Below The Belt

Raped by in-law, cheated by lover, this single mother's story is an inspiration

Amita's frankness is strangely disconcerting in a closeted culture where women bear the cross of their decisions.

 |  Below The Belt  |  8-minute read |   13-05-2016
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Blame it on popular culture or the conservative Indian mindset that idealises marriage as the ultimate validation for women, but there is a general tendency to attach guilt and shame to those who choose to get involved in a relationship with a married man. This is precisely why 45-year-old telecom professional Amita Arya's tumultuous journey is as complex as it is courageous.

She is a single mother, with a 20-year-old daughter whom she had with her now-divorced husband, and a nine-year-old son, a love child, whom she chose to bear after a lengthy, intense affair with a married man, a father to two children himself.

Her married lover had subsequently refused to acknowledge their son and leave his wife as promised, which has left Amita fighting an arduous paternity suit in court and claiming a DNA test.

"I am not looking for marriage or money, I just want Sunil (name changed on request) to accept he is Kushal's (name changed on request) father. According to the court, every child you bear is an equal son. My son knows the truth and even in school he tells his teachers before they can ask, that his father doesn't live with us. I am open with both my kids."

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Amita's frankness is strangely disconcerting in a closeted culture where women bear the cross of their decisions.

"I was one of the most well qualified girls in our family. We belonged to a lower middle class set up from an upper backward caste. Education of girls in the Lodhi Rajput clan is a distant dream," Amita says.

"My father was my biggest inspiration. He came from a very poor farmer's family, but my dadaji (grandfather) was a freedom fighter and despite having completed his education from a pure Hindi background, at 19 he gained admission in the reputed Pusa Institute that was back then purely dominated by south Indians.

"My father had tried to run away initially. When he got posted in Hyderabad, he was determined that I got a good education at par with my brothers. Then we relocated to Dimapur in Nagaland, and I was admitted to Holy Cross Convent, as father never discriminated between us.

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"I got a chance to do my BTech from IIT Rourkee, but finally, studied computer science in Lucknow, and in 1990 I joined VSNL for training. That was during the Mandal Commission, when a lot of agitations were going on, but still I gave my exams, and was a gold medallist from my college. I got entry into IIT Delhi, for my MTech.

"But I was raped by my brother-in-law, and I was semi paralysed for a while. This ugly incident, about which I could never tell anyone, left a deep scar, as I lost most of my memory, and stayed clear of men, devoting all my time to my studies. My first affair was with a Jat man who was extremely narcissistic, and that had taken a toll on me emotionally. We had a break up. Psychologically shattered, I decided to marry on the rebound - a guy I barely knew. My parents were also worried because considering my educational degrees and job profile, I was overqualified for a woman of my caste. The marriage was a rude eye-opener.

"I never opened up to my parents about my troubled marriage because I was always seen as an obedient and good girl, and set an example for being the perfect daughter and achiever.

"My husband wasn't working and had zero bank balance. He hated reading while I was into literature, the difference between us was a rude shock. He had no ambition, except to sleep and eat and I turned out to be the main breadwinner. After our daughter was born, he gained employment in Mahindra and Mahindra. I joined Bharti Airtel and was heading operations for the north. We met once in six months, there was no physical intimacy between us too.

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"I raised my elder brother-in-law's children, so I never missed a man in my life as we were a complete family. But in January 2006, that changed. I was coming out of jaundice and happened to meet an ex IIT-ian on a Yahoo chat group who also lived in Noida. We chatted for three-four hours and since we lived nearby, I went over to his home and even met his wife.

"On the fourth day of us knowing one another, he came to my house with his son. Our friendship grew slowly from there. He asked me to organise an alumni meet where he never turned up. This was in February. Finally, arriving late, he got totally sloshed and on the way back when he was dropping me home, he got emotional and hugged me impulsively. It was years since I had experienced a male touch...

"After that, Sunil came home every two-three days and also got very friendly with my daughter. We went on long drives, sometimes all the way to Nainital. Occasionally, while shifting gears, he held my hand. Our intimacy increased, and we consummated our relation soon after. He would say, what's there in a marriage, that is more of a duty, I want to spend the rest of my life only with you.

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"Meanwhile, Sunil's wife got pregnant with their second son. I called her on her godh bharai, but he picked up the phone and said if I came clean about our relationship, she may commit suicide since theirs was a love marriage and they had been in a relationship since their student days in JNU.

"When I conceived myself, Sunil was determined I needed to abort the child as he feared what society will say if the kid resembled him in any way. I, however, was adamant that I wanted the child since it was the peak of our affair.

"Sunil left in a huff, but his friends kept calling me saying he was miserable. After the third day, he came back and looking back was supportive towards my pregnancy. He cooked breakfast, massaged my heels at the end of the day - it was more than a husband would do.

"I shared with my husband all that had happened with Sunil in December that year. He was angry but didn't know what to do since we had been estranged for years. On April 19, 2007, my son was born preterm and Sunil and my cousin were there the night before at the hospital. I had a C-section, at 7am, and Sunil was the first arms my son was cradled in. My parents arrived soon after with my husband and that's when he blurted out that we weren't together anymore.

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"In 2012, Sunil's wife discovered our pictures on a Flickr account, but she believed his version that we were just friends and my son was born out of a night of fun when he was sloshed. Sunil asked me to remove some of our more intimate pictures and comments, which I did. I even met his wife finally and told her all the details, but all she wanted to know was how many times we had sex and how many vacations we took!

"Sunil's friends who were ABVP goons began threatening me, as he too defamed me in our alumni circles. I was scared and weak, since he was always pulling me down and abusing me. I had heard every kind of abuse from him, his mother, his in-laws, my own father and lost every friend. 

"My relationship with my daughter too then crumbled as she had got very attached to Sunil as a missing father figure and took to alcohol and smoking. I was forced to refocus all my energies towards my child and sought counselling to set things right.

"Sunil spread rumours about my character and my seniors in IIT believed I changed men every night. The reason I had revealed everything to his wife was because I was humiliated when he would take both of us on vacations and after spending the first half of the night with her would sneak into my room. It was wrong on her as well. I was clear I wasn't interested in being the second woman. Today, we aren't in touch any more, but I have filed a paternity suit. I only want that he accepts he is the father of my son.

"When you have an affair with a married man, you are branded as a whore. My brothers don't support me, though my sisters-in-law understand. My parents finally came around, though they always remind me how I was wrong in choosing Sunil. And are partial towards my daughter.

"My daughter is close to her own father now, he remarried after we divorced and funds her higher education. My son sometimes asks why he can't have him as his father instead?

"As a single woman living life on my own terms, I am comfortable with my life and choices. In school I have faced no issues with my children's admission, so I believe slowly society too is beginning to accept women like me and children without a father's identity. Of course, there are always married women who fear I may snatch their husbands next... but I don't care." 

Writer

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu Sreemoyee Piu Kundu @sreemoyeekundu

The writer is an ex-lifestyle editor and PR vice president, and now a full-time novelist. She's the author of Faraway Music, the best-selling female erotica, Sita's Curse, You've Got The Wrong Girl! and Cut. Last year, she wrote the internationally acclaimed work of non-fiction on single women in India, Status Single. A leading columnist on sexuality and gender, Sreemoyee is also the recipient of NDTV L'oreal Women of Worth Award in the 'Literature' category.

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