This story is about a nameless woman in who is a victim of marital rape. It describes how fate has other plans for her and how finally she finds her true love crossing all the barriers put by the Indian society.
Switching off the lights in the kitchen, she looked at the clock with a sigh of relief. Ten ‘o’clock .She had three hours before her husband came back home for lunch. Her ten year old daughter would return from her scout’s camp the following evening. Even though she was done with all the chores, mentally she was coming up with another to-do- list. A welcome back chocolate cake for her daughter, a saree that she needed to buy for her mother in law’s upcoming birthday, a business party she needed to host for her husband’s colleagues coming Wednesday. Amidst all this, she failed to remember her gynaecologist’s appointment that was scheduled for two ‘o’ clock that afternoon.
Flipping through the music channels on the TV, she finally stopped at her favourite one. Increasing the volume to maximum, she decided it was best if she utilized her three hours in baking her daughter a cake. It would be easier to just buy one, but she couldn’t afford it. With the ten thousand monthly allowance her husband gave her she found it very difficult to adjust such sudden unwelcomed but necessary expenditures. She needed to save up for the party and the gift too. May be if she asked Santosh for another three thousand, just for this month. Maybe he would understand if she told him about the gift that she needed to buy for ‘his’ mother and the party she needed to host for ‘his’ friends. Well, she could try.
By eleven thirty the chocolaty aroma of her half pound freshly baked cake filled the house. She had half an hour to clean up and get ready for her husband. Santosh never liked it when she was shabbily dressed in her dirty kitchen apron. She felt so tired that all that she wanted to do was just to lie down .The past few sleepless nights were doing her no good. “Well maybe I should take a bath. Maybe that would help me get rid of my profuse yawning.” she thought to herself. The geyser wasn’t working and she had no time to boil water for herself .With no other option left she had to take a bath in the cold, chilly water. But the cruel sting of the cold water did her no good. Applying kohl to her tired eyes, she heard the bell ringing .Pinning up her saree she ran to open the door before her husband got yet another reason to get irritated at her.
Opening the door, she found Santosh with a brooding, intense look on his face. Looking at him she knew it wouldn’t take long for his expression to turn into outright rage.
Taking his briefcase and jacket she asked him how his day was. Sitting on the couch, he looked at her angrily and said, “I might have just lost my promotion because of you.” Shocked and unable to comprehend the source of his accusation she asked him what she had done. “I had to take two days leave to attend your dad’s funeral two months back. That leave made me miss an important deadline and now my boss thinks that I don’t deserve a promotion due to my lack of commitment to my work. All my hard work for the last six months will go to waste just because your stupid father died.”
Silent tears came pouring down her face as she remembered that unfortunate night two months back when her father had met with an accident .He was on his way to give a surprise visit to her daughter on her birthday. He died at the stroke of midnight, the second her daughter turned 28, lying on a stretcher in the emergency ward of a government hospital. He died all alone with no one on his side to hold his hands or to listen to his last words except a bored nurse waiting to note down his time of death. She cried because she couldn’t save him even though she had got the news of her father’s accident four hours before his death. She cried because she let her father die, her only remaining family die, because of this heartless man sitting in front of her whom she calls her husband.
The words came out before she could stop them. “My father died because of you. He died because you did not let me leave your boss’s party. He died because for you entertaining him and his wife was far more important than giving blood to my dying father. I was the only one who could give him the 2 litres of O negative blood that was needed to save his life. Yes Santosh, you killed my father .You are a murderer. You killed my father.”
Her uncontrollable sobbing almost choked her .She took a deep breathe to calm herself down. And then did she hear the thundering voice of her husband abusing her. “Is this the way you talk to your husband, you bitch.” He pulled out his belt and dangerously walked towards her. One look at her husband, and she knew today was going to be a long painful day.
She lay on the bed, staring at the static fan on the ceiling .Her torn saree was lying on the floor along with the broken pieces of her red glass bangles. Naked on the bed with no blanket to rescue her from the harsh bitter wind coming from the open balcony door, she surprisingly did not feel cold. All the emotions and the sensations that she should be feeling at that moment was absent. The sensations of pain from her bleeding vagina , from the deep bites on her nipples , from the cuts on her wrist made by her broken glass bangles or the black bruises on her back from her husband’s belt, was all absent. The emotions of sadness and hurt which should have been pouring from her, was all absent.
Numbness. That was all there was. One can say it might be because she was shocked that her husband could subject her to such levels of sexual and emotional torture. But she knew better. She knew that the numbness wasn’t because of any shock but was because of the mundaneness of the entire situation. For her the sight of torn sarees and the static ceiling fan was nothing but a part of her mundane everyday routine. This was the reason of her sleepless nights and sometimes the absence of it in a day shocked her more than its incidence.
The phone was ringing .She choose to ignore it the first five times it rang. But on the sixth ring, she finally picked it up just so that she could get back to her tranquil numbness as soon as possible. “I am calling from the Gandhi main hospital. This is a reminder of your two a clock gynaecologist appointment .Your test results our back .Because our senior doctor, Dr.rajhesh is on leave your case has been transferred to another specialist.” Lacking the energy to even get up from her bed, she thought it would be better that she cancelled her appointment.
“Mam if u want you can talk to the specialist herself as she is on call.” Before she could stop her, the receptionist on the other side of the phone transferred the call to the specialist.
“Good afternoon Mrs. Shrivastava. This is Dr Samantha Paul on call today. Your case has been transferred to me due to the absence of Dr.rajesh. If you are free now I would like to talk to you about your test results.”
She couldn’t believe it. She was hearing her voice for the first time in 6 yrs. It hadn’t changed a bit. The same bubbly childish voice which she could recognize from miles afar.
“Sammy, is that you?”
No one spoke. They just listened to each other’s breathing . Samantha’s calm deep breaths suddenly arose in her emotions that had been buried for the last 6 yrs. No one was in a hurry to speak. Ashima felt a sense of wholeness, a sense of content-something she had never felt in her entire six years of married life.
And then both began to cry at the same time with the same intensity and above all for the same reason. For six years they had been kept apart .They had been forced to live their lives without their other half, for six yrs. They had been forced to give up their dreams, aspirations, desires and above all their entire lives that they had planned and built together by this very society .This society in which marital rape was not abnormal but loving another person of the same sex was .
Yes, Sammy and Ash were lovers. They had met and had fallen head over heels for each other in Paris during a college conference. They got separated from each other when their families came to know about their relationship. Ashima was brought back to India and made to marry a family friend’s normal son to change her orientation from abnormal to normal. Samantha was on the other hand abandoned by her family to fend for herself. From that day onwards ashima had not slept one day without thinking of her Sammy.
After six months
She sat on the dining table chair, gazing lovingly at Sammy as she made her breakfast in the kitchen. With a plate of toasted bread and poached eggs in one hand and a jug of juice in another she came outside the kitchen with her bright sunny smile. Stroking gently Ash’s swollen and hugely pregnant belly, she said “good morning handsome”.
“How are you so sure that it’s a boy, she asked.” Kissing her lovingly on her wholesome lips Sammy said. “I just know.”
Ashima’s life had changed forever after that phone call six months ago. She had realized how she was still in love with Sammy. Both of them had decided to finally get together .Soon, Ash had filed for a divorce and full custody of her daughter. The battle were still going on in the courts of India where she knew she would eventually win, owing to her ex-husbands six years of violence. For the time being her daughter was living with Santosh’s parents. Pregnant with her second child she shifted in with Sammy-the love of her life
Both Ashima and Samantha now lived in Paris, where it had all once begun.