Archive for the ‘Anguish’ Category
Mrinal inhaled deeply, she loved freshly baked cake aroma. She peeked from the transparent oven door and sniffed again. This one was his favourite, chocolate cake. She was sure he would love it. She smiled to herself. Today was their “friendship anniversary” and she wanted to surprise Saaras on their special day.
“How time flies…” Mrinal thought wistfully. It was two years since they first met at the contemporary painting exhibition. They hit off instantly. They were different and yet there was something special that bound them. After that first meeting they met again at a few more shows and their friendship deepened. For Mrinal he was a wave of fresh air. She loved listening to his ideas. It was not that she agreed to everything that he said but Saaras’ passion for art and culture drew her closer to him. She loved their good natured banter. Sometimes Mrinal’s husband too would join them but mainly he was happy to see his wife getting a friend with whom she could share her love for art, who understood her world of colours. Mrinal loved spending time with Saaras. There was something magical about their togetherness. It was difficult to give a name to their relationship. Friendship was the milder and more acceptable term. Though their feelings ran deeper than mere friendship, there was not even one instance where anyone can point fingers at them.
Mrinal was awakened from her reverie with a beep from oven indicating that the cake was ready. She took it out, looked at it and smiled again. She looked at the clock and rushed to get ready. She wanted to be at Saaras’ place before he was back from work. She wore a beautiful peacock blue saree, looked at herself in the mirror and was happy with what she saw. A small bindi between her brows made her babyish face look even more beautiful. There was no other make-up needed.
Saaras was already home when she reached and was surprised to see Mrinal. She enthusiastically wished him “Happy Friendship Anniversary” and smiled broadly. Saaras smile at her childish exuberance but he seemed miles away. Mrinal sensed that there was something wrong but shook the doubt out of her mind and went on gushing about how happy she was. She proudly showed the cake she had baked and went on to get the knife. She had even got candles for them to blow together. She set the cake on the table and called Saaras to cut it with her. Mrinal offered him a piece of cake out of her hand and hugged him with childlike ebullience.
Instead of his usual friendly hug, his arms tightened around her waist. He drew her closer and held tightly. Mrinal looked up into his eyes and was taken aback at the emotions that lurked there. She tried to wriggle out of his embrace. She freed herself and looked at Saaras with a questioning look, almost accusing him.
“What happened Saaras?” Mrinal asked more for herself than him.
Rather than answering her, he went and sat at the edge of sofa with his head in his palms. He looked miffed. Mrinal was surprised at his reaction and went to sit beside him. He got up with a jolt and looked at Mrinal again with unfathomable expressions.
“What happened Saaras?” Mrinal asked again, a little scared.
Something snapped in Saaras.
“What is all this Mrinal? You are a married woman. All these talks of friendship and platonic love are nothing but bullshit. This is nothing but lust. And when I hold you, you look at me as if I have committed some crime!” Saaras shouted.
Looking at Mrinal’s mortified face, Saaras regained his senses. He swore under his breath and went to Mrinal, to hold her, to appease her, to ask for her forgiveness for his callousness. Once again she looked in Saaras’ eyes with her own moist ones. She got up and went out of his home, without looking back!
“If only you knew, how much I love you, Mrinal!” Saaras sighed longingly after her.
May be one day they will be together again, like old days… may be not!
“Why are you not ready yet?” shouted Meenu’s mother with irritation. Meenu’s eyes welled up yet again. She was going to be subjected to the torture once again. She went into her room and stood in front of the mirror to assess herself, which she did a lot more often these days.
What she saw was not comforting, especially just minutes before the prospective groom’s arrival. She heaved a deep sigh and started getting ready for the circus. She took out a mustard coloured kurti with crimpson patyala salwaar and crimson dupatta with golden border. It was a beautiful dress and accentuated her pleasingly plump frame. She put a small red bindi between her well shaped eyebrows, applied a little lipstick and let her beautiful, dark, long tresses loose. She appraised her reflection in the mirror again and smiled a bit. “Not bad”, she thought.
As soon as her mother saw her, annoyance showed on her face again.
“How many times have I told you not to wear such bright clothes! Look at your colour…” she scoffed her off.
