Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The hands that rise in prayer..


A few months back we got a new neighbour. A Syrian couple with two cute boys. They settled down quietly in the flat adjoining ours. The kids of the apartment did try to pull the new boys in to their games, but did not succeed. The boys always smiled but refused to play, remaining watchful and distant. Kids being what they are soon forgot about the two boys who always held their beautiful mother's hands and stood watching the games.

I, being a bit introverted, in person, did not reach out either. I stood at times talking and laughing with the other moms, watching the boys at their games, and she stood as well. So beautiful, so regal, so distant, a few feet away from me. Neither taking the initial step to bridge the gap.

One particular evening I decided to go ahead and talk to her. While we stood in our regular group and chatted, I saw her come quietly and take her usual place in the compound of the apartment, her two boys by her side. I excused myself from my group and went to her. Her beauty, that so far I had admired only from a distance, made me gasp. I am used to the Arabian beauties, but this lady had an unmistakable aura about her. We shook hands and introduced our selves. She politely introduced her boys to me. Beyond that she did not speak nor enquire about anything. I welcomed her to come and join the group telling her that her English was perfect and she would not face a communication problem. It was then that she looked at me with eyes that spelt a million sorrows. Those limpid pools of grey blue eyes seemed to communicate poignancy that did not require any language skill to be understood.

I literally took a step back, Looked at her again. She was still there. But now she was composed and regal once again. The momentary lift of her veil had come down to hide her sorrows from probing eyes. I did not probe further. I came back to my place and did a lot of trivial things, but all through the evening her eyes stayed with me.

Later that night the watchman of our apartment came to collect his wages. On opening the door to him, he said," Madam your neighbour is beating his wife again. Can you hear her cry? See there, again..can you hear him shout?" From the hallway of the apartment the anguished cries for mercy came distinctly to my ears, and so did the sounds of harsh, loud and painful blows. The pain in those eyes, the defeat of spirit and the bonded existence became clear to me. At that moment I desperately wanted to reach out to her, and in that same moment I also realised her staunch need for privacy. The thin veil of pride that she wore each evening would come crumbling down, by my intervention. I let her pride remain, and closed my door. I looked at my husband and kids, and felt the anguish in the adjacent house separated by a lone wall and a society that permits a man to beat his woman without shame, without guilt and without repentance. The hands that rise in prayer 5 times each day also rise to beat another human being, a mother, a wife.

I also realised, maybe for the first time, the sheer physical power a man has, and felt thankful that the men I know have never been tempted to use it in this way.

66 comments:

ZiLliOnBiG said...

Very touchy and expressive writeup. Its sad, but happens frequently and syrians in particular are notorious for that.

Jyothi said...

Sad but true...Its fate what else to say. What a wasted life? I pray she gets the courage to retaliate. Atleast for her kid's sake...

sujata said...

Thanks @ZillionBig and @Jyothi. I hope staying in this part of the world does not make us immune to this criminal act.

@Jyothi this is for you..I have read both your posts and enjoyed them immensely, but am not able to post my comments on the blog, I will keep trying though.

Gymnast said...

I can identify with that pride. The same pride that i see in so many of my friends as well.
Dont they realise that they gain nothing by trying to hide what is already in everybody's clear view ?
Only if they were ready to let down their pride or ego , and open out to people..can a solution be found.
This extreme secrecy that people show to maintain appearances and keep up their "pride" really irks me.

Aparna said...

Oh god, so brutal. I wonder what makes women stay with such men and bear this constant fear and humiliation day after day. I hope she has the courage to leave some day with her boys.

Aw.S.M said...

su how do u keep doing this!! wow!!

I feel for that lady...the picture u paint is so clear, so sad, so moving. Do we admire that lady for her pride or question her for not standing up for herself...but then again..its the society i guess!!

sad state of affairs indeed..

luv
amith

अनिल कान्त : said...

