Verbal Violence

marriage3NO‘ isn’t just a word but a complete sentence in itself. Doesn’t need further clarification! ” – AB senior baritoned intensely on the telly.

Uff! How many times will you see this nonsense? Can I see some news now?” Husband took the remote from my hand – grabbed more like it – and began to get high on that raucous pseudo patriotic renditioning of events by that finger-wagging news-caster. I slid down the bed, turned and began to play with my phone.

Without any preamble, the husband switched off and grabbed me. He was panting already. “No, not today, I’m extremely tired.” I tried pushing him gently but he was on the top as always. “This is an everyday story.” I went flat, both in enthusiasm and position. My eyes were wet. He thought passion made them so but only I knew the truth. The deed done in two minutes, he was snoring almost immediately like a boring machine.

I finally slept in the wee hours after liking random posts, happy-couple pics. I woke up with a murderous rage, wanting to pound someone. Husband had been up already, tending to his flower bed in our tiny balcony.

Morning, Why do you get up so late? Now you will rush for work, leave a mess behind, get caught in the morning traffic and blame everyone else for your slothfulness. No wonder your boss doesn’t give you important tasks.

Luckily my brain was still fogged out to get the full blast of his words.

Don’t sulk now. I made coffee for you and told the cook to pack some sandwiches too. Don’t waste time on trying to reverse my instructions to her. Get ready fast. We are leaving in 40 minutes

I don’t remember when I started switching off at his sermons. I walked into the kitchen to pick up my coffee.

The cook smiled at me. “Morning Didi” I grunted in return.

The coffee tasted bitter. As is usual, health-conscious-he decided that one spoon of sugar is enough, knowing fully well that I liked three. As I added sugar, the cook said, “You are very lucky Didi! Saab looks after you so well!”.

Too well!” I muttered.

Where are the sandwiches?” I was mild enough, taking care not show how I felt about her take on my marriage. After all, the husband needed her fawning culinary skills to keep his six-pack thriving.

I sipped the coffee as I scanned the dailies. “You are still here! Go take a bath. We are leaving in 30 minutes. Wear that red dress of yours. It brings out your black orbs very well. I will pick you up from your office at 6:30pm. We are having drinks with the Das’s.” Husband declared.

What? I told you, we have to visit Raji’s studio! I promised her. Today is the last day of her showing.

We can always see her concoctions at her home. Das is my new boss and we can’t say no to him. Good for my career, good for us. Now, go rush. 25 minutes to the takeoff!

Why don’t you go ahead? I will take time, I need to shampoo. I will take an Uber.

Really! Leave the locking to you? Have you forgotten how you left the balcony door open last time and the monkey came in and wreaked havoc? Why spend on Uber when we both are going in the same direction? Why are you wasting time chitchatting? In twenty minutes, I will get the car out. You better be ready.

A hurried bath, and a clumsy effort at getting dressed, I was finally out at the stipulated time. Husband had banged on the bathroom door restlessly 5 times by then. Thank God for my humungous tote, which gladly accepted the dry shampoo, straightener, Kajal and the works. I could spruce up at leisure in the restroom later. I packed in the red dress too.

Why aren’t wearing the red dress I told you to? And please be more presentable than this! We are meeting my boss, not some hippy friend of yours! God knows what you do with all the designer stuff I buy you.” Husband was visibly angry as he locked the front door after multiple checking on the various doors and switches of the house.

I don’t know when his words stopped stinging. “ I will…” I mumbled incoherently.

He dropped me at my office. The entire ride was spent in silence as a punishment to me for my lethargy. I was grateful for the non-communication though.

At 6:30 sharp! In a better shape than this!” Those were his parting words as he sped away.

Have a good day, you too!” I waved at the disappearing car.

Mom called as I swiped my card. “Have you reached your office? Guess who was visiting us? Son-in-law’s Uncle. I was telling him, how lucky you are! How well the son-in-law looks after you…Pray, when will I get the good news?

Somehow the entire building looked blurred through my moist eyes! I must change my mascara and the Kajal pencil.

They keep making my eyes wet.

The Awakening

selective focus of cow photo

I sit next to Gauri, the new calf, half mumbling, as she swats the flies off her back with her tail. “They are marrying me off Gauri! Already!” I whisper. “To a man who is as old as Amma.” Gauri nods. She understands everything I tell her. She also doesn’t think I am stupid like the rest of my family.

