Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do I know you?

             She opened her eyes to darkness. It was abysmal, that feeling of dark that crept over her. The floor was cold and hard against her back. She tried to grope but nothing came into her hands. Her legs felt numb as she tried to balance herself from slipping. She could smell a foul stench emanating from her. 

             That morning, Neha had received a call from Samir. It was unusual for him to call her up so early in the morning. They had agreed to meet for lunch. She had been occupied with her work, but the thought was at the back of her mind. Why did he want to meet her during the day? They had been having an affair and kept their appointments at night. She couldn't wait to see him. They had missed their dates for a week as Samir had gone to visit his parents. 

             Sharp at 1 pm, she reached Rainbow, the place that Samir had called her to. He had already started drinking, which was unusual. Neha had taken a half day leave, hoping that they would spend more time together but one look at Samir had made her doubt her plans. He looked at her without a smile. She pulled a chair and sat in front of him. 
             "Samir, what is this? Why have you started drinking at this time?" she asked him. 
             "Neha, I m not in a mood for your lecture." He snubbed her. 
             "Tell me what couldn't wait till evening?" she was angry at him.
             " I m getting married." He told her without emotion. 
             "Whoaa, what? Wait, are you telling me that you are getting married?" 
             "I m." He replied coldly. 
             "So what have you called me for?" She shouted at him. 
             "Neha, don't over react. We never had any agreement over marriage. It was just an affair which you too enjoyed. Frankly, did you think I would marry you?

             Right. Did she think he would marry her? He had never as much told her about any commitment. He was from a rich and traditional family of Marwaris. She was just a product of a broken marriage. She had spent her early years in hostel and later lived on rent until her biological father died, leaving behind a modest 1 BHK flat for her.

            "So this is the end of it?" She still asked knowing the reply.
            "It doesn't have to end. We can continue the affair. You know I can take care of your needs." He gave her a smug smile and lit a cigarette.
            His face, behind the smoke, evoked such disgust which she hadn't known in years. It reminded her of another man who had made her feel so cheap and dirty. Her head was spinning with thoughts which she had buried long back.


            She had made it to the switch board. Panic stricken, she ran her fingers over all switches and turned them on. The lights lit the room. Scared, she looked at the floor. The sight made her insides turn. She retched  on the spot. The man lay on his stomach. The blood was splattered all about the house. 
           He had just returned from his office. His wife, as usual, had started bickering about the neighbors. He resigned on the sofa and surfed the television. His wife raised her voice and began nagging him. His blood pressure was rising. His teenager son had shut himself up in his room. His wife was complaining about their son's behavior. 

         "Come home and only watch television. Don't care about your family." She nagged further. 
         His anger had crossed threshold. 
         "Just shut up you bitch. Can't  you give me a moment of peace." He had raised his hand on her. Taking his car keys, he shut the door behind him. 

         He parked near the beach. He let the fresh air get to him and then started smoking. 

         "Hey sexy, all alone?" beeped  his watsapp. 
         Tina. He smiled to himself. The girl always seemed to track his mood. 
         She had first called him by mistake but they had eventually started chatting regularly on watsapp. They flirted openly and sometimes the chats became too intimate. It had been just a week since they  had started sexting. 

        "Yes babe. Want to share my loneliness?"
         He was thrilled when she sent him her pictures. She called him to her home. 
        This is my lucky day, he thought. He turned the car and before going to her apartment, he went to the pharmacy. 


          He had his doubts. When she opened the door, dressed in a peach negligee, it all vanished. She was fair skinned, curvy and had dark eyes. She looked no more than 25. He was 45, balding and with a pot-belly. 

        She turned him over. His chest had stab wounds. The knife lay next to him. His eyes were wide open in shock. 

        "This will be our secret. You know I can take care of your needs." His words came back to her. 
 They were all alone in the house. He had run his hands over her thighs and touched her. She had squirmed under his touch, not knowing why she felt so uncomfortable. She had tried to escape from him. He had over powered her in the end. 
        Her mother and step father had gone for a party and left her behind with her step father's brother. She was just 8 year old. She had been sent away to hostel after she had confided in her mother. 

       "This will be our secret" she had whispered in his ears. He had followed after her into her room. She played blind fold with him. 
       He could hold himself no longer and plunged for her. She tied his hands tightly and pushed him on the floor. 
       She is a wild thing, this Tina. He couldn't believe his luck!

       She was searching for something in her drawer. He pitched in, "Its in my wallet. I brought it on my way" 
 She smiled in a wicked way and drew a shiny knife. It sent a chill through him. 