मुझे नफरत है ऐसे मर्दों से जो औरतों पर हाथ उठाते हैं ...
मैंने जिंदगी में करीब से ये देखा और जिया है .... बस इतना पागल नहीं हुआ कि ऐसे मर्दों का कत्ल करना शुरू कर देता .... शायद कुछ कसर बाकी थी

Kishore Choudhary said...

sujata bloga ka naya rang roop achcha laga rha hai, play list me bhi kai mausam bikhar rahe hain , post ne aapki sanjeedagi ko aur mukharit kar diya hai , mujhe lagata hai ki sirf syrians hi nahin ve sab jo abhi tak half educated hain aesa hi bartaav karte hain. jyothi sahi kahti hain what a wasted life isi baat ke favour me main bhi sochata hoon ki ye mukhtasar sii zindgi kya inhin sadmon ke saath beet jayegi.

Chriz said...

very very sad indeed. sometimes reality is so very bad

R. Ramesh said...

touching post..ya reality bites..and it's sad when it bites so hard..

sanjay vyas said...

i could remember only these lines
" naari tum keval shraddha ho..."
ya fir
" abla teri yahi kahaani aanchal men doodh aur aankhon men paani"

Anonymous said...

It was really very good keep it up!!!!!!!!!

toshali said...

I said that u know.

Sujatha said...

Such a sad story, Sujata. It's a fine line, isn't it, between wanting to help and respecting her privacy?

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Such a sad but inescapable reality, that brute force is still a factor in so many marriages. Domestic violence sickens me so much, partly because of the effect it has on young impressionable minds.

amrit said...

All I can say is shit- I feel bad about it. I feel like doing something about it. I don't know what to do. Shit.

Priya said...

I feel so helpless...and i feel sad more for the kids...

but Sujata, a lame thought may be and i am saying this out of the ad that i see here on television. The ad has been directed to stop Domestic Violence: Does pressing the calling bell helps anyway??? i mean, i dnt know..but wat i feel is, this is some kind of psychological disorder and is easy for the person to continue bashing, if left unhindered. I mean would just a break in the act of bashing by some kind of diversion, discontinues further blows!!!

I dnt know and excuse me if i am unnecessarily fretting...but i am concerned...truly...

plz let me know your views on this...

PURN!MA said...

aah! I had goosebumps when I read this. And I am hoping against hope that situation will change for the lady.

sujata said...

@Gymnast I agree with you, but this society is ruthless and as long as the men are given the task of "protecting" their women, I think they will take the right of whipping them as granted too.

@Aparna its difficult to say how we will react given such a situation,it seems a very clear and courageous stand to take and be able to walk away..but maybe its a lot of things that stop her apart from just financial dependence.

@Aw.S.M I think the only way is to educate the kids and make a better society for tommorow, I feel the pride is her only garment, and I could not bear to strip her off it.

sujata said...

@Anil I can understand your feelings..but I will repeat saying that its in our hands to mould the future generations, but pointless venting anger on what is past.

@Kishore I agree completely that education and equality of genders as basic human rights should be taught before the alphabets and mathematical sums. Thanks for appreciating the new look.

@ Chriz reality is stranger and more sordid than any fiction can ever aspire to be.

@Ramesh yes reality does bite hard.

@Sanjay Vyas very true lines, weather as a diety or as a doormat the woman has always been something vis a vis a man, never a person in her own right. she is either a mother, a wife, A goddess or a prostitute..shes never just a human being.

sujata said...

Thank you @Anon and Toshali.

@Sujatha it is a very fine line, Maybe I should have intervened, maybe I would have had she been family, but that night, I could not get myself to shear her off her pride.

@Sucharita You will be amazed at how the arab boys treat their sisters and mothers, they are the sole masters of the family after their father..hope this changes.

@Amrit..its a whole lot of shit..

@Priya, yes maybe had I knocked the door or rang the bell the man would have stopped the bashing and opened the door, but what after wards? Would he have not thought that his wife was confiding in me? Would that not have led him to hit her more, I am also thinking, not justifying my inaction. This is extremely disturbing and to witness at such a close range even more so

@Purnima in the Arab world men are allowed 4 wives plus innumerable women in their harems(yes even today)

Rajesh said...

Very sad, I only hope she gets the courage to stand up to her rights. May be the environment or society is not allowing her to do so.

SGD said...

Such a poignantly written post...
What a sad state of affairs!
Why, why I wonder are some men such brutes and some women tolerate all the hate and abuse hurled at them...

Priya said...

yes sujata..i know u were correct in your actions...but i was just trying to pour out my thoughts and ideas....at the end of the day, its really a sad state of affair...

