Waiting to explode.
Are you going to answer back again?” Mohan shouted giving her a mighty whack on her back.
“I didn’t say anything that has made you angry,” she said dodging the next blow.”
“Your tongue is becoming longer and longer. I will have to do something about it. I haven’t given you the permission to answer back.”
“Then you should not ask the questions.”
“Again! I am cursing the day I married you. Your father had made a lot of promises. All that vanished in thin air. He has name, fame and what did he give me? All the good stuff has been taken by your sister. I ended up getting this bundle of nuisance. What do you have? Nothing, absolutely nothing, what are you? A zero, a big zero. No looks, no complexion, nothing but a long tongue,” he said glaring at her.
”Why do you always say that? Everything given to us was the same. Sunita and I got the same share. I don’t think her husband complains. Then why do you?”
“Why would he? Do you think I don’t know what all he got in addition to a beautiful wife? With these looks nobody would have married you.”
“Then why did you? Nobody had forced you. You had accepted the proposal.”
“How dare you question me?” he glared at her and hit her with such force that she felt her jaw had broken. “Keep sitting in that corner. This is where your place is and what you deserve,” he said locking the door from outside.
She sat cowered in a corner. Her jaw was throbbing. This had not been the first time. It had become a daily affair. Almost every evening he would come, his face red with rage and would take out his anger on her. She had become a punching bag. ‘Why is this happening to me? I should be cursing the day and not him. He treats me like dirt I am not allowed to talk to my parents. If they call up, I have to pretend to be blissfully happy. He locks the phone and me too. I am a prisoner. My parents must be happy that I am enjoying my married life, but they have no idea what I am going through.’
She was still reeling from the impact of the slap he had given her and no idea how long she had been sitting there. Her limbs felt stiff. But she decided that enough was enough and made an effort to get up. With great difficulty she managed to reach near the window. Several times she had stood near the window to see if she could spot someone who happened to pass by. But the street
What do you have? Nothing, absolutely nothing, what are you? A zero, a big zero. No looks, no complexion, nothing but a long tongue,” he said glaring at her. “How dare you question me?” he glared at her and hit her with such force that she felt her jaw had broken. “Keep sitting in that corner. This is where your place is and what you deserve.”
seemed to be a dead one which remained deserted most of the time. But, perhaps today was her lucky day and for once her prayer was answered. He was a young man at some distance. She summoned up her full strength to call him and beckoned him.
The young man was surprised to see a shabby- looking young woman whose one side of the tear-stained face was swollen. She was crying. “Please help me. I don’t have much time. My husband may come any time.” From the corner of her sari she took out a small piece of paper and handed it to him. “This is the phone number of my parents. Please tell them whatever you have seen. Will you do it?” she pleaded. “Please tell them to hurry, otherwise it will be too late.
I am a prisoner here and can neither go out nor talk to anyone.” She folded her hands.
The young man had been taken aback. It didn’t take him much time to understand the seriousness of the situation. “Yes, sure I will call them just now. May I know your name?” “I am Anita.” “Don’t worry Anitaji. They will come very soon. I will tell them all that I have seen. He smiled at her.
Next morning when Anita’s parents came, they were shocked to see her. She looked weak, starved and was wearing a shabby sari. Her father couldn’t control his anger. He shouted at Mohan, “Is this how wives are treated in your family? You are a brute, an animal. In which century are you living? I tried my best to do everything that would make my daughter happy. But my bad luck is that I couldn’t buy her happiness. I would like to ask my friend, the one who came with your proposal, why he did this to me and to my daughter. I had not harmed him in any way, then why did he ruin my daughter’s life and our peace of mind? I know my daughter is not an apsara but she has a heart of gold. It is your bad luck that you did not appreciate what she had; her talent, her dignity, her simplicity and, above all, her adorable nature.
Anita was crying in her mother’s arms. “Please take me with you. I feel suffocated here. I don’t want to live here any more,” she said.
”Yes, of course you are coming with us. I don’t care what people will say. I have given education and good sanskars to both of you, which have made you good and compassionate human beings,” her father said. Then he turned to Mohan and said, “One day, you will regret but it will be too late. She will not come back.”
“It is perfectly all right. You can take her. I have no objection. As for regret you don’t worry about that. I won’t miss her,” Mohan said sheepishly.
“You disgust me. I don’t know what I saw in you. Now, I know that coming from a good family and being educated does not necessarily mean that you will have inherited something good from them. I am ashamed that in spite of my experience and wisdom”i failed to know the true you. These good looks and charm are only a facade. Behind this mask is a sadist who is incapable of seeing any good.”
