I was reading Chaitanya Caritamrita and whatever else I could get my hands on at the time. During my first pregnancy I read through the Bhagavatam from start to finish. I remember I would go to sleep and dream about it at night.
I would do what little housework I could, when I could. I remember thinking that it was a good thing I hadn't gone to Hawaii because soon after I arrived I would have gotten sick and this wouldn't have been good for trying to get my own apartment and take care of myself and my child. At least Mahasraya could go grocery shopping for me. (Grocery shopping in those days of no car meant walking several blocks and taking a shopping cart back with the groceries. I always made sure to take the same cart back to the store with me at least. We also had no refrigerator for the first six months at the Durango apartment.)
I listened to a lot of music back then, I remember well the collision of things like disco with heavy metal. :) I still enjoy the music of that era. There were songs that spoke to my feelings about my marriage and my yearning for a better relationship or a different one. I confess that I was beginning to fantasize about a white knight who would rescue me from my ordeal and the song "Imaginary Lover" captured that yearning for the perfect man. "Dazed and Confused," "Barracuda," "Cold as Ice," and others filled my days. I recall that I could only listen to R&B if Mahasraya was out because he didn't like that kind of music.
I was nearing the expected end of my morning sickness, based on my first pregnancy, when we had another really serious fight. Those are the ones I remember more because they went beyond the usual formula of yelling and several blows to the head. He never struck me in the face--he was careful to target the areas covered by my hair, and with his martial arts training this was a cinch for him. Visible bruises would reveal to the world what he was about, and Mahasraya was all about concealment and carefully controlling his image. I also had bruises on my upper arm most of the time, but this was from his faux playful punches when he wasn't angry. I always saw them as aggression disguised as "play" and these occasions were when he'd most often invoke the "vitamin c" defense.
One night when he was on guard duty he came home for his lunch and was looking for a particular pair of chi pants. These were special slacks that had a gusset in the crotch enabling yoga or martial arts enthusiasts to have more flexibility in movement. I remember that he said he was meeting some men for something the next morning (could be a martial arts related thing because he was always trying to make money for teaching somehow) and needed this one particular pair. I realized that the pair he was looking for was in the laundry and told him so.
He told me that I should go wash the load now because he really needed these pants early the next morning. I saw that he had another pair hanging up but he didn't like the color of those and wanted his white ones.
It was after midnight and we'd recently had an incident in our complex where there was a knife fight in the driveway between the two buildings. Because I was pregnant I didn't want to go out after midnight while he went back to work. I would be all alone. That wouldn't stop me normally but I had to think of my baby's welfare too.
So I refused. We started arguing and he kept insisting. I don't remember the details of the argument but it undoubtedly followed the usual pattern with him insulting me and calling me names and me trying to be logical (at first) about why I shouldn't go out at night to do this. (Our neighbors must have loved us since we were doing all this yelling after midnight!)
Finally I resorted to my own unhealthy dynamic and said something manipulative and guilt-inducing like: "Fine, I'll go out and do your laundry and I hope I get killed!"
I admit, I come from a family that does manipulation-by-guilt as easily as breathing, and I hadn't had time to unlearn it yet.
I no sooner got those words out of my mouth when I was thrown to the floor, on top of our bedding, while Mahasraya straddled me, grabbed my throat, and started choking me while slamming my head repeatedly into the bedding so hard I felt the wood floor beneath like it wasn't even there. He screamed, "This time I'm going to kill you, this time I'm really going to kill you!"
I had never quite believed he would kill me before, but I believed it then. I was screaming and I started begging for my life. I don't remember exactly what I said but something like "Please-don't-I'm-sorry-please-don't-kil
While I was talking he continued choking me but abruptly he let go of my throat and took me in his arms while saying, "I can't live without you!"
That needy, insecure part of me relished these words. They were like drops of water for my parched soul.
Mahasraya was crying and apologizing and making promises even he probably knew he wouldn't keep. Tearfully we made up. I can't remember what was done about the stupid pair of pants he wanted to have cleaned.
He went back to work and I was left picking up the pieces of my ego. I couldn't escape the fact that I was pregnant and had nearly been killed, or the knowledge that with my life would have ended my unborn child's. I looked at my other sleeping baby, nearly nine months old, and knew that I had to do better for them both.
The next day, while Mahasraya was out, I called my friend Nitai. She was married to Radha Kunda, and he was away on a trip. Her sister had told me that she was scared to live alone in her neighborhood and I suspected that I could stay with her. She was happy to hear from me and when she heard what was going on she immediately invited me to stay. She had a boy close in age to Lakshmana and they would enjoy playing together. While Mahasraya was gone we quickly loaded my essential stuff into the car and off I went, leaving a note for Mahasraya. Nitai let me have the bedroom while she slept on the "couch" in the living room. The couch was the typical devotee couch of that era--a foam cushion on the floor with a nice madras print over it. Nitai was so sweet; she even cooked some soothing mashed potatoes for me and I was able to keep them down. I started recovering from morning sickness while I was there.
--to be continued
PS Keep in mind that at this point I was just nineteen years old, a few months before my twentieth birthday.