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Friday, December 28, 2007


Komal had not stopped crying in the past 24 hours, except during the two measly hours that she had managed to fall asleep out of exhaustion. Her stomach hurt with pangs of hunger and she sensed that her face might somewhat look distorted with the muscle strains. And yet she could not help it.

Komal had left Vivek's home yesterday. Vivek, her beloved husband who she had married against her parents wishes. Vivek, her boyfriend in college, who her friends had warned her about. Vivek, his parents' pampered child, who still clung on to his mother's saree, figuratively. Vivek, the childless man.

Komal married at 24, and turned 28 two months ago. Her first year of marriage was uneventful. Her second began with pressure from her in-laws to have a baby. Her third, Vivek and she tried desperately to conceive. They bought fancy machines to track her ovulation, she took herbs to improve her fertility, her in-laws visiting temples, and Vivek suggested certain positions for the bedroom because he wanted only a boy. Her fourth year turned into a roller coaster with her in-laws ill-treating her, calling her names, labeling her as "infertile", Vivek shunning her, and Komal's self-esteem plummeting. The herbs did no good and the Gods apparently were not listening.

Vivek and Komal had screaming matches everyday. Yesterday they had the last one.

Komal: "Why can't we just tell them??"

Vivek: "I have told you a million times that we cannot!"

Komal: "What is the point of hiding the truth. One day they will have to know."

Vivek: "NO Komal!! And if you wish to, you can leave the house right now!"

Komal: "All this is your fault!"

Vivek: "If only you would have been careful, this situation would never have occurred."

Komal: "And so you have no part to play in this?? Are you not responsible?"

Vivek: "No Komal, You are the only one responsible for this. Not me!!"

That day, Komal left Vivek' house. She could not believe that he was in denial. She was dumbstruck with his inability to stand by her and face his parents with the truth.

The truth was that Komal had been pregnant 6 years ago with Vivek's child. Naive at 22, and poor as students, frightened of the consequences, Vivek and Komal went to a quack to have their child aborted.

She killed her child 6 years ago. And Vivek killed her marriage today. Komal had nothing to say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The text message

As she gazed out of the window looking the red skies that cautioned a brewing storm, she could not help but wonder if that was a sign of doomsday. On an ordinary day, she would have rushed out to feel the wetness of her nylon sari drape her silhoutte under the crying skies. But today, even her lack-lustre eyes refused to shed a drop.

He had walked out in a huff last night, anxious to reach the airport on time to catch his flight to Washington DC. They had had their fifth argument in two days over issues around physical intimacy, and she had once again made a cut on her arm to forget about her emotional pain and focus on her physical pain. She had been wanting to start a family for over four months now and he had been resisting it. Their sex life was dismal, almost nil, and he could not fathom how they would ever get it alive again.

"We do not even know if we still love each other, Sarika!!", he had exclaimed for the umpteenth time in the past few months. This sentence never failed to pierce her heart like a dagger. And yet she lived in hope, a silent plea to God that a child would bring them closer.

Normally, he called after he reached his destination. But today, she had not received a phone call nor a text message from him. She was not worrying, only very sad. She knew he was safe; that he only had not cared to call.

She woke up from her nap with the sound of a text message coming in. It was from her husband. It said, "Hi sweetheart! Missing you. Wish you were here with me. Can't wait to get back into your arms tonight!" She was overjoyed. She read and reread the message. She clung onto the phone like a child holds on to his new gaudy toy. For the first time in several days, she hummed a song, turned on the radio, and danced to the loud melody. She did not hear the sound of a text message coming in again. She went about choosing the sari that she would wear tonight. She picked a bright yellow one with a red border and gold sequins on it.

She kissed her cellphone once again and went about dancing, singing, laughing, grooming, cooking, and living the next few hours in anticipation.

A few dark and silent hours later, she lay lifeless on the couch, clutching her cellphone to her chest. Her screen displayed the second text message from her husband, "Reached destination safely. Will reach home on Thursday." Today was only Monday. She was not her husband's sweetheart. She was now her husband's late wife.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The new widow

She received a phone call from her father-in-law.

"Beti, your husband is no more."

Amidst his and her tears, she dropped the phone onto the floor. As her father-in-law's voice faded away, she could only see the haze of her bedroom through her glistening eyes. She imagined his 6 feet tall, muscular build laying on the hospital bed, lifeless and stone cold. She cried even more. Stretched out on her bed, her body shook uncontrollably as she buried her head into the pillow.

Last night, her husband had returned home at midnight, much earlier than usual. He was unusually quiet and his silence always scared her. It meant that something was amiss and she dreaded to think of the time when the silence would break. For two hours, she could only hear his heavy breathing and the ticking of the clock in the room. When she gathered her courage, she asked him if he wanted dinner. She only heard a grunt. She withdrew.

The next few hours, she watched her husband drink. With each drink that he guzzled, she felt her body muscles tensing. Her neck hurt. Her shoulders hurt. Her fists were clenched. Her breathing becoming slower. She counted the number of drinks he was having..counted and counted until she lost count. She awaited the news with fear. What had happened today?

She never found out. Her husband started vomiting. She saw that he struggled to breathe. He fell on the floor and continued vomiting even when on his back. She watched him. She turned her face away and watched him suffer. He stretched his hands out and she continued to watch him until he fell unconscious. And then she quietly walked into her bedroom and waited for the sun to rise.

The stench of his vomit kept her awake all night. In the morning, she called her father-in-law and told him the state of her husband. The ambulance was called. And now he was dead.

She cried harder. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled through her tears. Her mouth would no longer be swollen, she would receive no more scars on her face, her bruises would now heal, and she was free.

Free from the clutches of an abusive husband.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


She was a petite woman. So petite that she was often mistaken to be an 11-year-old..or maybe 12ish. It was a matter of shame for the otherwise strikingly attractive 21-year-old. As she stared at herself in the mirror each morning, stark naked from the fresh shower, she inadvertently covered her small breasts. A loud sigh escaped her mouth each morning while huge tears streamed out of her hazel eyes. Her 4 feet 10 inch frame, narrow shoulders, thin arms and legs, and her pencil like figure had not yet won the heart of any man.

As the clock struck 8, she embarked on her daily routine. She walked out the door to catch her bus to work. Her drooping frame drooped even more with the burden of her laptop bag. She was oblivious to her surroundings. The same birds chirped every morning, the same trees shed leaves, the same jasmine scent made her sick to her stomach, the same stray dog followed her, the same strangers that she hoped to see walking with her, were not there. These were events that she ceased to notice. The dry, lonely pathway belonged to her, or so it seemed. But not today.

As she bent down to straighten her anklet, a black figure pounced on her. Before she could react, she felt her body pressed to the ground with nothing but darkness around her. The loud thud of her own body was unmistakeable. It was truly happening. She had been attacked...and was captured. How could this be? Who would attack a child-like woman? Or was she being "kid"napped? Her mouth tried to scream but no sound came out. Within minutes, she found her legs getting heavier as if something had dropped on it, and she was being lowered into a barrel like figure. She could only sense that things around her were falling, and some even on her. She felt her empty stomach churning, as the barrel was rolled and dropped onto the floor. She kept rolling and swaying and rocking. She heard a loud crash that belonged to breaking glass, a helicopter flying in the near distance, dogs barking, and what was that...she could hear screaming, crying, and screeching. Where was she? Where was she?? She tried hard to open her eyes.

And when she did, she realized that she was in her bedroom, in her purple nightgown, on her queen bed, experiencing an earthquake...