A wife-beater! What leads to a man turning into a monster? His own turmoil that he fails to handle! Should he not reach out for some external help? Yes he should, if he wants to lead a happy and peaceful life….
Amyra sat back in her chair and looked out of the window. The gardener was mowing the beautiful, lush green lawn, spread out in front. Roses were in full bloom in the flower beds. Chrysanthemums, Daisies, Pansies, all were a riot of colours. It was a treat to her eyes, more so today, an extra special day for her, when her heart was singing in inexplicable joy! She looked at the message on her phone, for the nth number of time.
“Happy Birthday, Baby! Will you please take me into your life? I will wait for you, till eternity.” Every single birthday, for the past fifteen years, she would get this same message. And she would never reply. But, this year, she did! She had just messaged back,
“Yes, I will!”
She walked up to the window and stood there.
Was it fifteen years ago, that she had stepped out of her home as she had known till then, and had stepped into Piyu Aunty’s life?
Yes, it had indeed been fifteen long years! And then, some years back, on her insistence, Piyu Aunty had sat her down one day and had told her everything.
She knew all the details, having heard about these from Piyu Aunty. And now she went down the memory lane, for the umpteenth time.
It all had started that fateful evening. Suchitra was stirring her coffee. Piyu sat there, sipping hers. Both were silent. They finished their coffee in silence. Piyu wanted Suchitra to start the conversation. It had taken quite a few attempts on her part, to get Suchitra to agree to meet her. Piyu still could not believe that Suchitra was living with a wife-beater husband!
“Piyu, I don’t know how and where to start.”
Piyu kept silent. She just reached out and gently held Suchitra’s hand, which was lying on the table.
“Piyu, I have loved Ravi with all my heart, and he loved me too. I know you will find it hard to believe, but Ravi still loves me. So why this? Soon after our marriage, I discovered that Ravi had a terrible temper. Yes, Ravi, the otherwise soft-natured, soft-spoken, complete gentleman, had a temper that he could not control. And he would be short-tempered only with me, not with anyone else. In the heat of anger he would twist my hand, push me hard, hit me, and then go into a shell. He would stay in that shell for a few days and then would emerge from it, as if nothing had happened! He would profess his love for me, but would never ever like to speak about those nasty incidents.” Piyu moved the glass of water towards Suchitra, and she gulped down the whole glass of water.
“Ravi has been quite successful, professionally. He did not have too many friends though. He preferred being by himself. We would go out like normal couples, but hardly would speak about ourselves. His behaviour was troubling me and he never wanted to talk about it. I don’t know how one day he agreed to seeing a professional, for help. There he revealed his extremely disturbed childhood. His widely respected father used to beat up his wife, at home! How he hated his father, for what he had done to his mother! Unfortunately though, he himself was now replicating that very same person!”
Suchitra started taking sips from the second cup of coffee that Piyu had ordered for themselves. For a few moments, she seemed lost in thoughts.
“I guess it would be very difficult for Ravi as well,” Piyu said softly.
“Exactly so! These were my thoughts too, when I got to know about his past. And I felt an overwhelming love surging in me, for him. I wanted to protect him from all the suffering that he has been through, for all these years. The counsellor told him that he needed to come out of his past; he had to shed off the baggage and, for that, he would need some therapies. But Ravi simply refused therapies. He stuck to his belief that his past could never be erased. He was ready to live with that past, Piyu, as a victim, for all his life. But he was not ready to make any attempts whatsoever, to let go of his past. I think, Piyu, every human being fears change, dreads change. I tried my best to reason with him, but alas, I failed! And with every attempt from my side, he would unleash his suppressed frustration and helplessness in the form of anger, and then would fail to deal with its aftermath. I could see that this man was in pain, but I could not do anything to help him, and I could not also bring myself to leave him. I kept holding on to the hope that all my love will surely bear fruits, and he will see sense, but I guess I have been a complete failure. He is an excellent father to Amyra, but now that Amyra is growing up, she has started understanding the wrongs that are being meted out to me by her father. There have been times when I have told him that I would walk out of the house with Amyra, but then he starts talking about how we two are the only ones in his life. Which, by the way, is right as well.”
Suchitra was exhausted. Her eyes were dry. She looked straight into Piyu’s eyes. She could read the questions lurking there. Did she have the answers?
“Come, let’s go home, Suchitra. You look drained. Thank you so much for baring your heart out to me. Right now, all I can say is that, whatever has caused Ravi to become what he is, can never be undone. By not dealing with the problem earlier, he has magnified it many times. Having said that, I still strongly condemn his behaviour towards you. That is just not acceptable. Shall we talk again, tomorrow, please? It has been quite dreadful for me too, to imagine what you have been through, for the past eight, nine years. Come, I’ll drop you home.” Piyu held Suchitra’s hands, gently yet firmly.
