It was 8:00 am in the morning. I was getting ready to go to the college.
As I opened my wardrobe to get my files, my eyes suddenly stuck on my old Red Benarasi saree. I came to a sudden realization about the date – 21st Jan. My marriage anniversary, almost six years had passed but memories remained in my heart.
I remember, the day when I step in my adolescence age, I realised the importance of marriage. In my culture, like many others, marriage is celebrated as the big day. The word marriage itself is directly linked to settled life.
I belong to a traditional conservative Brahmin family, where a good girl leads a normal life, When I ask the meaning of normal life to my elders, their response without second thoughts – is a girl who completes her study and get settled in life with her husband.
But I was the abnormal child of my parents who never leads a normal life like my other cousins.
I decided that, I will be going to attend the college in second half. I want to spend my time with my old memories, with that I found the last letter which I share with my husband. Till today I think I have taken the bold decision of my life “To move out of the relationship where respect doesn’t exist”
To thine auspicious lotus feet (Shri charanashu),
Hope this letter finds you well,
Today, we have our first marriage anniversary (21st Jan). Many-a-times, I had thought of discussing the matter with you, but I never got an opportunity to talk to you freely and not even over the telephone. This compelled me to write this letter.
I am your wife and ‘choto bou’ of your joint family. Today, a year later sitting on the desk of “Asha ki Jarna”, I can realize the importance of my life. Today, I have enough courage to write this letter. I want to share my feelings and emotions through this letter, which I never got an opportunity to express. This is neither a letter from your wife nor your family’s “choto bou”. This is a letter from the heart of a woman and daughter.
I still remember those days, when I completed my study and went back to home (Jhunjhunu town) and started doing my job in college.
I witnessed the stress and concern of my marriage from people in my community and relatives. Their concern used to raise my mother’s blood pressure. I remembered, One evening, she called the best photographer of Jhunjhunu (Bharat Studio) to get good proposal pictures, because I am a typical Bengali girl with dark complexion and average look, but fortunately, The Almighty blessed me with one asset, i.e. mole in my chin.
Once the photo session gets over, my mother explained the entire scenario “how she connected with your parents, and shared the postal address to send my recent pics”
After a few days, my mother received a call from your side. She informed me that “entire your family coming to Jhunjhunu for a meeting”. After hearing this news, my mother had a mixed feeling (happiness with tension: whether they will like my daughter or not?)
13th July – When you and your entire family travelled 2600 km from Pune to Jhunjhunu. We lived in a small district town of Rajasthan there is a lack of communication facilities. And on top of that, our East Bengal recipes and dialects. Even today your parents make fun of my culture.
The whole ambience seems like an examination centre. I was well prepared for my exam. Both my grandmother and mother started chanting the name of Maa Durga and my father’s heart began to pound.
I still remember, “You wore a white kurta and pyjama”. That image continues to remain in my eyes. The day passed well with your parents and sister. The whole day spent, but both of us did not get chance to know each other. I find it strange, the whole arrangement was set for us, but we didn’t get time to talk. But by God’s grace, your elder sister arranged a small meeting with you in my study room. It was a 15 minutes conversation, but for me it was a big achievement.
10th Aug, auspicious moment of my family. My parents with my maternal uncle went to your place (Pune), for the “Ashirwad ceremony”. Everyone was happy and enjoying those moments. My uncle was so happy that he started to call you “Govind.
Panditji decided our fate on 21st jan.
Like most girls, I was also super excited for my marriage. Once our marriage date was fixed, my parents and I started preparations for the “big day of my life”.
As the days approached, my heart started pounding.
21st Jan, our marriage day. The weeding flutes wailed, setting the skies to mourn
I came to live in your house,
I realized that your mother desperately wanted a fair and beautiful bride for you, being an average looking girl, I felt upset and that day, I understood the importance of external beauty. All the philosophical and moral articles (internal beauty, knowledge, human character) which written by great scholars started seeming meaningless to me. Suddenly, my knowledge my education seems irrelevant to me. Without utter any single words I except my destiny.
In that unknown place, the only make soulful connection with (Bholu) your society dog, Bholu is one who stuck me through my thicks and thin in that unfamiliar place. Without any judgement he displayed his unconditional love for me, he was the only one with whom I feel happy, being a new bride I share my food with Bholu.
