One day I was deeply drowned at work when my cellphone rang flashing her name… I paused for a second, answered the phone. Before I could even utter a word she said, “Aastha, listen, just listen.. If I need shelter for a couple of months along with my daughter at your place, would you be fine with that? My sister is getting married this May and I want to leave my husband after that. I am done handling this marriage. I want to get out of it”, “That’s not a problem, but are you ok? Where are you now?” I was worried about her. She said she is doing fine, disconnected the call saying she would call later.
Her name is Ujwala. I met her on a group trip to Goa. We were standing besides the bus waiting for a lady to join us. She is a married woman with a small kid (2 years then), travelling solo.. It makes me happy when I see women, especially married and who have kids travel. It can be relaxing and liberating at the same time. A white color Swift stopped besides us. Ujwala got out of the car holding her little girl. A few mins later, we heard loud shouting followed by Ujwala throwing her phone on the road, crashing it into pieces. Her husband took the baby from her, brought her to us, bid her good bye and he left. I sat beside her in the bus, the whole night she was very silent. She wasn’t crying either. I did not make any attempt to talk with her except for exchange of names. The next morning, we were on our way out to the beaches nearby, when she slowly made her first attempt to talk.. , “I think you saw what happened last night. I am sorry, it was embarrassing for me too. That’s my husband. He can be very irritating at times so much that I cannot take it“. I told her that’s fine and not to worry about that getting noticed.
It was a three day trip to Goa. Ujwala enjoyed her time during the trip though she was moody at times. She drank, smoked weed for the first time. (I neither drink or smoke, so I get to enjoy all the scenes that happen after one is drunk :p) Ujwala had a hint of childishness in her which everyone of us noticed. It is hard to guess she is a mother if one hasn’t known that. On our way back to Bangalore she told me most of her story. She was crying, I was holding her hand consoling her. She said her husband is very controlling, abusive and doesn’t like it if she wants some space. By the end of the story she asked me,”Aastha, tell me what should I do? I don’t want my daughter to have an abusive father. She has all the right to have a free life unlike me who is bound by so many rules. If it was you in my situation, what would you do?“. I was taken aback by the sharpness in her eyes and the intensity with which she demanded an answer from me.. “Ujwala, I am no one to tell you what you should do. You have a little girl whose future is in your hands if at all you decide to part ways with him. I don’t know if your husband is going to agree to give her to you. It would be a battle in which you would be subjected to a lot of stress but you should ensure you little one is happy. Think about the consequences and the level of preparation needed mentally to handle all that. You should make a choice of what you can handle, me or no one else is entitled to make that decision for you..“
I met her on one more trip. Later on she said that she has been abroad for a week long trip and enjoyed it. Out of curiosity, I asked her, how often does she gets time to go on trips. She said once a month, internationally one or two an year and she travels alone while her husband and mother-in-law take care of her daughter. She complains that her husband watches cricket at home and that makes her feel bad as he isn’t spending time with her. I have heard a series of complaints from her about her husband over time about not giving enough freedom and was very confused.
I could not understand if I was overthinking about her. I wondered if I was judging her. What is freedom? Is it not going on solo trips as often as we like? Is it not getting time to spend with one self when our significant other is watching TV or doing whatever they like. Unless TV is what he/she does all day long, once in a while watching a series isn’t a problem. If we can enjoy watching that match we can join them or do something that makes us feel good. Holding a grudge on them for this and blaming is like victim blaming.
Ujwala is a trained dancer, she could have opted to teach dance to kids in her apartment, let alone teaching she could have participated in events that happen in her apartment complex. She sings so well, I would just love to hear her singing all day. She is a writer and writes her own blog. She has a full time job and a little kid. I think she is getting ample amount of time for herself. May she is just unable to define what freedom means to her?
Many of us do not define what makes us happy and find it convenient to blame on others for not giving us space. While this is one part of the problem, the second part could be that we are not respecting the time we are getting for ourselves. If we while away the time we have on social media and chit-chatting with others, then that is what makes us happy. Asking for more and more time while not utilizing the time properly is our problem than it is a problem with freedom in any relationship. Defining how much time we would need and what are we going to do with that time is an open dialogue we can have with the other person in the relationship. If the partner feels it is more than what they can handle, this should be the time we discuss than blame each other later. Me time and privacy are as important as being open for adjustments. If you always feel that you are the one sacrificing the me time, there are only three possibilities, either you are trying to fix your partner always or not getting the time or misusing it. What exactly is causing this would lead you to a solution… Just remember, freedom has limits too…