Meenu tried not to be perturbed, and in any case, this was not the first time that she was ridiculed by her mother. She always sought her mother’s approval and the quest continued in adulthood, though in vain. She stood there with downcast eyes which made her mother even more irritated.
“Now just don’t stand on my head and hope that this man likes you else…” her voice trailed off as she rushed to open the door. Her mother’s voice modulated to a sweet melody as she received the guests.
Meenu knew the routine by now. She had to wait till she was called for and go with downcast eyes and not to speak much. She sighed again and looked up as if asking God, why he had chosen her for such torture. She shook her head in resignation.
She used to be such a happy child. Her mother was always like this but her father loved her a lot. He used to make up for all the hurt her mother bestowed upon her. He never compared her with anyone. He loved her as she was and she basked under his love. She was an intelligent child too, did well in school and went on to become an engineer. Her father was ecstatic when she won gold medals in university examinations. Her mother was hard to please though. She could never come to love her. She chided her father for his affection for their ugly duckling.
“All these medals and certificate will not help in marrying her off!” Meenu had heard this line so many times that it lost its edge, so to speak. Her father would kindly smile or wink or make faces after her mother to make her smile. It was also his way of telling her that don’t take her seriously, you are doing fine. And her heart would swell with love for her father. He would hug her and they would go on to discuss something about current affairs or politics or something silly as which boy was after which girl in the college or how stupid boys were! They would laugh together and her mother’s venomous words would be drowned in their love.
Meenu was awakened from her reverie by her mother’s harsh voice.
“What are you doing standing like a wooden doll?” Meenu smirked at the word “doll” and followed her mother to the lounge.
Even though she was told to keep her eyes downcast, she stole a look at the prospective groom and she froze in her track. Was this a joke? Had he not seen her picture before coming over (she no longer looked at the pictures since she thought it was a futile exercise)? What was the problem with him?
Her heart started beating faster. He looked like a Greek God to her. He was fair and handsome, polite and soft spoken. She cursed herself for not looking at his biodata. She hoped he was not just good looking. As she was floating in the air, her eyes fell on her mother and her jeering look brought her down on earth. She looked at the man in front of her and compared herself with him mentally.
“What is point of coming here and mocking me? One look at me and he will be out of this house. Why insult a girl like that?”
But by the look of it, he was still having polite conversation with her father and stealing looks too. He did not seem like he is going to run away. Their eyes met and he smiled softly at her. Meenu’s pulse quickened and she blushed. His smile broadened at her discomfort.
“Did he make out that I am blushing? Oh come on, Meenu, whom are you kidding? With your colour? Keep your feet firmly on the ground.” she reprimanded herself mentally.
She was startled when she heard her name. He was standing and she knew the meeting was over. As usual she was rejected because she did not fall in the conventional category of being beautiful. No one noticed her delicate features, beautiful coal lined eyes or long, flowing dark hair. No one was interested in her intelligence. It did not matter that she was witty and could make a guy laugh till tears ran down his cheeks. It did not matter how beautiful she was from inside. All that mattered was that she was chubby and dark. She had all the qualities to make a good wife, she had it in herself to turn a house into home, but no one was bothered about it. Her eyes welled up again and she sat there with her head bowed.
She was startled again at her mother’s sweet voice calling her and she looked up to see that he was still standing and looking at her with a quizzical look on his face.
“Shall we?” he asked. She was bewildered as to what was going on. She looked at her father and he smiled at her with his usual soft smile. “Go, talk to him” he nudged her towards him.
More that surprised, she was shocked at the turn of events. “He really wants to talk to me? ME?” she could not believe it but here she was, following him in their garden to find a suitable place to talk.
What followed was unbelievable to her. She could not believe her luck. They talked as if they knew each other always. They seem to share common tastes in music, books and even food. It seemed like a fairytale to her, too good to be true!
“I think I am fine with this match. What do you think?” he asked her. She could not believe her ears. When she did not reply, he went on.
“I can understand if you do not want to answer right away. You do need to sort out by yourself if you would want to spend your entire life with a stranger. A stranger who has a three year old paraplegic daughter!”
