I belong to a family where girls’ education doesn’t matter much. (Parents were typically from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh).
If women are educated, everyone believes nothing can happen wrong with their daughters. Why? Because you have acquired a degree from a prestigious college, this is a mistaken perception by today’s parents. Being a daughter of a Govt. employee, I had been set free to study on my own choice. But life took a turn when I got married to the person I love. I was overwhelmed and very happy, but this happiness didn’t stay for long. Even in this progressing civilization, my ex-husband’s family treated me as an unacceptable girl and always conspired to make my life full of trouble. I never got the privilege to enjoy my married life. I felt like someone was choking my voice to speak for myself and snatching my freedom to live. My dream of having a happy family started slipping off my hands. My sister-in-law threatened to burn me alive in front of everyone and the person whom I considered my world didn’t even take a stand for me.
Just after 8 months of marriage, I was forced to leave my in-law’s house. Life worsened when I found my ex-husband to be a horrible drunkard. In my 20s, I could barely understand the situations I was going through, why life is being brutal to me! I thought my parents would support me, but life has decided to surprise me with more pain and examine me every day. My own parents made my life hell.
During my hard times when I conceived, I never wanted to have a baby because of the times of adversities, but still, I survived and gave birth to a baby girl. I was expecting my ex-husband to become responsible after the birth of our daughter. But the situation keeps on worsening with the ongoing days. Depression grasped my life and life gets bitter with each passing day. After losing all hope, and no money in hand. I decided to start my career, applied for various jobs, and got selected as a teacher in a private school. Handling the monthly expenses with just 1,350rs salary was worth stressing.
At the school where I was deployed, other staff members used to harass me even after knowing my heart-wrenching situation. The dark days swallow me up every day. Being frustrated I decided to quit and went to commit suicide because of repeated pressure from my parents to pay the bills and leave the house. But just for the sake of my little one, I stepped down.
Yes, I stayed with my parents for the next 10 years with intolerable torture, and paying for all expenses to my parents was heart rendering.
During my hard times, I had one more beautiful soul with me. She didn’t take birth from my womb. But she held a special place in my life. I could never imagine my life without my daughter Shivani, whose immense love and support make me feel special till now. She was the one who kept on listening to me and observing me since she was 9 years old. I feel blessed when a daughter like her stands beside me, while everyone was against my situation, she stood with me.
After 12 years of a long-married life, I decided to file a divorce. I fought for the custody of my baby for many years and I did it! I keep on trying to overcome my sorrows. I wasn’t having time to grieve for my situation as I was gifted with the responsibility.
My opinion for life got changed, pressures came for a second marriage by the relatives and close ones. It was like, someone is wanting me to throw in a pit all over again. Everyone wanted to get rid of my issues and responsibilities.
Keeping myself motivated in this situation was no less than breaking the stereotypes of India. Because according to most people, divorced women are never acknowledged for their good deeds. There are still people who blamed me for my sufferings like it was all my mistake to marry the person of my choice.
After a horrendous struggle of 14 years with no support, I had an arranged marriage in 2014. Stepping into a second marriage was initially scary because of my past. But my husband realized my situation and accepted me and my daughter with open arms. He helped me to pursue my dream and allowed me to do what I want in my life.
I am Vijaylakshmi Patel happily married to Ronak Patel, who is a hard-working Business Owner in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Through my story, I want to change the mindset of all the women out there, who suspect that failure of marriage is the end of life.
Entrusting on time that it will pass one day, may never permit me to stand independently. So if I can, then you can also bang on in your life to come forward.
For others, giving a second chance to your life is a waste of time. So, here I am standing with a beautiful family. Where I am free to make decisions in my life and now I educate the girl child to be independent.