Special Feature By: Meghna Pant
There she is: a yesteryear movie star coming out in public about her abusive marriage. Rati Agnihotri.
There you are saying:
She is independent and successful. Why didn’t she walk out of the marriage?
She looks healthy and strong. Why would she have endured her husband’s beatings?
She is rich but greedy. Why would she play victim unless she wanted a good alimony?
She must have provoked him. Why else would she have kept quiet for thirty years of abuse?
She has a son. Why did he not see her being beaten up?
She is looking for a comeback in movies. Why else would she create a publicity stunt like this?
You doubt her. You reduce her. You judge her. You condemn her.
We know you have your problems. We know you don’t want to deal with ours. If we tell you we were beaten, you feel like you need to react. To do something. Pull out a slice of your emotion and place it in front of us. Threaten to beat up the man who dared to touch us. Find us a job so we don’t come and live under your roof and eat the food from your children’s plate.
A beaten woman becomes society’s problem. Your problem. What can you do with her?
Therefore, you prefer that we just shut up. If we bear the beatings quietly, inside the walls of our house, where the roof gathers our screams and the floor soaks up our blood and tears.
So we stay on and bear the abuse, knowing that one wrong punch in the face, one kick too strong, one hit on the head, and we could be dead. Worse, paralysed. We come for your shiny parties with that monster and smile. We cover our wounds with makeup and sunglasses and scarves. We tell our mothers we walked into the door, tripped on the floor. We tell the monster: it is okay to hit me, it is okay to demean me, it is okay to humiliate me, no one will know who you really are. And then what? The monster knows we have no one to protect us. He is encouraged by our denial, our shame and our love for him. So the next time he hits harder.
Remember, silence, too, exacts a price.
It makes monsters out of your sons and brothers.
Our silence and your silence. Both are wrong. Speak up, let us speak. Let it be said.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama]