'I ended up marrying a man that I barely knew and didn’t love'
"Honestly, I can’t remember my wedding day. Whenever I look at photo’s I don’t recognise myself," says Haritha Kandabattu
Life in India can be really hard for girls, particularly those who live with parents who overlook their daughter's happiness in the name of obsolete customs and traditions, like arranged marriage.
I ended up marrying a man I barely knew...
Haritha Kandabattu, like most Indian girls, ended up marrying under pressure and to a man she barely knew. Her parents refused to let her pursue her ambitions and married her off to a stranger.
"I have always been a very ambitious student and after I graduated l wanted to focus on my career as an engineer. My parents kept pushing me and slowly the atmosphere at home was changing and my father barely spoke to me anymore. The tension became unbearable and at some point I couldn’t take it anymore so I gave in. I ended up marrying a man that I barely knew and didn’t love," writes Haritha in a post published on the Humans Of Amsterdam Facebook page.
Haritha doesn't even remember her wedding day and she says that she doesn't recognise herself when she looks at her wedding album.
"Honestly, I can’t remember my wedding day. Whenever I look at photo’s I don’t recognise myself. After the wedding, we went on our honeymoon. From the start, we had no connection and it was very obvious that we both weren’t in love," she writes in the post.
Unfortunately, Haritha's in-laws were very controlling and so was her husband.
"My in-laws were very controlling and I was forced to give my salary to them. They demanded I would contact my father and ask him for a dowry. My husband turned out just to be as controlling as his parents. He would check my phone regularly and accused me multiple times of cheating on him. I was a software engineer with Nike and whenever I would work late, my husband would ask me who I was having sex with. It was humiliating," she writes.
Against all odds, Haritha kept on trying to work on her relationship and would do everything she could to please her husband.
''For one and half years I kept trying to work on our relationship. I would buy plane tickets with my own money to take him on trips around the world. I hoped that if he would see other cultures he would become a more compassionate person. Unfortunately, nothing changed," she writes.
'I asked for a transfer...'
However, one day she knew he had crossed all limits and that is when she asked her manager for a transfer. He asked her if she would like to move to Amsterdam.
"I accepted his offer. When I arrived at the Amsterdam airport it felt as if I could finally breathe again. Everything about this place made me feel relaxed. I started my new job and I made a lot of friends. One day I visited a storytelling event with women from all over the world who talked about their experiences with physical and emotional abuse. All these women came out of situations way worse than mine and it made me strong. When I got home I picked up the phone and called my husband and said: 'There is nothing you can do to change my mind, I want to get a divorce.' Never in my life had I been so certain'," she adds.
After that one phone call, all hell broke lose and everyone was against her, including her parents. "When my father found out I wanted to divorce my husband he was really upset. He suggested I would travel to India so we could talk things through. I wasn’t planning on changing my mind but in order to get my divorce settled I would have to go to India,” she writes.
Haritha came home, but only to be ridiculed and abused. Her parents, in-laws, and family only tried to convince her to change her mind, but she refused. When nothing worked, they stole her passport and visa documents. However, nothing could stop her and Haritha escaped her house with the help of her sister and approached the Amsterdam embassy in India.
'I was so scared in India...'
As luck would have it they reached out to her and gave her the necessary documents, including her new passport, within a week's time. "During this entire time, I was scared. Scared that someone would recognise me and that I would get send back to my husband’s house," writes Haritha.
When Haritha took the flight back home(to Amsterdam) she felt that she could finally breathe again.
''When I landed in Amsterdam I took the train from the airport to my house. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t believe all that had really happened. I felt as if I finally had woken up from a bad dream. I wasn’t scared or sad, I had never felt so strong in my entire life. After all, I had been through I knew I could handle any kind of situation. Unfortunately, I am still not divorced but I’m never going back to India. I do talk to my parents but I find it really hard to trust them. I work as a software engineer at a highly reputed company and I’m happy. Amsterdam is magical, this is where I want to be. This is my home and my friends are my family," she sums up.
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