I was a very simple girl. Born to a service class conservative and traditional family, in a small and a very beautiful city in India, I never had to face much hardship in my childhood. I had very loving and caring parents who provided me the best education possible within their means. Academically good, I got my bachelors degree in Engineering from a prestigious college in India at the age of 21. Got job and I had hardly worked for few months, my family started to find a boy for me. After a couple of interviews in which I rejected some candidates and some rejected me, I (apparently) found my Mr. Right. He was working for an Indian company on H1-B visa in U.S.
I got married at the age of 22. The marriage ceremony is a complete story in itself. Let me not go into all those details, since many of you may not even know the meaning of dowry. I had a difficult time explaining the meaning of dowry to my friends in US. My father has worked in govt service throughout his life; I have an elder brother also. Rs. 10 lakhs were spent on my marriage which was a very big sum for my family, actually was nothing in eyes of my husband and in-laws.
I stayed with my in-laws in India for a month and those four weeks were the most difficult days of my life. I was reduced to a skeleton, working for the entire household with no help from my mother-in-law or any maidservant. In spite of cooking, cleaning and washing for 5 people (my in-laws, brother-in-law, my husband and me), my in-laws and my husband abused and scolded me all day long. Every single penny my father would send me was taken away from me. My father-in-law stole my purse the very first day I entered my matrimonial home. (I will prefer to call this act of his stealing because he took my purse from my baggage when I was not in my room, without telling me). He could have at least returned my purse after taking the money ;-)) It was a very nice pure leather purse, made from crocodile skin. Anyways loss of my first baby made me forget and may be forgive those petty crimes. It was an unplanned pregnancy, I conceived few months after marriage while my husband and I were struggling with our lives and new jobs in US. It was a hard decision, I had completed first trimester. But my husband made it very simple for me. He took an appointment with a doctor and there I was on the operation table. I still remember that day, that drive to the hospital in the big bad city of US, sitting beside my husband and tears rolling down my cheeks, I was so helpless. But there was more to come after that eventful day; little did I know what life had in store for me. Two days after the abortion, I was thrown down the stairs in the middle of night out in the streets. And that dark night took 2 long years to end.
I worked for a while in US, giving my husband another chance to think about our marriage. I went to my friend's place and my husband and my brother-in-law moved to a new apt and they took the lease of this apt in the name of my brother-in-law, my husband's younger brother. I went to their apt to see my husband after a year and I was thrown out again, my husband called the police and filed a case against me. He took order of protection from the court to restrain me from entering their apt. I refused to acknowledge this act of my husband, as I made every effort to enrich our relationship and I could find no reason why he always treated me like an animal.
My father asked me to come back to India. He helped me file civil and criminal case against my husband and his family. Civil case helped me get an ex-parte divorce while in the criminal case my husband (by then ex-husband) was declared public offender on the run since he did not join the investigation in spite of receiving the court summons. In the meantime, police (women cell) sealed the locker in a bank in India, in which all my jewellery was kept, the above locker was in the name of my mother-in-law and my husband. The police put any further transaction in the NRI bank account of my husband and the house of my in-laws in India on hold.
My in-laws gave me my compensation in the form of bank drafts in the high court in India and here I am writing this note to all those women who struggle with their lives all alone, away from their families, in an alien land, who become a victim of mental, physical and emotional abuse. It was a very difficult journey, no parents in India would take such a step out of choice. I was lucky to have such nice parents, who cared for me more than they care about the society. This experience gave me a lot of courage, my mother call me a 'Brave girl'.