A woman without a man

I was the youngest amongst all four of my siblings. I grew up to be happy, tomboyish, and pampered. At the age of 19 years, I was married to my husband. He was a happy, young, and outspoken man. I never had many friends so he became my close confidante. I really loved him and told him about everything. I even told him about things that I had never mentioned to anyone else before like how I was molested at the age of 7 by a close relative.

But, things were good for only about 8 months after which his verbal abuse started where he called me names and even blamed me for being molested. He hurt me but I forgave him out of love. Soon he began physically abusing as well. Then I got pregnant and things got even worse. We were kicked out by my in-laws and we had a lot of issues - emotional, financial, and physical. I was pregnant and down with malaria throughout my pregnancy and my husband couldn't even afford a proper meal, forget medical aid. My parents had to step in. They helped us financially and even emotionally.

Then, I found out about his affair after which we decided to stay away. While he went to Africa, I stayed back in India with my newborn baby to pursue a course in hair styling. For 5 years, we lived apart. In the meantime, I lost my parents. So, I went to Africa to live with my husband.

Soon I realized he wasn't progressive and things hadn’t changed at all. I wasted my experience by not going out because he didn't let me. He was drunk all the time and we had no money.

Despite my weakness and the doctor’s warning, I still got pregnant 3-4 times, but I miscarried them all. Once I remember how we had an argument. He had such a huge ego that he let me sleep on the floor - pregnant; uncovered; without food. The very next morning, I miscarried the child, because I developed symptoms of malaria.

He wasn't the man I wanted. He was an abusive drunkard. I was living a tortured life. I had already lived alone for 5 years and I knew that I could do it again. Also, I couldn’t have forced him to feed two other people when he couldn’t feed himself. That was the time when I left him and came back to Mumbai, India along with my son, strong yet unprepared for the new problems I was going to face here.

After coming back, I started looking for jobs and I finally got a decent one in a hair company. Life is never easy for a single woman. A lot of men tend to treat you like an opportunity. The first indecent job offer I got was from the CEO of a company. He offered me a promotion in another city. When I told him that I can not move to another city because I knew no one there. He bluntly told me "Don't worry, I'll keep on coming to you on the weekends." That's when I knew that as a single mother, I would have to face a lot of challenges.

For a woman, especially a mother staying out late or just enjoying with friends is considered distasteful. Sometimes, It was difficult to be a happy woman who could go out with friends and stay out a little late without being tagged as an irresponsible mother. My family supported me but it came with the downside of them judging me for any male friend that I had. I was being constantly reminded that I have a son and what he would think of me if I wore the clothes of my choice.

I was always upfront and said no to compromises which delayed my promotions. I'm glad for the people who have supported me and are still in my life. Life made me realize that it's a man's world and women who fight and stand up for themselves make a benchmark. Now that I look back at what happened, I realize that it's better this way now.

It was torturous to be alone and I had no one with me, except for my son who couldn't fight for me because he was too young to do so. Now, I am a happy single mother and looking after myself. I don't go to any family gatherings because all they'd do is gossip. Even the ladies in my society talk about how I am independent, and wonder whether I'm divorced and or not; and why don't I live with my husband. They talk behind my back if I come home late.

But society will gossip and we can't stop them. Today my son's 18. He has seen me struggle in this world since he was 7. I'm proud to see my son respect all the single mothers because he has seen his own mother struggle.

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