Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A victory?


 The back of his hands made a clean sweep of her face and she felt her head hit the adjacent wall before she fell down limp on the floor. Warm blood trickled down her forehead where it had kissed the wall. She bit her lips trying not to scream, swallowing her pride with the pain. She tried to grab the legs of the chair in an attempt to get up, but he pushed away her source of support, kicking her abdomen with the tip of his shoe. He felt a sense of pride like a footballer who had just landed the ball in the net, surpassing the goalie. He kicked her few more times, his shoe landing on a different goal each time, till she could bear no more and let out a howl; an ear piercing scream that threatened to curdle his blood.

The scream kind of terrified him because he left soon after, leaving her alone in the room. She lay on the ground but she needed to get up quick. A wave of nausea had begun to sweep over her and she felt the muscles of her stomach loosen and transfer its contents to her mouth. Unable to get up, she puked on the ground. The blood in the vomit scared her and the putrid smell made her nauseous again. Gathering herself, she trawled to the washroom, and slowly tried to stand up holding the wash basin for support.

The face in the mirror seemed to ridicule her. A neat reddish-blue bulge had formed on her forehead, the blood had clot after having trailed down her ear. She splashed water over her face and the icy water felt like tonic on her wounds. Her lower lip looked like it had been bitten by a bug, red and swollen. She stared at the face in mirror.

She could see a young girl, the parting of her hair smeared with deep red vermilion  Her gold and red veil that had covered her head during the wedding rituals lay on the ground. A fresh cut adorned her lips from which warm blood oozed out and her cheeks looked flushed and red; not with the shyness of a new bride but with the imprints of a palm that had just landed heavily on her cheeks. She had been too shocked to react and too young and new to complain.

And today she stood here again, before this very mirror, and as on that day and every other day after that. And all she was doing was washing her face off the blood, like she always did. No wonder the face in the mirror seemed to ridicule her. Why hadn't she stopped it right then? Why hadn't she stopped it after that? Why had she silently borne his abuse through the years? Why had she been in denial?

She remembered the first time it happened. A new bride, she had coyly brought him a glass of hot milk that her mother-in-law had given her. The milk had apparently been hot and he had lost his temper when it burned his tongue. That was the first time he hit her, not even bothered that she had just stepped into his life. She had felt that she deserved it. How could she be so careless? He had been apologetic soon after and she had been more than happy letting him lust after her.

The silliest of reasons had been enough to turn him into a monster. But she had never accepted that it was actually abuse. Maybe he was just drunk, maybe he’d had a hard time at work, maybe he didn’t mean what he did, maybe some patience and love would change him. She could accept any explanation but this. And again, didn't he always come back to her at night?

Surprisingly, no one had ever asked her about her visible wounds and her mother-in-law had told her in hushed tones about how men will be men and how she has been patiently tolerating her husband since she had been married. Having children will change all that she had assured. Nothing did change after two children and she had been plain lucky not to lose her children during the nine months, when she carried them in her womb.

The face in the mirror seemed to ridicule her. She looked away and let tears flood her eyes.

Her closest friend had tried to counsel her, telling her to put an end to the abuse, and it had taken a lot of time to come out the emotions that her mind seemed to be caught in and accept that what was being done to her had to be stopped. As much as she would have liked to take her friend’s advice, she felt trapped financially. What would she do if he were to disinherit her and her children? She was dependent on him for everything. How would she survive alone?

She stumbled out of the washroom to the kitchen for a glass of water. Her eyes were blurry with tears and she did not notice her children walk in. The terrified look on their faces said it all. They were growing up and what happened to their mother had terrified them. They held her hand and wept unable to convey what their little hearts felt. She could feel them trembling with fear.

What years of abuse and months of counseling could not do, the look on her children’s faces seemed to achieve. What example was she setting for them, she asked herself? Her son would eventually learn that it is his right to abuse women and her daughter would learn that it was OK to be abused. She couldn't let that happen. They needed to know that a woman has to be respected, and if she is abused, then she would not tolerate it. If as a mother, she couldn't teach them that, no book on earth ever could.