Prathik said...

gosh!! its so unfair.. A sad issue, unfortunately its all around even in this 21st century!!
BTW theres nothing u can do rite??? I mean ur post points to definitive helplessness!!
What are men trying to prove by beating up n oppressing women??
Damn!! Its pathetic!!

Jyothi said...

Its a bad situation. I have been thinking. What if this was my neighbour? I would feel the same helplessness. No outsider can do anything for her. She has to come out on her own. If she needs a friend, you can be one, but with her pride intact. Maybe at some point in time she might confide.

The Survivor said...

Blog hopped here.

That's real bad!! These scars remain for life and sometime kids to become victims of the same.

BTW, are there no laws over there which protects wife from domestic abuse?

R. Ramesh said...

passed by to say hi

R. Ramesh said...

S, sad u r not able to post comment due to tech probs..but plz do stay connected as i respect yr views..cheers

Babli said...

A true and expressive post. Thank God I do not have such type of neighbour. I hope she gets support and courage to fight with every odds. Well written.

dinesh said...

Its really very bad...

KParthasarathi said...

The incident left my eyes moist.There must be a way out of this cruelty wherever practised.Nicely written.My first visit has not disappointed me.Thanks

Rinti said...

Hey Pompy didi,

You know what ..the next time I think Sanjoy da shld go and interrupt this guy..give this man a hard time..atleast he will be shameful if another guy makes him aware ...u guys should put an end to this nonsense..cant you guys inform the police or smthn..

Pesto Sauce said...

Shameful....people still live in medeival times

Rush said...

Its sad, but a fact.
And ur patience towards the entire situation,on giving the lady the much needed privacy is commendable.
but, we can't ignore it..makes my blood boil, maybe the lady nextdoor had lost faith in the word "trust"..someone needs to get it back!!
could you give us a followup on this, if things change?

Imagination said...

Many of us may ask you to go ahead and do something on the lines of the latest 'Bell Bajoa campaign' bring domestic violence to a halt.... but true Sujata..your action may bring her into a more horrifying situation..still none of us can simply let fade out of from our memories thinking it be her destiny...really sad...but good that you atleast mustered the courage to share this with the world

sanjoy chakraborty said...

Excellent post. Keep it up!

Nona said...

Sad and Disturbing!

sujata said...

@Rajesh I hope so too.

@SGD it is sad indeed, I think its part of the upbringing as to what you tolerate and what you stand up for, moreover The arab woman has been very recently educated and still very much unaware of the outside world.

@Priya I am not sure I was correct, but I could not get myself to interfere.

@Prathik I am not sure as to what can be done, staying in a foreign land has its own restrictions, HAd it been India maybe I could have gathered a few other people or some NGO and worked on it, here I am not sure.

sujata said...

@Jyothi I hope she garners enough strength to speak out.

@Survivor thanks for dropping by. The Arab world is very different culturally, it is completely male dominated and women are very used to this, but now slowly things are changing and issues like domestic violence are being talked about, am sure some organisation will soon see the light of the day to deal with such miscreants.

@Ramesh thanks for coming by again, have been really tied up, am yet to read your current post, will do so today

Thanks @Babli I hope so too.

sujata said...

@Dinesh welcome on board

@Parthasarathi welcome on board here, have been really tied up will visit your blog very soon.

Hey Rintu, as you can see I have been extremely busy and unable to chat or come online at any point in the last few days..am really feeling out of touch with you and bulbuldidi, hope to be able to do that soon. coming bk to your comment do you sweriously think sanjoy would have interfered, I dont think so!!

Hey @Pesto Sauce in certain ways we are all medevial

Hey @Rush hope she gathers courage, for every situation there are always two paths in front of us, I took the one that my nature approved of, am wondering now after reading all the comments, what if I had taken the other path..what if I had interfered.. I will never know that answer

Indrani said...

So sad!
Feeling really helpless and bad . Can't the men of your society draw him into some kind of conversation. May be you can get a counselor to your apartment and get them attend to the sessions, at least that man. Also try to distribute pamphlets creating awareness about the ill effects of violence on children.

sujata said...

@Imagination I am not sure weather what I did was right or wrong, but my nature did not permit me to take the other road.

