I read Jaibala Rao’s post, I need to remarry for myself, not for my son yesterday. And ever since then Stella’s story has been haunting me.
This isn’t the first day that I am witnessing Stella breaking down in front of Mom. Stella is only a couple of years elder to me and I know Mom is very fond of her and hence worried for her.
21st June. Today is their fourteenth wedding anniversary. Stella was at home waiting for the kids who were coming down from their boarding school after almost seven months. She rang up James at least about fifteen times but he didn’t pick. Finally when she called up her in-laws she was informed that James and the girls were there. She called up James once again. He picked.
They will spend their summer vacations here with ‘their family’. You don’t bother about dropping down. I’ll make you meet them before they go back to the boarding.
Anna and Sophia are just ten and eleven. They don’t have a voice. They haven’t been able to stay with their mother ever since James admitted them to the boarding school in Dehradun. They only get to meet her for a lunch or dinner on the last day of their vacations.
No. Stella and James aren’t divorced. But James stays with his other family. And he stays with the girls at his parents’ place when they drop down for vacations.
What is Stella’s fault? Stella is dark-complexioned.
Were James and his family unaware of this before they got married? No. They were well aware. But he married Stella who is from a rich family only for the dowry. Stella is an only child. He parents are old and ailing. She is a government servant. Mom and Stella travel by the same school bus. For some reason, Stella finds comfort in Mom’s words.
I have seen Mom crying for her. I have seen Mom praying for her. I have seen Stella crying like babies in front of her. They haven’t been living like husband and wife for the last nine years. James got this new job and managed to woo his MD’s daughter. He now has a son with her.
Is Stella ready for a divorce? Yes. She is. Is James ready for a divorce? Yes.
Then what’s holding them? The church and the society that wants them to compromise and stay together for the sake of their children. After two attempts at getting a go ahead for the divorce, James sent the girls to the boarding school and isolated Stella. His family is party to him and leave no occasion to ridicule and harass Stella.
Why isn’t Stella going to the court? Because she’s worried for her ailing parents. Any move from her side and the church will ostracize her family.
James is well aware of her weakness and hence he threatens her with this trump card. Stella tried to meet the girls at the boarding but James had given them strict warning and Stella is not strong enough to seek legal help.
This is not a fictional tale. This is a real life story of a close family friend. Names have been changed.
Who is this society? Where are they when Stella is crying her heart out? Where are they when she is mentally and physically harassed? Where are they when Stella is being tortured for no fault of hers?
This so-called society is happy that Stella and James are married. According to them, the marriage is safe and the children are taken care of. Everybody knows that the children have been sent far away. They know that Stella lives all alone. They know that James has a separate family and lives with them. They know that Stella is being judged for no fault of hers. People talk around her, in front of her and behind her back about her failed marriage. The kind of mental assault she has been subjected to in these last so many years is something that the society does not care about. They don’t care about the trauma of the children who have been taken away from their mother. And nobody does anything. Because ‘marriage’ is a sacred institution and they are the ones in charge of keeping this institution safe.
Our society is such a hypocrite that it blames the woman irrespective of whether it is her fault or not. They are fine with men having affairs and even children outside of their marriage. But if the woman dares to walk out alone in daylight, they will ensure that she’s given the kind of stares and looks that make her stop, turn and get back into her shell forever. They don’t care about how hurt she is. They don’t care about how her self-respect and confidence have been trampled underfoot.
Stella is well-educated, financially independent and young. I wish her parents tell her to get rid of this society and its people. I wish they tell her to walk out of this dead, decayed and decomposed marriage. I wish they took notice of her mental trauma and not about what the society may think about her. I wish Stella was strong enough to seek the legal and judicial help that she is aware that she can avail.
Why are we so prejudiced against out females? Why don’t we give equal weight-age to both the partners in a marriage? Why are we so obsessed with the idea of marriage that we are quick to judge even with all facts and figures available to us? A question that haunts me every time I meet her.
She used to drop in at Mom’s for some solace but lately she has stopped even that. The phone calls are minimal. May be she has accepted it as her fate. May be she has consoled herself that there’s no way to escape.
But what if tomorrow morning she decides to quit? Who’ll be responsible? James? No. I don’t blame James as much as I blame the society that wants them to compromise and stay in this dead marriage. I blame the society for not letting them close this and move on in their respective lives.
I am a married woman. I married against everyone’s wishes. I did not see any society trying to help us or our parents when we were sailing through rough tides. I believe in the traditional idea of this sacred institution. I understand the need to have this kind of arrangement. But all I don’t understand is why we cannot let the people within the marriage decide their fate. I do not understand what do we earn by keeping such dead marriages alive. Why can’t we let an individual chart out his/her journey? Why can’t we let an adult male or female choose the way they want to lead their lives? Why can’t we stop blaming only the woman even when we know that it is the man who has walked outside of the marriage?
What do you think? Why are we so discriminating? Why are we so judgmental?