via HUMANS OF BOMBAY
“Growing up, I was a tomboy. I did odd jobs –colouring hair, getting groceries – all for 50 Paise. My father was a singer and he barely earned. This money helped feed us.
Because of this, people questioned my ‘character’ and I was married off at 14. I’d only seen poverty, so I thought marriage in a wealthy household was an escape.
How wrong I was. The abuse began the day after our marriage. He’d beat me over nothing. He used to drink, so his rage attacks were normal. But I couldn’t see them coming. My mother in law saw everything, but she said I had no right to resist. Even my father told me, ‘once a girl’s married, she belongs there until death’. This was worse than death.
Once, my husband’s friends came home and I served them water. They told him how nice I was. That night I got the worst beating- our neighbours had to intervene. He told them ‘I was trying to attract other men.’
At 15, he forced himself on me. When I tried to resist, he said it was my duty. That’s how I got pregnant. The beatings didn’t stop- he’d hit me with a belt, leaving me with nasty bruises. The police asked me to resolve the matter within the family or find a relative to live with. Where would I go? Back to my father who told me I had to stay with my abusive husband till death?
I had a miscarriage. The doctor yelled at me for getting pregnant so young. I had nothing to say.
I got pregnant twice after and gave birth to my children — I finally found some happiness. But I didn’t want my children to grow up in the same world. So I left.
We stayed with my sister for a while but her family didn’t want the responsibility. So we went to a Gurdwara. They thought I was a beggar – I washed vessels, cooked food and lived on charity. I decided to build my life back and find work–any work.
I danced in Bhangra groups and saved money to rent a room. But no one was ready to lease, because I was a divorced woman. Finally, I got a room in Vashi. My husband would scream outside my house calling me a prostitute. Still, I didn’t break.
I began asking for more work when I came across a job opening for a stuntwoman for a tv show. I grabbed it, I already knew how to ride a bike and was a tomboy growing up – so, action was my thing!
I was nervous on my first day, but I loved it — I finally had work.
I’ve been a professional stunt woman since the last 10 years–I’ve worked with Rohit Shetty and met all these actors– my dream is to become an action director!
5 years ago, I even bought the house I was renting–it was the best moment of my life. Never again would I depend on anyone. I hosted Ganpati for the first time in that house and bought an A.C for my children– it’s our heaven.
They say a woman is like tea–put her in hot water and you’ll know how strong she is. I’ve walked through fire, so now you can imagine my strength…it’s limitless.”
courtesy: Humans of Bombay
Geeta Tandon is a stuntwoman, primarily working in Bollywood movies.