@Nona and @Sanjoy thanks for dropping by.

The Things We Carried said...

I am holding my breath. What can I say to such sorrow?

You are a phenomenal teller of human stories.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

It's so sad. And men, irrespective of educational qualification, social status...do indulge in such heinous acts... The picture you drawn with words that of the boys always on their mothers side was so poignant.

Sumandebray said...

It is difficult to accept that this is happening for real. There are so many actions I think should be taken in this particular situation. But probably I would not have taken any action either for some reason or the other. Here in the Middle East there is very little inter-community socializing and bonding and everyone prefers to be within their own; be it the Arabs or the Pilipino or the ones from the subcontinent and not to mention the sub groups. I liked Priya’s suggestion, though it is not a permanent solution!
I hope that you and your fellow apartment dwellers will be able to do something about this. When it comes to physical assaults and that too loud enough that the community could hear, it is not remain a matter of privacy any longer. Most of the countries in the region do have a helpline.

nsiyer said...

Extremely well written. How many of us are happy, when others are physically and mentally humiliated.

R. Ramesh said...

dunno how 2 thank u 4 all yr encouragement friend

david mcmahon said...

The power of this post lies in our fervent hope that ALL men show kindness, respect and gentleness.

sujata said...

Thanks @The things we carried, hope you are having a good vacation

Thanks @Sumandebray I agree completely, there is hardly any interaction among the flat dwellers.

Thanks @Nsiyer and @R.Ramesh

Welcome to my blog @David McMohan

Zeba Talkhani said...

I dont think that the hands that rise to beat up a woman also rise for prayers. A true believer knows that beating up a woman just because she is weaker than him is not allowed in his religion. Very well written. You describe things very well.

ARVI'nd said...

2 good dear...very touching n superb wrten by u....

extremity said...

hello sujata
first time reader of ur blog,read the recent one,i dnt know wat to say,i saw every image from beginning till end in my mind
and was listening to the songs in ur collection
all together a churning in throat,wish i could cry atleast.the hands that rise five times,very sharp sentence..became a fan :)

Daryl said...

Over from David's to say congrats on the shared POTD top honor!

R. Ramesh said...

thanks dear friend

Balachandran V said...

Sorry for being a cad and not replying to earlier. Thanks for visiting my blog. I have read most of your postings and they are admirable for their lucidity, gentleness of thought and love. You have an enviable number of followers who visit you regularly and I was scared I would be swamped! :) Will be looking at you...

Cheffie-Mom said...

Very sad - my heart aches for the mother and the children. I came over from David's authorblog. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award.

Brian Miller said...

wow. my heart hurts after reading your post. tears and prayers.

Momma Miller said...

Absolutely horrific, but beautifully written capturing the heart-wrenching truth that so many aren't aware of. Thank you for this post. Just stopping by from David's. Congrats on the post of the day!

~Shaye

Suraj said...

A very touchy writeup and i seriously feel anybody who is suffering should reach out to others and end their sufferings, why accept such a life,even animals live a better life.

Well Written......

Cowgirl said...

So sad. I can see why you let her keep her pride, but what a lonely life. I send love to you both.

Thanks so much for the kind comments on my blog, and I'm glad David has let me find yours!

sujata said...

Thanks @Zeba

Thanks @Arvnd

Welcome on board @extremity. Thank you for liking the blog

Thank you @Balachandran V for finally stopping by.

Thanks @Daryl,@Chefie Mom, @Brian Miller @Momma Miller and again a special thanks to David for introducing me to all of your blogs. Great blogs all of them.

Thanks Suraj for dropping by, I can see the anger in your comment.

Thank you @Cowgirl you have a beautiful blog.

Vamshi Krishna A said...

Hey Sujatha,

Touching. you have picked up a great yet often silenced thing and put it forth in an excellent way. Well said those hands that rise in prayer.... What shame would they have when they go back in prayer? No wonder the trauma is shared.

Ishita said...

Wow! This is your best post so far. Beautiful.

KParthasarathi said...

Thanks Sujata for the steady encouragemment through your comments.If it is ok,please give me your email ID to
kpartha12@gmail.com

Yword said...

the sheer horrror of a life lived like that - with no choice but to continue. I hope there is a special place in hell for the wife-beaters of the world.