that no matter what Rohan was the guy for me.

Meanwhile, Rohan had also spoken to his family who as I was to discover later on were totally opposed to his marrying a girl of his choice. When the details of the girl were shared, they refused even to consider the idea. However, Rohan wasn’t going to change his mind, so the family had to relent, albeit reluctantly. The two families decided to meet, and my parents decided that they would go to Patna to do that. The visit proved beyond doubt that the two families were completely mismatched. It was as though they were from two different planets. My parents were forward-looking who considered both their children to be equal in every respect. There was no distinction between my brother and me. They wanted both their children to be independent and self-sufficient, whereas Rohan’s parents were the complete opposite.

There was no question of women of their family ever going out to work. They were supposed to be reasonably educated and then expected to look after the home and hearth. Rohan’s mother, sister and the prospective sister-in-law fitted the bill, but I was like a sore thumb. My parents were actually quite appalled by their views and beliefs and came back, convinced that they would not let me be a part of such a family.

Rohan wasn’t surprised by their reaction. It was as though he had expected it. So when my parents refused, he had only one request. He requested my father to meet him once after which he would agree to whatever was decided. I never got the full details of what transpired between the two of them, but somewhere and somehow he was able to convince my dad. What I figured was that the fact that the two of us were deeply in love and that we were not going to be living with his parents tilted the scales in his favour.

Moreover, there was nothing that my parents could find wrong with him. He was the exact opposite of his family, a modern, progressive guy who wanted to spend his life with a girl who was equally progressive and ambitious. Varun had also spent a considerable amount of time with him to know that he was a good guy. So although my mother had her apprehensions, my father gave the green signal.

By now, I having completed my Masters in law was working with a well-known law firm, and Rohan was also working with a Design firm. We both wanted to make it big in our respective careers and make it big in life. But of course, since that life was meant to be spent together, we had to work towards it. Now it was my turn to meet his family, and as my mother had anticipated, I could not relate to them at all. We had nothing in common, and it was obvious that both his mother and sister did not like me at all.

I now wonder why I didn’t pick up all these hints at that time. Was I so blindly in love? Maybe I was. Rohan and I discussed the meeting with each other, but he comforted me by saying that I would not have to interact with them very often. I also felt that if he was willing to support me and be there on my side, then why did I have to worry.

The wedding took place in Delhi, but it wasn’t a happy wedding. Though my parents had tried to do their best, Rohan’s parents were at their sulkiest best throughout. The thing was that both families differed on most things. My parents were all for having a low key celebration with just a few rituals thrown in, but  Rohan’s parents wanted lots of pomp and show. Many times Rohan had to intervene to tell them to stop finding fault with everything, but he couldn’t do much. This irritated my parents too, but like most Indian parents, they kept quiet.  Anyways we got married, and for us, that was the most important thing. After the wedding we went to Patna where I got the second shock of my life, the first being the meeting with the two women of the house. Coming from a sophisticated, cultured background where we talked softly, respected each other’s privacy, my in-laws’ place was the complete opposite. It was tacky, crude, done up in a loud manner with music blaring all the time. The house was like a public place where all kinds of people could walk in or out at any time of the night or day. And that wasn’t all.

It was a very regressive household where it was the men who ruled. Their word was law, and the women could not question anything. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t stomach that. It was like whether what they said made sense or not the women had to abide by it and not question anything at all.  And here was I a budding lawyer who hadn’t learnt how to keep my mouth shut. I had always been in the habit of giving my opinion on everything and didn’t know how to take things lying down. But here I was in a typical patriarchal set up where women were just like a piece of furniture.

What was astonishing was how my husband was so different from everyone else. I couldn’t comprehend how he had remained untouched by the environment and upbringing of his family. When I questioned him about it, he answered that he had never been able to relate to them and that is why he had chosen to leave them and make his home in a different city. But though I believed him, somewhere, I overlooked the fact that no matter how much one changes, one’s roots never change. Some part of you upbringing always remains with you, no matter what.

Anyways soon we were back in our city to build our home, our life together. The initial years were happy. Both of us were busy focusing on our careers. I worked long hours and sometimes could not devote as much time to him and our home. Despite that, Rohan was very understanding and supportive. He would always come and pick me up the days I had to work till late in the night. At home too, he never expected me to cook or clean or play the role of a conventional wife. Running of the house was like a joint venture, and both of us were equally responsible for it. That was a big relief for my parents and for me, especially in light of his background and the practice in his family.