In the last two minutes, this was the second time that she could not believe her ears. What did he just say? A three year old paraplegic daughter?
He was saying something and stopped in mid sentence when he saw her shocked face.
“You knew about my daughter, didn’t you? I had told your parents at the off-set.”
She was no longer with him.
She wanted to look into her father’s eyes just once before saying yes.
It was as if a volcano had erupted and she was burnt alive. The scars were not visible but they were there and quite deep. She was so shaken that not a single tear was shed.
There was not a single place in this house where her mother had not left her fragrance. Zeenat remembered her soft hugs and her vibrant smile, her constant chatter and love-filled anger. Zeenat knew and so did everyone else that Zeenat was her mother’s universe. As Zeenat grew up she became more of a friend to her mother than a daughter. Lately Zeenat had started teasing her mother about the glow on her face and twinkle in her eyes. She would blush like a young maiden and then they would both giggle.
How she missed her mother!
Suddenly Zeenat felt extremely lonely. Now that the relatives had also gone, the house seemed like a haunted place. It was only her dad and her. Zeenat was never felt close to her father and now that the bond that tied them together was gone, she felt even more alienated. Zeenat felt a pressing need to be with her mother. With trembling hands Zeenat opened the box in which she kept all the cards and little gifts her mother had ever given her. She spread them all on her bed and hugged them as if she was hugging her mother. Zeenat opened them one by one and revisited each event with the most precious person of her life.
While going through her treasure Zeenat came across a sealed envelop with no name on it. Not only was she surprised but a little scared too! She opened the envelop with trembling hands and thumping heart. She was not wrong; the letter was indeed from her mother!
“My Dearest Bunny,
I know you will find this letter sooner than later.
I want you to know that I love you very much. You are my daughter, my friend and my confidante. Since you came in my life, this life felt like worth living. You filled colours and laughter in my mundane existence. You gave me reason to look forward to evenings when you would be back from your classes. When your friends came over our place and complimented our friendship, how proud I felt! That time was very nice and I felt blessed.
Then one day he came in my life and life looked even better to me. He was everything your father was not. In his presence I felt alive, I felt myself. Do you remember, you said one day that I sang well? Baby, I always sung well but I had forgotten that I could. He made me realize what all I had lost in all those years being wife to a person who did not even acknowledge my existence. If it would not have been for you I would not even have lived this long. I know that what I did would never be acceptable in our society. But it felt just right.
Everything felt just right and suddenly one day you saw us together when you came home unexpectedly. I know you saw us together. You went away and did not even ask me anything. You tried your level best not to show it on your face, but I did see confusion and hurt there. I wanted to talk to you but did not have courage to look into your eyes, did not know what to say.
I think I will never be able to look into your eyes. I don’t know if it feels such a right thing when I am with him, why I feel so miserable when I think of facing you. I do not have answers but I am sure that I will never be able to face you. At the same time, now I can not imagine my life without him. I can not choose between the two of you. So, to end this misery I will have to go.
Please forgive me.
P.S. I love you very much.”
Zeenat kept staring at the paper in her hand. Slowly tears started trickling down her cheeks and turned into a storm. She felt as if her heart was being crushed. She crumpled the letter and hugged it tight as if her life depended on it.
“Ma, if only you knew how happy I was for you!”
After a long time Sri had time to sit and relax on a Sunday. She took the novel her friend had sent her as a gift and curled up on her cozy bed with her feet under the duvet. With the book in hand she looked outside the window and smiled to herself. She was feeling unusually cheery. The Sun was shining bright which added to her vivid mood. With a happy sigh she tried to concentrate on the book.
She had not even started reading when she heard a loud scream. It was Anu’s. Her heart missed a beat. Hundred and ten thoughts ran through her mind in those few moments.
Within seconds she ran towards her daughter’s room. She froze at the sight of her daughter sprawled on the floor, with bewildered eyes and shocked expressions. From where she was standing she could only see Anu but could not see what caused her daughter so much pain. Anu was on her back and was trying to slide back pushing with her legs. It was getting difficult for her to get up as her skirt kept coming in the way. She kept falling back. Sri ran to hug her daughter, to tell her that all is well. Sri wanted to assure her that her mother will never, ever, let anything harm her.
Sri took Anu in her arms and held her tight, whispering sweet nothings in her ears to alleviate her fear. Her daughter was shaking with fright and burst out in tears as soon as she was held. Before Sri could understand anything, another scream reverberated in the hall. Sri turned back just in time to stop the hockey stick hitting her head. The man lunged with the stick at her daughter again but this time Sri was ready. She held the stick with all her might but her slight frame was of no match to the heavily built man. She stumbled and fell back. She kicked him but her leg did not even, so much as, touch the man. Sri felt lost. She knew she will not be able to hold for long. She called out to Anu. Sri wanted her to call police or at least someone else for help but she saw that her daughter was in a state of shock and was staring blankly at the assailant. Sri looked at the assailant herself and she was baffled at the sight. Everything till now had happened at such lightening speed that she had not realized who the attacker was! Before she could think or react, her assailant came after her again. She had to save her daughter at any cost. For that she needed Anu’s help. She screamed at Anu, to get her out of the stupor. Anu looked at her mom but did not react at all. She was too shocked at the turn of events. Sri slid back; she wanted to get to the open area from where she can call for help. Her mind was working fast. Dodging his blows she ran towards the balcony but the stick hit her badly and she fell down. At the sight of blood from her mother, Anu started crying uncontrollably. She rushed to her mother but Sri knew if she came near her she too would be harmed. Sri assured her that she was fine but Anu had to help her. Anu nodded with tears trickling down her chubby cheeks. Sri asked her to get someone to help. For some unfathomable reason, the assailant was not bothered about the girl getting away. Sri was his sole focus. There was menace in his eyes and terror in Sri’s. Sri managed to get to the railing of the balcony but there was only one way to get away from him, downwards from the 10th floor! He threw the stick on the floor and came with his hands for Sri’s throat. It was easy for him now to throw Sri off; even she realized it and closed her eyes in silent prayer.
But the pressure on her windpipe eased suddenly. She opened her eyes; coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air Sri dropped on the floor. Some people were dragging the man away. Anu came running into her arms and hugged her mother tightly. Sri saw the man’s, her husband’s, bedevilled eyes focused in oblivion.
Roshan collapsed on the bed on hearing what she just heard. She didn’t know what went wrong. How could he do this! She kept staring in the oblivion. Her head throbbed badly.
“Oh my God! What happened Roshan? Are you alright?” her mother almost screamed when she saw her daughter sitting at the edge of the bed lost and looking like she had seen a ghost.
It was then Roshan realized that her face was wet with her tears… tears of anger, tears of shame, tears of helplessness! “Hun?” she said as if coming out of a trance. “Nothing mom, nothing.” She did not want to say anything about the incident, not to anybody, especially her mother. She stormed out of the room.
Roshan wanted to go somewhere where she can find some peace. But peace will come to those who are peaceful at heart and her heart was in shreds at the moment.
She took her bike and zoomed on the highways where traffic was less and she could speed away. As if, the blowing winds would take away the hurt and shame along with them. If only it was that easy to unburden one self! She did not want to go home but it was almost twelve and she realized her mom would be worried. She had forgotten to carry her mobile in haste. She dreaded going home, to see him, to look into those eyes which she used to adore, where she found nothing but love for her.
She knew her parents were not like other couples. She knew her mom had withdrawn from sansaar very early in her married life, a couple of year after Roshan’s birth. She was like a hermit staying with them just for the sake of it. Roshan was now old enough to understand the sexual need of a person. Had she come to know that her father had a relationship, in real sense, with another woman, she would have understood completely. He deserved to be happy. The happiness he did not get from his wedded wife; happiness to be able to come home to a smiling face, happiness to share silly jokes, happiness to hug someone after a long fight, happiness just to feel that he is needed! She understood it all too well! But she could not understand her father’s sexual exploitation of a fifteen year old maid; a girl who was at least seven years younger to his own daughter! She could not understand how the girl too was so casual about it so as to talk about this affaire with her friend, as if saying, “This is what our lives are all about!” Why she did not tell any of this to her parents or was she happy about it? Was it money?
