Sakhi's Laghukatha

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It was the year 1972. Since Alekhya was neither good at studies nor good looking by general standards, her wealthy family thought best to get her settled in life. She was soon married to Sunil, a young, extremely handsome guy who held a stable job in government, albeit not very rich. Alekhya was all of 18 when she was married off. With the dream of love and fun-filled life in her eyes, she shifted from Hyderabad to Mumbai to be with her new family.

New life was far from what she had imagined. Sunil was a quiet guy; he was not really interested in her, nor was he interested in anybody or anything else. He would keep to himself. Their physical intimacy was few and far between. This frustrated Alekhya to the core. At her maternal home, she would throw tantrums and was used to getting things her way, but her tantrums would not work here, simply because no one really cared. She would look around her tiny matchbox chawl room of Mumbai and compare it with her sprawling home at Hyderabad. She cringed every time she had to stand in queue every morning at not-so-clean community toilets. She would curse her destiny and her family for subjecting her to this torture. At the same time, youthful Alekhya dotted on her husband and tried to find meaning to her new life. A year flew by and one evening, as they were having celebratory family meal Alekhya heard a thud. She saw her young husband sprawled on the floor in front of her, in violent seizures and frothing at mouth, getting soaked in his own urine and faeces. Alekhya was horrified beyond words. She, bewildered, looked at other family members to find them completely nonchalant. After a couple of minutes, the horror stopped, and her husband lied there, lifeless. Her mother-in-law asked Alekhya to pick him up and get him cleaned, as if nothing had happened. 19-year-old Alekhya, sat down with her unconscious husband and cried. She did not know what else to do, so she just cried. After a while, when Sunil groggily came out of his stupor, she supported him to take him to the bathroom. She had many questions, but Sunil avoided to even look at her. On the day of their first anniversary Alekhya was gifted by the news of her husband being a chronic epileptic! She wasn’t sure how was he able to hide this for so long.

Alekhya now became full time care giver to her epileptic husband. She would always be scared when he would go in to seizures. It happened so many times that people would come drop him home as he would have fallen on streets. Having emergency medical card in pocket would come in handy but this did not take away the fear of losing him to accidents. Medical advances in epilepsy in later years would reduce the number and intensity of attacks but not without central nervous system side-effects of long term seizures and medical treatment. Alekhya started brewing from within. She felt cheated, both by her father, whom she loved and revered dearly, and by her husband. Sexual frustration and loveless marriage intensified her dormant manipulative character.

Alekhya had always loved to be in the center of attraction all the time but it cannot be said when she started enjoying her victimhood. Whether due to guilt or out of pity, her father started lavishing money and gifts on her, sometimes even against the wishes of his own son. Alekhya started playing the devil sister-in-law that you would see in Bollywood movies. It was amazing to see how an innocent looking lady can be so devious in her actions and motives. Probably, even she did not understand why and what she was doing as there was no direct gain visible of her petty conduct. She gathered ire of her near and dear ones, including her children (yes, she did have children, whom she abhorred!!). Her children grew up to dislike and love her at the same time. After all she was their mother! She inflicted mental and physical torture on them till they were dependent on her. Sunil never came to their rescue, most of the time he was not aware and other times he just ignored. Maybe he was too dependent on Alekhya for his own survival that he chose to look the other way when his children suffered atrocities by their own mother.

There was another side of Alekhya that was surprisingly opposite to her general behaviour with her family and friends. She loved taking care of people who worked for her as house helps or anyone who was not directly related to her. She would go out of her way to take care of them and they her. Many layers of Alekhya!

Years passes with her mundane, home bound and dormant life. Alekhya tried to make it interesting by taking up hobbies like crocheting, making pickles, jams, mouth fresheners etc. and selling them. This kept her happy and also helped her with little pocket money. Money that she received from her father was spent lavishly on no-body-knew-what! However, nothing gave her more pleasure than scheming, gossiping and lamenting about her own life and that of others.

Over the years, Sunil gradually became more and more dependent on Alekhya as his health deteriorated significantly and she too got used to her dreary life. Children grew up and went their own ways, one of them vouching to never return to the parents-that-were-never-there and the other hanging on the periphery. Alekhya being Alekhya, tried to create wedge between her own children and their spouses too. She made sure that her son and daughter-in-law did not have one peaceful moment till they decided to leave them and start their lives separately. Grand children weren’t spared either.

