I don’t know if it’s okay for me to write to you about this. But having seen the life you lead I feel it is time I came out with my observations. I truly hope I am wrong but my gut feeling says that you are at the receiving end of an abusive relationship with daddy. Please don’t get shocked. I am no teenager. I am now married and I understand the dynamics of family life. I have been observing you from the time that I could gauge your moods. I was perhaps 6 or 7 years old when I could understand the meaning of your words as well as silence. In fact I would find your silence oppressive and long for you to return to your ‘normal’ mood.
I took me a while to understand that your mood swings had something to do with daddy. You took care to keep it to yourself but we children have a way of understanding that all is not well between parents. The days you went into a silent mode coincided with the days when daddy went about beaming at those around him with the look of a conqueror. As a child I took care not to annoy or upset you on those days but I still did not understand what went wrong between the two of you.
It happened on a rare occasion that you chose to sleep in my room. Daddy came looking for you. I pretended to sleep. The conversation that followed is something I did not understand till I graduated from school.
“Hey, stop fussing” It was daddy talking in a hushed tone.
“Not today, please” I heard you protest. “You know I fast on Thursdays”.
“Fasting on Thursdays eh? Enough of this drama. Come on”.
“I don’t feel up to it”.
“Who is asking you?”
I then peeped from beneath my sheets and saw him leading you out of the room. You followed him like a lamb being led to a slaughter house. I knew then that something was very wrong though I didn’t understand what. Everything fell in place much later when Sr. Superior arranged for a program on sex education and the speaker highlighted the rights of a woman in matters pertaining to sex. I truly wanted to ask you why you let him bully you against your will. I realized how much you must hate yourself for not having a say in the matter. I also understood that you were being blamed for giving birth to a daughter because daddy often said in apparent jest that your clan was famous for producing daughters as was evident that you were one among five sisters. He joked about it so often that it ceased to be a joke. I also noticed that any reference by daddy to your ‘clan’ was always subtly tempered with sarcasm and you put on a mask of silence.
To be frank your submissive nature annoyed me as a teenager. But I now understand how hard it must have been on you. My husband is a wonderful person who believes in respecting women. His parents share a wonderful relationship and it is a pleasure having them over. I now realize what was missing in your marriage. There was no equality. It was a kind of master – slave arrangement. But it is not too late to assert yourself. I am with you. Carve a niche for yourself. I plan to start a counselling center, for women in an abusive relationship, along with a few friends. Why don’t you join us? You need to come out of your silent mode. You don’t have to discuss your personal experience or drag daddy’s name into it. Just take the first step by lending a sympathetic ear to women who come forward to share their stories. The rest will follow. You’d be surprised at the kind of physical, emotional and mental torture women undergo just to keep their marriage going. The issue ought to be discussed and our men folk need to learn to acknowledge and accept their women as equal partners and learn to treat them with love, affection and respect. Daddy was brought up to believe that a man could lord over his wife. Once you assert yourself he may change his opinion for the better. Why not give it a try? Think about it………………
This post is my 2nd post written for the Blogathon series # A Letter To Her by Women’s Web. I appreciate the initiative taken to create awareness about domestic violence in society.
Note: I would like to read MeenaKandaswamy’s book When I Hit You because I understand that it deals with domestic violence that happens everywhere but society refuses to admit it. I would love to read what the author has to say and I hope it helps me extend a helping hand to any victim of domestic violence whom I come across.