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06 Dec 2021, Edition - 2337, Monday

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‘Richness and Poorness are more of perception than reality because it’s often difficult to benchmark’

Society taught me that I belonged to poor family and at times my requests to buy a thing made my parents to tell that we belonged to a poor family. My father worked in other’s shop as a tailor with wages nearly one hundred rupee per week. I cannot image how my mother managed three children and their education. There has to be immeasurable sacrifices that I could feel only after an accident that took me back to life of poor label.

I was building a castle of education with limited understanding, what to do next? In town like Bijapur during 1980s for a student like me would mean was just to study. Father’s friend came with a marriage proposal from a rich family while I was studying eighth standard. Father declined it gently, there were two reasons to it – firstly I was too young to get married and secondly the fear of dowry was looming largely on their head. After a week his friend persuaded atleast to allow the boy family to see the girl. Persistent effort from his friend and fear of loosing friendship, father allowed their request to see his daughter. I am not sure if this can be lucky or unlucky that boy liked me at the first instance. My parents had a restless week to ascertain a reason to reject the proposal on grounds of daughter’s education. For a person who falls in love, always wants to win a trophy! Boy’s family agreed for that and several other conditions but requested for an engagement. Though it was relief for parents that daughter is getting married in a rich family that poor families find hard to find one. In less than a month engagement closed one of the doors to think of anyone else till grave.

Engagement news spread in school and often friends (at times teachers too!) bullied with interesting remarks on the martial status. They would ask me if I am single or married? I was neither single nor married, somewhere in between! Every Saturday my fiancé would visit our home and I was forced to miss the classes. This gave school friends another opportunity to pull my leg on Monday blues. Several times I felt shy to express a feel that an engaged girl who had friends who were still single! Sometimes I used to be lost in the middle of class thinking of future and teachers attention to a question turned out to be an awkward situation. This day dreaming lead to a failure in matriculation board examination!

This failure was a good enough excuse for marriage and the carrot that was shown was ‘rich label’. Earlier engagement had closed one door, now marriage made me house arrest. I am saying this; poor label had liberty to live (mostly unconditional) whereas rich label curtailed it. I am using ‘rich label’ because richness was often measured with money and possession rather than emotional bonding. Two children were the examples to project emotional bonding to the family and society. The next check list to the rich label was to bring up the children. In middle of hush-hush life, twelve years of married life were over. These twelve years gave little liberty to help the poor people who resided around the house. I could use rich label to help the needy!

Several strangers to whom my husband was in debt opened the closed doors. I wondered how foolishness these men make their wives to paint rosy picture of life while they are themselves in grave trouble. I learnt from these strangers that my husband had borrowed several lakhs of rupees for gambling. Some were documented and others were given through word of mouth. Prestige is something that one like to safeguard from others but often we fail to realize that it has a limit to hold the pressure. It’s wise to have exit, otherwise there could be explosion and end results are irrecoverable loss. Something like that happened to me as well! I never understood being in debt why would one drink? Drama in life had just begun and I became a central performer. My husband would drink and shout with words that often people resists to hear. If intervened to stop him from drinking, there was another drama to it! All superstitious beliefs were carried out to get him out of drinking habit. One would accept even such beliefs to safeguard the prestige. Every other day people knocked door for their money. In order to save prestige, legal tussle a mutual settlement looked promising with the lenders. I gave away bank deposits, sold the house, gold and business property to the lenders. Even that wasn’t sufficient to save the prestige. We moved to a rented house. He grew suspicious on my each moment. I was often questioned if there is any illicit relationship. During one night my husband ran away from home because of the constant pressure from remaining lenders. After several enquiries he was found at his brother’s house. He promised to return home with a condition that I would borrow money from my parents. I had become a prey for lenders; they would emotional draw me towards them to return the money with their personal issues at home. Over a time I learnt from the lenders that my husband had asked to collect the remaining money from me.

Inspite waiting for one year my husband didn’t yield to any requests. Seeing my two children and me in troubled life, house owner requested in-laws to take her back to home. They were quick to denial to accept us! Owner was asked to throw us out of house, as perhaps I was looked as a symbol of loss. These continue circumstance succumbed me to comma for a month. My father learnt these issues from my owner and decided to help me to stand on own feet. As I moved to parents house, I could realize the sacrifices my mother did for her children. On my first day evening, my daughter with her little fingers wiped my tears. She sat on my leg and said, ‘Maa, don’t worry! I will take care of you.’ Everyday in the past I fed my children with milk and costliest biscuits but there wasn’t any more milk and biscuits to feed.

Father gave hope each day with assurance that God would set things right! World outside is different. It’s illusion! My parents trust that their daughter would stand on own feet to prove in-laws and husband wrong, who believed women is incapable of anything in business. I joined RUDSETI to learn tailoring where my father was a resource person (trainer) too! The chief guest for the first day induction was Dr. Meena R Chandavarkar, her motivational speech was enough to put fire in my belly. Month training helped me to understand that several others have more pain in life than I thought to be victim alone.

After two years in being independent, my husband wants to return. However I declined, as he wants only money to drink and gamble. Several years ago he had told me man is not to sit at home and eat! Today that equation seems to have forgotten. I want to build a house that would have my terms and conditions with two children and parents. This would complete the story of Rich to Rag to Rich.

Author’s 3R’s: During our interaction we understood that the art of stitching clothes was perhaps somewhere hidden in her. Thanks to her parents to make her realize her potential. She said several times, ‘father is my back bone’.

The author of the column is Santosh Avvannavar, Soft skills Trainer, Author, Counsellor & Consultant

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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