After a pitiful death of Sunil at the age of 65, Alekhya thought she would finally live her life the way she wanted; watching movies in theaters, eating whatever she liked, dressing up however she wanted! Alas, Karma had something else in store for her. Within a year, she health corroded. Multiple hospitalizations and surgeries left her in vegetative state and at a complete mercy of the very people she had wronged.

On one of the rare occasions that Alekhya gained consciousness, she looked into her daughter-in-law’s eyes, held her hand and said, “I know I have done a lot of mistakes in my life, please forgive me.” Gopi, looked at her, without much emotions and held her mother-in-law’s hands, not giving away the pain and hurt and loathing that she felt at the particular moment. She also felt pity at the elderly, wrinkled mass of skin and bones but not forgiveness.

Life had come full-circle!

****

Disclaimer – Based on true life events. Certain details of Alekhya’s life has been modified taking literary liberty.

To Read About Gopi’s Angst, Click Here

fiction_stamp2Khyaati woke up with a start. She tried to get up but slumped down due to excruciating pain in her left leg and she was hurting all over too. She was disoriented and didn’t remember what happened and where was she. She tried to focus around her but couldn’t recognize her surroundings but could make out that it was some sort of a hospital. She just lied there and tried to remember something, anything but she couldn’t come up with anything. As if a part of her was erased from her life! A grumpy, middle aged woman came to her and gave some sort of a shot in the tube that was running in her right hand. She remembered that she was with Kenshuk on her honeymoon. But how did she come here? What happened to her and why was Kenshuk not with her? So many questions clouded her mind. She wanted to ask the nurse about herself; what had happened to her, how did they get her here? But she couldn’t form the words. She lay there and closed her eyes. She dozed off again.

*****

She heard a lot of hushed voices and she tried to open her eyes. There she saw Kenshuk and tried to smile. There were worried lines on his face as he stood there listening to somebody who seemed to be a doctor in his white apparel. She tried to call him but she couldn’t talk. Her eyelids felt very heavy as if somebody had put a lot weight on them. She dozed off again.

*****

She opened her eyes and saw Kenshuk sitting besides her reading something. Her mom and dad and in-laws were all there. She tried to look around but her neck hurt a lot. The room was different. Kenshuk saw her and was on his feet at once. He ran to call the doctor and within a moment the room was abuzz with a lot of activity.

*****

She wanted to know a lot of things. But right now she was just pampered. The aches and pains were getting duller and she seemed to be her old self again. But she felt something amiss since she didn’t know what had happened or how the accident occurred. About two months were erased from her life when she was in coma and nobody was willing to fill in for her. Today she was to be discharged and was very happy to go home after so long. Once at home she pestered Kenshuk about the accident and why only she was affected. What happened? How come there were a lot of stitches around her private parts and also on her hands and legs. There were a lot of questions and now she needed the answers. Kenshuk finally snapped.

“You were raped!!”

Damn, he didn’t want to sound so rude. He had rehearsed it umpteenth time in his mind. The words didn’t sink in at first. Kenshuk covered the distance between them in a stride and held his wife with all the love and affection he had for her. He had thought of this moment and thought he was prepared for it. But he was wrong. He just held her as she broke down in his arms. Suddenly she felt a lot of emotions; anger, shame, furious rage, guilty and much more… with in a few minutes. She didn’t know what to feel and how was she going to face herself. Once she stopped crying Kenshuk told her how she was found in a dump at the side road from where she was taken to the local hospital and the rest was history. Her family had tried their level best, pulled the necessary strings and the case of rape was not lodged with the local police and they were able to get her to her hometown. She felt numb, didn’t know what to think, how to respond! She stayed there in Kenshuk’s arms for God only knows how long. She felt blessed for her husband and the family. The next morning was the worst. Everything started closing down on her. She couldn’t look in her mother-in-law’s eyes. Had she tried she would have found more love than ever. She couldn’t understand her own behaviour. She was also angry at her violator and her family too for letting him (or them) scot-free to ruin some one else’ life. She was angry with God too. She was angry with Kenshuk for being so understanding. She hated her being. She knew it wasn’t her fault but still she felt the way she felt!!!

*****

She looked at her 7 year old and felt blessed. The horrid incidence is far behind her. She has come to terms with the life with lot of love from her family and a great psychiatric help. She still doesn’t trust people around her baby completely. But she tries, tries hard not to become paranoid. She has battled the demons in her own way and she has won most of them.


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Sakhi's Laghukatha by Sakhi (aka Dr. Dhara Shah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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