Her mind swarmed with too many questions; questions that would not be answered!
Not only had she lost her mentor but her belief in basic decency, graciousness of being human! She hoped that someday she would be able to pick up the broken glasses of faith and mend them. Even then, the cracks would still be visible and the pieces would still bear the blood from her shredded heart.
“Thud…” He was thrown on the bed so hard, he wailed, more from the shock than pain, which irritated his mother even more. And he got a tight slap again. Suddenly the bell rang and he was spared from getting strangulated. He was all of three months then.
Though he never had the memories of those incidents of younger years, he distinctly remembered when he wanted to sleep with his parents once. He was of four years. His father would have loved to have him with them but the look on his mother’s face told him otherwise. But a child that he was he tried to pursue her to allow him.
“You better sleep down there; else you know what I can do when your father isn’t there!”
Oh, he knew it very well. He urinated that night again in his bed. Of course one more punishment was waiting for him for spoiling the bed. He was stripped of his clothes and was made to stand in the balcony facing the road!
He never understood why his mother behaved the way she did. His father was always nice to him. And he had noticed that mother was a different woman around him. But he was scared to tell any of these atrocities to his father since he was threatened with more dire consequences if he ever dared to do so.
But for him the scenario became a bit more pleasant when his sister came to his world. He was overjoyed to have a little bundle of love. But he was horrified when the little baby was also thrashed the way he was! It was a pure miracle that the brother-sister duo survived.
Their love for each other was like a silver lining of the black cloud.
“Chinky, I have lost my sweater today at school. I went and tried to find it but I don’t know where I lost it!” He was almost in tears and was scared to go home to face his mother.
“Kuchh nahi hoga bhaiya, don’t worry!” Chinky tried to pacify her brother, who was shaking like a dry leaf.
Miraculously their mother didn’t say a word about the sweater and they both breathed sigh of relief. But it was indeed a short lived one. The next day when he was tying a knot to his pajama, his mother came and tied it so tight that it was difficult for him to even breathe. He was left that way the whole day and when he couldn’t hold back he peed in his pajama! Thrice, since he was not allowed to change his pajama!
He was 11 years then.
He always wished that some relative should come and stay with them since that was the only time his mother didn’t met out the “punishments” to the duo. He never understood what irked his mother. Everybody in his family and extended family praised him for his behaviour and he was in good in studies too. He always tried to please his mother. Somehow he never succeeded.
But recently his anger was brewing, especially when he saw his sister also getting the brunt without any fault of her. Yet, he was courteous in his behaviour lest something irked his mother!
But today when he came from school he saw his sister standing in balcony, facing the road… without clothes!!! Something snapped inside him.
He rushed up and covered his sister! His mother came menacingly. She had forgotten that her son was now no longer a young boy whom she can intimidate physically. But she did not stop and tried to remove the blanket from her daughter. He couldn’t hold himself any longer.
“Thud…..” with all the anger brewing for all these years he hit his mother.
“Try touching her once more and you can be sure that you will not live to see a new day in your life.” The thunder in his voice conveyed the message loud and clear.
He hugged his sister and took her away with tears running down his face. Tears of what, he couldn’t understand!
Unedited version of an employee’s grievance letter to admin. department. Names have been removed / changed to protect privacy.
I am very disappointed due to bus driver’s behaviour of Sattadhar Route (Bus No. 2190).One of my collegue Mr. ABC from Engineering Dept. came 10 minutes before the bus arrival at Prabhat Chowk pick up point. But, due to his personal work at ATM which in first floor of that Complex where we stand daily. As & when he went to ATM, the bus came. Meanwhile I called him to come down. I requested to bus driver to wait for a few seconds till his arrival. But, the driver roughly replied me.
At the same time some persons from our bus also instructed driver not to wait for a few seconds. This has happened the first time from my pick up point. Further, from Sattadhar point & Gulab Tower point,Mr. Baldev & Mr. Dilip Patel also requested to bus driver.But, he didn’t stop.