At night, Piyu lay wide awake. Ravi needed professional help to come out of his past. But he had become mentally so weak, that he was prepared to spend a life suffering as a victim and seeing his wife, who he loved dearly, also in pain, because of him. But he would not go through the painful process of trying to shed off the baggage of his past, forever. Nobody can force anyone into seeing something that he refuses to see.
Should Suchitra walk out on him? Staying with him for so many years did no good to him, nor to anyone else. Was there any chance of a change for the better, in future? Who knows? A blind game? What should Suchitra do? But how can she put up with domestic violence?
Like they say, it’s all in the mind! That is why also, they talk about mindful living! To be mindful of every thing that we allow in that bin of ours, called mind!
Dawn was breaking and Piyu, who too had spent a sleepless night, had made up her mind. She had to stand by Suchitra and help her get out of the horrid mess of a life that she was in. They were to meet after school, over coffee, like the previous day.
Both the friends looked drained. Coming straight to the point, Piyu spoke out, “Suchitra, you can’t take this any more. This is not right, and this is also not love. If your love was helping him, maybe you could have hung around till his complete recovery. But there is no change in him, and there are no efforts on his part as well. So there are no second thoughts on this. You are leaving him. And have you thought of Amyra? How is all this affecting her ? It is terrible for her, and she should not be growing up in such a negative atmosphere.”
Suchitra kept quiet. Tears were streaming down her eyes, and she made no attempt to hide them. Both of them kept sitting there for a while, and then Suchitra got up.
“Let’s go, Piyu. I will leave Ravi. I will not let Amyra be subjected to this any more.”
The following weekend Suchitra walked out of the house, with Amyra. She moved into a small apartment, close to school. Ravi was astounded. He begged, he pleaded, to Suchitra, to stay back, not to leave him, but Suchitra was determined. Nothing could stop her. And she even threatened Ravi that if ever he tried to connect with them, she would lodge a police complaint against him, of domestic violence. That worked, and Ravi kept away.
It was not even four months after Suchitra had walked out on Ravi, that one day, Piyu got a call from Amyra.
“Mamma is not speaking Aunty, what should I do? Please come soon,” sobbed the little girl.
Suchitra’s blood pressure had shot up suddenly, leading to a stroke that she couldn’t survive. Saying that Amyra was devastated, would be an understatement. Ravi too was in a shock. As soon as Amyra saw Ravi, she moved closer to Piyu and Piyu could feel the warmth of her soft hand in hers. Amyra did not allow Ravi to even come anywhere close to her.
The day after Suchitra was cremated, Ravi came to Piyu and Amyra. With a solemn face he whispered, “From this very moment, I will work on myself and I will change for the better. I have lost the only two loves that I had in my life; I realise now, Suchitra’s life with me was akin to hell for her. I never could gather the strength to go through the process of self-evaluation and change my wrong behaviour, because of acute frustration, helplessness and shame. But now, I will make myself worthy of my child.” Ravi turned and left.
Piyu had made up her mind. The very next morning, she softly asked Amyra, “Amyra, will you come into my life? Will you stay with Piyu Aunty?”
Amyra looked into her eyes and put her little arms around Piyu’s neck. From that moment, Amyra and Piyu became a part of each other’s life.
Piyu never tried to find out about Ravi anymore. Amyra was the ray of sunshine and purpose, in her life now. On her fifteenth birthday, Amyra suddenly asked Piyu,
“Piyu Aunty, will you please tell me about Mummy and Papa? I loved both of them so much, and they too loved me so. I was my Papa’s princess, he would say. You know, every single birthday, without fail, he still sends me a card, even though I never respond. What went wrong, Aunty?”
Then Piyu, very gently, told Amyra about her parents. Amyra listened to everything, quietly. Many of her questions were now answered. Things that were clogging her mind all these years, cleared away. Now, on her own, she started tracing her father. That was not much of a problem. She found out that he still lived in their home, where all three used to stay. He was working at the same place, and had become a very senior person there. Above all, she learnt that Ravi had been undergoing treatment for his temper, for all these years. He had medical problems in between, which he managed by himself.
Years flew past. Ravi was a transformed man now. He had started an NGO, which worked for people who had behavioural problems. He had named it ‘Suvaas’; that meant, a good place to live in.
Amyra’s phone rang. She looked at it and smiled. She answered the call,
“Hello Papa! When are you coming to take me home?”
She loved the beautiful lines written by PAUL BOOSE, even more today;
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”