By Sayanki Chakraborty
It was 2015. Like every girl in her 20s, I was also waiting for the man of my dreams to complete my life and be a lifelong companion. Marriage for me was not just a way to fit into societal norms but a journey of love. I was looking for a soulmate in the form of a husband.
But I must admit that I was restless and took the decision to marry in haste. I was too dreamy-eyed and excited about the whole idea of marriage and I could not understand the person I was planning to spend my lifetime with, his motive or character. No, he was not my soulmate, and our relationship did not meet my definition of love and compatibility.
I was not prepared for this definition of marriage. As the only child of my parents, I was pampered and life had always been rosy. Being a meritorious student, I was used to being admired and appreciated. I was educated and independent. This education and financial freedom earned me self-respect. I never thought that in the pursuit of love or to start a family, my dignity and self-respect would be jeopardized.
I wasn’t ready to be dominated and caged.
I was not prepared for hearing diktats like, “You can’t meet your parents so frequently. Your in-laws are your new parents now and this your home, so do not run to your parents’ home.” I was surprised not just at the demands but also at the expectations: How on earth can I love my parents less than anyone else! How on earth is my parents’ home not my home! How on earth can I not meet them! As a single child, it is in fact my responsibility to take care of my parents, and meet them when they miss me.
They took my surname which was my identity, my pride. They then took the money that I was earning. In the name of investments, they kept asking for dowry in the form of my salary. They took away my ambition. And whilst all this was happening on one side, the other side of me kept craving for love and affection from the one I married. I waited for him to talk to me about my day, make love to me, spend romantic moments with me. But that person was aloof and disinterested.
I felt suffocated in a house full of strangers. I was insulted for voicing my opinion, asked to concentrate on the duties of a married woman and learn household chores, reprimanded for not being the dream wife, until one day I realised that it was enough.
I decided I would not end my life in shame and frustration.
I decided that it’s my life and only I shall decide how to live it. I tried my best to make things work, to speak and discuss and compromise. But the more I tried, the more I realised that a relationship without love is not one I can be in.
I accepted the fact that dreams do break. The acceptance took time. Despite being able to take such a big decision with courage and conviction, I wasn’t ready to be labelled a ‘divorcee’ yet. I was ashamed as this did not fall within the definition of societal happiness. I was a topic of discussion in hushed tones, some people would pity me, some would be critical, some were plain curious to know about my whereabouts although it just didn’t matter to them. But whenever I was asked how my husband was, I always replied, “He is fine,” and never mustered the courage to say, “I don’t know,” because we were separated.
For a very long time, I would hesitate or hide my truth. But why should I, when this truth is also my pride just like all those certificates and medals are. This truth is a testimony to the fact that I am not a coward, I take ownership of my own life and shamelessly follow my dreams and ideas of happiness. I did not confine myself to societal norms and rather shaped my own destiny. I am proud of the fact that, despite it all, I did not shy away from giving life another chance.
Because in the midst of all this, there were those who stood like a rock beside me, supported me and made me believe life is beautiful. This post is not an answer for curious people who are unimportant and irrelevant to my life. This post is for those who made dreaming possible again!
I write this post not only to say that I am divorced but also to say that love has found me again!
Sayanki Chakraborty, 29, is a chartered accountant working for a global bank in Kolkata. She is passionate about travel, food and fashion.