She came late for work again and just as I was about to tell her off, I noticed the swollen face. The right side looked like someone had thrown a rock at it. I asked her what happened, only to hear the familiar story. The good for nothing husband had rained blows last night. Just because she told him not to pick a fight with the neighbours.
He came back just a month ago a defeated man. He had gone to Dubai where he hoped to make some money and fulfill the family's material aspirations. Turned out that his Visa was for him to work as a mason, a skill he did not have. This was the visa for which he had paid Rs.1.25 lakhs, that he had begged and borrowed. He even got the money from his wife's employers and anyone , all of who are queuing outside his home and harassing her!
She was happy to see him go for more than one reason. The money would be welcome as they were subsisting on her earnings. He disdained to work for the last couple of months as he was destined for bigger things in Dubai. She was also relieved because it would mean less fights with the neighbours and beatings for the children. He would let go with anything including the bamboo lathis and the planks lying around.
If this seems like an art film or a movie a la 'Slumdog millionaire' let me assure you that it is the truth and nothing but the truth. I have tried more than once to get her to stand up for herself. She sheds tears, refuses to go to the people who can help in any way and always hopes that it will be better as soon as he apologises.... till he beats her up the next time.
I do know that domestic abuse is a big problem the world over. In this case she has no parents to go back to. Her siblings will not really support her.The neighbours in her basti are too busy or jaded and see it too often to intervene. I live too far to reach her immediately. She does not want to complain as he will be out in a day or two and then things will be worse for her. No one can assume life long responsibility for her. I encourage her to educate her children and she has just recently learnt to read and write, and even though I keep a steady refrain about her rights and how she should not put up with abuse, it is hard for her to break the shackles of propriety, shame and society.
It frustrates me and makes me feel inadequate and I keep urging her to get out before he kills or maims her and her three children. I just hope she does.