She heard her husband calling out her name, demanding a cup of tea, as if nothing had happened. She put the kettle on boil and poured out the tea in a cup. As he stretched out his hand to pick up the cup, she snatched it and splashed the contents across his face. ‘Did it pain? Are you hurt?’ She asked, as he screamed in agony, trying to grab her arm. ‘Know that it pains when you hurt me, don’t ever dare to do it again’ she said as she led her children away even as he hurled expletives at her. She wished she had done that with the first glass of hot milk she had brought him as a bride. Better late than never, she thought as she saw her children let out a feeble smile. Though in pain, she walked up straight, shoulders pulled back, as if she had just come back from battle. 

She didn't know what this action of hers would lead to, but it was a day of victory for her, however small that might be. 

A victory over her own fears.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A miracle...

We had been planning a visit to Tirumala and Tirupati Devastanams (TTD) for my son’s “mundan” ceremony. Hubby dearest decide to drive to Tirumala instead of taking the bus or train. It had been raining all the way, but the ride had been lovely. Once we hit Chittor, the roads were fabulous and we had enjoyed the ride amidst loud family chatter. It was almost 8pm when we reached the foothills and we debated whether we should drive up or stay in Tirupati for the night. Hubby dearest insisted on driving up right then, so that we could get in line for darshan early in the morning. Since our parents seem to concur, we began our ascent in the heavy downpour.

He drove slowly, maneuvering every bend and curve expertly. It was quite dark and surprisingly the road seemed to be clear of the umpteen number of TTD service buses that keep plying every few minutes. We just had our vehicle headlights for assistance. We must have climbed about half way up, when we heard loud honking behind us. We could see a couple of TTD buses behind us and assumed they wanted us to give way. Hubby slowed, moving to one side, and letting the buses pass. The honking continued and we wondered what they were trying to signal. Hubby braked to a stop and got down to see if anything was wrong with the car. To our surprise, instead of coming behind us, the buses went up another curve, leaving us behind.

We realized we were on the wrong path. We had to go up the curve and we had driven straight ahead. Maybe that is why they were honking, we reasoned. Imagine our horror when we realized that the path we were on, ended abruptly 50 mts ahead of our car and there were some branches kept to block the road. And horror of horrors the “path” would have led to a free fall  several thousand feet down the hill!! That was what the buses had been trying to signal!

The look on hubby’s face said it all! His hands wouldn't move as he tried to switch on the ignition! He sat for some time in the driving seat, eyes closed, and not speaking a word. We understood what he might be going through. For all we knew, the whole family could have crashed down the hill in minutes had the buses not suddenly showed up. Surprisingly, the buses had halted as if waiting for us to show up, and when we did, they began their ascent again, showing us the path up the hill.

Words cannot describe how grateful we felt towards those bus drivers and to the Lord himself.

Was that a miracle? Maybe. 

Was that the lord’s way of telling us, no matter what, I will always be there to protect you? Definitely! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The joy of theater..

Life's pleasures, they say, come in little packages! And when that little package is an opportunity to watch theater on a weekend with daddy dearest, without the little ones to distract, then that is true bliss. So when dad asked me if I would like to watch “Modit Nighale Kadimod” a Marathi play scripted by his close friend, how could I refuse?

Watching theater has always been one of my favorites, and it beats going to the cinemas by a huge margin. No PVR rushes and no distractions. No loud sounds and over the top dialogues and way over the top clothes! And more importantly, no unnecessary shopping while you are whiling away your time waiting for the previous show to get over . Or maybe the other way around!

Theater is joy. The joy of seeing the characters in flesh and blood, the joy of watching the light and sound effects guide you through the script, the joy of being able to walk up to the actors after the play is over and tell them what a great job they did, the joy of being up close, the joy of connecting with the actors and their characters in a way you could never connect with a movie actor...