      "Wasn't blind fold your favorite game, step-uncle?" She laughed.
      "You, you... "He was terrified of what had come on him. 
      His eyes had been wide open as she stabbed him multiple times. 

     She had tracked him down finally. She stalked him like crazy. She knew all about him. She knew about his wife, his son, his fights, his whereabouts. She was waiting for a chance to strike. She befriended him and made a trap of lust. 

              She sat there crying for hours. She did not know how she had landed up this way. She did not know how her dark past had come face to face. The last thing she remembered was coming home and crying until she had been exhausted and fallen to sleep. 

            She cleaned up all the blood on the floor. She had to think of disposing the body, but not now. She would wait for another night when she could hide in the dark. She wound his heavy body in bed sheets and kicked it under the bed. She went to  wash herself. 


             She saw her image in the mirror. Suddenly she was Neha, stabbing at herself, hating herself. The sad, victimized Neha. 

     She smiled. She had Samir to take care of now. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was a cold night. We were 4 girls returning from our 10th standard tuition classes. As usual, we all sat at the back seat of the bus. Our class had left at 8.30 pm but we had waited at the bus stop for my bus. All my friends had alternative buses to get to their home. I had shifted to our new home which was developing area yet. There was only one bus that left me a few blocks away from my home. After a good amount of waiting, the bus had arrived and we all hopped onto it.

             Two of my friends had alighted before me. The bus was getting empty. I sat next to my friend who was at the window seat of the last seats. The bus halted at a stop where a few men boarded the bus. Two boys came to the last seat. My friend was listening to the radio and at the same time talking to me. We were bantering as usual when the boy seating on the other side said something. I looked at him, he said something which I could not comprehend. He pointed at my friend. I asked my friend if she knew the guy. She too looked at him and shook her head. "I think he is telling something about the songs I m listening to" she told me in a confused way. The fat guy next to the one who was talking was continuously staring at us. It made me uneasy. I thought of telling my friend to shift our seat but I knew she would ridicule my extra cautious nature.

             My friend got up when the bus was near her stop. I too got up from the seat and sat ahead in the seats reserved for ladies. I forgot all about the two people in the back seat. The people in the bus looked decent and middle aged. I put aside my guards. Perhaps I had been watching too much of crime series!
            As I said earlier, the area I had shifted to was newly developed. Few people had moved in to the new flats and most of the buildings were unoccupied. I got down from the front door. Another girl accompanied me. As the bus set in motion, the fat guy approached us. He had climbed down from the back door. He blabbered something which I did not understand. He talked as if he was mentally unstable or maybe mentally retarded. The other girl with me was scared to bits. The fat guy was talking something and pointing at the guy who had talked to us in the bus. I saw him at a distance and I was trembling with fear. What did this people want?

            The other girl found her courage and tried to talk to the fat guy. She asked him who that guy was. He moved his tongue in an awkward way. He was so obese that I wondered if he was breathless or he was trying to scare us. The girl asked me if I knew the guy. I denied and she asked the fat guy if the other guy was following us. He nodded. Then he pointed at me. The other guy was following me.

           The girl told me to be careful and made her way into
the narrow lanes where row houses were. I put my bag on the      
 front side and searched for anything that could protect me. I
 found a pair of scissors. I grabbed it tightly in my right hand.
The fat guy went running to the other guy.  I had a phone on
 myself but I dare not open it and lose sight of anyone near me.
 The first thing I did was to cross the road. The police station
was equidistant to my house from the bus stop but it was on
 the other way and on the road where that guy was. I walked
briskly towards home.
           There was a turn to take. It was the most dangerous part. It might have been about 9.30 pm at night which was not that late, according to Mumbai standards, but the roads were deserted. It was too cold and also the area had only a few people anyway. On one side of the road lay the sewer and on the other side was a stretch of mangrove turning wild. There was no light source and I had to make it in good time before the guy came on my side. I had my heart in my mouth and ran for my life. Once I crossed this path and took a right turn I knew I was safe. I had reached the street were there was light and buildings. The last building was mine. I was shivering by the time I reached the gate of my building and not due to cold. Once I entered the building, the two guards were on the gate and I gathered enough courage to see if I was still followed. No, I did not see anyone.

             I cannot bring myself to think what would have happened that night. When I think of the horrid rapes and murders, it chills me to even remember that night. I was only 15 then. I had a mobile but it was too much of a risk to run through the contact lists and call someone. I wish I could alert at the click of a button. I wish I had Smart SURAKSHA.

            Ever since that night, I carry a scissor with me, especially while travelling past 7 pm. My area is now so crowded with people and buildings that it is difficult to imagine the scene that was 6 years back. But dangers do not always come with a warning. I had enough time to take out my scissor but if I didn't, I would have been in a very serious situation. I think this app would come handy in such situations where we can send an SOS to people who care for us and can come to our aid. I already have this app and I think I feel a little more secure.

