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Life is such a funny thing, it turns around, just when we realize that all is fine with the world.
We moved in to a new area and, call it language barrier or may be just the teething troubles of settling in, but we did find some issues in actually being part of the new locality. So, I put in extra effort to try and meet up with my neighbourers. I met a few new moms, few office going moms and within a few months- we got set in our new routine.
Everything was just as I would have liked it : Calm people around me, Lush green surroundings and the fun or celebrating festivals together.
It was some time last year, and all were usually awake till 11 in the night; when I heard someone yelling. That was a first - in a sleepy colony like ours.
Being typical 'Mind our own business' types, I didn't even bother going out and checking what the hullabaloo was all about.
This , then became a routine. Lots of shouting, swearing of the worst types... and even screaming in retaliation. This happened for about a week and I was alone with my little one. I was scared...wondering which of my neighbourers are behaving such. By the time my husband got home, all was calm. I have been telling him of these daily incidents, but he had never heard anything.
Then came the weekend, and like a TV serial, we heard it again . This time, I asked him to check and when he came back after about 30 mins, he said, its our very next door couple. They have a cute little 6 year old. The mom and me , we talked daily at around 6 a.m., when she, after her morning Puja, would come out of the house to water the plants - while I would be taking my kid for a stroll.
I have seen them as a very normal family. Witnessed them going on trips, having fun. Partaking in social activities as a loving couple.
I couldn't believe that a sweet and calm lady, well educated, working as a lecturer in a reputed college here, was subject to daily domestic abuse. I shudder at the thought ,that a little girl so young gets abused by her dad just coz , he is under the influence of alcohol. The mother gets beaten as well if she intervenes.
Her husband , a civil engineer, works in a different city and comes home once in 6 months. we realized, he is an alcoholic. He drinks, then beats the hell out of his little girl , then the mother comes to rescue the child , and she gets beaten too, or gets verbally abused. The choicest swear words that a language can come out with !
We, as fellow parents, need to stop this viscous cycle. What kind of life examples are we setting for our little ones? Abuse- in any way is not okay. Being subservient is not always right. Our children need better settings, they need hope and happiness, respect and confidence.
We need our little girl to stand up on her own and not be victim to abuse. We need our little boys to respect women and not raise their hand or voice on anyone. Also- vice versa.
Its all about raising our kids in the right environment. Our actions and behavior are the textbooks they learn from. As someone said, they don't always listen to us, but they always copy us. Especially toddlers.
After a few discreet talks with folks around, my maid being my best source of information in this respect, I was told that this always happened when the husband is in the city with them. No one knows the reason- but then for such dastardly deeds, no reasons are justified.
Domestic Abuse in India is notorious in India to be sweeped under the carpet. My husband said ' Please don't start a campaign about this now, it's their personal matter' . It sure was, but I couldn't sit like this not knowing what to do ! It took a lot of courage on my part too, to speak with the mom - the next day, I didn't want to intrude, but I wanted to help. At first, she just gave me a half- smile and shrugged her shoulders. She was embarrassed that I knew. I was the new one in the colony and she was feeling downtrodden that - even I knew ! She was mentally taking all the blame for deeds her husband did. How justified was that? He was the culprit here and she was behaving as if I caught her red handed in something she did !
This is how women are in India ( Mostly) . At first, she was reluctant in speaking , not just about the topic, but she even shunned me. She assumed , that like others, Ill be just interested in the 'juicy' story that she would be telling me. She was then counselled, about, she being a victim and not someone, who should be guilty. [ She accepted to be counselled after 6 months from the time I first heard them arguing]
She has absolutely no family support. Her parents were worried about what the society would think. NO- sometimes divorce is not the solution, 'coz , especially in this case, she loved her husband.
He was an alcoholic and that ruined his brains, plus the fact that, like so many men around us, he was raised in a patriarchal society. So, rather than counselling her to separate/ divorce from her husband as she was financially independent, we instilled in her: the right to choose. Would she prefer? would she like to be separated or if, she wanted to give an attempt to help her husband - de- addict.? She chose the latter.
She is aware that it's not going to be an easy ride. But, it sure would be better than the 9 years they have been together. She managed to convince him to come for the de- addiction meet. He is getting there, there are still days when the relapse is there, but folks at the de- addiction centre says- its going to take a year or so.
From the way I look at it, its a positive step.