It was the last meeting between the two. The husband had been given 15 years term in jail for murder of a person. The wife had come to get his signatures on the divorce papers. It was a long story of suffering. The man was a drunkard, a drug-addict, a chain smoker and a woman beater also. And the woman had been under pressure by her parents to seek divorce and get resettled in life. This appeared to be the right way, for a woman with a growing up daughter, whose husband had landed in jail for 15 years. Who will wait for his return? And how? Can a woman bring up a small girl alone? In a society dominated by men? All the cards were against the woman if she decided to carry on with her marriage.
The decision was difficult for her. Parents were pressing her to go for divorce because they knew, otherwise, both of them will become their responsibility. Her brother had got the divorce papers ready and took her to the prison for getting the divorce papers signed.
 When the husband and wife met, it was an emotionally charged scene. The man was broken. He saw divorce papers in the hands of his wife. Let me sign them he said. But the tears in his eyes said a different story. He did not want to sign them, because of their daughter. He knew, if the wife was left free to remarry, the girl will be ruined.
The woman saw the tears of remorse in the eyes of her husband. In his drunken state, he used to beat her up. But today, the woman stood at a place where the two roads diverged. One was to tear the divorce papers, and the other was to get them signed. Divorce meant divorce not only with the husband, but with her daughter also. The other option too was not easy. Fifteen years of work, responsibility, loneliness and wait.
The woman chose the latter. She tore the divorce papers. Pressed the hands of her husband, and assured him, she will not deviate from her duty as a wife and as a mother. And she succeeded in bringing up her daughter decently. The mother was so decent, how could the daughter be otherwise? And when the husband rejoined her after fifteen years, it was a happy family reunion now smoothened by the vicissitudes of life.
A similar script was being written in another prison, where a woman was interned because she had killed a man. She was also sentenced for 15 years. Her husband had also come with his mother and father, and brothers, to get her signatures on the divorce papers. The lady pleaded with the husband to wait for her. But, the mother of the man was foul mouthed. How can we accept a woman with the sticker of a jail term? They too had a daughter. But the man was not at all concerned about the girl. He forced the lady to sign the divorce papers. She sighed, and saw joy flinging around in the eyes of her husband. Her daughter was crying. She was 12 years old, and it was clear to her now, she will have another mother. One mother is a blessing, two, a nightmare. The curse had fallen upon her. Her father was adamant .. how can I wait for fifteen years? Even then, how will I admit you into our house? What will the people say?
Finally, the divorce papers were signed. And, the man left the prison gleefully. With the noise of celebrations in his ears and visions of another woman in red colouring his eyes. It remains to be told that the woman, who was convicted, had tried to save her husband from some bandits who had attacked their house at night in search of wealth.
Author Dr. Jernail Singh Anand is an Indian author credited with an oeuvre of 160 plus blooks. He recently won the Serbian Award: Charter of Morava and his name appears on the Poet’s Rock in Serbia.
Prepared Angela Kosta Academic, journalist, writer, poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, translator

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