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The scenario as narrated by my aunt:
“It was 4pm.He came on his scooter and hooted loudly at our gate. His presence near our vicinity used to bring a shrill down our spines. Daddy went out to counter him. You were just 4, he pushed you from the vehicle and said ab apni beti ke saath isko bhi sambhalo( take care of her along with your daughter). Your father went away, didn’t even look back. You were crying inconsolably, daddy immediately took you in his arms and came inside the house’.
With wet eyes my aunt told us (5 cousins), the incident which took place some 30 years ago. The man who pushed the little girl was my (mausaji) my aunt’s husband and daddy was my Nanaji(my mom’s father).
Our Nanaji, was a tall man. He lived with one mission and a dream in his mind. The mission was to get all his 4 daughters educated and the dream was that all four should become government employees of repute. Alas, some 40 years ago working women that too with government jobs were the most sought brides by the then middle class.
As wished while she was just 23 my eldest aunt got in to matrimony. Little was inquired about the boy and his family before the wedding as a result the marriage was nothing less than a catastrophe for her. The boy’ mother and sisters constantly hurled abuses at her for not getting enough dowry. The boy used to shout insults at her for not managing the work and household work aptly. All her salary was taken from her and she was a given a minimum amount to travel to her work and back. They took advantage of the fact that she was the eldest of 4 sisters and due to social pressure of the society would succumb to all their demands and never go back to her parents’ house. But, once when things crossed beyond control she left her 4 year old daughter and came to her house.
What followed has been described above as “First scenario” in this blog. After that, my aunt’s life was an amalgam of negotiations and comprises between her and her in-laws. She did go back to that house because her 3 younger sisters were yet to get married and the society did not highly approve of a divorce in those times.
Although with years, things did improve, the torturing in-laws were becoming a minority as their girls were getting married and rest of the members were breaking free. In the meantime my aunt raised two beautiful and strong daughters. Was it fate or was the sheer loving nature of the girls, their father (our uncle) softened a bit. Now he was a highly possessive and loving father.
Second Scenario 26 years late again narrated by my aunt:
The furious son in law was now a father of a daughter who had recently got married. His daughter married an engineer and was living in a joint family. Unfortunately, in our society though the women empowerment has been the national agenda but on domestic front the mindset of the people has been very rudimentary.
It was 4pm again and in the room were sitting my aunt, uncle, cousin and her in laws. Her mother in law was expressing her discontentment over my cousin’s behavior as a daughter in law. She said authoritatively ‘You have not taught your daughter anything. Yes she is very educated I admit that but that’s not enough for a woman. Please teach her to execute her domestic chores or otherwise you will have to bear the consequences’. Period, and then they left.
My uncle was furious with anger. He was in rage. How could someone talk about his daughter in this manner? How dare did they make her accountable for household work, after all she was a chartered accountant. He then went to his daughter, held her hand and said not to worry. He vowed that he would himself talk to her husband firmly and ask what he really wants. She was sobbing.
Seeing her in misery he could not control his feelings and when she left, he cried inconsolably. For a moment at that time, my aunt who as a mother was badly distressed by her daughter’s circumstances, kept calm. Something inside her made her say what she had not been able to convey to him for a very long time. She came held her husband’s hand, made an eye contact with him and said in a deep voice ‘Do you now realize what my father went through 28 years ago when you and your family abused me? Do you realize the pain my parents and my family was subjected to you, when you disowned us? They too cried every night and every day. Yet, you did not change.
He was stunned. He had no answers. The then arrogant son in law was now a father in distress. He was now a father in law whose daughter was being subjected to dishonor and disrespect. The memory of his misbehavior was refreshed in his brain now. He could not say nothing but keep rethinking.
When my Nanaji died, my cousin was divorced but soon got resettled in a happy matrimony. She was a now a mother of two children. On his funeral, everyone was very sad, but we youngsters noticed a very strange scenario. Our not so friendly uncle was sobbing. He was wailing. Very uncanny of this man. He just stood there with his hands folded and kept saying ‘I am sorry Papa, mujhe maaf kar do’. That was strange to us and that’s when we asked our aunt the reason behind his behavior and that’s when we realized his guilt.