#Books

A Real-Life Story of How a Woman Got Conned in Love; An Excerpt

Beguiled by Ruchika Soi
Beguiled: A Real-Life Story of How a Woman Got Conned in Love by Ruchika Soi is a dark and gripping story about a marriage gone wrong. An excerpt:

After the disintegration of my first marriage and before Randy serendipitously entered my life, I discovered art. It wasn’t entirely a new-found interest, though. Having grown up in the metropolis of Delhi, I had formed, in some way, a subliminal bond with its architectural landscape. At one turn, the rubble masonry of early Islamic architecture, at another, the grand architects of the empire showcasing their imperial might, and coupled with that my daily walks in Lodi Gardens—since my home touches the fringes of the park—all must have made an impression on me. As a child, I had held a deep affinity for monuments, even though I did not understand their symbolism then. The
Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad and the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai left their mark on me when I was young. While travelling with the husband through the countryside, I would often ask him to stop the car so that I could scrutinize every wayside monument. But it was a trip to Sanchi many years later that crystallized my interest into a calling. My experiences thus far had been prescient to this moment. I must have always known where my fascination lay, but I had not truly identified it.

Our guide—a PhD scholar from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS University of London)—was full of delightful nuggets of history. His words allowed me to see the world anew, and I realized how the carvings presented a world the ancient seers wanted us to
acknowledge, the phenomenon of oneness. Caught in an epiphany about the fabric of existence and the futility of life, I too had a revelation about the missing link in my life. I felt an irrepressible need to plumb the depths of art, which spoke volumes about the state of humanity. The guide informed me about a course on Indian art conducted by the British Museum, and a year later, I found myself on
a plane to London.


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Not that it had been easy to leave. Akshay was just eight years old, and I was embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings, where I was accused of being both unfaithful and demanding. These allegations were made in an open court, an atmosphere hostile to women. I had been reduced
to tears of shame, not least because there was not an iota of truth to them. I had taken up my role as wife and mother wholeheartedly, but I felt my ex-husband, Vishal, had not brought to our marriage the same level of commitment and care. My in-laws were outraged at the sudden change in me. I could no longer comply to being the obedient daughter-in-law after having faced a decade of unrelenting
demands and mistreatment at their hands.

When I returned to Delhi from my trip to Sanchi, the impossibility of my dream course in London dawned on me. The legal battles made me realize that to expect my husband’s family to do the decent thing was futile. My worry was how could I leave my son and go. I had never left him before. Luckily, he was happily ensconced in my parents’ home by now and that made it easier for me to take the step. With guilt gnawing at me, I spoke to my son, afraid of upending his life for my own wishes. But he was excited that Mumma was going to study too, and he promised to get better grades in my absence.

Having to fend for myself in London, so far away from home, when I had never been allowed to do a thing alone, was both unsettling as well as thrilling. I felt a sense of achievement even after something as simple as checking into a hotel alone. Married at twenty-two, I had spent a decade being dependent on men, which had left me handicapped. I decided the next four months would be devoted to me. I spent the days and weeks that followed my arrival in London, submerged in the comforting silence of the antiquities in the British Museum, trying to understand myself better. Despite the gloomy weather, my hermetic existence added a spring in my step and a song in my heart. When the essays I penned for the course received appreciation from the tutors, as well as the highest marks, it was greatly rewarding. After all, I
had not been allowed to study in Jawaharlal Nehru University because it was a co-educational campus, and later, as a married woman, I had to secretly attend law classes in Delhi University so as not to incur the disapproval of my in-laws.

Excerpted with permission from Beguiled by Ruchika Soi published by Penguin. 

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