~ 5 ~
“I need some money to pay off a debt.”
His tone, as casual as saying he was going to buy groceries, stunned me. He was senior to me at the MNC, earning almost twice as much as me, and yet, he was going to pawn my jewels. I refused to let him pass. He was angry, but to my own surprise, so was I. I wrenched the newspaper wrapped with my jewels from his hand after a struggle, and told him to get out of my room. I had to take a stand. Once he had left the house, I locked them up in the almirah and hid the key.
I was sleeping with my back to the room door when he returned. He pushed me onto my stomach, sat on my legs and started to hit me all over my body. His mouth spewed obscenities with each blow. I couldn’t move. He ignored my pleas to stop. By the time he was tired, I was sore. The pillow was wet with my tears, and he had fallen down on the floor near the bed, unconscious from the alcohol at last. The dismay turned into anger, the anger turned into strength and the strength turned into realization. I knew it was right to give up on someone who had not even given me a chance. Before he could wake up, I had packed a bag with some essentials, my jewelry, and some important documents I couldn’t leave behind. I walked out of the house and to a friend’s house. I knew she wouldn’t ask me to leave.
Smriti was jolted out of her thoughts yet again by the grandfather clock. The house was empty and silent. She walked to the kitchen and made a cup of coffee for herself. As she slowly sipped the hot coffee, she remembered the days after. The clock showed it was well past 1:30 in the morning. Yet she didn’t feel sleepy. She wanted to write more. Taking a plate to place the coffee on, she went back to her room and continued.
Ana had thought he’d come after me once sober, so she rushed me to the airport immediately. The next flight to Bangalore was to depart an hour after. She had done the talking, and persuaded a passenger to take a later flight instead. When I had returned home, Mom and Dad were shocked to see me at their doorstep again. They heard me out as I cried, told them what had transpired. Seeing the bruises, even they had known that the marriage was over.
They called for our family attorney and filed for divorce. We had expected a fight from the husband’s side, but to our surprise, he consented for a mutual separation.
“I don’t need you,” he told me. “You ran away, like a coward running away from a fight.”
I had been tempted to tell him how brave he was to sit on my back when he pounded me. But I resisted. I had wanted it over soon. I wouldn’t need to hear his words once he was far away. The next few months went with court visits. After what felt like ages, it was over. I was free of he who never loved me.
My parents had kept trying to find me another husband quickly, but I refused. If I wanted to get married again, I’d decide when it would happen.
“It is my life,” I had told my parents. “I don’t want to lose it again.”
One day, a man who was maybe seven years elder came to see me. His first wife had died giving birth to a stillborn daughter. A year had passed since then. I asked him why he wanted to marry me.
“I know the pain of losing someone I loved. I can understand pain. I know you went through a painful time too, even if it was different from mine. I could help you heal, and you could help me to as well.”
I believed him. It was the most honest reply I had gotten to that question until then. I noticed something red in his pocket, and asked him about it.
“It’s something I can’t let go of yet. My wife had knitted these for our daughter before…”
He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence, as he took a pair of red hand-knitted tiny booties out of his pocket.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 5th August 2016)