I am participating in the Seeking Smart Suraksha contest at in association with Smart Suraksha App.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Forbidden Fruit

            "If I could, I would have swept you away,
             away from the shadows of your past,
             into the glistening world of dreams,
             where all of life is a fair,
             where no desire is
             a forbidden

        She listened to him in rapt attention, absorbing each emotion that made way from his poetry. He looked up from his papers, anticipating a reply. On getting none, his eyes inspected her with doubt. His emerald green eyes bore into her dark brown. She was unarmed, unclothed under that gaze. She blushed as though he had read her naked thoughts. She could feel his eyes on her, even as she lowered her own. She wondered what went about in his mind every time he looked at her that way. She tried to think of something to applaud his writing but the words didn't suffice.
        The moment was lost and he soon began scribbling away on the sheets of paper. The tip of this ink pen moved rhythmically under his long, slender fingers. His smooth, shapely fingers.. the thoughts of it sent shivers down her spine.

        She sighed at the sight of him. His lean frame bent over his desk, engrossed in his writings. Dusk was setting in. She went to the window to close it. She shied at the cold winds that blew at her face, biting at her like a deprived lover. She straightened his bed and adjusted the pillows. She found herself doing that whenever she lingered by him. She lit the table lamp. He sprang to life suddenly, acknowledging her presence. How oblivious he became when he was lost in his world of words!

        She stood by his side, the ends of her sari tucked at her waist. She breathed heavily as she felt his fingers tracing her curves. His pointy, cold fingers burnt her insides. It was a storm outside and fire within.
He rose from his chair and closed the distance between them. Her heart pounded madly against her rib as he set her long hair free from the bun. Tresses tumbled down her shoulders and onto her waist. He breathed in the fragrance of her hair, his stubble brushing her ear, tingling her being. He held her by the waist and perched her on the table. He pinned her on to the wall, fingers entwined in hers. She curled her toes as his lips came down on hers, gently at first and plundering later. Then as randomly as it all started, he withdrew and stormed out of the room.

       She climbed down the table, set the knocked down books in order. She held the crumbled papers she had grabbed in her passion. She read his poetry again, this time with tears in her eyes. Her desires were as crumbled as the paper, as forbidden as his.

       She found him in the large hall. She brought him dinner. He ate without a word. She watched his receding figure walking to his room, without as much as looking back. It stabbed her, a cold knife of rejection. He did not want her.
      She was same age as him. When she had come to the large palatial house, it was only his presence that comforted her. No one took her seriously, a child bride that she was. She was free to spend her days with him, allowed into his mysterious world of words. He was queer for others, perfect for her. A man must be practical to gain respect, a man must do business. They all wrote him off, ridiculing his dreamy notions. Not her! She sat with him under the huge banyan tree, as he spun the magical web of his poetry. She flowed in the charms of his imagination, as he dipped his foot in the cold waters of the river. His shield was words, her shield was silence. They were perfect companions to each other. Until... until a desire sprung between them.

    She woke up the next morning, disappointed as ever. She went about her duties. He had not been up. Late riser and late sleeper that he was!
The maids swept the yard clean of the leaves that fell after the storm. She had to clear her mind of the fallen leaves of her dreams.  

   The men were back by noon. The storm had delayed them. The women of the house would set out only after the storm was gone. She was occupied all day with the chores.
   She was serving tea when she heard,
    "She is the perfect match. It is time he gets married. Maybe responsibilities would make him more of a man."
    She could hardly stifle a cry. By evening, her large dark eyes had become fierce red. She had bawled her eyes in spurts, even that was a luxury. The pain seemed to gnaw her, or what remained of her. She saw his silhouette on the terrace when she was collecting the dried spices. He eyed her suspiciously, asking a thousand questions. You never understand! Do you? She wanted to scream at him. She wanted to hit him.

         "The storm  has cleared
          and so has our time
          It is as I always feared,
          that you are not mine.

          Fly away, fly away 
          into the arms that wait
          This was only how far
          our love could make.." 

     It reminded her of the cold bed that awaited her. Fly away, he said. All she wanted was to come into his arms. She had waited, waited all 5 years she had been in the house. Struggled with her feelings for this man. On many nights, she lay awake thinking of him. She drowned in the melancholy of his words, cheered in the euphoria of his delights. Many a times he wrote of her, for her and about her. Yes, that was it. She was his muse. She had lived the delusion for 5 years. She might have been another's wife, but her heart belonged to him. She might have warmed another bed, but she mated with him in her thoughts. She might have fulfilled another vows, but she lived by the unsaid vows to him. Then it all became clear to her. The futility of her existence stared in her face, placing a tight slap on her marriage. Her marriage to his brother.