Anita had always known that she was not goodlooking and had a dark complexion. But she had never been made conscious of her looks by anyone in her family. Her younger sister was beautiful but there had never been any discrimination on the basis of that. Her father was a progressive man who believed neither in gender bias nor in beauty, which he thought was only skindeep. He believed in inner beauty and the qualities which make a person a good human being and according to him Anita had plenty of those qualities.
It was after a couple of rejections from the prospective grooms because of her complexion and average looks that she became conscious of her shortcomings. But she believed that there would be someone somewhere who would accept her as she was. She had been unhappy not because of her rejections but because of her parents who had started getting worried. It had hurt her. Then she had realised that her marriage would be a deal where her father will have to pay money to compensate for her plain looks.
When her marriage with Mohan was settled he had neither made any demands nor had objected to her plain looks. At that time she had thought that her belief in herself was not misfounded. Her family had been delighted. She had been grateful to him not only because he had agreed to marry her but for saving her and her family from humiliation by not asking them for anything. That time he had come as a messiah, a knight in a shining armour to save her. Little did she know that he was no messiah but a
Her father, no doubt was in a high post but he was a man of integrity and impeccable honesty. The kind of reputation he had, nobody would have dared to offer him any kind of bribe. Anita was crying in her mother’s arms. “Please take me with you. I feel suffocated here. I don’t want to live here any more,” she said. ”Yes, of course you are coming with us. I don’t care what people will say.
sadist, an inhuman being who knew only how to torture.
Now, she wondered what promises had the mediator made to him. Her father, no doubt was in a high post but he was a man of integrity and impeccable honesty. The kind of reputation he had, nobody would have dared to offer him any kind of bribe. She had no idea what expectations he had from her father. Every time there was argument he would say that her father had not given him enough.
It was her father who had encouraged her to take part in debates, essay writing and other activities and she had won several prizes, which had helped her in building up her confidence. But after her marriage not only had her dreams of a happily married life been shattered but her confidence and selfesteem had been swept away by the tides of abuses and caustic comments on her looks. She had been actually reduced to a zero. Sometime she would get so disgusted with herself that she refused to look at herself in the mirror. She had been reduced to a mental wreck.
Now that she had come back to her parents’ place, they had got to know that Mohan had a drinking problem and was always short of money. The few months which Anita had spent with him had taken their toll on her. She had changed completely. That carefree, ever-smiling girl had been replaced by a terrified girl who would shudder and shiver at the sound of the doorbell and cringe when the phone rang.
She became a recluse, who found it difficult to face people, tried hard to avoid strangers and lived in her own world fighting the ghosts of her turbulent past and the nightmares she had gone through. Her parents and her younger sister, who had come to stay with her for the time being, tried their best to help her to come out of her shock. They did not pressurise her in any way and made sure nobody reminded her past. They were hopeful that slowly the things would change and she would get over her tragic past.
Anita would stare endlessly at nothing. She always carried a notebook with her. She would occasionately write in it. Her family wondered what she wrote in that. She never talked about it. Her relatives had wanted her father to lodge a complaint against Mohan. But her father was not keen about it. “I don’t want her to suffer again. She had enough. He is the kind of person who can stoop to any level. Now that her wounds are healing, I don’t want to open them again. And to tell you the truth I don’t want to see that scoundrel again,” her father said.
It was through their unrelenting effort, their gentle and tender approach that she started coming out of her shell. The pages of her notebook kept on filling up. She and her notebook were inseparable. The content of the notebook came to light when the younger sister Sunita’s friend Rupa came to their place. Anita offered to make tea for them.
“Whose notebook is this?” Rupa said turning the pages. She was spellbound. “My, goodness! Who has written this?” she asked. Sunita was surprised. “This is didi’s. Where did you find it? She never leaves it like this.”
“I am telling you, Sunita, this is fantastic stuff. Whatever she has written is a cry from the depths of a tortured soul. I want this to be published. I will talk to papa.”
Sunita was scared, “I don’t know how didi is going to react. This is something very private. You know what she has gone through. Even we have never tried to find out what she has written in it.”
“Let me talk to didi.” When Anita came with the tea tray she quickly picked up her notebook.
“Didi I wanted to talk to you,” Rupa said a little hesitantly.
“Yes, of course,” she said.
“I am sorry but I read a few pages of your diary. I can’t believe that you have written all this. It is so well written and so explosive. If it gets published it will be like stirring the hornet’s nest. You know that we own a publishing house. Nowadays I am helping my father and I have a fairly good idea what sells,” she looked expectantly at Anita.
