You would be wondering why I have chosen to write a letter to you when we talk to each other so many times every day. But I consider this necessary to share something with you before we get married. We must not keep any secrets from each other, should we?
So today, through this letter, I wish to tell you the story of a young boy and his mother.
He could give up anything in the world to see a smile on her glum face again. She would dutifully come to meet him, every month. She would bring his favorite food, enquire about his well being, studies and keep staring blankly at the dusty calendar on the sour cream walls of the meeting room.
I am that son. Son of a battered, trafficked woman who saw his helpless mother punched and kicked everyday by his drug addict father. A son who bore the ugly imprints of domestic violence and abuse on his impressionable mind and parched heart. A son who killed his own father because he couldn't bear to see his frail, sick mother being assaulted by his father when she refused to go for 'dhandha' that night.
He had been there for the past nine months, in the juvenile home. He had been convicted of murdering his own father.
His father...a drug addict and peddler, alcoholic, thief, beggar, pimp and a sadistic, cruel, violent man.
The narrow alleys of their street would often reverberate with the cries of a hapless woman. Even the morning sun failed to penetrate the foggy skies to bring some cheer to the frail woman who tried to hide the scars on her body and soul, howsoever unsuccessfully, from her teenage son.
Another dark night, another agonized wail rent the air, blinded with an ominous rage the boy grabbed a sickle and hit. His father collapsed. A puddle of blood slowly trickled out of their tenement.
The boy called the police with his father's cell phone. The juvenile court sentenced him to one year term in a correction home.
His mother's droopy mouth slumped even more. Uncertainty and apprehensions about her son's bleak future made her scarred face gloomier.
He urged her to resume her work as a house maid and be happy. She feigned a smile which did not reach her hollow eyes.
After an agonizing twelve months he came home. She rejoiced briefly, then fell silent again.
That night, as she lay awake on a shabby rag unable to blink an eye, she heard someone croon a lullaby. She froze in her mediations. Then slowly turned to see her son sing the lullaby she used to sing to rock him to sleep in his childhood.
From behind the lead skies, her s(u)n was born again! The droopy mouth lifted, and then she smiled......radiant like the full moon outside.
I am the son who served 365 long days and sleepless nights in a juvenile home in the fervent hope of seeing his mother smile again. I am that son of a proud mother who has not given her a reason to stop smiling since that day. Unfortunately, I am also the son of an oppressive father.
I am also the same man whom you love so much and who is going to become your husband in a few weeks from now, hopefully.
Although I am sure that the selfless, boundless love of my mother has rid me of the scars of my tarnished past, yet if you find the slightest traces of male entitlement and superiority in me, I request you to check me there and then. If you feel I am carrying and displaying the brutal imprints of my father's oppressive behavior towards you, do restrain me there and then. Do not remain silent, do not bear it thinking I am a man and it is my right to dominate you, I do beseech you. You would be wondering at my strange request against my own self, aren't you?
But my dear, in a marriage, man and woman are equals, none is superior or inferior and hence none should impose his/her will on the spouse. It is not a relationship of master and slave so no one should control the other.
Now that I have revealed all about my traumatic childhood, criminal past and my mother's oppression, would you want to go ahead with our wedding?
Would you be able to trust me if I promise to always be a gentle man-a man who genuinely respects and cares for women, a man who would never raise his voice on a woman let alone raising his hand on her, a man who wouldn't allow even the fading scars on his heart impact his love and respect for his wife?
Even if you decide against our wedding, let me assure you that I would never hold it against you. I would still want to be your friend and well-wisher.
If you would wish to have me back in your life, that is.
Your best friend
Author's Note: This writeup #ALetterToHer is written as an honest admission of his traumatic, violent past by a young man to his future wife. He, as a conscientious man, wants his wife to never have to suffer violence and abuse the way his mother had to suffer at the hands of his father.
Thanks #WomensWeb for initiating this blogathon in association with #JuggernautBooks to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse.
I would want to read book When I Hit You (bit.ly/Meenabk2) by #MeenaKandasamy because it is a real life first person account of her husband's oppressive behavior and her struggle to overcome it. From her interviews and excerpts from her book it is quite evident that this oppression is not limited to any particular caste, religion or social strata. It is rather necessary for every woman to not only know her rights but also not hesitate in asserting herself when the need arises.