However, as expected whenever his family visited, which wasn’t very often, we had issues with them and sometimes with each other as well. They couldn’t relate to our life at all. Not only that, they couldn’t accept it either. So they would pass remarks, comment on our lifestyle. The intent was to make fun of especially him and how he had allowed his wife to control him. Though Rohan tried to avoid, deflect, at times even stand up for us, it wasn’t easy for him at all. His family had no qualms about insulting him in front of others or making him seem like a weakling with no strength of character. In their world, a man showed his strength by controlling the women, and he was obviously not doing that. So though he tried very hard somehow after the visit, we would get into fights and arguments. With time the arguments became fiercer and longer.

The thing was that they did not like me and my ways at all. I was the complete opposite of what they had wanted in their daughter-in-law. I was a working woman, modern and assertive. Their son seemed to be wrapped around my little finger, which was totally unacceptable. So they found every opportunity to pick holes in my day to day life. They would find fault with the food, the running of the house, Rohan’s helping me, my working till late hours and two years into the marriage about my inability to have a child. Now it wasn’t that I couldn’t have a child; the thing was that we had decided to wait for three years before trying. We wanted our careers to reach a certain level before we could be ready for additional responsibility. They obviously couldn’t understand any of that. I found the interference intrusive and intolerable. Though I kept quiet in front of them, my frustration would come out once they had left leading to fights and arguments between us.

Three years after our marriage, I gave birth to our son, who we named Arnav. Though my in-laws came when he was born, I made sure that we did things our way all through my pregnancy. Whenever I needed help, I had my mother. I was clear that I could not follow the customs and rituals that my in-laws wanted me to follow. The child was born, and I had to take him to Patna only to spend the most harrowing one week ever. They had all kinds of rituals that had to be performed, which I hated. The only thing that worked my way was that I had given birth to a boy and had passed the acid test. I hated covering my head and wearing a saree all the time but to keep the peace I went along. Moreover, I always knew that this had to be done for a few days, so I was kind of ok to do it.

Life went on, and three years after Arnav’s birth, our little angel Amaira was born. This time my in-laws’ did not even bother to visit us or call us to Patna as you have guessed it, the newborn was a girl and therefore of no consequence. It suited me fine because I had no time or inclination to spend time in that city. I had risen to become a partner in the law firm where I was working, Arnav had joined school, and Rohan was also very busy with his work. He had by now quit his job and started his own firm. It had not been an easy decision, we had needed money to start it, but we had managed. Though he could have asked his father for help and he would probably have obliged he didn’t want to. He had always been fiercely independent, which I really appreciated. So though we were not exactly rolling in money, we were reasonably comfortable primarily as I was doing very well. Within a couple of years Rohan’s business also took off, and he also started doing very well.

Life was very happy and comfortable. We still had to go to Patna occasionally, but the visits were few and far between. By now, my in-laws and I had accepted each other. They knew they couldn’t change me and I, for one, had never imagined that I could do that. But then fate struck a blow. My brother-in-law and his family, which consisted of his wife and a son, were killed in a car accident. They were travelling back to Patna from Gaya, a city near Patna when their car was hit by a truck, and all the four occupants of the car including the driver, were killed on the spot.

The entire family was devastated and in particular, my in-laws for whom he had been the only dependable son. They had given up on Rohan a long time ago. But all of a sudden their beloved son had left them. My father-in-law could never recover from this shock. He took to his bed very soon after the tragedy, and no matter how hard we all tried, it made no difference to him. We got both my in-laws to live with us in Delhi for a change, but it was as though he didn’t want to get better. He had gone into a depression and pulling him out of it was turning out to be impossible.

The moving of my in-laws with us changed all our lives drastically. I who always wanted to run away from them was now saddled with their responsibility, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I felt sorry for them but also knew that living with them could prove to be a challenge. Rohan also had no choice left, but to rise up to the occasion and be there for them.

Gradually two things became clear. One was that my father-in-law wasn’t going to get better and second that my in-laws were going to live with us. It wasn’t going to be easy, but we had no choice. Till the time my mother-in-law felt that she was going to go back, she was kind of ok with me, but the day she realized that they would have to spend the rest of their life with us, she changed and like how!

And that change changed everything for me. To begin with, she started interfering in every aspect of my life and had an opinion about everything. If I said something to the children, she would take their side and criticize me without even knowing anything about our issue. If I had an argument with Rohan, she was there in the sidelines to find fault with me. If I got late at work, she would leave no stone unturned to make me feel guilty. It was as though she had resolved to make my life as miserable as possible. It seemed as though she had a score to settle with me and was making sure that she did that.

