My friend was raped by her husband. This is her story

Today, when I look back, I wonder why no one - from my aunt to the doctor and colleague to a friend - questioned me about the dark side of sex.

 |  4-minute read |   02-05-2015
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We had bunked work for two days to spend a chilly weekend on the hills. It was a lovely drive uphill. I felt the tiny raindrops on my hand when I rolled down the window. We stopped at a dhabha and ate ghee-drenched paranthas with dal. My husband burped out loud when we got back into the car. We laughed out loud. I was in love with him, even when he burped. We reached the hotel at 3am. We were exhausted and went to rest in our room. My husband carried my bag. In the room, he smiled at me and pulled me towards him. It was a cold night. The sun would rise soon. Next morning, we ordered more paranthas for breakfast before heading for our trekking tour. He loved paranthas. I heard him burp. I couldn't laugh. My head was filled with loud cries.

I was raped that night.

Last month, I completed the formalities of my divorce. Now, I am officially a single woman. It was easier to cite incompatibility as a reason for separation than marital rape. The judges would believe you and it will be a smooth process, I was told. And so I did.

These days, everyone I meet wants to know what exactly went wrong between my partner and I. Incompatibility can be explained easily and in many ways. On good days, I joke, "I loved Pepsi while he loved Coke. We always argued which beverage was sweeter." On bad days, I retort, "Our physical relation was not quite ideal. In the two years that we were married, we had sex only on one occasion." And as soon as these words come out of my mouth, I am declared the perpetrator of this broken marriage in both spoken and unspoken words. And everyone has a piece of advice for me, some borrowed from magazines, many from personal experiences and few times from tradition.

Sex in our land is not a personal matter. Our caves are covered with paintings depicting it, classics on the bookshelves suggest so too, as do the public walls covered with advertisements promising a good massage. When I was single, the word was uttered in hushed whispers, but once I had tied the knot, my sex life was "out there" in many avatars. If I was chirpy, my friends giggled and labelled the cheerfulness as a "good" last night. Drowsiness at work too was a sign of too much fun at night, colleagues would remark. Aunts prodded with the typical "good news" question, suggesting it was time to reproduce. "They all want to see me prosper," I told myself and smiled back as a response to their inane banter. But then when I went for my first post-marriage routine check-up to a gynaecologist, I was told categorically that soon I would be "responsible" for the unhappiness in our relationship.

We were six months into our marriage and used to cuddle at nights and indulge in morning kisses too, but we'd not yet had sex, I told the lady doctor, when she expressed utter shock on realising that I was still a virgin. "A good sex life is a sign of a happy marriage," she said. "Is everything fine with him, medically? Do you think he is having an extra-marital affair? Do you think he prefers men? Or is it you who prefer women?" She burdened me with a barrage of questions, wagging a finger, which read, "I demand an answer." Back then, I was "happily" married and so I told her it was a "personal choice". I tried to make a joke, "Oh, you are talking like a shrink!"

It didn't go well. She was upset, angry. I shifted legs, stared at the ceiling fan and adjusted the blue hospital gown. I didn't have an answer for her, the right one. So she decided to find her own. She looked at my plaid black T-shirt and brassiere, which now hung on the doorhook of the examination room. "You are not being a good wife," she commented. "And when do you plan to have kids? Your biological clock is ticking." I stayed mum.

My routine check-up suggested I was healthy with no trace of disease or illness, but those were not the results the doctor was concerned about. She expressed her disapproval on our "sexless" marriage by pressing the bell (to call for the nurse) for too long. "A woman has got to do what she has got to do," she mumbled, adding, "At this rate, he will leave you, do you prefer a divorce over sex?"

Today, when I look back. I wonder why no one, from my aunt to the doctor and colleague to a friend questioned me about the dark side of sex. "Will they believe me if I were to tell them the truth of my marriage?"

Now, it's time for my routine check-up again and I am dreading going back to my old gynaecologist, mostly because I am not good at dealing with the "I told you so" reaction. So instead, I have decided to first go for my routine dental check-up. For, whether I brush my teeth thrice, twice a day or once is still a private matter, while whether I gave "enough" to my partner is not.

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purva grover purva grover @purvagrover

Editor & Founder, The Indian Trumpet. Join me in search of my favourite word.

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