“In 2016, after spending three years in an abusive marriage filled with violence, trauma, and an extramarital affair, I decided to end my life by jumping into a well. But when I was about to do it, I thought about my son, my academic achievements and my family, and stopped myself,” recalls A Noujisha (31) in a conversation with The Better India.
From this moment, there was no stopping her. The resident of Peruvannamuzhi village in Kozhikode went on to divorce her abusive husband and pursue her dream of having a successful career.
Today, Noujisha has completed Kerala Public Service Commission (KPSC) competitive examinations and is training as a Civil Police Officer in her hometown.
A traumatic marriage
A graduate of Bsc Math and Masters in Computer application, Noujisha worked as a guest lecturer at a college in Peruvannamuzhi for one year before her marriage.
“Early in 2013, before my alliance was fixed, I expressed my intention to go to work to my ex-husband and his family. Initially, they all agreed and we tied the knot the same year. But, within a few days of marriage, things changed, and I realised that I was married to a man whom I knew nothing about,” says Noujisha.
When Noujisha spoke about going back to work, her ex-husband now disagreed. He told her that he took back his promise and ordered her to stay at home and work in the kitchen.
“He did not value the hard work or the efforts that I put into studying to obtain my degrees. He would not give me the freedom to do anything of my choice but always insisted that I focus on housework and cooking. At first, I was very confused about why he would behave that way with me. Soon, I realised that he was in a relationship with another woman. I think that he was worried I would find out about it so he never wanted me to do anything. Whenever I spoke about it or expressed my concerns, he would get angry and sometimes hit me,” says Noujisha, adding that this upset her mental state of mind.
For the next one year, she remained silent and did not express her feelings to her husband or her family members. She felt telling her family about the abuse or affair would make them worry.
In 2016, Noujisha gave birth to a baby boy named Aiham Nazal. While she was very excited about the birth of her first child, her ex-husband did not feel the same way.
“That time, I realised that his relationship with the other woman was not only over phone calls, but was also physical. I spiralled, and this pushed me to attempt suicide. Even then, I did not want to speak to my parents because I thought if I went back home, they would feel ashamed and not be able to take that. But I thought about my son and the late nights I spent studying to get my degrees. I immediately lost the courage to end my life, which was the most courageous thing I did,” says Noujisha.
Reclaiming her life
The next day, Noujisha took her son and left for her parents’ home. On hearing of her ordeal, they were supportive of her decision. Her family, especially her elder sister, gave her complete support and stood by Noujisha right from initiating the divorce process until it was completed.
“I did not want to stay home and feel sorry for myself. I wanted to reclaim my life and prove that I was worthy of having a career. So I began teaching at a parallel college in my village and even attended coaching classes for the KPSC in the evenings. However, between handling divorce processes, attending classes, and taking care of my son, I decided to quit my job and focus only on excelling in the KPSC exams,” says Noujisha, adding that she cracked her first attempt at the written test in 2018, but failed in the physical examination.
She did not give up here and continued to study. In 2020, she retook and passed her exams, and secured the 141st rank in the state-wide list for Women Civil Police Officers (WCPO). She opted to work in her hometown and joined duty as a trainee cop on 15 April 2021.
“On that day, I cried a lot. I used to be scared of approaching the police whenever my ex-husband would torture me, but now I am in the police force myself, and know that there is no need to hold such fears,” says Noujisha, adding that if there is any woman suffering in her marriage, she can call the Mithra helpline number- 181.
Instead of being silent, women should raise their voices, fight for their rights, and chase their dreams, she notes.
“If any woman feels there is no one to support her within the family, she should seek counsel from professionals or approach helplines. It is also important for women to have jobs, as it gives us true power — independence,” says Noujisha.
With inputs from Parag Murali