As was bound to happen, Rohan started getting influenced by her. I would leave home before he did and sometimes was very late coming back home. I also had to travel often, which added to my woes. My kids were pretty young, ten and seven and needed my time and attention, which I couldn’t give many times. Earlier Rohan would take over and sort things for me but now with his parents around he stopped doing that. And what was shocking was that he started objecting to my long working hours and my travel. I tried talking to him, explaining things to him, but he didn’t seem to want to understand.

And one day he just took the cake. That day in the morning, I had told him that I was going to be late coming back, and since our driver was on leave, he may have to come and pick me up. The other option was that I request, Paresh, the other partner in my firm to drop me back home. Since he himself was going to have a long day, we agreed that I would request Paresh to drop me which is what happened. But what a furore it created! When I reached home, I asked Paresh to come up to say a quick hello to Rohan, who he knew very well. But when we came into the apartment, I realized that Rohan hadn’t come back. The kids had gone off to sleep, and I presumed that my in-laws were also asleep, but that wasn’t the case. My mother-in-law was awake and watching TV in her room.

Since Paresh had come in, I decided to offer him a drink assuming that Rohan would also join us in a while. I called him and told him that we were waiting for him. Paresh and I settled with our drinks and got talking. We worked together, so we had a lot in common, and as is prone to happen, we got engrossed in discussing one of our latest cases. We didn’t realize, and it was almost midnight by the time Rohan came. Since it was a Friday, he too decided to join us, and it was about two when Paresh finally left. The next day was like a horror story in more ways than one.

It began unfolding even before I was up. I walked out into the balcony with my morning cuppa and saw that the mother and son were in deep conversation. Both the kids were playing in their room. The moment I walked in, I could sense that Rohan seemed to be upset about something. When I asked him, he answered, saying that it was none of my business. I was quite horrified as he had never spoken to me like that before. I attributed this to be one other effect of the presence of my in-laws. But before anything further could happen, fate decided to deal a blow. For the time being, we all forgot about the Paresh episode as other things took over.

 As we were talking,  our maid came rushing to tell us that something seemed to have gone wrong with my father-in-law. We all went in to see that he was gasping for breath and seemed to be in terrible pain. I quickly rushed to call the doctor, but before he could come, my father-in-law passed away. He had had a massive heart attack. Though we were all devastated, I felt it was good for him as by now he had become completely bedridden and dependent on others for every small thing.

But for me his passing spelt disaster. Now that my mother-in-law was completely free from every responsibility, she turned her full attention on me and my life. I started feeling that she wanted to make sure that she ruined it. She would keep picking holes in the food, the house, my help, and how our children were being brought up with greater vengeance than ever before. Everything that went wrong in the house was my responsibility. She would never tire of reminding my husband and me that I was a useless woman who couldn’t take care of my house and my family. As luck would have it gradually, my husband started believing her and joined her in making my life as difficult as possible. If one day the food was cold, some other day it hadn’t been cooked properly, and on some other day, the house had not been cleaned properly. If nothing else, the children’s performance in school would come under the scanner. Her only mission seemed to make me come across as a selfish mother and wife. My help would tell me that she would go through my clothes, makeup, and other things in my absence. Her take was that I worked to be able to afford all such things. It was unbelievable and disgusting, but it was true. I was being branded as a useless woman in my own house, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

My life was becoming impossible. I was dealing with huge pressures at work, and now home was no better. My husband, who had been my biggest support, had turned away from me and joined hands with his mother. That progressive, modern and ambitious man had changed colours. Yes, he was progressive, he was modern, and he was still ambitious but only for himself. He started objecting to my long hours, my travel, and the most shocking of all to my association with my male colleagues. I couldn’t believe my ears the first day he told me that I needed to watch how I behaved with other males and didn’t need to be too close to them. I told him that I couldn’t do that, and that is when a lid kind of blew off.  He went back to the night when Paresh had dropped me home. I couldn’t quite believe it!

The thing was that my mother-in-law had kicked up a fuss on seeing me with Paresh and that too in Rohan’s absence. She had got after him accusing him of spoiling the family name by allowing his wife to bring men home. She had told him that no way was she going to accept this sort of behaviour. She was clear that since she had his father was to be living with us, he had to make sure that we respected their wishes. She had been talking to him about all this the day I had seen them in the balcony. But after that, since my father-in-law had passed away, Rohan had forgotten all about it.

But now my mother-in-law was after him once again. Somewhere I am sure she had started blackmailing him emotionally, and he started getting influenced. Probably somewhere he had begun to feel sorry for her and didn’t want to hurt her. But in the process, he chose to hurt me.