Amma says, I should be happy. At least I got an alliance. That too without much dowry. They wanted just a calf, to take me! Will you come with me Gauri?” 

Gauri nods again, this time softly. I think she is searching for her mother worried about the impending separation.

*********************************************************

I and Gauri set foot into an alien home, both alone and scared. We become each other’s confidantes. My new husband, though a man, turns out to be an animal in disguise. While Gauri, an animal by birth, is as humane as possible. As I often sit crying next to her, tending to my sores, I see tears in her eyes too.

Why is he so horrible to me Gauri? Doesn’t he see how young and frail I am? Why did Amma marry me off to this monster without any cross-checking? She used to call me her doll. Was I her burden just to be offloaded on any? He doesn’t even let me talk to Amma. I miss her terribly.

Gauri only moos in solidarity.

**********************************************************

Years crawl by. I’m an Amma now. Though I had to abandon my new-born girls, for that flag-bearer of a son. I was still sedated when the husband took the girls away. I shudder when I wonder what was done to them. I never had the courage to ask the husband. I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. Living in ignorance is safer. In hindsight, maybe they had it easier – rather than living in hell.

My routine is spectacularly simple. Rise in the morning, make food, feed the animals and the husband, send the son Shyam to school, work in the farm, wait for the night to fall, wash, cook, eat, wait for the husband to finish his carnal business and roll off while I grit my teeth and stare at the stars twinkling through the holes in the thatched roof, wash myself and fall off to a dreamless sleep.

This routine is so rammed into my barely registering system, that comforting tears have dried up.

Gauri has also become a mother. But in her case, the female progeny are welcomed with festivities.

I still talk to Gauri and she still moos, occasionally nods. But she has become busier and frailer tending to her growing flock.

Days roll by. Uneventfully. Heavily.

*******************************************************

One evening, the husband comes in agitatedly.

We have to safeguard our cows. Nothing is safe around here. We men, are teaming up and will be doing rounds of the village once the night falls. Give me my roti quickly.

As he takes a morsel, he throws the plate and beats the hell out of me.

Bloody woman, been married for so long, yet cannot rustle up a decent meal. Gauri is the only plus point of marrying you.

Taking his lathi he storms off. He doesn’t see that the lathi is blood tinged and that my forehead is bleeding.

After a while, I get up, wash my wounds, apply some turmeric on them and check on Gauri as instructed.

Gauri licks my hand. She knows. She understands.

Husband comes back after hours with his friends. They are all laughing and talking about teaching some wretched infidel, who was caught carting cattle, a bloody lesson. An example has been set and surely there wouldn’t be a repeat. Even if there is, this time there will be mayhem awaiting the scoundrels.

I shudder involuntarily.

The rowdy gang celebrates with Toddy. The friends leave soon. Husband demands freshly cooked food and sex.

I feed him broth and lie down. He hungrily attacks the food and me. This time I feel utterly violated and debased. I have slept with a murderer. That is a new low, if possible, in my utterly nondescript life.

As he snores, I pick up Shyam, my little satchel and run for my life.

Because the broth had a generous quantity of rat poison.

Before that, I cuddle Gauri saying “I have to leave you Gauri for I am just a wife. He will look after you well because you are the cow. This tyranny has to end now…I have tried to stop this monster from hurting more people. In doing so, if I end up dying, so be it. Just breathing, bearing, living is not enough…I have to do more. If I hope to live for some time I have to make a run for it. Destiny willing, we will surely meet someday.

She doesn’t moo. But she agrees.

What happens tomorrow?

That will depend on my catching the early morning train before anyone spots me.

I am Janki and this is my story…So far!

 

‘House-Wife’ Unplugged

promisesThe humble ‘house-wife’ has to be a pro at so many concepts to make sure her house runs like a well-oiled machine. Don’t believe me?

For example –

Chemistry

She can instinctively rattle off what spices go into which item and unnecessary condiments can ruin a culinary delight.

She easily manages to have a rapport with all the teachers and tutors or with the moms of class WhatsApp group

She can smell the chemistry or the budding romance of her brats.


Physics –

She very adroitly balances so many distinct personalities at home.

See-saws between twenty activities simultaneously.

She is the fulcrum. On the flip side, try applying force on her to get work done! You will just have to accelerate your way out of the tempest that could get unleashed.


Maths –

She knows what sells where at what rate.

