Thursday, 31 July 2014

It's a beautiful life


There was a fly sitting on her eye. She knew that. She could feel that. It’s a beautiful life … She did not know how to make it go away, as it tickled her slightly swollen eyelid looking for something between those lashes and making tiny footprints with the kohl that had formed wild black streams near her nose. It was moving around, that tiny fly, confident as if knowing the hands that could smash it away would not do it because they were stuck above her head, feeling the wet straw between the numb fingers. Wet. The cow must have urinated again. How many times do cows urinate? Is this the third time since I got here? Fourth? Is that the Sun outside? It’s a beautiful life … Something is crawling up my thigh … or is it flowing down? 

Her eyes remained motionless as she lay there, as if in deep sleep, while her mind played images ridden with white noise like an antenna on a stormy night which could not handle the gusts. Cannot handle any more, how tired I feel … that … that man … was just a child … murderer … no matter how hard she tried her hands still disobeyed and refused to crawl to that patch between her legs and under her. What was warm a few hours ago was fast becoming dry. And brittle. 

Then, she urinated. 

It burned like acid through her very being. The fly flew away. A drop of hot tear had disturbed its peace. The cow looked on, still confused after a whole night.

There were whispers around the house which her pregnant mind had not comprehended. To her, all that mattered was the reason to celebrate. For the first time in her year old marriage, if someone was to remove her ghunghat and look at her face, they would have beheld happiness personified like never before. Hope too, but happiness more. Where once a will power of steel was required to make unheard taunts about her family, her sisters, her father, her mother, her clothes, her thin frame, her 12th pass certificate, her oily food, her wasteful habit of buying bangles, not minding her pallu, her … now nothing was required. Once, it was as if she was made to stand barefoot on a hot tava, and still expected to not jump. But now, with head bent and eyes looking at her chipped toes in respect of everyone but herself, she just shut her ears when venom was poured into them. She now had something to look forward to. To keep her expectant mind cocooned. Beyond this noise. 

Whenever people disturbed her thoughts about the future that was fast approaching, she would let her finger brush against the gold-plated earrings which then chimed a giggly-girly tune. A tune that would make a few waves around her ears dancing like a dervish before entering her being making her whole body ring with happiness. A reminder to self, or maybe a secret signal shared with what was to come? Nervous with excitement she would clutch her stomach, look for a vacant spot behind the mud house and just close her eyes, feigning giddiness. To feel one with herself, all parts of herself. It’s a beautiful life. It’s just so beautiful… and her 19 year old mind would cook up a tune singing this line on a loop. As if it was a tiny girl sitting on a swing with the ribbons on her two plaits flying carefree in the wind.

That night she had woken up when she felt something was pressing down on her stomach. Or was it pressing from within? It was him, her husband, on top of her. We shouldn’t … it’s not right … please … it’s risky, it doesn’t feel right … please and in that moment she had realized her hands were tied. And he was tying up her legs too, right at the thighs. Bewildered beyond belief she had tried to scream but her calls for help only fell on invisible ears acting abettors. A black tape sealed her lips together to make her swallow her own disbelief. It made mute the gold-plated earrings too. As if her secret signal had been found. The prick of the injection was the last feeling she remembered. Not even the sounds and smells of the cow shed woke her up for that one hour. She remained on the floor. Alone. Like a bundle of clothes one tosses out for they have no more use for it. 

It is then that she woke up, and died a million times over. 

The labour had been induced. The girl was coming. But, it was not meant to. Not today, nor ever. It was pushing against her insides desperate to be freed and here she was, helpless to let it come to spread her legs to even scream. It must be a mistake … he should know … help … but all that the cow heard was muffled sounds it understood not. 

Her back burned and radiated shocks of pain towards her front, tightening those claws by the minute as if asking for deliverance for itself from committing this evil deed. Her wrists bled and the rope dug deeper into her thighs as her legs ached to open wide. To let out, let go, let be, be free. Nothing worked, as she writhed like a worm that has been stepped upon. She lay praying she would explode. Hoping her belly would burst open and make the baby come out. Alive. Alive, please… please. By now she had swallowed her vomit three times. The pain didn’t let her faint, waiting to reach that threshold which even Gods must shudder to think about. Where are you, dear God? Help me, please, help, hel … and then she had passed out, imagining the last sound that she heard to be a baby's cry.

My belly has burst … my … my baby is free. Free. It’s a beautiful life. How many times do cows urinate? … Is that the Sun outside? It’s a beautiful life … Something is crawling up my thigh … or is it flowing down? 

It’s a beautiful life … my … my baby is free.

The fly was back, this time on the gold-plated earring lying murdered below the tape.




52 comments:

  1. An extremely riveting narration! This story being repeated in countless homes, everyday! I shall blame the women too. For abetting, inciting condoning such acts instead of standing for our own. We are our greatest enemies.

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    1. I would have to agree with you, Ilakshee.
      Sorry state of affairs.
      Thanks for reading this!

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  2. Extremely powerful narration in this particular story :) Very vivid montage of images presented to the reader here.