    He drooped his shoulders like a lost man. Wanderer forever, never to be found. He was whole once, in her presence. She was his strength which had ebbed and darkness crept. He was wrong. The storm might have cleared but a whirlpool of emotions had taken charge of him. He could have told her that night. He could have told her that she was loved. She was desired like he desired life. He could have told her to fly away with him and not into the arms of his brother. He could have swept her away if he could. But he couldn't.

   She was 14 when she came  into his life. As his sister-in-law. His brother was almost 30 that year when he brought his bride. Could he betray his blood for a woman? Yet this was no ordinary woman. He had little regard for the societal norms, yet could he stand against the laws of marriage? Was love enough to face the world? Why was the union more important than the man and woman? For once, he had no release in his words.

  She was bolder. Bolder than he ever thought her capable of. She revolted. She went against all bonds that tied her down. Fly away, she did. Into another world. She did not care about the scandal that would arise when they found her body in the well. She did not care about the catastrophe that would come into her husband's life. She did not care about his cowardice. She would rather fly away than see him in another arms. In more ways than he could comprehend, she desired the forbidden fruit.



They saw him last a day before his impending marriage. He had walked to the river with his writing sheets and a pen in his jute shoulder bag. Some said he took a boat from there. Some said he had drowned. His sister-in-law's death in mysterious circumstances had been hushed up. Slowly, his disappearance was forgotten. 
And one day, his book was published. 
Abhilasha- a desire unsaid. He named it after her. Drawing courage in his last days to name his love. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kiss me not


            Ting Tong, the bell rang.
             Kunal was engrossed in the cricket match. "This better not be a salesman" he swore. He pulled himself up from the sofa. There was tap tap tapping on the door. "Wait a moment" he shouted.
             Screeeeeeeeeee the wooden door grumbled as he forced it open.

            "Payal!" he gasped. For a moment, he felt as if he was floating. She stood at his door, equally amused.
            "Kunal" she muttered finally, her lips quivering.
            She was dressed in a white salwar kameez, completely drenched. When he regained his senses, he ushered her in. She followed meekly.

            He switched off the television and went in to fetch a towel.
            "Here, dry yourself. You can use the room to your left" he said, handing her the towel.
            She went into the room. He stared at her back. Her clothes stuck to her skin, revealing her small clothes. He felt something stir in him. He brushed his thoughts aside.

             He set the coffee brewing and made a call to place order for lunch.
             Tring Tirrrrrrrrrring the phone rang but no one picked up until the last ring. He tried another service. They refused to give home delivery because of heavy rains.
             He raided the kitchen drawers and found a packet of Magi. "This would do" he thought.

             He went near the room.
             Clink, clink, clink, her metal bangles moved as she dried her hair. She had put her clothes to dry on the stand and was clad in his white kurta. His kurta covered her thighs but her legs were bare. He stood there staring, then she turned back and gave a naughty smile. As if she knew what was on his mind.

            "Sorry, my clothes were too wet to wear. Your night kurta was hanging by the door, as usual."
            "Oh!" was all he said.

            They sat on the sofa with a cup of coffee and a bowl of Magi each. She curled up to one side. Her face was flushed pink with the hot bath.
            Pitter Patter the rain continued. Dark clouds gathered in the sky. It was going to rain all day.
            Doooooooom, the power gave out. They sat in silence, darkness enveloping them.

           "How did you come here?" He asked her.
           " I came to seek a shelter. I did not know its your house."
           " You stay close by?" he asked further.
           " Does it matter?" she countered.  He didn't reply.

           Slurrrrrrrrp he sucked the remnants of his Magi. She looked at him, irritated.
           "Tch, your old habits still remain" she remarked.
           " I never changed" he said bitterly.

             It hurt him to realize how much effect she still had on him. She sipped on her coffee lightly. Her hair, still damp, fell to her shoulders, wetting her delicate neck. Her slight frame lay propped up on the cushions of his sofa. Her slender fingers lay curled on the coffee cup. Every part of her evoked memories, lustful memories. Why must she make me so weak? he complained to himself.
             He bore hardly any resemblance to his former self. His two day stubble gave him a rough appearance. His once flat stomach, protruded a bit. He had put on more kilos. He wondered if she would even find him attractive now. How does that matter? She had once found him most handsome and yet dumped him.

           He was immersed in his thoughts when he felt her close to him. She hugged him from one side. He was befuddled. One thing led to other and he found himself in her.