Commodities pricing is her playground. Try beating her at this purchasing game.

Just watch her divide the food amongst family. No one remains hungry or unhappy. She also remembers every single mark her brat gets, using it to leverage as and when the situation demands.


Arts (Dramatics/History/Linguistics) –

The stories she can spin at bedtime for the moppets can put a Shakespeare to shame 

Her recounting of all the past misdemeanors to win an argument can put the Gyaani Google, out of business.

Words? Words are all she has, to make the heart melt!


EQ – By god, she knows how to make the maids stick and tick. That itself a herculean task to accomplish.

She knows when to pamper the child and when to bullshit the hell out of her brat. Can see through husband’s tall tales uttered to get out of a sticky situation.

IQ – To manage the above said, her IQ has to be stratospheric ain’t it?

Still any doubts?

So, husbands, you have some very big shoes to fill in.

Time to ramp up your act.

Lady, time to flaunt that killer smile and walk ten feet tall!

/author’s note – it is just a funny write-up, no agenda involved whatsoever – Amen */

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Kahani Ek – Teen Endings

 

Kahani #1

“Neha, I’ve chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone deeply”

“Girl, Mine works in a Fortune500 company”

“Daddy, mine says I’m his good fortune, has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my Raj will take you for a cruise on the Thames, for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my Rahul will take me to Tirthan and serenade”

“Neha, think about your FB profile after marriage!”

Neha thought deeply.

After fifteen days NehaRaj updated her FB, Instagram with pictures of her honeymoon in Europe with hashtags like #soulmate #truelove

Love is also being practical!

*************************************************************************************

Kahani #2

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Nainital and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into a Grad-School with hashtags like #LoveCanWaitStudiesCan’t  #LifeGoals

Love is also about loving self! Deeply!!

*************************************************************************************

Kahani #3

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Shimla and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha Rahul updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into an Airbnb with hashtags like #LoveMakesTheWorldBetter #LifeGoals

Because Rahul completes Neha! Neha treasures Rahul

Because True Love is a difficult treasure to find and hold onto!

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Dilemma

On a stuffy day, the husband went off on his weekly trip to the districts to oversee and number crunch for his happening business.
The wifey was bored to death because the house was running like a well-oiled machine, thanks to the lovely Bangla machinery who had their own separate entrance to the pristine premises ( by the euphemistically worded ‘service entrance’ )
The bacchus had their day-long school and then in the evening the driver would cart the brats to their various classes (football/swimming/dancing etc)
So the wifey decided a day with her intimate girl-gang was her savior from boredom.
The snazzily named WhatsApp group buzzed like mad and the girls set up a date for the afternoon.
The wifey pitched for the talk of the Gaon, the newly opened coffee shop which served ridiculously priced, fancily named potions which were akin to dishwater. This coffee shop was tucked in a happening book-store. Maybe some titles which promised much gravitas could be procured too. These pathos pages looked good on the coffee table next to the leather sofa. Plus these titles were sure-shot conversation starters where the assembled guests tched-tched in empathy and then moved onto discussing their latest holiday in Tuscany.
The wifey fired up her laptop and Googled ( Funny how a proper noun has become a properly acceptable verb) about the said coffee-shop, clicked on images to check out the interiors. The girls would be Instagramming later about the date. The pics had to be ‘Ohh-La-La’.
And the wifey sat stunned. ‘She was shocked’ would be an understatement. Someone had hit her in the solar-plexus and continue to pummel her in the gut.
The wifey enlarged the image for greater clarity. It was unmistakable. The man in the picture with his hands cupping his cheeks, and a salivating puppy dog expression was her husband alright, listening with rapt attention to a woman in black. She had her back to the camera, so only her long shiny tresses were visible.
More than the woman in the picture, the glint and the looney smile on her husband’s face, burnt the core of the wifey.
When was the last time he had listened to her thus, putting all his paraphernalia down and gazing into her black orbs?
Uff? This was unbearable. True, it was an innocuous snap. God knows who all had seen this and laughed behind her back. What gory stories did this picture hide?
But did she not go out with her male friends? Of course, the husband knew all about it! Did that settle the issue then?
The Whatsapp group buzzed questioningly. She ignored her phone as she tried to make sense of her predicament.
Should she question the husband or not?
And the husband’s call was coming in to announce that he had landed safely.

