It’s not estranged husband Bhalaji, the confined space nor the distance from her daughter that is Nithya’s everyday source of pain. It’s the unsolicited relationship advice that everyone around heaps on her. From Sendrayan to Mahath, neither of them who are certified marriage counsellors, feel it is their duty to say a thing or two to Nithya. While they may approach it in different ways, their conclusion is the same - that Nithya should reunite with her husband.
Now none, except Bhalaji, know Nithya personally or the reason behind the breakdown of her marriage prior to the show. So what makes them experts? Nothing. But it’s something we’ve all grown up with. Advice couched in a well-meaning tone. This sort of advice is blind to the person it’s directed at. It thrives solely on the altruistic opportunity provided by the recipient’s travails. What those travails are, no one cares. No one asks. And if it’s a woman at the receiving end, these words of ‘encouragement’ are backed by patriarchy. Where it’s always a woman’s duty to try and make things work.
Maybe Bhalaji is making an effort. That doesn’t mean Nithya is obliged to accept his advances. Like she repeatedly says, it is she who has suffered and experienced the causes that led to the fractious relationship. Sendrayan in his naive way refuses to get off Nithya’s case and keeps insisting that they will get back together much to her annoyance.
It’s not just the men such as Mahath and Ponnambalam who air their takes on what should be. It’s the ladies too, who pitch in. Mumtaz, Mamathi, Vaishnavi all say they have her best interests at heart. Why they feel Nithya isn’t capable of choosing what’s best for her is mind boggling. For these are independent, vocal women themselves. But this need to talk for her and school her certainly takes away their shine. Nithya is an adult and that should be enough to let her do what she pleases with her personal life.
Also, it’s not just a matter of differences. Nithya has alleged abuse. And though Bhalaji maybe trailing behind her in the house, we have also heard him abuse her verbally. With such treatment handed down to her, is it right for anyone to urge her back to him?
Even Kamal Haasan acknowledged Bhalaji’s attempts to patch things up. But he wisely stated the decision would be solely Nithya’s. When Nithya was allowed to get a word in edgeways in the midst of all the ruckus from fellow contestants, she firmly pointed out that one has to walk a mile in her shoes before they deign to comment. Sadly, it fell on deaf ears. Sendrayan, Ponnambalam and Mahath were back to playing peacemaker.
We’re rooting for Nithya’s peace of mind. It can’t be nice to be stuck in the midst of a crowd that is bent on disempowering her.