           He lay staring at the ceiling. Her soft snores ringing in his ears.
           Tick Tock Tick of  the clock was the only sound in the room.

           He gathered his thoughts. No, he would not let her play with him again. She had once enticed  him and made him a slave of her charms. He would have given up anything to be with her. Yet she had left him in a lurch to go abroad for better opportunities. A clean break, that was what she had asked him. She had not even told him before boarding the flight. He wouldn't give her a chance to break him again. She would not influence him now. Still, a part of him knew, he already lost. She had just as easily tricked him into bed as she had entered his house.
         She stirred beside him. Nuzzling close, she whispered, " I had forgotten how good it was to be with you".
         "Are you married?" He found himself asking.
         He was numb. They were only 21 when they were in a relationship. A decade had gone by. He had been occupied with his medical profession and was yet to get married, although his parents were looking for a match. She on the other hand was married and cheating!

        He felt sick of all that he had done. He went into the shower and hoped she would just disappear before he was out.
        He came out in his bathrobe.
        Tack, tack, tack her heels echoed from the hall. She was dressed up to leave.
       "I m leaving for now. I will back" she gave a twisted smile.
       "You won't be." He said firmly
       "Oh come on, don't act all righteous. You lie that you don't enjoy what I do to you."
       "I m not your slave. You cannot use me as you like" he raged.
        She walked towards him and undid the knot of his robe. She hugged him passionately. He had goosebumps all over.
        " I will be back" she kissed his ear lobe.

        Screech... the car halted abruptly, a few feet away from the cliff. He stepped out and looked around. Heavy rains had discouraged tourists. He opened the car and pulled her out. He lifted her slim body and flung her down the cliff.

      " It was preordained. It was preordained". He kept telling himself. "She didn't have to find my house for shelter. She didn't have to torture me all over again. I didn't have to store the sedatives in the cupboard and inject her. I wouldn't have killed her. It was all preordained. I m free now"

       He went home and slumped on the sofa.

      Thud. The door was broken by the policemen who accompanied his parents. The stench was overwhelming. He lay on the floor. Dead.

      He died of an overdose of his antidepressant medicines.

      His mother's shrieks were drowned by the weeeoooweeeooo of the ambulance.



This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The God among us

      The concept of prayers and God has changed over time for me. We all start as unquestioning devotees and over the years continue to remain the same or we become critical. We get influenced by the thoughts we come across, the books we read, the people we meet and the situations we experience.

       Till I was 5 years old, I went to the temple daily. My grandparents would take me along with them and I would sit through their prayers and learnt to say my prayers. Sometimes my aunt would take me to the temple and after that she would treat me to kulfi. Late in the evening, father would come from work and carry me home. On our way from grandparents' house, we would pass by the Sai Baba temple. I would wiggle out of father's arms and bow in front of the idol and pray. I would tell Sai Baba to guard me always. I would then stretch my hand for the sweets that laid in front of the idol and the priest would indulge me with two. It became a routine for me. My prayers would include:
       Health for my grandparents
       Marriage for my aunt
       Money for my parents
       Intelligence for me
       At the end I would say, "You alone guard us".

      A couple of years after that, I had a younger brother who now added to my list. However, I no longer stayed with grandparents and the visit to temple became less frequent.
      The nearest temple from my house was a Hanuman temple. I would go there once in a while. In years to come, the temple was expanded illegally to include 3 more Gods. I began to go there more often. In my teenage years I would pray a lot to Goddess Durga. She symbolized strength and that was what I wanted the most.
      Every Friday I would visit the Goddess Durga temple which became a ritual with me and some of my relatives. Then started my 10th classes and I would accompany my friends every Tuesday to the self formed Ganesh Temple on the way home. By this time, I knew most of the prayers by heart.

      My relation with God hasn't been always of faith. I have been brought up in a house that prayed in every calamity, never once questioning the intentions of God.
      "Do whatever God brings into your mind", "God will do you good", "How did God give you the heart to do that?"- these are the phrases that I grew up hearing. Yet something changed.
      Something changed in the way I prayed. I have had instances where I have even questioned the presence of God, only to be rejuvenated with Faith. But I had stopped making so many visits to temples. I found solace in the God that resides within us. Among us. I did not need a temple to invoke the spiritual sense. I saw spirituality in giving up my seat for an old lady or accompanying an old woman who is afraid to use a lift. I did not need to offer flowers or sweets to visit my God. I would rather offer sweets to a child. I would never pray the whole day and abuse anyone who disturbs me. That is no prayer at all. Prayer is what comes from within you, without knowing any verse.