The stage itself is so synonymous with life, where there are no retakes. What is done is done. You cannot just go back and redo anything. You have to rehearse well and long enough not to make a mistake on stage. How much more beautiful life would be if we could rehearse our lines in our mind well enough before it rolls out of that acidic tongue of ours!

 You just play your part and leave the stage, and then you wait in the wings till you need to take center-stage again. You don’t keep meddling with the parts that others need to play! And after the play is over you have that hot cup of tea and samosa with your team, and pat each other’s back and say goodbye with a smile. No one cries when goodbyes are exchanged! Shakespeare sure did know when he said what he did about the world being a stage!!

You will realize that actors will usually never make eye contact with one person in the audience. They are trained to be so immersed in the script that though they seem to be looking at everyone, they are actually not looking at anyone! But should that moment of eye contact happen, and then the onus is on you- to maintain that eye contact and not distract the actor in any way till he leaves your gaze!

Theater is pure, unadulterated fun, and you must experience it at least once in your lifetime, if you haven’t already. And I would say, take just one person with you; don’t go with an entourage, if you know what I mean! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A bowl of Grapes.....!!

Hubby dearest has been on a pretty long tour, and not having spoken to him all of today has gotten on my nerves. My calls haven’t been returned and messages responded to in one word- “meeting”. 

What meeting? I fume. Meetings that go on for the entire day? Surely there must be a lunch break? So I call him at lunch hour. 

Working lunch. Anything urgent?” he messages back.

 The day ends, the moon rises, and so does my temper. I am ready to blow my top like the proverbial pressure cooker. It’s past dinner and still no call.

I wash some grapes and put them in two bowls for my little ones after dinner and try to catch something on TV. Shortly, an ensuing sibling battle calls for my attention.

“No, only ten…” shrieks my younger one.

“Not ten… see there are more…”counters the elder one.

“Who got more grapes” seems to be the favourite fighting topic amongst siblings even today, I sigh as I get up. My sister and I have never fought more for any other thing than this all important, “who got more grapes”. Time for resolution…before the war erupts! I am pretty sure I gave them an equal number of grapes though.

“Hey, what’s up champs?” I try to calm them. “You can have more grapes if you want.”

“Mom, look at chiku, he has so many grapes in his bowl and he says he has just 10”, scoffs the elder one.

“No mom, I have only 10,” the younger one says defiantly, trying to show that to me on his little fingers, some folded, some open, not sure how many fingers make ten, and still trying to count.  And then he begins counting the grapes, “one..two..thee, foe, faiyou, thit, theven, eight, niyen, ten…” he looks at me triumphantly. “See only ten.”

“And who will count the others?” asks my elder one, hands on his hips and one eyebrow raised. He looks so cute when he does that!

So the little one starts again, “One..two…” and I burst out laughing.

“Eleven, twelve..” says my elder one helpfully.

“Thee…foe...” continues the younger one, his voice one decibel higher, annoyed that his brother should interrupt, and simultaneously nodding his head from side to side.

The elder one looks at me, and I suddenly realize I am supposed to say something.

“Who’s right?” he demands to know.

“Both of you are.” I tell him.

“How?” he wants to know.

“Chiku can count only up to ten, so you can’t blame him. Look at it from his point of view,” I say laughing and then that laughter turns to an sheepish grin as something else dawns on me.

Just then the phone rings, and I jump to grab it. It is hubby dearest, and a smile threatens to break on my lips. I allow it to.

“I’m sorry yaar…” he begins, the tiredness in his voice evident.

“Looks like you had a difficult day.”

“Don’t even ask…” he says.

I smile again.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Back..concluding part

read  part 4 here.

“Alok, Raman….”  Baba’s thundering voice took them by surprise as they saw him and Mai emerging from behind a tree. “Stop right there.”

“How did you both come here?” Raman was surprised they should arrive here like this.

 “Is this why I have lived so long, to see all this? Both of you killed Shyam? And now you are planning to kill him again?” he broke down.

Mai held him as he cowered down, sitting on the ground, hitting his head with his hands.

