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Jul 24, 2010

Nightmare on the Dream Job

"You are going to live your dream" a friend cooed. The bride, blushed and giggled. That was exactly ten years ago.

Today, alone She stood, with the crowd, on the streets. Searching for a job, any job, since she had been kicked out of that Dream Job.

It had not been easy to accept that, after ten years of marriage, her husband was divorcing her for another woman. But her sadness turned to alarm when her lawyer shed light on the legal angles. She had been earning during the first five years of marriage. But she had used her salary for household expenditure and buying consumer durables (billed in her husband's name) for her 'home'; and her husband had saved his income and used it for buying the house in his name. She had quit her job, to help him in his business and had worked hard on that too till a year back.

Since it had flourished he had expanded and even though it had been through her help, there was nothing on paper. She had assumed that the law would recognise her efforts towards raising the family and business. But today, with a shock, she realised that the law recognises only papers which showed proof of ownership, and even if assets were purchased from her income, what mattered was only what the invoices stated, and those were in his name. She was not sure if he had intended this, but now it didn't matter. It wouldn't be easy getting a new job. No employer wanted a woman who was coming to work after 5 years and was emotionally distracted and financially unstable. She had assumed that she would get alimony and maintenance and a few assets.

But now, it seemed no hard assets and no portion of his investments, provident fund or pension would come to her. Even alimony, she realised today, was now at the judge's discretion and based on her husband's income. The law says the husband should take care of the woman's 'reasonable' needs through alimony and/or maintenance after divorce. The problem lies in defining 'reasonable'. The most she could hope for, would be one-fifth of the husband's pre-tax (roughly a third of his post-tax) income as alimony. Even though he was successful, she didn't now know how she could prove his income. All his statements went to his office and parts of his income had been turned to 'black'. Now he was even showing a loss on paper. Hindu law also provides for a reverse payment from an earning wife to the non-earning husband. Wonderful! Just what her husband needed to harass her further.

Even to claim the items she had bought from her parents on marriage, she had to prove that they were part of the 'stridhan', and she was not sure if she had sufficient proof towards it.

Even her child, she realised with a shock, was not hers. The law grants many a privilege to the father. For her husband, their daughter was just another pawn to be used against her. She had been about to make a settlement when he had promised that he would buy a land in their daughter's name for her future. Thankfully she had consulted a lawyer on second thought. The husband, as the natural guardian of the child, would have continued to have final say on the property. So, he was actually giving her nothing at all. It wouldn't have mattered if he had bought a land for their daughter. Tears flowed from her eyes as she remembered her daughter. Today she was confused, yet clinging to her father, since he had showered her with expensive gifts.

And she thought of her own mother. The same mother who in her childhood, was the symbol of security, now seemed a helpless ragged doll with sad eyes.After visiting the lawyer she had met her parents, but what could they do now? They were dependent on her brother, and her brother
could express only sympathy not support. He had his own family to look after. And similarly with her friends.

She had swallowed her pride, gone back to the husband and refused the divorce. He simply raped her, and laughed at her, on his way out. Marital rape wasn't a crime according to her lawyer. And one pending divorce, had a punishment lesser than the other rapes.

Suddenly the crowd gathered around a journalist, who was asking the women if they felt outraged, with housewives being grouped with Commercial Sex Workers, Prisoners and Beggars, in the 2001 Census. The crowd grew shrill. Everyone lamented, then they moved on.

I feel worse than a commercial sex worker, she thought, with none existing to question my rape. And atleast the prisoners have a cell, I or my mother, don't have even a corner in our houses, to call our own. I am just like a beggar she thought bitterly, begging for mercy from family and friends. Just better dressed, at this moment.

She wanted to go after the journalist, grab the mike and shout at the camera. "Stop this hypocrisy. Just by putting us in a different group in the Census, doesn't mean a thing. Why did you wake up to this only now? If you care, change the laws, change the system. And fight till the end."

But she didn't. The pangs of hunger were louder than the pains of soul.

Taking a deep breath, she moved on, in her quest for a new job. Any job which paid, would be a dream job.

Later she came across a wedding party. She volunteered to work, if they would atleast give a meal.

Finally she was stepping out of her nightmare,
Silently she blessed, the married pair.

The bride was laughing, with dreams in her eyes
For none had told her, Dreams were Lies.


  1. Great one and could be the story of so many of us. I read this article too in the TOI today and was dismayed reading it. I think the laws should be modified like the US ones to distribute all assets after marriage 50%, unless there is a prenuptial agreement.

  2. rachna thanks:)

    i think even in usa its not that easy. in scandinavian nations its better.

    how many middle class women living in joint family have room of their own.

    i was outraged when homemakers were grouped with sex workers, prisoners and beggars but on thinking i realised the situation was actually worse!

  3. WD,

    Excellent. To realize, how true it would be. Happens everywhere and women bear the brunt silently. People say pre-nuptial and all is Western and fake but it would rescue so many hapless women in a society like ours.

  4. the first step would be to spend less on weddings or share the costs between bride and groom.
    and educate the bride on finance and laws.

    how many educated women in India are aware of this situation?

  5. Yes, you are right; Scandinavian countries are even better in terms of women rights.

  6. Marriage is a gamble. Blessed are those who live happily. But, surely the laws should be amended properly in India. And to say anything about how they group the homemakers...the comment space isn't enough.

  7. women are yet to become a votebank. if you insult other workers, they might strike, what are homemakers going to do, say we will walk out of marriage?

  8. touchy! and rather disturbing too!

  9. thanks sadiya, appreciate it.:)

  10. That was a great narration and very disturbing! I think women have to wake up and be as smart as men, even when they are happily married ans secure themselves economically, just like men do. yes we need laws too but those can be easily circumvented if you get a clever lawyer.

  11. panorama, yes lawyers can manipulate but laws are reflections of our values, and these are horrible ones..

  12. Lovely, I was almost not going to read this one from the winning entries, but then decided to & so glad I clicked.

  13. Wow! That was quite a dark and sad story.
    Well written.

  14. komal-nishka thank you:)

    rs i hate dark stories, but i was just so mad, that i went crazy. Just felt I had to write it.:)

  15. Hi Wise donkey, my 1st visit to yr page, but now I'm hooked, i don't know why but this topic is something i feel strongly about.

    very well written, loved the way you bring it around and finish it with housewives being clubbed with sex workers and beggars.

    As far as being educated and aware are concerned, there is not much a wife can do, other than earn for her own savings. It is like because the older generation has not demanded and if we do, we are branded. we are called materialistic and untrustworthy.

  16. thank you so much Pooja:) But men are not called the same, if they earn and save in their name:)

  17. what a night mare,
    excellent work.
    well deserved.

  18. i donno wt to say..... its so hard to digest this story although it cud be possible. Well written dude. Hope women are cautious after reading this atleast and Men will see this story as mirror (including me) not to think in that way... ohhh GOD.. show some path to this type of house wives..

  19. madarapu,thanks well it happens, not with every housewife, but partially with many.

    for eg many fulltime homemakers don't get to take care of their parents as others

  20. HI, I know you would be surprised, but I'm back, after more than a year.
    Last time when I was here, I dint know much about blogging, but this post of yours had left such a strong impact on me that today I was determined to find you and follow you anyhow, I'd tried before too but not as I did today.

  21. nice to hear about it Pooja:)
    All the best:)


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