      Praying is welcoming God to dwell within . To help you overcome what, you think, you cannot. I still pray before going for an exam. If it is a difficult one, I tell my loved one to pray for me as well. So far it has always helped me. I pray for God to be with me when I have to face tough conditions. When the strength ebbs and when the world seems too unjust a place to be, I pray. It fills me with optimism. It fills me with hope.

    This Diwali, like so many others, I would make a Rangoli to welcome the Goddess. I would make imprints of her steps on the stairs. The house would be spic and span. The air filled with delicious aroma of the sweets my mother would specially make in turmeric leaves. The small temple in our house would be decorated with garlands and flowers from our plants. We would keep the offerings of fruits, sweets, new sari in front of the Goddess. As usual, there would be someone who misplaces the aarti book and we would all search for it. I would start the prayers while others would join in. The air would take the fragrance of the incense sticks and flowers to add to the ambiance of spirituality. In that one evening of prayers, we would all be together and send out a positive energy.
    This year my grandparents and aunt wouldn't be in Mumbai. They have shifted to the native last year. They too celebrated Diwali last year but the rituals there are different and they couldn't perform it the way they have been doing for years. The aarti books available were in native language which aunt couldn't read. Grandma kept whining about how they had to search for all the pooja accessories. The lakshmi pooja pack would just be the gift I could send across for them! We would all be together in our ritual, although we would be miles apart. Once they taught me to pray, I wish to give them the comfort to do the same.

     I pray for the streets to be safer.
     I pray for the justice with-held.
     I pray that innocence is never violated.
     I pray for the men who guard me while I pray.
     I pray for the maimed child I see on the bridge.
     I pray for the boy in desperate need of a job.
     I pray for the girl who fell off the train.
     I pray for the mother who lost her baby.
     I pray that the pot-bellied kid eats better.
     I pray for the trains to be little less crowded.
     I pray that we get a better crop this year.
     I pray that everyone gets a meal.
     I pray that every hand that can work, gets work.
    I pray that, Dear God, you alone guard us!


This post is part of a contest by  Cycle Puja Agarbathies

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jar of Sunshine- Part 5

              Sumitra had felt like a free bird when she had set foot in her village. She had breathed in the scents that she had grown up around and walked through the kaccha roads and fields. Her grandparents were a bit apprehensive but they tried to hide that and appeared glad to see her.
             Sumitra had rested her head in her grandmother's lap and wondered about her future. What would she do here that could ease their life? She had fallen asleep and for the first time in the last whole year, she had slept without a care. It had then come to her. She had woken up all of a sudden and told her grandmother. She would open a food service.

             With the small sum of money that Sunaina's father had lent her, she rented the small worn down shop near the market. Next she spread the word that she would open a meal service. For trial she started out with afternoon meals. She gathered that a lot of daily wagers and workers in the market shop would like to eat a different variety of food at a lower price. At the same time, the small offices in the market had people who would like a nice home cooked meal served hot.

            IT had been a success. She had also initiated her neighbors into her business. They sold their fresh field produce and milk to her. She started growing a few vegetables in her grandparent's backyard. Slowly and steadily, the profits grew and she bought a bigger place on rent. She hired help as the customers grew. Some people frowned at her for being a young girl and running a hotel business, but she took it in her stride.

          On her 17th birthday, she had a proper hotel, a house that had all the amenities and happy grandparents. It was the year she met Ram. He had seen her at her hotel and fallen in love with her beauty. When he came to know all about her from the village folks, he had made his mind to marry her. It was tough to make her agree but he had won her heart. Ram was an orphan and himself a small hotelier in another city. He had a few relatives in the village who took the proposal to Sumitra's grandparents. Within the year, they were married.

        Life changed for the best in years to come. She had sold her hotel and brought her grandparents with her. Ram had taken good care of them. His business prospered and they moved to a big villa with servants at their beck and call. Sumitra had all the comforts of life but her sunshine was her husband. He loved her deeply and always sought her advice in important matters. He supported her decisions and held her hand through them. In years to come, they had become inseparable. The years only added to their companionship. He had accepted her background and respected her for all that she had achieved. She had given her heart and soul to the man who stood by her through thick and thin.
       Ram took a sharp turn. They were nearing Anuya nivas. Sumitra did not know what she would find there.
      They got out of the car. The house wore a deserted look. The climbers grew on the window. Pigeons sat on the sill. The steps were broken. They entered the compound. An old lady peeked from the door next to Anuya nivas.
      "Why have you come here? Didn't you have enough last year?" she asked her.

