The Overbearing Wife

Priya, a strong-willed but a headstrong individual. Priya, the youngest of three siblings was born to her parents very late in their lives. So there was a considerable age difference between her and her siblings, an elder brother and an elder sister. In fact, there was an age difference of twelve years between Priya and her brother and a difference of eight years between her and her sister. This made her the baby of the house, much loved and pampered but also bullied by her siblings. They never had much time for her and always treated her as someone who could be a source of amusement for them. As a result very early on in her life, Priya learnt that she had to be quite assertive to make herself heard. Whenever there was any discussion in the family about any issue she and her views were always sidelined and not taken notice of because as her father would say “She is just a child”. This kind of a dismissal always pinched her and angered her a lot but there wasn’t much that she could do about it.

Her family was a well educated one with both her parents being doctors. And it was expected of the children also to excel in their academics. Both her siblings always managed to surpass the parents expectations whereas for Priya it was a struggle most of the times. That too always put her on the back foot. She tried very hard to do as well as them but somehow was never able too. Time went by and as expected her brother also became a doctor while her sister started teaching in a school. This added to the pressure on the young girl and the entire family never missed an opportunity to remind her of that. By now Priya was well into her teens and had become quite a stubborn and obstinate person. She was extremely sharp tongued as well.

When she was eighteen and in college she was chosen to represent her college in a university level debating competition. She was a star debater of her college and therefore a natural choice for such a competition. The competition was to take place in a different city and was part of a college festival. Her parents were not too keen to send her there. But she had decided that she wanted to go, come what way. Therefore her parents had no choice but to give in. Her life took a major turn in those three days that she was out of the house.

She met a young man there who was to play a major role in her life. This young man Nitin, a final year student of engineering  was there but to take part in the musical events. He was extremely good looking, a fantastic singer and played the guitar very well. This made him a big hit with the girls and one girl in particular just fell for him. This girl Priya did not realize that Nitin too had seen her and liked her. He had been majorly impressed by her debating prowess and could not help admiring the way she had quashed the views of most of her opponents.

Nitin made a few enquirers and managed to get himself introduced to Priya. The two got along like a house on fire the moment they met and ended up spending a lot of time with each other. But before long, they had to part ways and go back to their lives but they promised to write to each other and keep in touch ( Those were not the days of mobile phones or emails!!!) As promised Nitin would write to her every week. In fact he gave her a big surprise by paying her a visit on her birthday. Priya was by now head over heels in love with him and was sure that he was the one for her. She loved him also because he was very patient, caring and had all the time in the world for her ( something which her family members never had) But she had to keep the existence of Nitin hidden from her parents as Nitin belonged to a different community from hers and she knew that her parents would strongly object to her association with him.

Anyways within a year they both graduated from their respective colleges and enrolled for their Masters. For her Masters degree Priya had to go to a different city and once again though her parents disapproved of her decision, she went ahead with it. The love continued to flourish and with that Priya’s resolve to get married to Nitin also became strong. In fact she couldn’t wait any longer. Meanwhile Nitin on one of his visits to see Priya, took his mother and sister to meet her. Now Priya wasn’t very pretty and when the mother daughter duo met her they were a little taken aback because Nitin was extremely good looking. But seeing that Nitin was so much in love they decided to ignore the looks and gave the go- ahead. Nitin’s father also supported their decision.

The problem was Priya’s parents who would never agree to the alliance. She was clear that no one could change her mind but like any other young girl she wanted her parents also to support her decision. So one night when they were all having dinner, she broached the topic of Nitin along with her decision to marry him.To say that her family was shocked would be an understatement… They were shell-shocked. Sitting there were her parents, her brother and his wife and her sister and her husband. Both her siblings had gone along with the parents wishes and married people of their choice.But now here was Priya, the baby of the family who was not seeking any kind of a permission to marry but announcing her decision to do that and that too with someone who didn’t belong to their community!!

Her parents made it absolutely clear that they were not going to agree no matter what and there wasn’t much support from the others also. Priya decided to consult Nitin who felt that she should give them some time . But that didn’t help as her parents were firm and in no mood to listen . Priya, not being able to get her way was getting angrier by the day. So one fine day she just walked out of the house and went to her friend’s place. Since it wasn’t going to be possible for her to stay there for too long, she started pressurizing Nitin to get married to her. He in turn spoke to his parents who agreed to let them tie the knot. They even went to the extent of trying to convince Priya’s parents but they of course stuck to their guns.

