Women a Weakling?

“Do you talk very often to your wife”, asked Arun (name changed), my friend from childhood days. Before I could have told him about the frequency of calls to my just married wife who I have left back in India to work in Sheikh-land (read Dubai), he added, “I hope you don’t reveal everything to her. She will hear it all and use it against you.”

Against me! I felt like laughing; but didn’t. He would have felt bad. With the circumstances that he was in, such thoughts were normal. As they say doodh ka jala chach bhi phook phook kar pita hai.

Arun’s wife has filed for divorce; on the grounds that he mistreated her. And has claimed back all that was given as dowry with a hefty premium, along with an alimony.

Now Arun, who stays and works in Delhi, has to go every few weeks to Benares (some 8-9 hours train journey) to be present for a case that is yet just getting documented.

For one of such sessions, he dressed up normally in denim and t-shirt. His lawyer sent him back. Jyada paisa ho gaya hai kya? Do you want to pay more? The better you are dressed, the more the chances that the judge will give a decision against you.

But his wife comes all dressed. It’s okay for her. She is a woman and has a birth-right to be perceived as victim.

Although Arun is well educated, he was told to sign in Hindi. Pose as if you are a nobody. Tell them that you have no job if you don’t want to cough up a large sum.

The trial will go in the girl’s favour, almost every lawyer that he has consulted says.

Maybe I also will have to go to the jail for some 10-15 days, he says with a certain disappointment.

Mera jail jaana to pucca hai, but I don’t want my parents to be jailed.

The girl has named everyone in her petition – his father, who can hardly walk; mother, brother and sister-in-law.

So, did he mistreat her ever?

No. Never. On an occasion that he slapped her, she also started hitting him with whatever she could lay hands on.

So his wife is definitely not a weakling.

Then what went wrong? Why did the marriage end this way?

Definitely it was not only one party’s fault. But the girl and the girl’s family will have to take the most blame.

His was a joint family. Everyone had roles assigned to them. The role she was assigned was to wash clothes. Washing machines were unheard of in Arun’s village. A few families that had one, would wash it again manually for the sake of satisfaction.

She refused to work. A new bahu that she was, this kind of a behaviour was seen as revolting. Bechara Arun was caught between the wife and the rest of the family.

The girl didn’t want to adjust, even when she lived separate from the joint family, with Arun in Delhi. Almost everyday they quarelled. But separation was never thought of.

Then one day she said that she has been selected in the preliminary rounds for Uttar Pradesh college teacher’s job and she wants to go back to her parents to prepare for the interview. There are better training institutes here, he tried to make her stay. But she was adamant. So he booked the tickets and she left.

From then on the girl just didn’t want to come back. And then the shock came in the form of summons from court.

Arun met his wife after around 7-8 months at the counselling session. She had been trained by her lawyer to stick to the point that she doesn’t want to go back. When the counsellor saw the discussion going nowhere, she gave her decision – dono me se koi unnis bees nahi hai – you guys have to fight it out at the court only.

Arun’s lawyer says that the only option he has is to keep on extending the case. Someday the girl’s side will agree to a settlement.

Until then Arun will have to travel every few weeks for court hearings. He says it feels bad that he will have to malign the character of his wife to win the case. He remembers the good times they spent together. But his lawyer says it’s his only chance to stay away from the prison. The choice is difficult.