     How could she forget! Anuya and Sumitra had exchanged numbers. Out of the blue, Anuya had told her she was getting married soon. It had not occured to Sumitra to ask about her marriage. Anuya was 36 and Sumitra was 46 with two sons aged 20 and 23.  Anuya went on to talk to someone else.

    Sunaina, who had met Sumitra earlier, grabbed her by the arm.
  " Don't believe what she says. She's been talking like that for a few years now." She had whispered.
  "Like what?" Sumitra had asked incredulously.
  " I shouldn't be saying this, Anuya has lost her mind. That entire family is doomed. Ishwar Narayan lost his job when the company closed down in 1994. He has been doing odd jobs since then. Anuya tried her hand at jobs but failure to find a match for her was depressing her. That sister of hers has had a chain of affairs.We stopped counting how many! The boy was good but he too ended up becoming a drunkard. One might say years of curses have manifested but Anuya is a sad sight."

   Sumitra was dumbstruck with what Sunaina revealed. She had never imagined Anuya to have met this fate. She had loved Anuya the best.

   "Sumitra, come its time to go to the temple." Anuya had grabbed her hand.
   "Anuya, wait." She had freed herself uneasily.
   " There is no one who is marrying you." Rukmini appeared from  nowhere. She had become more bitter with time Sumitra thought.
    "I m telling you I m getting married you stupid woman. Why can't you see me happy" She had become violent and reached for a knife that was laying with fruits. There was a chaos as people hurried with fear. Anuya had slashed her wrist. It was as if Sumitra had come to the funeral of two people she knew the best from this city.

     Ishwar Narayan was too proud to admit that his beloved daughter needed medical help. Rukmini had turned a ghost of herself. Her sparse hair, skin clinging to her bones and hollow eyes had made Sumitra pity her. Anuya had recuperated from the wounds and doctors had suggested she be given psychiatric help. Ishwar Narayan had looked helpless and broken down. He had no money to afford such care.

    Anuya was nowhere close. Sumitra caught hold of a boy in the locality and told him to call Ishwar Narayan who stayed in a small rented house at a distance. Ram and Sumitra went to the Ganesh temple. They couldn't find her even there.

    "Are you searching for me" said a voice she recognized too well.
    "Anuya, how did you come here?" Sumitra asked scared to see her. Her hair was a mess and she wore a blue hospital gown.
    " It is my marriage today."
     She looked at Ram for some help but he looked clueless as well. They tried to keep her off the edge of the temple which had a deep mangrove on the other side.

     Rukmini and Ishwar Narayan reached the temple and were shocked to see their daughter. For a moment they thought Anuya had become well looking at her behavior but her garb said otherwise. Ram had offered to help to get Anuya good care. She had somehow escaped and still had Sumitra's contact number.
    The sight of her parents bewildered Anuya. She became violent again. Not heeding to anything they said, she jumped off the edge. Amid the shouts of all, Sumitra turned mute with fear.  

    Sumitra and Ram could do nothing.

    Ishwar Narayan and Rukmini got the worst punishment ever any parent could get. Their daughter committed suicide in front of their eyes.

    Ram and Sumitra returned home late that night. Anuya's body was found and she was cremated.

    Sumitra reclined on the bed, her head heavy with the events that had unfolded.
    "No one can beat Karma Sumitra. Anuya got the returns of her parents' karma."
    " I told her about the jar of sunshine. I wonder if she ever found hers."
    " She would find it.." He held his wife and wiped her tears.

-Inspired by a true story

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jar of Sunshine Part 4

    Read Part 3
Pre Script- There was some problem because of which part 3 wasn't getting displayed on dashboard.. If you haven't read it, this part wouldn't make sense :P

          She was all of 15 when she was standing at the bus stop, unusually aware of her fragility and grown up much more than the 14 yr old that she once was. It was getting dark and she was scarred of the people who were now crowding the bus stop. She was intimidated by a figure who was hurriedly approaching her but relaxed when she saw it was Sunaina's father. He handed her a few notes secretly and whispered, "Take care". He took to his heels before she could even thank him.
              She had never approached a shop alone, forget about a booking office. Her stomach was grumbling with hunger and she felt it knot in anxiety. She went to the counter and asked about the bus leaving to her village. The bored man at the counter yawned and looked at the chart and told her the bus would leave early morning at 6.  An unknown fear gripped her. Where would she spend the night?

             It was dark and it had started drizzling. She thought of going to the Ganesh temple. That was the best resort. The eateries had all shut down and she didn't know if she could afford the ticket if she ate. So she walked straight to the temple. She sat on the stairs. Tears welled up her eyes as the events of the past 24 hours filled her mind. She already missed Anuya and the boy who was too young and spent more than half of his life in her arms. The little girl was a stranger to her.
             " This is no place for a young girl to sit" a woman said.