Sir, on 10/9/2008 due to breakdown of Maninagar Route bus, I was one of the persons to push the bus to start for the benefit of our employees. From next time if anything happens to Bus from MNO Travels, please don’t expect any help from me.
Moreover, please instruct driver to behave softly.
Ritu opened the drawer fifth time since morning and sighed again. A long, big sigh!! She remembered her neighbour’s comments and she backed off. Her eyes glistened. She knew she was over reacting but she couldn’t help but feel down.
She was the most beautiful girl of her batch when she was in college. And her beauty was even more endearing for she was totally oblivious to the fact that she stole a lot many hearts on the campus when she smiled and jerked her head back to keep her hair in place. Not surprisingly, she was the most sought after girl!
When she got “attached” to Kartik a lot of alcohol flowed in the boy’s hostel…
After 5 years of marriage to Kartik and a baby later now when she looked at in the mirror she couldn’t recognize herself. Well, almost!! She has put on at least 15 Kgs post delivery! She still looked charming and beautiful with that sweet smile and cherubic face. It was just that she had filled up a bit on her curves.
She had become a woman!
But every now and then somebody would comment on how she used to look in her college days and how she has changed now. Most of the time she would just smile but sometimes she felt bad, sometimes she felt enraged and sometimes she went into depression.
Kartik was always on her side. If he was around he would shoot his favourite dialogue,
“If you want a wife, your children’s mother, a best friend, a professional, a girl-friend, a cook; all wrapped into one and still expect her to be toothpick thin then probably you are asking for too much from a human being!”
But it was not always possible to make others understand how one feels when they talk without thinking.
Today was one such day. Ritu loved chocolates and she was gifted one by her best friend today. As she was about to open it, her nosy neighbour came and commented on how much weight she has put on and how it is not good for her to have chocolates and other high calorie food! She pushed the chocolate in the drawer but couldn’t push the thoughts which were rummaging through her mind!
“Was it her fault that she was genetically prone to put on weight?
Was it her fault that she was suffering from Hypothyroidism?
Was it her fault that even after taking regular treatment she was unable to shed weight?
Was it her fault that she hardly got time to exercise on a regular basis from her multiple duties of being a wife, a mother and a working professional?
Was it her fault that she could not diet as she needed those calories to keep her going?
Was it her fault that Indian females were made to be a bit voluptuous compared to their western and eastern counterparts?
Was it her fault that media was wrongly portraying toothpick thin models and showing that was the way Indian ladies are suppose to look?”
As she stood in front of her drawer, looking at her bar of chocolate longingly, warmth enveloped her from behind. Kartik had come home early with a gift for her – a beautiful skirt and a T-shirt from the “All size” store… He knew she would look beautiful, as always, in those floral clothes!
I carry forward this candle lit by Suda
War does not decide who is RIGHT, it decides who is LEFT!
In challenging times like these when we struggle to overcome our fears and show the spirit of resiliance to not get blackmailed by terrorism, I light a candle for the people who have laid down their lives and the numerous others who have been injured in recent bomb blasts across our country.
Today Parth was very upset. Somehow everything was going hay-ward since morning.
First his car got bumped into another, then the person who had promised to deliver the material yesterday had not shown up till now and now he learnt from a colleague that one of the ABMs had not shown up for the training.
“What the hell!”, he thought.
He called the ABM and asked why he had not shown up.
“But sir, I informed Mr. Parth that i would not be able to come for the training!” ABM reasoned.
“You are talking to ‘Mr. Parth’ right now and I have not received any intimation till now” shouted Parth in the phone.
How the hell can this person lie so blatantly! Parth lost his temper and gave a piece of his mind to the ABM.
“With all said and done, at least tell me why you are not able to join us? Do you realise how important this training is for you and how much company is spending on your training?”
The ABM was now almost in tears. He still maintained that he had informed the head office. ,
“Sir, my 6 year old son has been diagnosed with cancer last week and I will have to take him for the surgery on Saturday!” he added.
Parth was shocked. He mumbled something and disconnected the phone. He went and checked his mail and there was his mail starring at him from the screen. He felt so ashamed of himself. He mopped around for a while and but could not concentrate on anything!
Ultimately, he gathered the courage and called the ABM again to apologise.