Bholu stuck with me throughout the entire day. Even today his innocent face came in front of my eyes.
I still remember the day when we were coming back to Pune from your native village, Without any prior information my parents suddenly visit to meet with us, but after seeing the mother’s expression, I realized that she was not happy.
After returning back to Pune, your mother got admitted to Ruby Hospital, That day I were no longer a new bride, I took the responsibility of kitchen.
In your 2BHK apartment, I found the close association with small kitchen. A big mango tree next to kitchen was something that I can relate with my parent place. Every morning I used to woke up early to prepare morning tea for your father, I saw the mango plant from the kitchen window and hear the sweet sound of unlimited birds which made my day energetic and gave me reasons to remain alive. I thought that the Almighty especially plans my mornings to be mine, where I could think about myself, life, and small happiness. The rest day spent in doing household chores and wait to break our silence. Being your wife, we have a pin drop silence between us. Though we stayed under one roof, we did not behave like husband and wife.
One evening, your parents suddenly asked for my jewellery bill, I found it strange as to why jewellery bill. Her explanation brought tears to my eyes, “They felt that the jewellery which was given by my parents was not original, it was gold plated”
Time flew, day spent doing domestic duties of your household. But I was eagerly waiting for the night, I thank to Almighty to create “night”. Night was the only time where I word to my mother and try to speak with myself through my daily writings.
On being a wife, all relationships change, Many-a-times I think for whom I see the light of the world, My mother relationship also changed with me. I talk to my her secretly, at the night so your parents wouldn’t get to know to see with whom I am talking. According to your parent’s perception, daughter-in -law mother’s play a big role in house breaking. Being daughter, I felt very upset.
To make everyone happy, I forgot to realise whether I was happy or was in pain. My emotions, my bad health didn’t make much sense. I was suffering from heavy bleeding, but being a husband, you never bothered whether I took medicine or not.
You always compared me with your other sister-in-law, neither did you give any respect to me Infront of your colleagues.
When got a chance to go with your mother for the evening walk in society, The couple used to go for the evening walk and talk endlessly. I saw them and I ask to my almighty I used to wonder can I not even expect a small evening walk with my husband where he would listen to my talks and understand my feelings. Is this a big expectation from my end? Then I tend to reply my own answer, May be because of my looks, he avoids to me to hang around with me in the society.
One evening I was all alone in my home, then I realised five months passed of our marriage but my time stops, only waiting to see husband love and respect for me. Husband and wife relationship are far beyond the walls of bedroom.
One of the earliest memories that I have of your house, that come to my mind, is the Lavasa trip with your family. For the first time I got a glimpse of Pune city, for the first time roads which quite different from my village, people who were quite so sophisticated “I am alive”- I felt.
Days passed my health was deteriorating, despite of that indirect demand of your parents makes me depressed. With that note I called my father and said, “I want to come back home”.
After one month my father visit Pune and I returned with him.
As I was packing my baggage, I determined to not to carry single clothes or jewellery piece from your house. I only carried my documents. The ones which I don’t want to carry the baggage of my painful memories which I spend in your house. As a daughter, I had to hear a harsh word for my parents, as a woman expected that I wouldn’t get any respect.
On my return to home, I joined “Asha ka Jharna” as a volunteer, where I met with 15yr old differently abled girl name Nirmala. She was a good painter, colourful painting add brightness in my life.
I spent five hours with the students at “Asha ka Jharna” school, when I return back after my work that cute little gal give me colourful painting., I even ended up telling her that, I never had seen such bright and colourful painting earlier, she replied “Didi, I express happiness with my painting brush”. That day I realized the importance of happiness and till date I have a strong bond with Nirmala who motivated me to lead life with all bad circumstances.
Nirmala, the little girl made me realize the existence of my life. Amidst all the harshness in my life I found the courage and penned down the letter to you.
I am no longer “choto bou” or Mrs. Banerjee any longer, Neither my life is imprisoned in the four walls of your 2BHK apartment. Today I am sitting in the desk of “Asha ki Jharna’ where I found the existence of my life. Being woman, I chose self-respect not the superficial love and care. The dark veil of our Bengali marriage customs and our society fear cloaked me completely. But today I free myself from all chains. My almighty will saved me and lets me ends with truly Rabindranath quote: “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher, but to add colour to my sunset sky”
I am Sukanya, free from all chains.
The free soul.