I awoke with a jolt when I noticed him peering through the bathroom door at me, seeing me cuddling with our daughter. We locked gazes for a second before he turned around and left. I heard his doomed superbike start and him departing for Harsil with his motorcycle buddies on a ten-day vacation.
I let out a deep sigh, not realising I'd stopped breathing, and pushed myself up. My body was throbbing all over from the beatings he gave me the night before, until our little daughter begged him to stop.
I attempted to move, but the agony was so excruciating that I held back and sobbed...It was as if a dam had broken and I couldn't stop myself. I felt my daughter hugging me with her drowsy, puffy eyes and whispered, "It's ok mama..I am here".
We both broke down and cried our hearts out, hugging one other close and saying nothing. What had happened to our 17-year love marriage? I was perplexed.
In retrospect, I wish I had listened to my mother; it was as if she could see through his mask, but I chose not to hear since I was being love-bombed into deafness.
He lavished me with love, telling me how lucky he was to have found a girl like me, and everything seemed like a fairy tale. I went ahead with it. What a naive idiot I was. I had everything a guy could want in a wife: very talented, highly qualified (far more than him), confident, extroverted, full of life, from an impoverished family who fell in love and married with big dreams and aspirations, just like any other girl.
My entire world fell apart the day after I married him, as I was embracing him and my chooda (sacred red bangles) accidentally plucked one of his hairs on his chest. He simply shoved me and stood up, twisting my arms and breaking three of my bangles.
My biggest mistake was to stay silent when, instead, I should have immediately spoken up, and all I did was hug my mother, who had come to our wedding reception, and apologise for causing her numerous heartaches. My mother was taken aback, and I could see many questions in her troubled eyes. What had occurred on the happiest day of my life for me to apologise?
Even though I desperately wanted to, I couldn't confide in her. My parents' hearts would break. Life carried on, and so did the beatings, particularly the strangling of my neck when he was two drinks down (which was every day). I kept taking it like a fool, expecting things would change for the better, that his continual nagging about my weight and incessant comparison with his ex-girlfriends would cease. It was not that he was perfect.
He was not an officer, and his career was mediocre, but love may make you see things that aren't there. I even shed 45 kgs via rigorous gymming wanting to be worthy of his affection, and I appeared unsightly in his eyes. Making me feel like I'll never be good enough for him.
He had progressively eroded my self-esteem, reducing it to almost nothing. I used to beat myself up every single day, wondering why I wasn't good enough for my husband to love me. What can I improve? What can I do to make him fall in love with me?
I conceived twice after that, and both times he sent me to my gynaecologist's mother for an abortion, claiming, "I am not ready." My parents' concern returned, but I chose to remain silent since I was so upset. How could I tell them he's a narcissist, a master manipulator with a knack for convincing people to accept whatever lies he spins?
My only fault was I loved him dearly, cared for him to the best of my ability, and all I wanted in return was to be loved, appreciated, and desired. My parents provided me with an education that allowed me to pursue all of my worldly desires. I was working as a principal, organising parties, doing all of my tasks as an Army officer's wife...getting accolades outside, my home enough to be featured in Inside Outside.
I had flowers blooming in my garden, I was an ardent baker and singer, but I was broken on the inside, feeble, losing a piece of my heart every day.
When our common friends or his seniors used to tell him how lucky he was to have a wife like me who had his uniform ready, his clothes coordinated even before he got up, cooked him all his favourite meals, and so on, all he did was smile and come home to shower all his love with his constant criticism and beatings. To the extent that I broke both my upper and lower teeth on two consecutive occasions.
My parents took a stand at that point. They could see me slipping away, but this time...I lied. I lied because I felt I couldn't live without him.
My wise mother questioned each of us separately and persuaded me that it is not too late to walk away because no children were involved and that they would always be by my side, but I was too goddamn weak. Logic and emotions rarely speak the same language.
After three years, I got pregnant again and swept every ugly thing under the proverbial rug, but this time I remained firm, vowing unequivocally that I would go through this pregnancy no matter what. He left me with my parents, stating that they were doctors and could better care for me than he could!
From the beginning, the child growing inside me was a warrior, and I hoped every day for a daughter, believing that once a girl entered our family, he and his parents would learn to respect women and how to treat someone else's daughter.
But my life was never meant to be easy, and in the fourth month, I was diagnosed with Oligohydramnios and placed on bed rest with many limitations. My daughter was delivered prematurely, and the narcissist's mother came on a VIP visit, grabbed all the presents my mother had gifted my daughter, and subsequently complained about them.
What truly shocked him was when I asked him why he married me when I wasn't good enough. Body shaming and his reluctance to break loose from his ex-girlfriend, who knew all the intimate and intricate details of our lives, weighed heavily on me. Why did he propose to me?
He would just smile and add, "I married a package...a convenient one from an affluent family from whom I could gain all kinds of capital." That's when it hit me: who in their right mind concocts and stoops so low, destroying someone's life on purpose and maliciously?
Years passed, and I put all my heart into providing a happy, healthy home for my daughter, but fate intervened once more, and she was abducted for ransom. My world had crumbled. No parent should go through the feeling of never seeing or holding their child. My father turned the town upside down, and with the assistance of the police, the governor, and many others, we were able to reclaim her after twenty-seven long, traumatic hours.
That she was in my arms was all I needed. We were granted a new life, and I expected him to mellow down and appreciate what he had... But a snake may shed its skin, but it remains a snake, and so did he.
He was well until we were sent back to his hometown, and all hell broke out. His numerous ex-girlfriends came to life, and his parents welcomed and encouraged his philandry. To top it all off, he bought a superbike and his love for freedom and urged to break free oozed out of his very being.
A thin red line that should never be crossed in any relationship was crossed, and when I stood firm and said enough was enough, I was brutally physically, emotionally, and mentally abused until my then eleven-year-old daughter begged me to walk off. She said "Nobody's father is like that," she explained. "I don't want him hitting you mama; I might not be able to save you next time from his clutches".
These words of my child, who had already been through so much in her young life, rocked me to my core and jolted me awake from my deep, dumb slumber, reminding me that I owe it to my little baby for her future. As a mother, I must make it clear that such behaviour is unwarranted and that you don’t need a man to complete you. Breaking this vicious cycle has been the most difficult element, but it could be done.
All that is required is to discover the fortitude to break out from toxicity before it totally erodes you. Yes! Working through all of the emotions required major effort and frequent outside aid. Both my daughter and I were supported by experts, very dear real friends, and yes, my family.
It's been a year and a half since my daughter and I escaped from our golden gilded prison, and instead of being victims, we've become survivors, attempting to piece together the broken bits of our lives.
Every day, I force myself to wake up and tell myself that my road is long and bumpy, but I am not afraid. My body bears the scars, and I now have a slew of health issues, but this, too, shall pass. I am a battered soul learning to survive, learning to let go of everything that is past its expiry date. The biggest lesson I learnt is that no child should suffer the sins of a narcissistic parent and to always stand up for yourself at the right time, for no one has the right to treat you like a football and to always listen to your parents since they have nothing to gain other than seeing you happy.
Life will go on as everything...every relationship, every turbulent period is transient, which is why your windshield is larger than your rearview mirror. It shows you where you're heading rather than what you've left behind.