This  here was this girl getting married to the man of her dreams but with no one from her family to bless the union. This of course got people talking but her in-laws and Nitin stood by her and did not let people say anything to her. She was terribly upset with her family but then if she was adamant and stubborn in her stance, so were they.

So it was hugely comforting and joyful for her to begin her new life with this gem of a human being who seemed to be the most loving and caring individual in the world. It was as though her wish was his command. Since they were living on their own, life wasn’t very easy. Setting up the house, taking care of it, getting the meals in place wasn’t a piece of cake but Nitin was always there to support her, help her and encourage her. Although he himself had also taken up a new job which was quite demanding he made it a point to be home on time, take Priya out and also help her with the housework.

For the first time in her life, Priya was the center of someone’s universe. Never before had she been showered with so much love and attention. She was so happy that she just seemed to have forgotten her parents. If they did not get in touch with her, she also did not feel the need to do that.

Time went by, children came by and life was perfect. Priya was in control of her world. She got what she wanted, when she wanted and how she wanted it. But in satisfying her wants she somewhere lost track of the fact that Nitin too had his wants, his needs, which by and large never got satisfied. He had always wanted to give the best to her especially after the way her parents had treated them, so much so that it had become a way of life for them. Everything was always as per Priya’s wishes. This had the effect of making her extremely self-centered and selfish. It never ever occurred to her to put Nitin’s interests before hers. She got into the habit of taking all major decisions in their lives and gradually stopped consulting Nitin on everything. She had become extremely confident, ( in fact a tad over confident ) in her approach to life and started feeling that she could never go wrong. In fact, she now even started interfering in his work life and giving her opinions on matters which sometimes had nothing to do with her. She also took it upon herself to regulate his working hours, throwing a tantrum whenever he had to work till late. In fact, she even objected to his taking work-related calls after seven in the evening. Nitin, of course, couldn’t do that and many times they would fight over these things. And as he climbed the corporate ladder there was no way that he could do what she wanted him to.

On the contrary, he became busier, his working hours became longer, he had to travel much more than before and late night conference calls became a norm. Priya could not tolerate this and would always pick up a fight with him whenever he did that. It wasn’t that she didn’t want him to grow professionally but she wanted it her way. Her way was to enjoy all the trappings of his world but without sacrificing anything. If he wanted her to entertain his business associates by inviting them home she would do it very reluctantly. In fact, she would want to invite who she thought was important. And her criteria had nothing to do with his business interests, rather it was based on who she liked, whose wife she got along with or even which part of the city the person lived in. Since she had come to believe that she was always right, she had an opinion about everything. Nitin could never oppose her or have a contrary view. If he tried she would argue and argue with him till out of sheer frustration he would give in.

Even the children were her domain and Nitin could not ever interfere there. He was the provider no doubt but most of the times on the sidelines of their lives. She would want him to spend time with them, help them with their academics when required, attend parent teacher meetings in school but what was to be done when was her decision. He just had to agree. And if he didn’t, she would take him on a major guilt trip. Now it wasn’t that he did not love his children, he loved them a lot and could do anything for them but he did not like to be pushed around. The thing was that Priya wanted to be in control of everything ( maybe a result of her childhood when she was always ignored) no matter what. She was not realising but she was turning out to be an overbearing wife.

Of course, it never occurred to her that Nitin may not like her overbearing attitude or that he may want to do things differently. It had to be her way, always. As a result, Nitin started getting frustrated with his life. He gradually started staying on in office till late because apart from the work he found peace there. Priya objected, she picked up fights with him on this but he held on. She also didn’t want to push too hard as she knew that the money, the status, the position all came from there.

With time she also started feeling superior to her siblings who were not as well off as she had now become. She was traveling the world with her husband, getting to live in fancy houses and leading a lifestyle that was far luxurious than what they were leading. It, in fact, gave her quite a kick to be able to flaunt all that. Her siblings though well educated were still living in their hometown which obviously was much smaller than the cities where Priya had lived. She had by now managed to mend fences with her family and whenever she met them she loved to show off her lifestyle, her husband, her children, in fact, everything about her. She felt that she lived in a different world, a world which was unknown to them and therefore they needed her to be exposed to it.