             Sumitra looked at the woman. It was the jolly woman who lived a few houses away from Anuya nivas. She was a single woman and Ishwar Narayan often mentioned her as "jolly" to his friends. He would say she had a loose character. She would entertain men and keep young woman at her home. He would say  she drank and smoke with the men. The woman was frowned upon by the neighbors. Sumitra shifted uneasily when the woman placed a hand on her shoulder. The woman looked hurt.

            "I know. I know what you must be thinking. That ungrateful couple must have filled your ears too with stories. You ought to know better girl. This world is no safe place for single women. Not with snakes like Ishwar Narayan and his wife."
            She wondered what the woman meant.

           "I m not Jolly, my name is Meera. My husband was a friend to Ishwar Narayan. Ishwar Narayan and my husband grew up together. When we were married, a lot of objections were raised for our love. Ishwar Narayan too was never supportive. Yet when he needed money to buy that house, my husband gave him a generous loan. My dear husband died in an unfortunate accident and Ishwar Narayan didn't even show his face. He never returned the loan and I had to forsake my wedding jewellery to pay for the cremation of my husband. How my husband might have been pained to see me pawn the jewellery that he so lovingly made for me. Ishwar Narayan and that wretched wife of his will burn in hell" She cried out.

         Sumitra pitied the woman. How wrong she had been. After all, how can anyone trust what Ishwar Narayan said. Didn't he malign Sumitra the same way.

       " Don't be scared. I don't sell girls. They stay over at my place when they have to make a transit. I charge for sleeping in at my house. It is too big for a lonely woman. That's how I make a living. I rent out the space to travellers or holidaying couples. I won't charge you. Come to my house and rest for the night. There is nobody for a few days. God knows if the demons have even fed you. Let me serve you. That much I owe your mother. "

       "You knew my mother?" she asked in surprise.
      "Why, we went to the same school! You remind me so much of her." she lovingly said.
      " I m not like her." Sumitra had said.
      " I know you must be hating her. Understand one thing. She was a gentle woman. Much like how you are. Gentle and loving. A woman has her moments of loneliness. Her husband stayed away from her for years making a living in the city. She was charmed by a man and went down the wrong path. I admit she did a grave injustice to you by ending her life. She wasn't as strong as you are. But she was good to me always. She never let me go empty stomached when I went to her house and I wouldn't send her daughter away to the dangers of the night."

        She had grabbed Sumitra's hand. She had made hot water for her to bathe and change and then served her hot food. When she was rested well, Meera had fed her breakfast and asked her if she really wanted to go to the village or stay back. She had offered to help Sumitra with her stay. Sumitra had wanted to go back and Meera respected her wish.

       She dropped Sumitra to the bus stand and bought her the tickets. When Sumitra had volunteered to pay she had shoved it aside and told her to use the money in a constructive way. Before she boarded the bus, Meera had hugged Sumitra and said,
       "Remember one thing, there are people who are after your beauty. If you are not careful, they will charm you and rub you the wrong way. Give your heart and soul to one who would preserve you. Marry the man who would stay by your side despite your background. Till then, just do your work. One day the jar of sunshine would open for you."

     Sumitra had thanked her for the hospitality and followed her advise.

    " Do you have Meera aunty's number?" Sumitra asked Ram.
    " Yes, but why do you want that?" 
     Meera had died last year and left behind the house to an orphanage. Sumitra had stayed in contact with Meera and even visited her once. It was during that visit that Sumitra had seen Anuya. 
      Anuya had not recognized her. Sumitra could only place her only because someone had pointed at Anuya. She had a wheatish complexion and had grown taller than Sumitra's 5'6. Her hair looked like a nest. The ringlets were gone and her hair looked unwashed. She herself was healthy and wore a white salwar kameez. Sumitra felt awkward to start a conversation with her. Rukmini and Ishwar Narayan were not close by.
     The older neighbors told Anuya who Sumitra was. She seemed happy to meet Sumitra although Sumitra could tell she scarcely had any memory of her.
     "So Sumi did you find your jar of sunshine?" she asked in a hoarse voice.
      Sumitra was shocked when she asked that. First for the question and second for the deep voice she had. Sumitra could never forget that. They had exchanged numbers that day.

     " Maybe some older neighbor still staying there would have his number and inform him" she said.
     "Wait I wil try." Her husband parked the car on the side of the road and dialled a number. 
     "No one picking up" He told her. 
     "Do you think they know yet?" she asked worried.
     "Don't worry Sumi, maybe they know already. We will reach before 9." He held her hand and comforted her. 
      Like he had done 30 years back..