Would like to share the story of a family friend, changing the names for protecting their privacy.
Mr. and Mrs. Agarwal arranged the marriage of their daughter, Purvi to Anil. It was a lavish wedding, just the way we like it.
Within the first year of marriage, it was detected that Purvi had a cyst in the ovary. Anil and his parents complained that they had been deceived into marrying a ‘defective’ girl who was not good for doing any household work. Purvi along with her parents were taunted for hiding her condition prior to marriage. Her parents explained that they themselves did not know. Why would they not treat her daughter and instead marry her off, if they had an idea. She was their beloved princess after all. But it was of no use.
Purvi was operated. But she continued to be in pain. Few more visits to the doctor and some tests revealed that she was suffering from cervical cancer.
Chemotherapy started. Purvi was in terrible pain. She used to wash her own clothes, cook, clean and even go grocery shopping. She was just like an any other Indian daughter-in-law, the expectations, the taunts, the humiliation were not spared. The fact that she was suffering from cancer did not matter. Empathy and care was too much to ask for.
Her parents would come to visit at times and stayed with her. Anil’s parents had a list of grievances from the good for nothing daughter in law – how she sleeps too much, is always tired, does not cook and clean well. They were also disgusted with the fact that her parents came and stayed with them shamelessly during the chemo sessions.
Purvi’s parents were also not able to understand how grave the situation was. They were hoping their daughter would get better. One of their friends suggested that they bring her daughter to their home, in another city for the treatment. But the thought of the married daughter not staying with her husband was unthinkable. They did not want her marriage to break-up. It was a new and delicate relationship and they did not want to aggravate the already tensed situation by hurting her in-laws.
Finally, Purvi’s mother mustered some courage to have a candid chat with her doctor.
“When will my daughter fully recover?”
“There is nothing that can be done now Ma’am. I am sorry.”
Purvi’s parents took her daughter to their home, by humbly requesting her in-laws that she has become a burden on them, and that they volunteer to take care of her.
Purvi died within six months. Her husband and in-laws did not bother to visit her at the time of her death or at the funeral. However, Anil received the sum under the life insurance policy in Purvi’s name. After all he was the lawfully wedded husband. Till date, Purvi’s jewelry is still at her in-laws’ home. Her parents feel that they don’t care about materialistic possessions when the most precious part of their life is gone.
When I imagine Purvi struggling from cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and trying to please her husband and in-laws, physically torturing her already weak body, I feel pained. She was trying to save her marriage, more than she cared about saving her life. Nobody could save her from cancer probably, but she could have lived the last couple of years of her life in peace with loved ones, and not inhumane and greedy people who just viewed her as an incompetent maid.
I do not understand what is this pressure in India for girls to stay in absolute horrible marriages. Why do we bring up our daughters with the mentality that marriage is the sole purpose of their life? What kind of fear / hesitation / respect stops parents from protecting their daughters from such evil people who think that their cancer suffering daughter should mop the floor more neatly? Because these unkind people happen to be her in-laws / husband?
Marriages are not made in heaven. They are made right here on earth. Purvi was not married to a God. She was married to a selfish, undeserving human – who did not love her or care for her.
It is okay to end a chronic marriage. It will not be the end of a daughter’s life. Sure, it will bring sadness. But not for the whole life. For some time. She will recover. She may find happiness.
As long as she is alive and healthy.