“Rupa, all this was not written with the intention of publishing. Nobody knows what I went through. It was a nightmare, an unending nightmare which has shaken me so badly that I will need one more life to forget it. I was brutalised, I was rebuked, I was beaten up, starved, tortured mentally and physically. Not only I, but my family too, especially my father, was abused. All that I carried with me. It sat on my chest so heavily that it hurt me and I found it difficult to breathe. That smouldering lava had come out. I wanted to unburden myself. But I didn’t know whom to talk to.
My family never raised this topic because they didn’t want me to suffer
“Didi I wanted to talk to you,” Rupa said a little hesitantly. “Yes, of course,” she said. “I am sorry but I read a few pages of your diary. I can’t believe that you have written all this. It is so well written and so explosive. If it gets published it will be like stirring the hornet’s nest. You know that we own a publishing house.
again. They thought it would be best if everything was left unsaid. Time is a great healer and with the passage of time I will get over it. Also I didn’t want to tell them because they were already disturbed and worried about me. But I wanted to talk about it and throw it out. It was then that I decided to write down the whole thing.
“This dairy has been my constant companion. Now I feel much better and lighter. It worked like catharsis. It was also not written with the intention of making money. This dairy has become a part of my anatomy, my confidante, my best friend. You don’t sell your best friend. I don’t know how I left it today.”
“It was a great accident, that’s why,” Rupa said. “Listen, Rupa, nobody reads this kind of stuff anymore. You will be wasting your money,” Anita said.
“Leave that to me. I have been with papa for quite some time and have gained a little bit of experience. I can assure you that this book will sell like hot cakes. Let’s have a deal. If the book sells it is yours and if not, then it is mine. Let the whole world know what hypocrites we are?
How hollow our society is, which pretends to be liberal and modern. How much exploitations is still there? It is still a maledominated society. A man can do anything and get away with it. In spite of the tall claim made by our society, there hasn’t been much change in the status of woman. After marriage if the husband leaves her for whatever reason, there is no future as her. There may be a few exceptions but the vast majority still suffers. A man can have as many flings as he wants, can go anywhere to please himself but a woman is not allowed even to look at somebody else. Why these double standards? Just give me the permission,” Rupa said.
“I will think over it. Give me some time,” Anita said.
It was her father who persuaded her. “Anita, this is an opportunity to expose not only him but all those chauvinists who still believe that they are superior to females just because they are males. In what way are they superior, I don’t know. I don’t know what is going on in your mind. You still seem to be in two minds. Do you still have any hope about Mohan? Do you think he has any remorse and will come back to you?” he asked.
“No papa. I don’t think he will have any such feelings. In any case I have no intention of going back to him,” she said.
“Then allow Rupa to publish it.”
Rupa’s prediction actually came true. The book was a sensation. After a long time a book had came in the market which had come from the depths of somebody’s heart. It was a great success, a number one bestseller. Everybody seemed to be talking about this book. There had been rave reviews in the magazines. It was appreciated by masses and they wanted to see the face hiding behind it. Anita had become famous. Her family seemed to be on cloud nine.
“It is time you came out form your hiding place. You have proved that beauty is not everything,“her father advised her. She was interviewed by magazines. People came to meet her, talk to her and know more about her. Slowly, a confident-looking woman emerged from that frightened, quiet and reclusive girl who had been reluctant to meet strangers. Now she was not afraid to show her face, the face for which she had been abused, mocked at and tortured.
One day, she was alone at home. The servant came to tell her that someone wanted to meet her. “Send him in.“She thought that it would be someone to interview her or someone who wanted to know more about her latest book.
Mohan was standing at the door, “I have been thinking of coming to see you, but didn’t have the courage to face you. I know how bad I have been and how I have tortured you. I didn’t appreciate anything about you. I am a sinner. I don’t think I have the right to ask for forgiveness but please do forgive me. I beg to you. After all, we are still husband and wife. Such things keep on happening in this relationship. Isn’t it possible for us to start anew?
Anita kept on listening to him quietly. She got up and went near the window. A few moments passed. She kept on staring out of the window. She looked up. A flight of birds was soaring up in the sky in a perfect arc. ‘How beautiful! Keep flying freely. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t let anyone clip your wings, she mouthed silently. Then she heard the sound of receding feet. She turned back. He had gone. Her silence had said it all. We
She got up and went near the window. A few moments passed. She kept on staring out of the window. She looked up. A flight of birds was soaring up in the sky in a perfect arc. ‘How beautiful! Keep flying freely. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t let anyone clip your wings, she mouthed silently. It was a great success, a number one bestseller. Everybody seemed to be talking about this book. There had been rave reviews in the magazines. It was appreciated by masses and they wanted to see the face hiding behind it.
We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.