When her sister started having problems with her husband she was there to help her both emotionally and financially but that feeling of being one up on her and everyone else could not leave her. It was as though now the tables had turned where her family needed her more than she needed them. Though she had taken a stand against the family, she had proved to be the one who was now better off than them. They now needed her, someone who they had always sidelined in her childhood. This gave a great boost to her self-esteem. And this sort of made her quite pompous and overbearing. In fact, the feeling of being always right, always in control made her quite uncontrollable. And it was Nitin and the children who had  to bear the brunt of this most of the times. This had the effect of pushing Nitin further away from her and more involved in his work.

Nitin, in fact, could do a lot of stuff that he loved when he was in office till late. He even started traveling a lot because he found a lot of peace and comfort when he was away from home. He did miss the children but he couldn’t deal with Priya and her domineering ways all the time. His home seemed like a prison where everything and everyone functioned as per Priya’s wishes. He did realize that he was paying the price of being too indulgent with her. In his desire to fill her life with love he had ended up giving the reins of his life to her and there was no way that he could get them back. He was sick and tired of her constant jabbering, her never-ending capacity for questioning and counter-questioning him on everything.

So maybe as an answer to his prayers came Sheena into his life, a calm, quiet Sheena, a breath of fresh air. She joined his team at a senior position and was a welcome addition. She was divorced from her husband and had two children. The moment they met, they connected and looked forward to being with each other. They always had a lot to talk and share with each other. They had similar interests, they loved reading, watching movies, painting, and writing. Most of all Sheena always had room for Nitin’s thoughts, his opinions. She respected him and held him in high regard both professionally and personally.
Thus from making someone the centre of his universe, now he was the centre of someone’s universe. What a refreshing change!!! There was now a smile on his lips, a spring in his step… He wanted to be with her all the time. Of course, he had to be careful because he did not want Priya to suspect anything and so to avoid this he started traveling more than before and with whom!! Of course Sheena!

It was but natural for Sheena and Priya to bump into each other but since Priya did not consider her to be in her league, she largely ignored her. This obviously suited Nitin and Sheena! It wasn’t long before people in Nitin’s office started to notice the vibes between the two. The camaraderie, the chemistry between them was far too electrifying to go unnoticed. But it was quite ironic that people just accepted it. Priya had always managed to rub a lot of people the wrong way with her highhandedness, so they felt it served her right. In any case, no one expected anything serious to come out of the…. friendship.

Meanwhile, Nitin and Sheena were now deeply in love and wanted to spend as much time with each other as possible. But then they were sensible and mature too. Nitin did not want to do anything which could jeopardize his children’s lives. And being a mother Sheena fully supported and understood his sentiments. So they decided to just go with the flow, meeting, traveling whenever they could. Meanwhile, Priya was no fool. She could sense a change in her husband but couldn’t put a finger to it. She could see he was happier, more cheerful than before but couldn’t fathom the reason. But since there was nothing really wrong she also just let it be. However, one day the inevitable happened. While going through Nitin ‘s phone for a number she was flabbergasted to see a message from Sheena confirming their dinner plans. To say that she was shocked would be an understatement. She was totally dumbstruck !!! But not for too long… She decided to confront Nitin and take him to task.

Much to her horror and dismay Nitin, her husband did not bother to deny anything and in fact, admitted to having an affair with Sheena. When she heard this all hell broke loose. Priya started screaming, shouting and abusing her husband and Sheena. Hearing her screaming the children came running to see what was wrong, the maids came out. They all tried to pacify get, calm her down but she just wouldn’t stop. Nitin tried telling her to calm down but of course, there was no question of her listening to him. By now she had started throwing things and there was so much of commotion that even the neighbors came out. This was too much for Nitin and he took her by her hand and into their bedroom. He knew that no matter what he said at that point nothing would make sense to her, so he just let her be. She was hysterical by now, he gave her some water but didn’t utter a word. He just kept listening. It was as though he had been prepared for this storm, and now that it was there, he was giving it time to blow over. Finally, after almost two hours, the fury of the storm abated when Priya seemed to have no energy to shout anymore. She became quiet but couldn’t stop crying.