I tried to handle my problems on my own for some time, but then things started becoming very bad. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do anything right as per the mother-son duo.  I consulted my parents, my friends and they all had the same thing to say. They all felt that my mother-in-law had a vengeance against me and was trying to settle scores with me. She was not at all concerned about how all the fights and arguments instigated by her were vitiating the atmosphere in the house and was affecting the children. Like any other mother, I loved my children and could do anything for them. So I adjusted, I compromised and tried living my life the way they wanted me to. I wanted my kids to be happy, and so one day, I decided to quit as my work was the biggest bone of contention between my husband and me. I mistakenly believed that by doing that and by being at his beck and call all day, I would be able to make him happy. Though my firm, my parents and Varun were shocked at my decision and pleaded with me to reconsider it, I refused to do that. I didn’t want our family life to be disturbed. But as everyone had predicted, nothing worked.

By staying at home, I ended up being on my mother-in-law’s radar all the time, and there was no time out. It was torture. I couldn’t do anything on my own. I had to seek her permission even to step out of the house.  But most of all I couldn’t get my husband, the love of my life, the man of my dreams to understand me or my situation.  He couldn’t see how much I had sacrificed for my family and was continuing to do so. He seemed to have become a different person, a far cry from the man I had fallen in love with. It horrified me to see him sometimes behave like his father when he passed derogatory statements about women, something he had never done. We would have massive arguments at such times, which would make the situation even worse. I stuck on for another five years, but then one day something broke inside me.

It was a Monday morning. The children had gone to school, and the three of us were having breakfast. Rohan wanted a glass of water, and since our maid was in the kitchen, I decided to get it.  I knew that he liked to drink cold water and so I got a chilled glass of water for him. Imagine my horror when instead of drinking it, he flung the glass at me saying that I was such a useless wife who couldn’t even give a glass full of water to her husband. Apparently, the glass was half full. Needless to say, his mother joined him to list out all the reasons why I was useless. Not only was I shocked but now absolutely livid. I had been trying so hard to make things work. I had given up my career, my life for these two and all they could do was keep having a go at me. Something just snapped, and I did something that I should have done much earlier.

When he threw the glass at me as an instinctive reaction, I caught the glass in my hand and then threw it back at him. It hit him on the head, but without turning around, I went to my room, picked up my bag, a few clothes, my car keys and walked out of his life.

I decided that I would give him a divorce and start my life afresh. I had taken enough, and there was no need to take any more. I went to my parents’ house, who welcomed me with open arms. The kids who were old enough to understand the situation also moved with me. Though I did give them the option to choose who they wanted to be with, their choice was to be with me. Thus began a new phase of my life.

Somewhere as I look back, I can now see that somewhere I had begun to realize that my husband was no longer the man I had got married to.  Though the truth had been staring at my face for quite some time, I had refused to pay heed. I hadn’t wanted to believe that the man I had married to had changed completely and became a totally different person. It was strange the way he had transformed, but he had.

Ultimately I couldn’t deny it any longer. It was sad but true. Somewhere, somehow he had become like all the other members of his family, orthodox, intolerant, a misogynist and to top it all a mama’s boy. He couldn’t look beyond her. Her wish was his command even if it ended up ruining his life.

When the truth hit me, I knew that I didn’t want to be part of this life of his. He was welcome to live with his mother and be a dutiful son. So I chose to walk out. My family, of course, supported me. The change in Rohan had not gone unnoticed. Though my family had wanted me to take this step, they had waited for me to move towards it naturally without any prodding on their part. On his part, my brother tried talking to Rohan to try and make him see sense but to no avail. Apparently, I had committed an unpardonable sin by walking out of the four walls of my marital home. He told my brother very clearly that if I wanted to get back I would have to apologize for my behaviour, quit working and take care of the house and the children while giving his mother all the respect and regard that she deserved. This basically meant that he wanted me to live under his mother’s thumb, which I wasn’t prepared to do. My family agreed with me. They advised me to go back to work. It wasn’t difficult for me to do that. I had been a partner, and the gap in my work life had not been that great. I was quickly absorbed in my old firm.

Thereafter  I filed for a divorce, and we were given joint custody of the children by the court. What amazed me was the fact that not once did my husband get in touch with me. Though I tried calling him a couple of times, he refused to take my calls.

Today Rohan lives with his mother with the children spending the weekends with him. On weekdays they are with me. I have risen to be the senior partner in my firm and live an independent life. I have a set of friends; my family is there for me. I do meet Rohan off and on but don’t really miss his presence. My children understand why  I left him. In fact, they now share how our fights used to terrorize them and my daughter actually used to hide under the table whenever we fought.

The only person who I don’t know much about and don’t even wish to know about is my mother-in-law who was successful in breaking up a home, her son’s home, our home.

Such is life and such are its paradoxes.

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