Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Jaya came to me for a certificate of fitness for duty.. She had been absent for nine months and the reason for her absence was ‘back pain’.
A 32 yr old teacher…A slight woman with sorrowful eyes....
“Back pain…? Nine months..? That’s a pretty long period..” I spoke conversationally…as I studied her reports.. “Are you ok now..?”
She hesitated.. “No doc it was not back pain.” she murmured…
“It was due to personal problems.. My hubby doesn’t want me to work…”
“Oh..?” What does he do…?
“He is a business man.. Gravel and sand business.. Has not gone to high school..”
“But u r a graduate..!.” I was surprised..
“It was an arranged marriage.. His family is well off. We had some problem.. My father had a second wife. Money was always a problem…
“So he doesn’t like you working..?”
“Hmmmm… yes.. But he never admits that.. Just finds fault with whatever I do ….. The food is not tasty enough for him.... The house neat enough.. Tells me that I should be a good housewife too .. Not just a good teacher..…”
“Doc, I have to take two buses each in the morninng and evening to the school and back.. I feel so tired in the evenings.. But I never have a peaceful evening.. He picks up a fight for silly reason.. Becomes violent.... Often I have to run to a bedroom and lock the door.. But I have to suffer for that when I come out of the room in the morning.."
"My kids go to bed hungry most nights..Doc, I make it a point to serve them food as soon as they come home from school itself these days..”
Her eyes were moist.
My kids are disturbed..My elder son says he will throw a stone at his fathers head one day.... She started to weep…
Why don’t you consider a separation..? I asked gently..
“He says he will come to the school and insult me there.. In front of my students…’
I would have done something if I had at least one person to support me.”.
“What about your parents..?”
“My father is dead.. My brother is studying in college. My mother says that I should adjust… That I am a woman.. I should forgive and forget… Think about my kid’s future..”
“I sometimes wish that I could die.. She started to cry.. Then I think of my kids…”
“Don’t wait for any outside support..” I told her.. “You can’t live in fear and misery like this. You have to find the resources within yourself… “
“Get the message across strongly that you can’t go on like this.. That you will consider a separation. Unless he starts to treat you with the respect you deserve..”
“Tell your mother that you have taken a decision.. A stand… Tell her you will go ahead even if she doesn’t support you..’
I talked to her for nearly twenty minutes … Maybe I was not being practical.. But I wanted to instill some confidence in her..
I felt disturbed after she had gone…I knew that the spark I had put in her mind wouldn’t be enough for her to break free from her bondage… I wished women got more support.. At least from their parents..
Social status... Social stigma.. Shame.. At the cost of Personal dignity.. Personal freedom…
But then it’s easy for me to preach.. But difficult for her to practice.. Isn’t it..?