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  3. A dazzling disturbing story in your distinctive voice.

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    1. I like the alliteration. Thank you, Alka. :)

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  4. This is going to haunt me for a long long time.

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    1. :) when I first heard of this method, I couldn't sleep.
      Thanks for reading, Red!

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  5. A disturbing yet powerful narration...I still cannot get that image out of my mind.... nice one Sakshi!

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  6. This made me shudder, the thoughts that this state of affairs paints in my mind horrify me but you have written nothing but a true story in many cases :(

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    1. It was horrific to be told this story as a true one.
      Thanks for reading. :)

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  7. Love your style and the amount of detail you put in. Awesome.

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    1. Thank you. Your words are very encouraging!

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  8. What a story it is! I love the way you have presented the whole episode but at the same time it is heart touching...

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  9. I could feel my heart pounding, while reading this. Amazing piece.

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    1. Thanks my darling, Tanya. SO good to know we are connected. Let's meet soon!

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  10. Beautiful, touching and poignant!

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    1. Good to see you here, gorgeous Ananya. :)
      And thanks.

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  12. Beyond words! You are one hell of a storyteller. I could never imagine what was coming, remarkable presentation. I could feel so many emotions with every line, every word.

    Superb :)

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    1. Thank you thank you.
      That's a truck-load of compliments.

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  13. What a poignant piece of narration! I just broke into tears after reading this. This cruelty must be stopped, but god knows how many lives will be sacrificed for the tomorrow to come. Loved reading the story :)

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    1. There seems no end to the ways in which murder is happening. And every time I hear a story, it is only more gruesome than the previous one. This one, of tying up the woman's thighs to kill the baby and maybe the woman too, is the most recent one I heard.
      I want that tomorrow to come soon, Satyantini. :)
      Thank you for being here.

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  14. A very disturbing tale and an equally vivid narration. Sadly, it is the reality of many homes out there.

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    1. Sad but true, yes.
      Thanks for reading! :)

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  15. We women have to stand up and its time we stopped being each others enemy. The enemy is out there and in many many forms. I am surely not sleeping in peace today this is going to haunt me for a long long time.

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    1. We really are each other's enemy, are we not, Athena? Baffling! If we suffer, we perpetrate. :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. You have mastered the art of Showing the readers and Not merely Telling. Gut wrenching, more so because of the brilliant manner in which you have presented it.

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    1. Uff! Ruchira, your comment dropped in my inbox like food from Heaven at just the right time. I was sitting alone full of self-doubt, thinking if I've done an okay job with my short story in 'MC'. Because there is no story there, but just a lot of Showing. Thank you. Because this comes form you, one who only talks honest and likes good writing, I will relax myself with some ginger tea now. :)
      Good to see you here! :)

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  17. You have a wonderful talent Sakshi, of telling tales that feel eerily real, they crawl under the skin... this story of yours would haunt me for a long time...

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    1. :) Thank you, Rajrupa. Every time I sit down to write fiction I end up writing something like this. 'Real' as you call it. But I don't mind. You just called it 'talent' and I love it. :)
      It's an upsetting story. I heard it from someone.

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  18. There's absolutely nothing I can write here that will express how I feel. Shock, disbelief, anger... Amazement that such a thing can happen, does happen and not so far from me. We are two sisters born to parents over four decades ago. Wonder what kind of pressures they had to deal with. Thanks Sakshi for this piece.

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    1. You and I will never imagine the pressures the previous generation of parents dealt with. And no matter where and how we live, we live surrounded by minds such as the ones in the story. Really really sad!
      Many thanks, Tulika, for reading this. :)

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  19. OH, I dont know what to say.. as the hard facts the truth of life is what comes out after reading the article.. it is happening so very often..

    sad

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    1. Yes, it is.
      Thanks for stopping by, B.

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  20. Gripping narration Sakshi and brilliant ! Those vivid images you painted wont leave my mind for a while now. Its ironic that we live in an age of technological advancement and scientific marvels against the backdrop of such barbarism in our midst.

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    1. If only technological advancement came with a logical next step of 'thought development'. In our heads, we are way behind time.
      Thanks for reading!

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  21. You do know what you just did , don't you ?
    You didn't write a story. You wove it.
    With patterns of delicate emotions so intricately entwined.
    Well, that's just the beauty of your words I'm speaking about.
    The subject matter, well, what do I say, except that I was there with that young girl, as she flitted between consciousness and the 'un' of it, unable to react, my senses muted by the insensitivity and injustice of it all.
    Mine were the hands that were tied down. Mine were those swollen eyes.

    *love n hugs , Sakshi *

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    1. Your comment gave me goosebumps. :)
      As a writer, I am glad you connected with the story so much, Sreeja. But it's heartbreaking to see how gory this reality actually is.
      Lots of love and hugs to you too!

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  22. Powerful narration, Sakshi. I mean, we men have it so easy yet we crib. And, we say women are the weaker sex but they are not. Can't imagine myself to hold a lil thing in my womb and would have died for sure..I don't have the courage and strength for sure.

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    1. :) Honest, Vishal.
      Thanks for reading!

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