The Prisoner

She’s up at the crack of dawn, and she knows it’s over. There’s too much to be done. Too many people to be satisfied. Too many expectations to be met.

The morning chill lays low upon the house. The drought is bitter, but she is used to bitterness. After all, it is the dominant flavor of her life, the one emotion she knows best. There used to be other emotions. She used to love and hate. Laugh and cry. Experience beauty and disgust. Feel pride and shame.

But that was a long, long time ago. Another universe, another time. She was human then. A person. A girl, with hopes and dreams. But no longer. She is now a Wife and a Daughter-in-Law. Nothing more and nothing less. The girl is gone and the emotions as well, numbed by the bitter winds of her own private winter. He hates the sight of her. They don’t want her back. They just want her to adjust.

The first rays of light hit the house. Weak and cold. The warmth is elusive. A metaphor for her own life. The light is harsh to her eyes. She, the prisoner in the dark.

She, who is her own jailer. A gilded prison it is not, occasioned as it is by drudgery and abuse. These prison bars were forged long ago, by the very people who wished the best for her. Those who brought her in this world. Those who paid for this prison. Those who thought the prison was the best place for her to live her life in.

And now she cries out. The bars are too strong and the prison too bleak. The fatigue is overwhelming. All she wants is that rope… and everything is peaceful. Forever.


This “drabble” is inspired from Sweety’s story (IHM did an excellent post on it here ). This story in particular really saddened me and shook me up, but it must be remembered that Sweety is not the only one. There are thousands of Indian women (and men) who are stuck in bad marriages but are unable to leave, thanks to their social conditioning and the stigma of divorce.

It is high time that we stopped looking at divorce as though it is a cardinal sin. When people decide to separate, they USUALLY have a good reason for it. If divorce was a respectable option in Indian society today, Sweety may still have been alive and well. It was the mental block that really killed her; the rope was just an agent. 

This entry was posted in Society by Praveen (PT). Bookmark the permalink.

About Praveen (PT)

Lawyer, Foodie, Delhi-ite, Cat-owner and Newly Minted Dad. Garnished with liberal politics, Laissez Faire social attitudes and a few Grey hair. Served warm and gentle on a mildly world-weary sauce.

7 thoughts on “The Prisoner

  1. Very sad and very true, and the most painful part is that Sweety is not the only one. Just the woman’s own self-worth can make so much difference…
    “If divorce was a respectable option in Indian society today, Sweety may still have been alive and well.” sums it up I feel.

  2. Well written PT..I would like to add that it is high time that the option of remaining single by independent educated girls ,is respected by the society .If girls are not subjected to extreme pressure to get married as soon as they ‘come of age’,there will be less compromise in the institution of marriage for then more and more girls will marry with and out of their own choice.

    It all boils down to empowerment ,the power to marry or not to marry and if married and not happy,then…to stay married or to get divorced.our daughters should feel secure as individuals first.

    • Sharmila,

      I agree.

      The stigma of being single beyond “marriageable” age contributes to poor decision-making when it comes to marriage. Moreover, since divorce means that you’re going to be single at least for a while, the same stigma also tends to KEEP people like Sweety in bad marriages.

  3. Sorry for this late comment.
    I Didn’t know you blogged till IHM gave indicated the link.
    I will come again.
    I have always liked reading your comments at IHM’s blog.
    Glad to add your blog to my reading list

  4. When Dickens separated from his wife in 1858, divorce was almost unthinkable, particularly for someone as famous as he was, and so he continued to maintain her in a house for the next 20 years until she died. Although they appeared to be initially happy together, Catherine did not seem to share quite the same boundless energy for life which Dickens had. Nevertheless, her job of looking after their ten children, and the pressure of living with a world-famous novelist and keeping house for him, certainly did not help.

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