Should she pick the phone and lash out straight away or wait for him to come back to his lair? The phone went quiet but a loving ping with red hearts arrived. It was the husband confirming that he had landed and was hoping to wind up the work soon as he was missing her already. This was definitely new. Missing her and sending red hearts – What was happening. What obvious signs had she missed?

The wifey then canceled the date using the ‘That time of the month‘ clause, got ready quickly taking care to dress conservatively. She didn’t want any undue attention on her you see. She then set out to the coffee shop in question.

The coffee shop at that hour was barely occupied. Suited her just fine. She disappeared into a wing selling Non-fiction, which gave her a 180-degree view of the coffee shop. The morning shift was changing and the new cashier was taking over.

Wait, there was something vaguely familiar about him. Trim, dressed in black and long tresses with a hint of golden highlights. As he turned back to adjust his counter, the wifey stared at the stark motif on his T-shirt. It was a giant slash across 377 written in bold golden letters on a  rainbow flag. The very same motif that was on the black shirt of the lady whom the husband had been listening to.

The wifey froze.

She couldn’t do this guessing game anymore. She marched straight to the counter and cooed softly, “Hi there, I was going through the images of your coffee shop and couldn’t help noticing your T-shirt. You see this picture on my mobile? This too has the same design. What does this mean?”

The man at the counter stared at her and gravely asked, “Are you from the press?”

“No”

“That sign means down with Article 377! LGBTQ lives matter!”

The wifey didn’t quite know how to proceed now. She decided to take the harakiri plunge anyways. “Oh, I didn’t know that. So you must have many supporters then. Like this one” She said tapping at the picture on her mobile.

“Why that’s me in that pic.” Nodded the man happily. The wifey now gulped.

“And this one?” She was barely audible when she pointed to her husband’s face.

“Ahh! The Man! He is an ardent supporter of our gay cause. He is a dear friend of mine. He often comes here to prep us up.” said the man with a flourish.

“Dear friend huh? Prepping up huh? Really?” A girl who was whipping a cup of cappuccino guffawed loudly, winked at the man and backslapped him while the man blushed to a deep red.

The wifey stared at them blankly. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t sit. She couldn’t comprehend.

So her husband had colorful secrets and she was the perfect dour cover. And now what?

The wifey came home eventually and waited for the husband’s version of the naked truth while she went through their joint accounts, immovable and movable assets.

Both had some cleaning up to do. One had to come clean. The second had to clear.

Because marriage is also about being practical!

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When Hemoglobin Bani Low

Around mid-March, this year, I started feeling breathless when I walked short distances or climbed a few stairs. I thought this must be due to the pollution in NCR. Afterall I did have weak lungs, thanks to the TB of glands that I suffered in 2013.

On April 5th, 2018, my novel #WhenPadmaBaniPaula debuted on Amazon.in

This was a dream come true for me. A newbie, with no formal training in writing, no literary connections whatsoever managed to churn out a solo novel in a short span of 4 years. I was delirious with joy and somehow my breathlessness and niggling pains didn’t seem to matter. Almost all the forums that I wrote for were very generous in their support for my debut novel.

As I got busy with the promotional activities, I developed a severe ache in my right hand and my back. I could barely lift my right arm. Most of the time I was on pain-killers. I grit my teeth and tried to march along and soon I barely managed to get any work done.

A dear friend Amar suggested physiotherapy. The doctor checked me up and suggested corrective measures. Shortly, I left for Hyderabad to meet with my parents.

First four days were spent catching up and eating. Soon I met with my mom’s doc for increasing aches. The moment he saw me, he ordered a slew of tests.

And then the biggie was dropped via the test results.

My Hemoglobin level was at 5.6 g/dl.

Hemoglobin levels (7 – 8 g/dL), according to new clinical guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is treated as critical often needing a transfusion. Here I was merrily scamping around with a 5.6. Luckily for me, I tested negative for Sugar, therefore, Diabetes, Thyroid. My Liver and kidneys hadn’t been affected so far, BP was fine though pulse remained pretty high.

The Doctor said I now needed a Hematologist working with a reputed hospital for the next steps. But this new doctor had no appointments till July end. We called in another standby doctor who suggested immediate drip with a series of injections spread over 10 days. The whole thing was spiraling out. Panic was setting in. To think I had come to Hyderabad to chill, meet pals and do a round of bookshops selling #WhenPadmaBaniPaula!