Nitin now tried explaining his side which was pretty much about how she had pushed him away with her behavior and ways. He was clear that she could take anything she wanted from him but she couldn’t have him. He belonged to someone else now and that was how it was going to be. Of course, Priya would have none of that but somewhere the sheer calmness with which Nitin was behaving made her realize that he wasn’t going to budge. He seemed determined about that.
This angered her and she wanted to call up Sheena but Nitin was very clear that this was something that they had to sort out between themselves and he would not let Sheena be exposed to Priya’s sharp tongue. He also made it clear that she still remained his responsibility along with the children and he would take care of all their needs. He was prepared to move out if that was what she wanted. She could stay there, she could go back to her parents house but she couldn’t have him. The material things would be hers but not the man.

They couldn’t sleep the whole night. Next morning Priya called up her father in law and told him about what had happened. The initial shock having worn off, she also started calling up their friends and telling them about what had happened. Their closest friends Shalini and Rajat rushed to be with them. Shalini decided to take the children to her place so that they wouldn’t have to witness the ugly situation. Rajat tried talking to Nitin who was clear that he would take care of Priya in every respect but he was committed to Sheena. Shalini sat down with Priya and told her to stop telling the whole world about the situation because that would only worsen it. But Priya being the kind of person that she was wouldn’t stop. She wanted to malign Nitin, humiliate him and tear him to shreds. Since she wouldn’t stop, Nitin packed his bags and checked into a hotel.

His primary concern at that point was the children. So the next morning he went to Shalini’s place and had a heart to heart chat with them. Their girls who were now sixteen and fourteen years old were surprisingly quite open to hearing him out. He explained how Priya and he had grown apart over the years and he had been finding it difficult to pull along for a long time. But he had carried on out of a sense of duty and commitment. All this changed when he met Sheena with whom he could gel very well and with whom he was now deeply in love. He knew that it was an extremely delicate situation and he had to be very sensitive to the feelings of the girls. He was very candid in explaining that Priya may no longer be the one he loved but she would continue to be the mother of his children and therefore he would always take care of her. And obviously, there was no question of his shying away from his responsibility towards them.

Though the girls were quite dismayed  by the turn of events they somehow could understand their father. The fact that he didn’t say anything against Priya also made them respect him even more. In fact, the older daughter even offered to have a word with Priya but Nitin dissuaded her from doing that. He didn’t want Priya to think that he was influencing the girls against her.

Priya, as expected was still not prepared to accept the situation. She couldn’t comprehend how or why her world had turned upside down. Shalini and Rajat had to sit with her and make her understand that the situation was pretty irretrievable. There was no turning back and the only option was to accept the inevitable and find the best way forward, a way that would be best for all of them. They assured her that Nitin may not love her the way she wanted him to any longer but he would always stand by her. She needed to sit with him and talk to him. It took a lot of effort for her to come to terms with the changed circumstances but she figured that raving and ranting or involving the world wasn’t going to help in any way. So with a heavy heart, she went to see Nitin. When she saw him she just broke down. She couldn’t believe that the person who had always been there for her, with her was not there any longer. He belonged to another woman. She felt cheated, betrayed.

But once again Shalini comforted her, made her understand that she had to face the reality. Nitin in his way assured her that she had no reason to worry as far as her life ahead was concerned. She could continue to live in the same house, move to a different one or even go and live with her parents, the choice was hers. He would provide for her and the girls no matter what. He would be there for them whenever they wanted only difference being that he would not be living in the same house. Though he would have loved to be with the girls he did not want to take them away from their mother. Thus they parted ways and in a few months time filed for a divorce. As promised he gave Priya everything that he had said he would, the money, the house, the custody of the girls. He, in turn, got to see the girls every fifteen days.

Meanwhile, Sheena was very much around but took a back seat while all this was going on because she did not want to cloud Nitin’s judgment in any way. She was there for him the day the divorce came through and from then onwards, Sheena knew that now Nitin could marry her but she was in no rush. She loved him but did not want him or anyone else to think that she needed him for his money or his status. In fact, they didn’t get married for a long time. They were happy the way they were…. unconventionally together, and Priya continued to be with her girls though she couldn’t understand why Nitin and Sheena though free did not get married as she expected them to do.

Was this the way this story was meant to unfold?

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