By silence…

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was first held in 2010. The challenge is that we have to post every day of April, except on the four Sundays. April 1st is a theme with letter A, 2nd with letter B and so on till April 30th which will be Z themed. This year, I’m planning to do short pieces of fiction (not a series), or a poem based on a word with that letter.

“Swear to me you’ll keep my secret, Shalu.”

She had. She hadn’t wanted to but Shalini had sworn to her big sister that she would guard her secret.

“Swear to me you’ll not follow me, Shalu.”

She had sworn to that too, but unknown to her sister, she had crossed her fingers behind her back. Secrets were special, something sacred to their sisterhood, but stop following Svi around? As if that was even possible for an eleven year old who adored her teenager sister.

She would try to do what Svi did. She wanted a diary for her thirteenth birthday, even though that was three years away. She wanted to dress in the colors Svi loved, because Svi did it, and Svi knew what was in fashion. She wanted to read the books that Svi read, and be the one to listen to her when she talked about boys. It was impossible for her not to follow Svi. Even if it meant breaking a promise.

It was through a keyhole she saw what she shouldn’t have seen. Having followed Tejasvi to the room, only to find it locked, she peeped through and saw it happen. A chill had passed through her just then.

Svi was in her chemise, siting between the legs of her father, who was fondling her. And she was crying. In a chair behind the two of them was her mother, holding her left eye and watching on in silence. When her father stopped, she saw Svi trying to get up and walk away, but her father moved towards her mother, and helpless, she saw Svi return to his lap.

Later in her room, Shalu was lying down looking at the slowly turning fan when her sister had walked in.

“Remember, Shalu. You have promised me,” she had told, not even looking at her.

That night, she could hear Svi muttering in her sleep.

“I must keep her safe. I must keep her safe,” she had been saying, as she tossed and turned on her bed.

After a sleepless night, Shalu had decided that keeping her sister’s secret meant more to her than her fear of what she had seen. But she couldn’t forget. She couldn’t even try to. She knew she was sinning, but a promise to her sister was everything for her.

It was about two months later that she returned home from school one day to see Svi sleeping.

“Svi, Svi, are you okay? You have fever?” she asked her big sister, but Tejasvi continued to sleep. Even when she shook Svi, there was no reaction. And there was a letter under her pillow. It started, “I couldn’t take it any more…”

“Mummyyyyy. Mummy, come quick, Svi’s not waking up. Svi, Svi… wake up na. Mummmyyyy, where are you?” her screams spilled through the house.

Her mother rushed inside. She saw the still body of her daughter Svi, and then the letter beneath her pillow. She read the letter, and her face turned pale.

“Shalu, you will keep silent. Do you understand?” she said, folding the letter and pushing it inside her blouse. “Making a noise won’t bring Tejasvi back, and I can’t let him leave me.”

She hadn’t understood. Her sister was lying there, dead. Her mother’s eyes were teary too, but they didn’t feel as sad. Why must she be silent again?

“Why, Svi? Why did you make me promise?”

When the police came later, she heard her mother say it was a suicide. Svi had consumed poison. Her father was also telling the same. She looked at them talk to the big inspector with the kind eyes.

“No, Inspector Khan, there was no note near her. I don’t know why Teju has taken this step.”

When she looked at her father, she saw him look at her the way she had seen him look at Svi two months back. But it was her mother’s lie that made her understand the truth at last.

“Sir, there… there was a letter,” she spoke out with as much voice as she could muster.

“Shalu, be quiet,” her mother’s voice cut across, but a stern glance from the inspector silenced her instead.

And the story poured out. When she was done, her parents were taken into custody by the inspector.

“Why, Shalu?” her mother asked as she was led away by a policewoman.

“She kept you safe, Mummy, but you didn’t her.”

“But…” her mother began, but Shalu cut her off.

“I will not be another Svi. I did it for her. If only I had done it sooner.”

To write 26 days in a month on a theme, a moral support is quite useful I feel. This year, I’m taking the challenge along with my friend Bhavya. We’re writing on the same themes each day, and giving each other the themes on alternate days. Day 22, the word chosen by Bhavya was SILENCE.

(22nd April 2014)

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Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

16 thoughts on “By silence…”

  1. In such a situation speaking up is the most important, but the most difficult job. Silence sometimes feels the better solution to most. I had goosebumps while reading this.

    • Yeah. Important, but tough, Jb. Maybe it wasn’t the better solution, but Svi felt telling her sister would only hurt her sister more? She didn’t tell it, but it was Shalu who found out by herself na.

  2. I’m trying to find the words to say but I can’t. You’ve evoked every possible emotion in me. I am fiercely protective of my sister, even though I’m the younger one. So to imagine not just a sister but anyone, any person for that matter, going through that…
    It’s like I mentioned earlier, your writings strike straight at the heart.

    • I’m protective of my sis too, NJ. I know what I write is fiction, but to imagine it while writing, I found it unimaginable actually.

  3. What could probably be the reason behind the mother’s silence. The sentence from the little girl is enough to wrench anyone’s heart – “She kept you safe, Mummy, but you didn’t her.”

    Beautiful and painful.

    • Maybe she didn’t want the husband, abusive as he was, to leave her? I’ve heard of it, read about it in the paper a fair few times. Sad, but even I wish it was only fiction. Thanks, Ishi.

  4. This is so so sad, Leo. I’m sorry for Tejasvi and really proud of Shalu. But in such cases, it is important for the girl in Svi’s place to speak out. Shalu’s observation that Svi had kept her mom safe, is the highlighting point, That’s where the whole story gets driven into the little one’s heart. And children, though innocent, always seem to know honesty.
    I’m reminded of the book ‘Malice’, where there is a similar scenario, though in an altogether different setting.

    • Children, even at a young age, are honest and protective of each other and their parents. But some to an extent that is not seen or needed. Like Svi. She could have spoken out earlier against her father, gone to the cops or such. But she was afraid what would happen to her mother and maybe even Shalu. So she kept silent. and Shalu felt the need to be protective of her sister’s secret. It might be fiction on this blog, but not always in real world na, Sree. Sad that.

  5. oh that was horrible!! 🙁
    Poor kids.. oh the horror of sexual abuse!! Esp by a parent! Sigh!!

    you have expressed the emotions heart wrenchingly well!

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