They say when you are dying, your whole life flashes in front of you. They are right and I know it because I am dying. As I lay bleeding on the hard and cold floor of my 4-bedroom house, I wonder if I could have changed my destiny by listening to the advice of my parents. Though the recent happenings of my life have been out of my hands, I had control over the event that brought it all upon me. I will start from where this all started.
My name is Helen. I was the only child of my parents, who brought me up very protectively and lovingly. All my wishes were fulfilled as and when I desired. I used to like all the pampering when I was a child. But as happens with most teens, I started feeling suffocated with this showering of too much love and care upon me when I started going to high school. All my friends had the freedom to stay out late, go to the parties, date and drink once in a while. But I was expected to be home before dark, stay away from alcohol and parties, dress "decently' (implying all dresses to be below the knees and I could not even think about spaghetti tops, leave alone the strapless ones) and get good grades in my class. My parents reasoned with me that I should not forget my culture even though I was living in America. Mom and dad had migrated from India long before I was born. So I used to argue with them that I was an American and hence, this was my culture. They never got my point, and I never understood theirs. I did not rebel against them or move out. I was not brave enough to do that. But I started harboring resentment in my heart, against those two people who loved me the most and who always wanted good for me. I realized this too late. In those days, I hated my parents.
In spite of all the hatred boiling up inside me, I never wanted to disappoint my parents. So I kept getting good grades and got into a good university. I graduated as an Engineer and got recruited in a good organization. I was doing pretty well for myself but staying with my parents all this while. As a respect for our culture, I was not allowed to move out until I got married. I yearned for the day when I could stay on my own, do what I wanted to and live as I wished to. Since that could be only after getting married, so I decided to get married. In those days, an Indian friend of mine had her cousin and his friend visiting them. I met them quite often and I thought the friend like me. I started spending more time with them, and him particularly. And I thought I fell in love. In retrospect, though, I feel it was just that he planned for me to fall in love with him so that he could get a green card. At that time, I just felt so wanted, loved, admired and free as I had never felt before. All I wanted to do was be with him all the time. So he met my parents to get permission. They probably saw through him and told me that they did not approve of the wedding. I became furious, blamed them for always forcing me to do things their way, and threatened them of killing myself or running away. In the end, I got my way. So I got married to Raj. I thought I will prove my parents wrong by living happily ever after with Raj.
The rosy life that I had imagined after marriage never materialized. Soon after the wedding, I came to know of Raj's real intentions after overhearing him talking to his mother on phone and confronted him. That was probably a mistake. Now, Raj did not have to pretend any more. So he started being what he truly was " mean and violent. We started fighting every day over non-issues. There was yelling, name-calling, threats to hit me etc. I was going crazy.
Then he actually became violent. He hit me the first time when I refused to give him the TV remote as I was watching my favorite show. He simply slapped me and took it away. For some time, I could not believe what had happened. I yelled at him and walked out of the house. After some time, I came back and locked myself in the bedroom. After that day, hitting became a common reaction to anything that I said or did which was not to his liking. Once or twice I thought of going back to my parents' but I was scared of accepting the fact that the one decision I had taken myself in my life, went wrong. So I kept lying to them and I kept suffering. Secretly, I thought that may be, he will change if I keep loving him despite everything. Of course, I could not love him, but I just kept suffering. There came a time when I started despising him and myself for falling for him. I started drinking to go on with the days. Alcohol helped in the beginning, and I was able to go through my life as if walking through a dream, a nightmare.
Then one day, I could not take any more. I decided to stand up to him. I told myself if someone has to be miserable, it has to be him, not me. I did not do anything wrong. I don't know how this change came into me, but I suddenly felt strong. That day, when Raj tried to hit me, I held his hand with all my strength and I did not let it go. He understood that I was not going to be weak any more. At first, he did not know how to react. So he just kept quiet. For few days, he did not hit me or abuse me. But he did not talk to me either. I was happy this way " no talking meant no fighting, no hitting and no forced sex. I started developing confidence in myself once again and I started performing well at work. I planned to leave him as soon as I gathered the courage to disclose all this to my parents. That was few weeks back.
I visited my parents after a long time last weekend. I had been avoiding seeing them for last 6 months, as I did not know how to face them. I could lie to them on phone, but not on their faces. So that day, I told them everything. They urged me to stay with them since that very moment. But I wanted to go to that house, gather my things and leave after informing Raj that I was dumping him. So I came back.
As I was packing, Raj barged in. He was furious. I did not ask him why. Neither did he tell. He just looked at me and asked me to remove my clothes. I was shocked and refused. He said he wanted to have sex with me before I went wherever I was going. Perhaps that was his way of venting his frustration, or may be he thought I would change my mind. But I refused. That was the first time I had said no for sex. I could see it made him really mad. He tried to force himself upon me. He started removing my t-shirt. I pushed him back. He threw me onto the bed and started unzipping my pants. I shoved him away with a force. He fell on the floor. That was enough for him. He started hitting me " with his hands, then legs, then with everything that he could grab from the room. I became almost unconscious. I could not move, and was crying in pain. Then, he raped me. After he was done, he looked at me and said, "You bloody whore; now you are free to go!" And he left the room.
He is drinking beer and watching TV as I lie here bleeding, I don't know from where. He probably hit me with glass. I am cut all over and am lying in a pool of blood. He doesn't even call 911. I can't move. I am going to die. But why? Why should I? I have to get up and get help. I try with all might and I get up. Oh no, I think he heard me. He is coming inside this room. Now I won't be able to call anyone. I pick what was lying near to me and hide it behind me. It is a broken piece of glass. He comes near me and is laughing. He is saying something, I don't know what. He is coming close. He might hit me again. So I hit him first " on his head. He falls. And I fall too. I am fainting. I remember mom and dad's faces. I am probably crying.
Suddenly, I hear dad. I think I am imagining things. Someone shakes me and calls my name. I open my eyes. It takes a lot of effort. I see dad and I think I smile. Thank God, I will live.