 “Kamala called us and said she had come back to this village, and she lived here. She wanted to meet us here today, she had something to share with us,” said Mai, “But what do we see here? Are you really my children?” Mai was furiously beating her chest, wailing, “Oh lord, why didn't I die before I saw all this?”

‘Kamala called them? Why?’ Alok was confused why Kamala would call them and ask them to come to this place. ‘What connection did she have with this boy?’ he wondered. ‘And where was she? Why hadn't she come here?’

 It was the day after Shyam’s funeral. Kamala had wanted to meet Alok on the terrace that night. She looked shattered. Her eyes were red and swollen with crying.
‘What is it Kamala?’ asked Alok.
‘Why did you have to kill my Shyam?’ she asked amid tears.
‘I know how you feel, Kamala, but who told you I killed him? I wouldn't do that to my own brother.’
‘I will go to the police, maybe then you will have to accept your crime.’ She threatened, her voice quivering with anger.
‘Suit yourself’ he replied, ‘but if I were you I wouldn't do that.’
She had gone to the police but had no proof against the brothers and Alok had harassed her enough to drive her out of the village. She had vowed to avenge Shyam’s death.

 Was it a mere coincidence that she had called their parents here? Maybe not. Maybe she knew that Shyam would be here today. If Shyam had contacted them, he would also have contacted her. Yes that would explain the connection’ he reasoned.

Shyam walked up to Baba and helped him get up.

“Baba, Mai, let’s go home” said Shyam putting Baba’s hand across his shoulder.

“Not so soon,” came a booming voice from behind.  Alok and Raman stood stunned as policemen surrounded them.

“We got a tip off that an old case that was believed to be an accident was actually a murder and we would find evidence here.”  

The police bundled them off to the police station and began their investigation. Alok had successfully evaded the questions but Raman, the chicken among the two, soon owned up to the crime. Mai and Baba were aghast to know how the brothers had meticulously planned Shyam’s accident. The police recorded the statements of Mai and Baba and then let them leave.

Baba, Mai and Shyam watched the two brothers being put behind bars.

“The police have summoned me regarding the case,” lied Shyam as he took leave of his parents after dropping them home. “I’ll come back soon.”

He took a rickshaw and went to a small house on the outskirts of the city.

“Ma” he cried as he went in.

Kamala was sitting on the corner of an old bed face buried in her palms sobbing. She saw Shyam and ran to him. Mother and son hugged each other, tears streaming down their faces.

‘Because of you Gopal, justice has been served. Your father’s killers have finally been punished” she said caressing her son’s head. “Let’s go back home, far away from all this, we don’t want any share in the property, all I wanted is to punish Shyam’s killers” she said. “I am so sorry I put you through all this Gopal.”

Kamala and Shyam had secretly married a few months before. That day Kamala had found out that she was carrying Shyam’s child. They had both been overjoyed and had planned to tell the elders that they had got married and ask for their blessings. But then the accident happened. With Shyam no longer with her, no one would believe that she was carrying his child.
Alok’s harassment had forced her to leave the village and settle in a nearby city. She had given up all hopes of avenging Shyam’s death and had devoted herself to bringing up Gopal. As Gopal grew up she was surprised how he looked and behaved exactly like his father. When he had been old enough to understand, she confided in him and hatched this plan to make Alok and Raman accept their crime. She tutored Gopal extensively and as she looked back, she was happy that her hard work had paid off.

“No Ma, don’t be sorry” Gopal consoled her, “you did nothing wrong. Let us go to Baba’s house, Baba and Mai need me, now that Alok and Raman are in jail.”

“What will you tell them?”

“Leave that to me,” he winked, “just bring that Mangalsutra and Bangle which your husband had given you the day before he died. Mai had kept it for Shyam’s bride and she will recognize it the moment she sees it.”

“Hmmm…”she said, and then she froze as his words echoed in her mind.” Mangalsutra and bangle? How could Gopal possibly know that? She had never told him about that.

                                                     ******the end*******


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...