As we were mulling our options, we turned lucky. Almost immediately, we received a call from the hospital. A slot had opened up as a patient had canceled his appointment.

The Hematologist suggested an immediate drip with an injection to absorb the medicines that would be pumped in. The top layer of my digestive tract was gone and hence I could stomach only barely seasoned food.

I still remember the horrible night after the drip. My system took time to this new medication. I had a fever, acute gas attack and my back had given away. I spent the whole night standing and howling loudly.  But in a couple of days, I was on a path to recovery.

All because of my family. My wonderful parents and my loving husband with the support of my Darling_Dotty (and Sonny’s calls). I couldn’t have recovered this fast otherwise. I owe it to them entirely.

Before I left Hyd, I met the Doc again with the tests redone.  My Hemoglobin level now was at 7.9 g/dl. I have to undergo tests every month for the next 4 and I am on medication for at least 3 months.

Now you might wonder dear reader why do I bore you with my medical troubles.

The good doctor said I had been functioning at 30% of my capacity. That boggled the living daylights of me. I could do more if I turned fitter.

Most of us Indian women have a terrible Hemo reading. It has become an accepted norm sadly. Our needs come last. Our health is tended to once the family has been looked after. A Healthy Us is paramount for the smooth running of our family and their greater achievements. Because we are the focal point of our tiny kingdom.

Take your tests today before it becomes dangerous. Invest in yourself. You owe it to self!

And today I climbed 6 flights of stairs and I was barely breathless. Very Happy!!

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When death comes calling

love3I had been very restless since afternoon.

Apparently, one’s sixth sense warns you when something terrible is about to happen. I couldn’t quite put my finger to it, but I knew, all I had to do was to wait for the Tsunami to unleash its expected destruction.

I haven’t made my introduction yet have I?

I am…Why go into names? I am one of those thousands of brides whose husbands have gone back to the war front to guard the nation or to war-torn nations to earn some much-needed moolah, after impregnating us.

So that I’m not alone in his absence. I have someone to tend to, attend to.

How many tearful and sleepless nights had been spent clutching the cold pillow for comfort?

How many festivals went by praying for his safety, while every inch of my core pined for his smile, the twirl of his moustache whenever he saw me eyeing his broad back surreptitiously?

One fateful day, he became a mere statistic for the government. They declared him, ‘missing in action’.

And my reality came crashing down and an ambivalent paradise became my escape.

The rest of the world got on with its business while I oscillated between prayers and pathos!

Was he there or not? Am I a wife or a widow? With every turn of the calendar, our memories together started getting hazier. A vigil was all I had. I barely remembered the timber of his baritone. He even smelt and looked different in my dreams.

I was angry with myself. I wasn’t even loyal or devoted to the idea of my missing-for-long-husband.

What had I become?

The mounting debts, growing kids, whining elders and reducing income had robbed me of my softcore.

************************************************************

And the Tsunami came as silently as possible but with an unforeseen vengeance.

A clinical declaration by the powers-to-be said, my husband had been shot dead. And the body hadn’t been found yet.

But the mourning by all had started almost immediately.

The depressing wailing was soon seeping into the muddy crumbling walls whereas I just wanted to sleep.

A painless sleep. A dreamless sleep. A contented sleep.

I sat with the wailing mob, watching them beat their chests, watching the evening shadows make patterns on the closing-in-walls.

I thought of running away from this morbid courtyard but I still participated in the proceedings wordlessly.

My eyes were totally dry. Why wasn’t I crying?

My aching breaking body gave out a huge sigh of relief.

I realized I didn’t have to tend to his memories anymore.

I could exhale. I could breathe. I could restart from where I had paused my life. I could move on.

Oh, Lord! Why was I turning out to be this monster? Why wasn’t I grieving?

I then understood, because I loved him so, his death shouldn’t be my sentence.  He was in a better place and I was too.

I had punished myself enough by vacillating between hope and despair. Now I had a closure.

It was time to let go. It was also the time to cherish him and grieve too.

And I crumpled up and bawled away.

****************************************

39 lives!

And so many interconnected dependent lives

Pregnant Dreams and Hopes on pause

Now a mere mirage of 4 years of relentless, restless wait

Cruelly wiped off with a mere declaration.

Will there be closure? Even peace?

When you have a family to come back to You are one of the luckiest on Earth!

 

/* For those who lost their loved ones in the line of duty. A loss is tough to deal with but the uncertainty is even tougher*/