Accha aap bhi Dhanbad sey hain. Toh yahan gaon me aapki shadi kaise ho gayi?
I had come along with my bhabhi to a neighbour’s house to get my phone charged. And now was caught up in this ladies chat. She would be my aunt in relation. But she was too young to be addressed that way. But when Dhanbad came up in the discussion, I just couldn’t stop myself.
“Woh hamari shadi chori sey hui thi na”, she said lowering her voice a little.
There was a moment’s silence. And then she began again.
“You seeing those girls. Whenever your uncle is upstairs, these two girls will also come up on their terrace and start watching him.”
A bit about this uncle here.
Around 35 years old, this uncle started drinking at a very young age. Excessive drinking has almost drained out his body, making him almost impotent now. When we went to our native village, we were instructed by parents not to mingle with him. Now that he is still unemployed, he would beat up his parents and take away all the money his father gets as pension and the small produce from their farmland. He was heard as planning to come to Delhi to seek out a living. But his parents know he will do nothing and come back after wasting all the money.
When we returned home, I asked mother about this woman.
“Jhinku chacha ki shadi chori se hui hai. Ladki waley ne kya dekh kar shadi karwaya?”
“Arre bas kumarpan chudana tha, isiliye kar diya shadi” , mother said.
The girl’s mother just wanted the get her dauighter married. She used to work as a house-maid in several homes in Dhanbad. She is the eldest of six sisters. Who else would have married her?
“She is no good either”, my aunt interrupted.” When Jhinku comes home drunk and beats her, she too beats him up.”
“What’s bad with that”, I said. “There can be no good treatment for that kind of a husband.”
“You will understand when your wife beats you up.”
Everyone started laughing and the issue was forgotten.
But I kept thinking about it for a long time.
Even though this woman had the courage to fight back her drunk and abusive husband, she was as possessive about him as any other woman would be. Even though this man couldn’t ever give her a child, she was concerned about keeping her husband safe from the gaze of other girls just like any other woman.
What was this? What governed this contrary behavior?
Some will say that’s what custom and traditions in India dictate for women. But where were those customs and traditions when she fought back her husband, sometimes taking the lead in attacking him.
Or it is just the sense of security that a woman gets of being with her husband. “Kaisa bhi ho, lekin hai to mera pati hi.”
But isn’t she afraid her husband will leave him if she fights back. Many men can’t digest the fact that they can’t boss over their wives.
I kept on thinking but got no answers.